Roadtrip recco: PHX to Santa Fe

Traveling and dining in other Arizona cities and beyond
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BillBuitenhuys
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Location: Chandler, AZ
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3 years ago

So we're planning a roadtrip to Santa Fe for a couple of weeks from now for NM Cocktail week.
Google maps suggests 87 up to Payson, then over to Holbrook, to Gallup Rt 40 down to ABQ, then up to SF.
Alternate is about 30mins longer taking 60 up to Pinetop then 36 to 117 up to Rt 40 > ABQ > SF

Anyone have any experience with either route?

And are there any places of interest or decent stops for food along the way?

thanks
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exit2lef
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Location: Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa
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3 years ago

We're taking a family road trip to Santa Fe this summer and will be taking the first route you have described. I've driven it before, and it's fairly efficient, although the segment between Payson and Holbrook can be pretty lonely. Since my last drive along that route was more than two decades ago, I don't have any current knowledge of places to eat. I'm in the process of doing some research and hope we can trade notes via this thread.
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BillBuitenhuys
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Location: Chandler, AZ
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3 years ago

Talked to a NM native that also recommended the first route as the 2nd route can be painfully slow through reservation land.
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BarbaraToombs
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Location: Chandler/Tempe, Arizona

3 years ago

We have done the first route and it is fine. But as two places to stop to eat... No idea.

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BillBuitenhuys
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Joined: 7 years ago
Location: Chandler, AZ
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3 years ago

So we did the first route....Payson, to Heber, up to Holbrook, jump on the 40 to ABQ, then up to Santa Fe.
It was quite a nice ride, with lots to look at along the way (but not a lot of places that one would want to stop at). We considered going to view the Painted Desert for a bit but decided to just forge through.

On the way out we stopped in Gallup, NM for lunch, at Jerry's Café. It's a pretty small place, filled predominantly with native americans/Mexican americans, with licensed jewelry vendors going from table to table in an unobtrusive but fairly constant way. The food is pretty decent Sonoran style but with NM green chile highlighting the dishes. It was good but I don't think I'd go back.

On the way back, we didn't stop until Payson where we went to Buffalo Pub. Decent pub grub but nothing more than that. Fried zucchini was very good. Again, I wouldn't go back.
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exit2lef
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Location: Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa
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3 years ago

With our road trip along this route now complete, here's where we stopped on the way to Santa Fe and back.

Payson AZ -- Ayothaya Thai Cafe, a nice little Thai place in the shopping center anchored by Basha's at the intersection of routes 87 & 260. We had satay, egg rolls, yellow curry with tofu, and a stir-fry dish with shrimp. All were competently prepared. Those who don't care for Thai food in Phoenix won't find anything they like better in Payson, but for us, it was on par with local favorites like Thai Rama.

Gallup NM -- Coal Street Pub, which is right in the heart of Gallup's small downtown. Good craft beer selection. Standard pub grub with some local flourishes such as red and green chile. I splurged on a steak-and-shrimp combo. While I wouldn't compare it with the same entree at Durant's, it was perfectly good for the price. As a bonus, we stumbled upon a Gallup downtown art walk event as we emerged from the restaurant.

Albuquerque NM -- Central Grill and Coffee House, an old fast food restaurant converted to a coffee house and breakfast / brunch / lunch restaurant. We had some good egg dishes and sandwiches. The location is in Albquerque's Old Town neighborhood and is right across the street from the Rattlesnake Museum, which was a pleasant place to spend an hour so as to avoid arriving in Santa Fe before our hotel room was ready.

Milan NM -- Kendalben Barbecue, located right off Interstate 40. This was a neat little barbecue place with fun decor and country music playing in the background. I had a brisket sandwich, but found the meat too fatty for my taste. I'm among the oddballs who prefer lean brisket. I stole some of my children's smoked chicken and enjoyed that more. Dessert was a peach cobbler that appeared to be made with corn meal instead of a flour crust, an interesting regional touch that worked out well.

Holbrook AZ -- Mesa Italiana, located on Navajo Boulevard near the major chain hotels. This is a standard red-sauce Italian-American place. It's upscale by Holbrook standards. The food was not necessarily innovative, but standards like shrimp scampi and cheese ravioli were well prepared. Although not specified on the menu, most pasta dishes are available in half sizes, which is helpful when traveling with young children.

Fountain Hills AZ -- Redendo's, which I had visited before after hiking in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. We were nearly home but were hungry and realized we'd be returning to an empty refrigerator and pantry. Redendo's is a very good place for pizza and pasta. Most of its business appears to be takeout, but there is also small but nice dining room. We shared a calzone and a spinach salad, while the kids split an order of spaghetti and meatballs.

That's everywhere we stopped along the way. Of course, we ate a lot more meals in and around Santa Fe, but that belongs in a whole different thread.
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