Culinary couple Cheryl and Bill Jamison share their experience of known eatery in Arizona.
Taking Interstate 40 west from New Mexico to Arizona is not the most scenic way to drive from Santa Fe to Phoenix, but it’s definitely the tastiest. We headed this direction yesterday to start a three-week road trip through the West that will land us eventually as far from home as Port Townsend, Washington. As always on this drive, we stopped to eat in Winslow, Arizona in the Turquoise Room at La Posada Hotel.
Being restored slowly by new owners, the hotel sits in slightly tarnished splendor just off the busy I-40 on the old Route 66. In its heyday in the 1930s and 40s, it was one of the grandest hotels in the country, the last and most remarkable of the famous Fred Harvey collection built by the Santa Fe Railroad.
Architect Mary Colter designed it as a magnificent Spanish hacienda and it still retains the feel, especially in the public areas. If you stay overnight, you might end up in a room once occupied by Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, or another of the many Hollywood stars who made La Posada a favorite retreat.
If you can’t manage the overnight option, at least come by for a look at the hotel and a meal in the wonderful Turquoise Room, separately owned by Chef John Sharpe.
For lunch yesterday we started with “The Signature Soup,” a blend of creamy corn and spicy black bean soups swirled together in the same bowl. We then shared portions of a “Southwestern Caesar” salad and a hearty stew made with local Churro lamb, posole (like a southwestern hominy), and green chile.
The dinner menu features other fine dishes, including “Native Cassoulet” and Colorado elk medallions, but our favorite meal is breakfast. The Fred Harvey hotels specialized in baked egg preparations, which were popular in the early 20th century. Sharpe and his staff recreate several of these delights and also put their own regional inspiration into other tasty concoctions, including beef machaca chilaquiles and cornbread pudding with prickly pear cactus syrup.
Before leaving home, we debated whether we should cancel this long trip for financial reasons. It just didn’t seem like a great time to take off and spend money, though much of the travel involves business. Lunch in Winslow ended our hesitations, convincing us we were meant to be on the road again.
Cheryl and Bill Jamison write about food and travel, always with mouthwatering results. Among their best-selling books are Smoke & Spice, American Home Cooking and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining. They are also frequent contributors to Cooking Light and Bon Appétit. Married 22 years, they live just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Jamisons’ newest book, Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure, regales readers with a tasty account of their global travels in search of great local fare—from Bali to Brazil.
Learn more about Cheryl and Bill at cookingwiththejamisons.com. You can sign up to join them on a future trip by clicking on “culinary adventures.”