With the historic Route 66 cutting right through Arizona, all-American drive-ins and diners previously dotted the map of The Grand Canyon State. Unfortunately, with urbanization and the building of interstates, those classic drive-ins are all but extinct. We list the top restaurants that are keeping the memory of Arizona’s iconic drive-ins alive.
Opened in 1993, Brandy’s Bakery and Restaurant is run by a husband-and-wife team in Flagstaff. The small restaurant has been described as quirky and artsy. The owners are enthusiastic local art supporters and display work from local artists in the cafe’s dining room. Nearly everything on the menu is made from scratch daily, using products from a number of local companies. Brandy’s is open daily for breakfast and lunch, serving breakfast classics, specialty sandwiches, creative espresso drinks, and more. Brandy’s also offers a selection of local microbrews, bloody Marys and their celebrated ‘Tropical Mimosa’ with orange juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, and champagne.
Joe’s Farm Grill serves American diner classics that are far from the greasy-spoon expectation of most diners. It is located on a large urban farm, utilizing fresh produce from their own garden. The result is a healthier, more vibrant take on dishes everyone already loves — they’ve just made them better. Try the Southwest burger with pepper jack, pico de gallo, chipotle mayo, and avocado, or go for the beet salad: fresh, garden-grown beets, blue cheese, toasted pecans, and a light dressing. The garlic fries are out of this world.
You simply won’t find a more classic American drive-in than Mr. D’z Route 66. This spot is everything that you would expect from a diner. The exterior is painted a vibrant bright turquoise with pink accents, making it a can’t-miss stop along historic Route 66. Inside, the restaurant is classic all the way from its black-and-white checkered floor to the bright, vinyl-covered booths, and the jukebox in the corner. For a full experience, find your favorite Elvis or Frankie Valli track, order a cheeseburger or a patty melt, and live life rewound to another time. Mr. D’z also makes their own creamy caramel root beer. It is perfection in a frosted mug alone or with vanilla ice cream for a tasty float.
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe is truly an experience in Southern soul food. Cool off from the Arizona heat the way that Southerners do: with a tall glass of sweet tea. Then move on to home-cooked favorites like chicken fried steak, hand-breaded fried chicken, smothered pork chops, or fried catfish. Side dishes like red beans, sweet potatoes, and black-eyed peas round out the meal. Finish the culinary experience with a bowl of cobbler.
You can’t get much more classic than Pat’s Drive-In’s counter service and chili dogs. The menu includes burgers, fries, onion rings, and, of course, chili dogs. The dogs have garnered a loyal local following and come smothered in either regular or spicy chili. For the more adventurous diner who goes for the spicy variety, cool off with pink lemonade or sun tea.
A Creative Commons Image: Corned Beef | jeffreyw/Flickr
Perk Eatery is simple, unpretentious, good food. The family-owned restaurant uses old recipes and local organic ingredients to craft simple, delicious food. For breakfast, go for the corned beef hash with rosemary potatoes or the chicken on the coupe: a combination plate of chicken, stuffing, eggs, and country gravy. The lunch menu offers traditional selections like burgers, sandwiches, and fries. For a lighter option, salads like the Napa Valley with spinach, pecans, apples, and feta cheese are fresh and delicious.
Rock Springs Cafe was once a hotel, saloon, eatery, and general store. Today, it is primarily a cafe serving traditional dishes of the Wild West. Along with USDA Choice steaks, fan favorites include the smoked, hand-pulled pork and the home-style meatloaf. No matter what you order, the Jack Daniels pecan pie is a must — a twist on the expected pecan pie with a kick of Tennessee whiskey.
Tom’s Thumb is a market, restaurant, gas station, and car wash all rolled into one in North Scottsdale. Named for a nearby geographical formation and popular hiking trail, the establishment has deep roots in the community. It serves as a gathering place for locals looking for great service and a friendly atmosphere. While you get your car washed, waxed, and detailed, sidle up to the cafe for some hardwood smoked beef brisket or pulled pork. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Tom’s Thumb is a hearty taste of home, with a side of warm hospitality.
You won’t find a more welcoming place than the Welcome Diner. Sit outside at a picnic table or inside at the counter to enjoy a casual, homey meal. The unassuming eatery is a favorite in downtown Phoenix and a total throwback to the famous diners along Route 66. The food at Welcome Diner is classic yet with a heightened conscience and truly farm-to-table philosophy. Using the freshest ingredients from local purveyors, this diner plays with classics to offer fun and unexpected twists on originals. Try the zany PB&B burger (crunchy peanut butter, bread-and-butter pickles, bacon, and cheddar) or the bumblebee biscuit with fried chicken, local honey, and mustard.