Travel | Flagstaff Foodcation: 6 of our Favorite Restaurants
Are you looking to get away? Why not take a Flagstaff Foodcation? We named our top six picks for some of the best spots in Flagstaff to make things easier.
One of the best features about our state is that it is full of a variety of landscapes. While it is blistering hot in the concrete jungle of Phoenix during the summer, you are merely a few hours away from cooler temperatures and majestic forestry. I was reminded of this during a trip to Flagstaff, an indulgent and inspiring Flagstaff Foodcation.
(*I was invited to attend a complimentary trip to Flagstaff in which my dining and accommodations were comped. As always, my opinions, remarks and recommdations are my own and not influenced in any way. It takes more than a free trip and meals to make me compromise my morals and my dedication to you! Check out our Disclosure Policy for more information*)
Before loading my luggage and self onto the shuttle, I had a general idea of what was ahead of me based on a familiarization tour itinerary, but do you ever really know what’s going to happen? As it turned out, there was no way that the words laid out on that piece of paper could ever have relayed the experience that was ahead.
Fresh air, light rainfalls, friendly people, and exposure to some of the best culinary talent in Flagstaff, if not the entire state. What once was simply regarded as a college town, Flagstaff has an eclectic range of dining options from fine dining to casual comfort with locally sourced ingredients and a strong and clear focus on flavor responsibility.
If you are looking to really take in the best of the best in what Flagstaff has to offer in the culinary realm, I have 6 amazing dining suggestions for you, only a little over 2 hours away.
Flagstaff Foodcation | 6 of the Best Restaurants in the Flagstaff Area
Root Public House
101 S. San Francisco St. | Flagstaff | 86001 | 928.774.1402
The space is bright and airy, thanks to the wall of windows facing San Francisco Street. The interior is decorated with an eclectic collection of art, from the inviting lobby/waiting area, up the stairs and throughout the unique rooftop patio area.
I get it, its pasta. Simple enough, but this pasta is everything that is right about homemade pasta. There is rarely a pasta that I find difficult to stand behind, but this is one that I could eat every day. The light cavatelli shells are the perfect vehicle for the thick and meaty sauce made up of AZ Legacy Beef, tomatoes, and chili. The hearty sauce is topped with Grana Padano, a hard and slightly grainy Italian cheese, similar to Parmigiano Reggiano. Scoop up a bite that contains a little of everything, taste all the richness of the meat, the slight spice from the chilies and briny saltiness from the cheese, and this will soon become your favorite dish too.
34 S. San Francisco St. | Flagstaff | 86001 | 928.226.8400
Tinderbox Kitchen is a cozy space, full of the sights, smells and sounds that you expect from the hype that this local hotspot has received. Be sure to get a table close to the open kitchen so that you really get a feel for the buzz in the kitchen. You’ll be able to see the culinary team delicately plating the specialty dishes before they are delivered to your table. The care put into the plating is indicative of the care put into the creation and composition of each menu item.
PhoenixBites Favorite: Smoked Duck Gnocchi
Good lord, folks. This dish was an absolute dream. The rich flavor of the duck, the slightly bitter taste of the greens and those pillowy and creamy gnocchi made for, possibly, the best bite I’ve ever had. I don’t see this on the menu presently, but there are an array of mains that are sure to delight you.
Proper Meats + Provisions
110 S. San Francisco St. | Flagstaff | 86001 | 928.774.9001
First and foremost, Proper Meats + Provisions is an impressive butcher shop. The 1,600 square foot store is housed in a 1900’s historic building and features an abundance specialty cut meats and products that you would be hard-pressed to find on your local grocery store shelves. You’ll find high-quality humanely and sustainable raised meats, local cheeses, fresh-baked breads and more.
With a wide variety of quality meats, this tasty sandwich is the perfect way to get a bit of everything; capicola, mortadella and ham. The chow chow relish and creamy aioli kick up the flavor profile and tastes so good you can’t help but smile!
17 N. San Francisco St. | Flagstaff | 86001 | 928.773.9463
If you’re looking for a low-key spot to enjoy a glass (or three) of wine and some light bites, you can’t beat FLG Terroir. Don’t be deterred by the entry and stairwell to this second-story oasis. The dark-wood, dimly lit space conjured up ideas of what my perfect library would look like. Replace most of the books with rows and rows of wine, comfortable seating and some airy music and it’s a space you’ll never want to leave.
PhoenixBites Favorite: Meatball
It’s something so simple and it seems everyone has their own favorite recipe. The meat combination was rivaled only by the balsamic glaze and tomato olive sauce that dressed this delicate orb. A definite must try!
