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  • Diana Brandt

Road Trip To Sedona


You'll find this article in the June 2017 Issue of the Arizona Foodie Magazine. Want a subscription, so that you'll be the first to get the next issue coming out Sept. 1st? Go here: Arizona Foodie Magazine Subscription

Or you can read the online issue here: https://issuu.com/arizonafoodie/docs/junearizonafoodie

Photography by Chanelle Sinclair

With its perfect scenery and endless options for hiking, Sedona is a local favorite to visit. Driving only takes a couple of hours and you can enjoy a perfect getaway for a weekend or an extended stay. 

The majestic scenery draws the most people, but I’m all about the food scene. I’m sure plenty of new spots will continue to pop up but until then, here’s where we suggest you stay and play.

Nestled in the bustling main street of Sedona, there’s a long steep hill down to a cute little resort with a perfect view of the mountains. Amara’s 100 guestrooms and suites have a modern native feel, which was the idea behind their new eclectic décor. You’ll find detailed accents including colors matching the lush foliage and the brilliant desert flowers and headboard made of local fallen trees that vary from room to room.

Enjoy the breathtaking views from the beautiful patio at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant offers fresh, seasonal takes on traditional regional cuisine. SaltRock delivers Southwest style with the finest Verde Valley ingredients. An agave-focused beverage program which takes the art of the margarita to a new level of creative sophistication enhances your experience and gives you an authentic Sedona style in a fun, refreshing drink.

Might we suggest the grilled octopus with patatas bravas, chimichurri, frisée, sunny side up egg, or the tender New York strip sirloin with braised short rib, salsa huevona, parsnip-plantain puree, and fried parsnip? Wanting to try something different? Try the soft shell crab with huitlacoche Purée, Jalapeño Gel, Guanciale Chip, Frisée, and Mustard Vinaigrette?

Amara 100 Amara Lane, Sedona, AZ 86336

Give us all the burgers from Dellepiane! This restaurant is slightly hidden from the main road, but that’s what the owner, Tomas Agostino wanted. His original location in Buenos Aires is down a side alley.

Before opening his restaurant in Buenos Aires, people told him that an alleyway wasn’t an ideal spot for a restaurant. “The location would scare customers off,” they said. But his heart urged him to move forward. It was the best decision he could have made. Good thing he listened to his gut feeling because it’s been a huge success. You’ll even find a mural of the original restaurant on the wall in the Sedona location.

Agostino’s burger shop hasn’t been open long, but it’s already created quite a buzz. We stopped in for a taste, and it was clear why people loved it! The burgers are bursting with flavor.

How could you resist the Dellepiane burger with pecan smoked bacon, Tillamook cheddar, grilled provolone, caramelized onions, pickles, Dellepiane sauce and bbq sauce with a side of sweet potato fries, topped with curry mint sauce? 

Not a meat eater? Try his amazing veggie burger made from chickpeas and peanut butter with a sweet chili sauce! You can also enjoy the vegetarian empanadas, sandwiches, and other starters.

Take my word for it. You need to make this a definite stop. I’m counting down the days until I can go back to Sedona and have another bite. 

Dellepiane 617 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336

Elote Cafe is attached to a little hotel on the side of the main street through Sedona. You will likely find that it has a line out the front door, but I can guarantee it’s well worth the wait.

The restaurant no longer takes reservations. Chef Jeff Smedstad told us that some customers treated his workers harshly. He once witnessed a customer screaming at his hostess because the customer saw an open table which happened to be reserved for an arriving guest. Chef Jeff cares deeply for his employees, so removing reservations was the best option. 

I knew very little about Chef Jeff before chatting with him at the restaurant.  I didn’t want to take up too much of his time because the restaurant was about to open. I flat out asked him what his biggest struggle was. 

He cleared his throat. “There’s been things throughout my career. I overcame a lot of stuff to open Elote but I don’t want to talk about it because it’s super personal.”

I didn’t want to pry. I respect that certain things are quite personal, but I encouraged him to continue.

“I had a restaurant in Scottsdale that was my life, and when I walked away from it, I never thought this would happen again. That was the greatest challenge. When I came to Sedona, I had the most single-minded focus that I’ve ever had in my life. I think that what happened in Scottsdale helped me get there.”

People begin to line up outside. I can see the hungry anticipation in their eyes.

Chef Jeff continues. “When I got here I was living in a storage room. I showed up with a dog and some furniture. I had no encumbrances. All I wanted was to cook and prove myself and have the world see what I could do again.”

I tried to picture the difficulty of living in a storage room. I’m sure he could see the shock on my face, but he continued telling me his story.

“To get to that point, every day is emotional. It’s stupid, you know, people write books, and they say every day is a gift. For me, every day really is a gift because most people don’t get to do what they want twice. I had people screaming at me when I left the restaurant in Scottsdale. People that said they would never talk to me again. I left for very deep and personal reasons that made sense to me.“

He paused and looked around the restaurant.

“When my mom first walked in here, she cried and said, ‘You blew it, what did you do?’ At the time, the hotel was in tatters. They gave me the best deal in the world, and they gave me a little room to sleep in. It was everything I needed, so I didn’t care, it was like food camp. I got the chance to build this up into what it is today.”

“I already have everything in life that I’ve ever wanted. When I get someone like Juan, and I’m able to give him a position that transforms his life. Then I see that his kids and family are now able to be taken care of, that’s the reward and that’s no BS, that’s true.” 

I can testify that Chef Jeff Smedstad has created a stellar restaurant. He has had an amazing journey that has led him to his success.

Chef is putting out another, more personal cookbook called the Notebook. You can get your copy in a couple of months. 

Elote Cafe 771 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336


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