Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Essence Kitchen & Bar

Dear friends treated us to an excellent dinner at Essence Kitchen & Bar in beautiful Chino Valley, Arizona! The seasonal menu here offers classic favorites as well as innovative dishes made with the freshest, highest quality ingredients. This place clearly has a passion for food and dedication to hospitality and service. I ordered the “N’Awlins BBQ Shrimp”. Cajun dusted shrimp in a rich spicy tomato sauce with scallions and lemon, served over cilantro lime rice and seared greens. Such an outstanding dish! Plump, succulent, perfectly cooked shrimp. An absolute combustion of flavor. Essence features an exquisite wine list along with a great selection of craft beers and specialty cocktails. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the greater Prescott Valley area.

The Clinkscale

Excellent brunch at The Clinkscale! One of the newest restaurants in Jerome, AZ (opened December 2020), it occupies the lower level of the Clinkscale Building built in 1899 which includes a charming hotel and bar. The restaurant has a beautiful, historic atmosphere, an exquisite menu and friendly, professional staff. I ordered the “French Omelet”. Made with country ham and gruyere, blanketed with a silky herbed hollandaise. Served with a side of some of the best grits I’ve put in my mouth! This place gets rave reviews and deservedly so. Highly recommended if you ever visit this quirky little town. And any traveler of the American Southwest should have this town on your list of interesting places to visit.

Haunted Hamburger

Haunted Hamburger seems to be one of the more popular restaurants in Jerome, AZ. The views here are absolutely stunning, that I can tell you! I ordered the “Southwest Sourdough Burger”. Includes bacon, pepper jack, green chilies, grilled onions, & guacamole. The guac made it tricky to handle and a bit messy but it was delicious nonetheless. Crispy, buttery sourdough, which I love, and a perfectly grilled, hot, juicy beef patty. The onion rings were excellent. Beer-battered hot & crispy. Whenever I’m on a trip I always seek out the local brew fare where I happen to be. I had a very nice “Roadrash IPA” from THAT Brewery in Cottonwood, AZ.

Cracker Barrel

Tasty breakfast at the Yuma Cracker Barrel before making the drive up to Jerome. Hash brown casserole, biscuits & gravy, smoked sausage patties and two eggs with overcooked edges. Did not need lunch that day. Imagine my surprise and delight upon discovering that you can now order a mimosa at the Barrel! Good thing Lady Food Obs was driving.

El Charro Cafe

No trip to or through Yuma would be complete without visiting my new favorite restaurant there, El Charro Cafe! One of my favorite things to order at any Mexican restaurant is a wet burrito. El Charro makes probably the best one I’ve put in my mouth. This one is called the “Red Saddle”. Smothered with an excellent red chili con carne. They also make a green chili version called… (are you ready for this?)… the “Green Saddle”. This is one of the most stunning dishes I’ve been served in a Mexican restaurant. And for being a San Diego native, that says something. I felt like I had to lay down after eating only half of it.


Outstanding “Reuben Grill” at D’Carlos in Ramona! Corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on grilled marbled rye with 1000 island. It wasn’t all stacked like a Jewish deli but it was tasty nonetheless. The fries however could have been cooked longer and maybe some seasoning added. Kind of flaccid and bland.

Mi Guadalajara

One of my favorite things to order at Mi Guad in Esco is their excellent “Molcajete Mixto”! Made with strips of tender grilled chicken, steak and shrimps in their famous spicy roasted tomato and Mexican chili sauce. Served in a molcajete bowl along with grilled cactus, fresh Mexican cheese and a savory green onion. Accompanied with guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo. Includes rice & beans and hot, supple tortillas.

Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens

Outstanding “Lam Dan Dan Noodles” at Stone Brewing in Esco! A dish so good they named it after me twice! Egg noodles tossed in a sesame-chili garlic sauce & Szechuan peppercorn, wok-fired spiced local lamb, steamed baby bok choy, chili oil & ground peanuts. Stone changes up their menu here constantly, so no telling if this dish is even still available. If it is, I highly recommend. If it’s not, try one of their other unique items that are sure to please. The restaurant itself is simply stunning with its hybrid indoor/outdoor bistro garden vibe.

Karl Strauss

Excellent “Chicken Chop Shop” salad at Karl Strauss in 4S Ranch! Almost Cobb-like, it was a meal in itself! Made with Gorgonzola, avocado, beer-brined bacon, piquillo and poblano peppers, cilantro, carrots, maters, corn tortilla strips, romaine, mixed lettuce, grilled mesquite chicken breast, and a creamy, delicious chili-ranch dressing.

Piacere Mio

Outstanding “Petto di Pollo Limone & Capperi” at Piacere Mio Del Sur! Chicken breast sauteed in a lemon white wine sauce with a touch of cream and capers. Very nice dish complimented with their house made pasta. Ordering this dish is kind of a mouthful though. I think it would be easier to just say “chicken piccata”.

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