Flagstaff Arizona’s Restaurant Scene: The Most Overrated & Underrated Choices
For a fine dining, date night choice look no further than the Zenith Steakhouse, located inside the Twin Arrows Casino, just 20 minutes or so outside of town. While I am not a fan of this particular casino, I’ll make an exception just to go to this fantastic steakhouse! If you were to ask any random person what the best fine dining restaurant in Flagstaff is, they are likely to list choices such as Brix, Cottage Place, Karma Sushi, or Josephine’s. However, I beg to differ as these restaurants, in my opinion, are small and cramped with a noisy atmosphere, uninteresting decor, and overpriced menus.
A night out at the Zenith Steakhouse is a dining experience unlike anything else in Flagstaff (a good thing!), one with exceptional service, an outstanding menu and wine list, and an elegant romantic setting. The gorgeously designed dining room actually gives you room to breathe and the privacy to actually hold a conversation, which unfortunately is a rare luxury in Flagstaff.
The Zenith menu is comprised of standard Steakhouse fare, along with some tempting seafood entrees like Herb Crust Scottish Salmon, Cold Water Lobster Tails, and Crab and Clam Spaghetti. We tried the Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto and the Pan Roasted Chicken, both of which were excellent. The staff had no problem accommodating gluten-free requests, although I recommend additional gluten-free appetizers and bread to enhance the variety of choices.
The dining room has an elegant modern appeal with a simplistic clean look. Extra touches like a fireplace and unique art make the setting even more cozy and romantic.
Overall, Zenith Steakhouse is by far your best bet for a romantic dinner/celebratory occasion. Attentive refined service, fantastic food and presentation, along with a classy dining room easily make Zenith the area’s winner in terms of fine dining.
Charly’s at the Weatherford Hotel
Charly’s is a casual Southwestern inspired restaurant located inside the historic Weatherford Hotel in downtown Flagstaff. Surprisingly, this restaurant is often rated poorly despite the fact that the food and service are both great, the outdoor patio is the best downtown, and the charming ambiance of the dining room is unmatched elsewhere.
Charly’s offers a more creative menu than most of the standard pub/pizza places lining the streets of downtown. One interesting choice is the Navajo Taco, which has been highly regarded by Zagat as part of a special feature on “50 sandwiches, 50 states.” This fantastic dish consists of traditional Najavo fry bread topped with all sorts of veggies such as tomatoes, onions, olives, cilantro, as well as black or pinto beans. It’s a really tasty dish that I definitely recommend! The Mac and Cheese is super delicious as well!
Charly’s has great indoor and outdoor seating, and unlike most of the cramped choices downtown, the setting feels more spacious, less congested, and more cozy. Indoors, there is a nice historic ambiance, complete with brick walls and an old fireplace making it a great choice for a date or special occasion. If your visit falls during October, they have some pretty cute Halloween decor (as well as a fun lineup of events).
Outdoors, there is a charming outdoor patio (with covered tables), with the best people watching opportunities as it is located right in the middle of the downtown. You are also treated to a rare hint of a mountain view!
For comfort food at affordable prices in a great setting, look no further than Charly’s. Despite the mostly negative feedback, I would rate it as one of the better choices downtown.