203 W. Phoenix Ave. | Flagstaff | 86001 | 928.774.3242
Anyone who’s ever been to or talked about visiting Flagstaff has been led to this unassuming eatery. And with good reason, the small space is proving that good things do come in small packages. Despite little room for dining in, this infamous pizzeria is doling out the best pizza in the area. Fresh, flavorful ingredients top pizzas that range from simplistic to artful slices.
PhoenixBites Favorite: Margherita Pizza
I know that I have shared before that pizza is not my favorite and that has caused people to give me heavy doses of side-eye. With that in mind, the margherita pizza here had me thinking that maybe I just hadn’t had the right pizza. The clean, fresh flavor of their tomato base would have been enough for me to change my mind, but the classic combination of house-made mozzarella, basil and olive oil was just perfection. I was sad that I had to share, and I think that has to be the highest compliment I can give!
1300 S. Milton Ave. | Flagstaff | 86001 | 928.637.6813
This European bistro is an absolute gem, sneakily located in an unassuming strip mall. Owners Brian Konefal and Paola Fioravanti have created such a unique experience within this college town. Our group shared such a special morning with Executive Chef Brian foraging for mushrooms, greens and flowers to incorporate into our dinner that same evening. While this is likely not the same experience that you will encounter it is indicative of the attention to detail and care for ingredients that Coppa Café has for all of the dishes coming out of their kitchen.
PhoenixBites Favorite: Tasting Menu
I have said this numerous times, any time that you come across a tasting menu go for it! These menus are where the chef’s creativity and inspiration really take flight. You’ll likely find the dishes that best represent the chef; their upbringing, impressions from their travels and ingredients that inspire them to create. It’s never, ever, a bad decision!
Reminiscing over this trip has me thinking that another Flagstaff Foodcation is in order! Do you have a favorite spot in Flagstaff? Let me know about it and I’ll try to add it to the trip menu!
Since this was a free trip that was no doubt in part funded by many of these restaurants, calling this list the 6 “best” spots in Flagstaff is a bit disingenuous; these are the 6 best of the places you ate. That said, Tinderbox, Root, and Pizzicletta are definitely places you can’t go wrong, and they’re some of my favorite eateries in town. But next time you come through, try out the new (well, new since last April) restaurant “The Cottage,” formerly The Cottage Place, but now greatly improved under new ownership and the chef who used to head Tinderbox, and an excellent addition to the options for nice, romantic evenings out in Flag. And for some of the most fun hipstery drink options (not that Root and the Annex don’t do a fantastic job with that, too) and fantastic gastropub grub, I’d definitely check out The Mcmillan Bar.
I’d also say that I’m getting tired of people calling the cramped, rickety atmosphere in the Coppa Cafe “authentic European.” It may have seemed charming if you were the only people in the restaurant, but as soon as that place fills up, it’s deeply unpleasant. Yes, many European cafes are cramped, the waitstaff is brusque and hurried, and you’re often constantly being elbowed in the back by people in nearby tables as you are in this place, but that’s at cafes in high-traffic tourist areas, not high-end, romantic restaurants with tasting menus: Coppa needs to decide which of those two it is. At that price point, I’d expect a little (LOT) more elbow room and much more polite service. It’s not charming to barely be able to hear your dinner partners and to feel like the owners couldn’t care less about how much you enjoy your evening, as long as they can cram one more table in. As one of the priciest (if not THE priciest) restaurants in Flagstaff, they should be able to afford a larger space or to seat a few fewer guests per night. Fortunately, Flagstaff has a lot of other truly lovely restaurants to choose from, from high-end cuisine to amazing burger joints.
First, FF, I want to thank you first for reading the Foodcation article and secondly for reaching out to share your thoughts.
While it is true that the trip was paid for, and I was quite clear about that, the last thing that I would want would be for any reader to view this article (or any article that I create, for that matter) as disingenuous. I tried to use verbiage such as “some of the best”, simply because I have not eaten at every restaurant in Flagstaff so giving them the title of “the best” would be impossible. To be fair, there were other spots that we ate at that I did not include in this list. There are some spots on the list that I have visited on previous occasions as well as during this trip.
THis trip took place prior to The Cottage opening though I have shown them some love recently (see: https://phoenixbites.com/2017/06/11/the-cottage-flagstaff/) and they are definitely on my next trip up North (which will be completely on my dime for what it’s worth.
I would love to know where some of your favorite spots in town are so that I can add them to my list, and maybe we can meet up at one of them to keep the conversation going.
Thanks again for your comments and concerns, I really appreciate it!