Charming Prescott, Arizona, has been coined “Everybody’s Hometown,” and it’s known as Arizona’s Christmas city as well.
It’s Prescott’s offseason now, and the glorious spring weather is ideal for hiking the high desert trails, scrambling around the Granite Dells, and inhaling the strawberry aroma of Ponderosa pines. But trekking (or boating or biking or rock climbing or antiquing) at mile-high elevation gets you hungry.
Not so long ago, Prescott’s food scene placed a heavy emphasis on cowpoke Americana cuisine (as in, overcooked pre-formed burger patties and nothing “exotic” whatsoever). Over the last few years, though, the growing town has matured into a worthy foodie destination.
This list of where to eat well in Arizona’s former territorial capital (twice over) is nowhere near complete, and more worthwhile restaurants are opening monthly.
Bonus: most of these listed are just a buzzed stumble from the picturesque Courthouse Square.
Here are 10 cream-of-the-crop culinary stops you need to make in Prescott.
Open since May 19, 2018, this smallish, stylized corner restaurant just north of Whiskey Row rocks its motto of “Simple Food Elevated.”
Among other fine establishments, Scottsdale Culinary Institute-trained chef-owner Ryan Peters (from Vail, in Tucson Foodie territory!) has cooked at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida; resorts like the Princess and the Phoenician in Scottsdale; and Tanto Japanese Restaurant in the Valley. He and his front-of-the-house-managing wife Brittany know what’s up.
Get the Deep Fried Deviled AZ Eggs with maple-peppered bacon jam, the Prescott ale-battered walleye tacos (best with corn tortillas), and the Rancher’s Reuben or grass-fed steak. (If those aren’t your taste, don’t worry. You can’t go wrong — everything is amazing.)
The cocktail, beer, and wine lists are well curated. Gluten-free options are plentiful, and many ingredients are locally sourced. Service is professional and friendly, never overbearing.
Take note: FARM Provisions is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; reservations recommended.
For more information, visit farmprovisionsaz.com.
With hundreds of beers and wines available, Raven Café is a tourist and local go-to for live music and special imbibements. People rave about the all-organic espresso bar. But the breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus are all awesome too, and as organic and local as possible.
The house-made, well-seasoned veggie burger is made with sesame seeds and has tooth. It’s topped with arugula, heirloom tomatoes, and mint chimichurri and may well be the best in town (possibly even the state).
For brunch, order the House Cured Lox & Bagel. There’s often a line out the door to order at the counter at this long-standing eco-friendly spot.
Keep up with Raven Café on Facebook.
Tucked Granite Creek-side in a tree-filled riparian grotto just two blocks from the Square, El Gato Azul serves tapas to die for. It’s also tragically quaint and well decorated.
It can be hard to get a seat at El Gato and the kitchen can be slow putting their high-quality tapas and entrees out because the small restaurant is So. Freaking. Good. And slammed. All the time. Even after some 14 years, El Gato Azul has remained everyone’s number-one favorite Prescott dining establishment — special occasion or just another sunny Northern Arizona day.
Both tapas and mains vary with the season, but if they’re offering, get the cajun shrimp corndogs; the paella; the chicken minorca; the baked brie nachos; or really anything your heart desires. The wine menu is grand but even the iced teas are flavorful. Simply never a bad dish there.
For more information, visit elgatoazulprescott.com.
Not close to the Courthouse whatsoever, Iron Springs Cafe is well worth making the trek out toward the ranchlands for a pre-hike breakfast. It’s situated in an 1894 former train depot, and the chefs have been jammin’ out house-made Cajun and Mexican and dishes ranging from gumbo to enchiladas, from scratch, since 1974.
Specials change daily, depending on the kitchen’s hankering and seasonally available ingredients.
Sunday Brunch is where it’s at, and you’ll probably need reservations to devour items like N’awlins French Toast or Ensalada Espinaca with warm Chipotle dressing.
For more information, visit ironspringscafe.com.
Old-fashioned and stalwart as it might seem, any list of where to (at least) have a cocktail in Prescott would be incomplete without paying a nod to the granddaddy of them all, Murphy’s.
Murphy’s remains the only place in town to get Oysters Rockefeller served on white tablecloths upon a plush red carpet. Situated in an 1890 building, it’s where to charm family or long-time friends with prime rib and escargot.
The champagne brunch is exactly where you should wear that fancy dress you never get to wear. The bar is gorgeous— elegant wood and the ambiance warm, teetering on smoking-jacket, scotch-sipping classy.
Chef Clifford Shields was, for five years, Ted Turner’s personal chef (if that provides an indication of the upscale vibe).
For more information, visit murphysprescott.com.
The small restaurant BiGA is newer to the Prescott food scene. Owner-chefs John Panza and Cassandra Hankinson were so dedicated to owning a farm-to-table mom and pop that they started their concept by doing pop ups in bed and breakfasts around town.
BiGA (which, in Italian, refers to a bread starter that fortifies weak flour) isn’t Downtown Prescott scenery. However, it would fit right into Downtown LA, owing to the quality of fresh ingredients and on-point menu, and its frequent pop up dinners.
It’s just a $4 Uber or Lyft transport away from the Square to their Sherry Glazed Bison Short Ribs (past favorite) and Smoked Local Mushrooms, the Warm Goat Cheese Dip, and chopped salad.
Two words: get dessert. The Chocolate Pots de Creme (and blood orange marmalade with walnuts tasted on a prior trip) is definitely not shabby.
Like many other Prescott newbies, BiGA derives as much of their menu as possible from local purveyors, showcasing the ranch and farm culture of Central Arizona. As such, the entrees change weekly with seasonality and other menu items vary more or less frequently than that.
If you’re a party of five or fewer, you can’t make reservations, but you can call in 20 minutes ahead of your desired dining time to get on the list for a table.
Keep up with BiGA on Facebook.
Formerly known to locals as Cafe St. Mike’s, the Bistro is on the bottom floor of one of Arizona’s most beloved and historically important hotels. It’s right on the northwest corner of the Square, so lots of people choose to base out of the vintage hotel’s rooms.
Over the last decade or so, St. Mike’s got a new chef or two. Now, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are up there with the best.
It’s still a place to get chicken fried steak, but with special touches. The dinner fettuccine Alfredo has oyster mushrooms, for example.
It’s accessible, literally and metaphorically, but it’s really good. An American breakfast is included for each hotel guest and it’s not bad at all. Get a Benedict.
For more information, visit stmichaelhotel.com/bistro-st-michael.
Honorable mentions go to The Local, at 520 W. Sheldon St., another newish farm-to-table concept restaurant serving mostly breakfast and lunch; and to the more upscale Atmesfir, 232 S. Montezuma St., with its rotational locally-purveyed items.
Another eatery, The Barley Hound gastropub opened in 2015. It is right by the haunted Hotel Vendome, at 234 S. Cortez St., an easy walk from the Square. They serve regional craft beers, Scottish dishes, and have dog menu items served from frisbees.
Have a favorite spot in Prescott? Let us know in the comments.