Friday, December 1, 2017

The rest of Arizona US 89

Time has taken its toll on old US 89 diners and restaurants.  Few originals remain. Faux 50's diners are making a feeble comeback but fall far short of the icons they emulate.  In this post, we take you through "the rest of Arizona" on old US 89 as well as existing US 89 from Flagstaff to Utah.

Nogales to Tucson

Zula's in Nogales and Wisdom's in Tumacacori are the only two survivors on this stretch.  Wisdom's is a "must stop" as a place with a unique pedigree unmatched anywhere else from Mexico to Canada.
All the other communities are populated with a typical array of eateries, none of which rise to the standards we've set for an ancestral US 89 dining establishment.

Tucson to Yarnell

We've been unable to find any legitimate old US 89 restaurants in this long stretch between  Tucson's Club 21 and Prescott's Hassayampa.  The Florence Cafe, 495 N Pinal Pkwy, serves a solid menu that replicates classic roadside Comfort Food.  Believe it or not, there are no old US 89 restaurants through Main Street Mesa, Tempe's Mill Avenue ot Van Buren Street in Phoenix.  Mel's on Grand Ave. is worth a stop for it's connection to the TV sitcom Alice. Whether is qualifies as a genuine old US 89 diner is debatable.  Wickenburg has its share of wannabe US 89 eateries and perhaps the Horseshoe Cafe, 207 East Wickenburg Way, might yet qualify for our coverage here.  It's definitely worth a stop to check it out.

Yarnell to Flagstaff via original US 89

After navigating the curvy White Spar Highway into Prescott, US 89 Heritage Travelers face a bewildering array of dining choices.  We featured the Hassayama Inn as "the" quintessential US 89 restaurant.  The Palace Saloon is another one, although people aren't generally known to visit the Whiskey Row icon for food.  There's nothing to mention on the original 1926-1940 US 89 alignment through Chino Valley, Paulden, Ash Fork.  Williams is another matter.  When US 89 reached Ash Fork, it shared the same pavement with Route 66 between Ask Fork and Townsend, Arizona, a few miles east of Flagstaff.  Therefore, any of the vintage Rt. 66 restaurants in Williams also by definition qualify as vintage US 89 restaurants.  The pedigrees of older Williams restaurants can be confusing and sometimes downright misleading.  We have chosen at this time to defer covering a Williams restaurant until we can be certain that we are reporting factual background information.  We have no doubts there remains a suitable candidate for our coverage.  However, we want to be sure we are picking and choosing the most suitable establishment of the many choices in Williams.

Prescott to Flagstaff via Arizona State Route 89A (formerly US 89A)

Although there are no true original US 89A diners or restaurants left on this long stretch of scenic highway, there are some solid choices to recommend.  Jerome's Haunted Hamburger will forever be in contention for the title of "Best Hamburger from Mexico to Canada."  Stop in at 410 Clark Street and see what you think about this important topic.  In Clarkdale check out the 10-12 Lounge at 910 Main Street.  Cottonwood has the rough-edged but much-loved Verde Lea Market at 516 N, Main St.
Sedona is a chaotic foodie fest.  None of Sedona kaleidoscopic array of restaurants qualifies as an original US 89 eatery.  That doesn't mean you'll pass through hungry.  Far from it.  There are simply too many Sedona choices to pick one over the rest.  You're on your own there!

Flagstaff to Utah via US 89A

After visiting the faithfully restored Grand Canyon Cafe in Flagstaff, US 89 Heritage Travelers will head north onto actual US 89.  The so-called Cameron Trading Post includes a semi-posh restaurant that is heavily patronized by the tour bus people.  Chances are pretty good that some sort of food as served there back in the 1930's  However, accounts of the establishments early years will forever obscured in the dust bin of history.  Farther north at Bitter Springs, there is a fork in the road.  Take it.

To the left, travelers follow the original US 89 that existed as the main highway from 1926 until the mid-1950's.  Just across historic Navajo Bridge sits Marble Canyon Lodge.  This historic site opened its doors not long after Navajo Bridge was finished and has been hosting weary, hungry motorists and Grand Canyon River Runners ever since.  The original place burned to the ground a few years back but was eventually replaced with a building that's faithful to its forebear.

Farther west on old US 89 (now known as US 89A) you will encounter Vermilion Cliffs, a small diner worth a look or an overnight stay.  Even slightly farther west  is Cliff Dwellers Lodge where yet another small diner is perched below the spectacular, colorful cliffs.  Proceeding on, travelers top out on the Kaibab Plateau at Jacob Lake.  During the tourist season there should be a cafe of some sort open for business there.  Jacob Lake has been a stopover site since long before automobile travel came along.  The remainder of the drive heads toward the Grand Staircase and goes through Fredonia.  There isn't any place to recommend in Fredonia but Kanab lies only a few miles north.

Flagstaff to Utah via US 89

At Bitter Springs, the now-main-highway bears to the right and climbs a steep hill to go through a remarkable narrow notch in the Echo Cliffs.  Many miles later, travelers will come to Page, Arizona, a city built on shifting desert sands because of a nearby dam.  Visitors to Lake Powell as a major factor in the age economy.  Therefore, restaurants and motel abound.  We doubt there are any original US 89 restaurants in Page but we could be wrong.  Someday we might actually bother to check.  We have nothing to recommend on this route. Pick your favorite fast food joint or go looking around so-called downtown Page for a restaurant with whatever theme and ambiance you may wish.  Otherwise move on along to Kanab where Parry Lodge and Trails End Cafe await.

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