In 1876, a group of settlers en route from Boston to California, stopped to celebrate the July 4th centennial holiday by erecting a large wooden pole to fly the stars and stripes. That flag staff gave the town its name. The characters who filled the streets in those early days gave the town its continuing charm. Route 66 cuts through the heart of this mountain town, bringing pub after pub of craft brew and wooden seating. The busy railroad provides a pleasant background noise to this sleepy city.
Flurries seemed to be falling in a neverendingly gentle reminder of the moisture in elevation. Flagstaff sits at over 7,000 ft (2,100m) above sea level, next to the largest mountain range in Arizona, the San Francisco Peaks. Sometimes, it felt like I was catching my breath on each step. It’s a friendly city, people greet you with a smile and “Hello” and plenty of dogs to pet.
My first meal was at Diablo Burger (120 N. Leroux St.) A tiny joint inside of Heritage Square serving up burgers on English muffins and skinny, salty fries. I had the Señor Smoke which was a great mix of avocado, bacon, cilantro and spicy mayo, matched with one of their tasty home brewed porters.
At altitude, I just couldn’t find my appetite, so I missed the normal dinner restaurant times, and was forced to take a late meal at the Lumberyard Brewery (5 S. San Francisco St.) The Knotty Pine Pale Ale was a fruity, elegant and balanced beer, but the pulled pork was just microwaved nonsense and not very good.
This breakfast place, Martanne’s Burrito Palace (112 E. Rte 66), wins a special place in my stomach as having one of the best breakfast dishes I’ve ever eaten. It’s a funky place with cute SnP shakers and Day of the Dead artwork. Their green pork chilaquiles were breathtakingly good followed by a deep roasted coffee to finish off the meal energized me for a hike in the fire scented hills of Flagstaff. I actually ate this exact same thing the next day it was so good.
I stopped in for a hot choco at Macy’s (14 S. Beaver St.), a famous pit-stop for coffee and vegan eats for students at Northern Arizona University. There’s lots of chatting and reading being done here.
For dinner, a trendy little Latin kitchen called, Criollo (16 N. San Francisco St.) had some delicate and delicious fish tacos, fashionable vodka drinks and refreshing salsas.