SEDONA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5)-- Red rock country has an abundance of eateries, but if you ask locals their favorite spot to eat, many will tell you there's two locations to visit.
Indian Gardens Café and Market
Address: 3951 N. State Route 89A, Sedona, Arizona 86336
The first restaurant we checked out was the Indian Gardens Café and Market. Located at the base of the red rock cliffs just south of the Slide Rock area on 89A, the food is just as good as the view.
The spot has been everything from a gas station to grocery store since the 1940s, and it’s been in the Garland family since the 1980s. In 2011, Daniel Garland and his wife Monica Garland renovated it and turned it into Indian Gardens.
“We just kind of wanted to make it more of a place you could get craft food made from scratch. Craft beer and craft wine. And it’s been really fun,” said Garland.
The restaurant bakes its own bread from a sourdough culture created in the canyon with wild yeasts. Daily specials often feature the bread, and so does the café’s most popular sandwich, “Dan the Man.” “We named it after my dad,” said Garland. “He said ‘What I’d really like is a BLT with green chillies on it.’ So we came up with it and low and behold it became our best-selling sandwich.”
Valley restaurateur Joe Johnston says Indian Gardens is his favorite café in the state. “It’s really really good,” said Johnston. “We’ve got the breeze, it’s cool, you’ve got music in the background. I mean, this is how the restaurants in heaven will be—like this.”
The café has been featured in Sunset Magazine and was also named “best affordable eats” on your road trip through red rock country by the travel website roadfood.com.
Orchard Canyon on Oak Creek
Address: 8067 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336
We now head to Oak Creek, where we met up with Valley restaurateur Joe Johnston to profile his favorite café, Indian Gardens. While we were there, he said we MUST check out his family’s favorite spot to stay, The Orchards at Oak Creek. We were blown away by this gorgeous cluster of cabins at the base of the red rocks, surrounded by fruit orchards.
Formerly known as Garlands Oak Creek Lodge, the all-inclusive hotel features spread out cabins along Oak Creek and along a hillside dotted with peach and apple orchards. There are apricots, plums, cherries and almonds too.
“The National Weather Service, the person running the weather station, claimed that this property has the weather station that is the wettest of all weather stations in Arizona,” said orchardist Rob Lautz. He says the orchard gets quite a bit of rain, plus irrigation from Oak Creek that helps keep the property looking so lush. The fruit grown on property is used to help feed guests. “They’re doing cobblers, they’re doing applesauce and baked apples to serve at breakfast. Our fresh-pressed apple cider is available year-round,” said Lautz.
Johnston says the fantastic food is just part of the reason the Johnston family has been visiting what’s now The Orchard at Oak Creek for decades. Joe says he was in his mother’s womb the first time he came here. Now, he brings his kids and grandkids here every year for a respite from the Valley summers. “First of all, it’s the most beautiful spot in Arizona,” said Johnston. “Second, it’s about 15 degrees cooler than the Valley.”
His grandkids say they love their time picking wild blackberries, playing in Oak Creek and fishing. Joe and his wife Cindy like to use the Orchards as a home base as well, taking daily scooter trips into Flagstaff and other nearby spots during their annual stay.
“Most people, particularly people not from the Valley, think Arizona is just desert,” said Johnston. “But this place is super lush and super green. So I think they would just be blown away how beautiful it is and how quickly you can decompress and relax.”