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“Would you like a free expresso shot” said the friendly gentleman behind the street stall
“Would I ever!” I replied, amazed at having been pegged as an expresso fiend so readily
From that moment, from the very first sip of that racy liquid delight, I knew Bisbee was going to be my kind of food town. This was a place that knew how to eat, and since eating is one of my very favorite things I knew we would become firm friends. Add-in a few cool bars and some unusual and interesting sights and you’ve got the other three reasons we’ve loved it so much here:
1/ Fabulous Food
I’m an omnivore-opportunist. There are few things I won’t eat (other than shellfish and gluten…sensitivites sadly), and I love to discover new spots. I can’t say we’ve tried everything in town (not even close), but we did come across some gems:
a) Poco - this 100% vegan mexican spot will delight even the most meaty palate. Tucked into a cozy corner of Peddlers Alley (the same spot you get the expresso shot) you’ll get an inexpensive and tasty meal. The spicy bean-tomato soup was one of the best I’ve ever had, meaty or otherwise.
b) Bisbee Breakfast Club – A legendary breakfast place locally known as the BBC just down the road from Bisbee. Huge, tasty plates in a very, very cool setting. Highly recommended stop for you breakfast lovers out there.
c) Santiagos - One of the newer spots in town that serves margaritas the size of your head, and very good food to boot. The salsa was delectable and the tequila chicken fajitas delicious. Can’t go wrong here.
d) Screaming Banshee - Mostly a pizza place, but they’ve also got a super-cool bar AND they serve a pajama brunch 11AM-4PM Sundays complete with mimosa’s and breakfast margaritas…oh HOW coooooool! We didn’t get to go, but you should!
e) Chocoláte - I consider chocolate its own food-group and when it’s this good it deserves its own special mention too. Since this place is only open Fri-Sun we actually stayed an extra day in Bisbee specifically to try the hot chocolate here and it did not disappoint. Be prepared to revel in delicious, dark, decadent chocolate heaven! DO go!!
There are many, many other places to try. Cafe Roka is the “fancy” spot in town which many rate very highly (personally my meal was disappointing, but you’ll have to judge for yourself). There’s also excellent coffee at the Bisbee Coffee Company and a very nice lunch at the High Desert Market Cafe. Oh and if you like honey be sure to stop at the Killer Bee….yum!
2/ Cool Bars
I’m rather fond of bars, not only because I enjoy a glass before dinner, but because I revel in the atmosphere and stories of the places. Bisbee has the added attraction of some rather unique brewing history. Not long after the town was established in 1880, German-Swiss immigrants founded the first breweries on what became known as Brewery Gulch. This legacy combined with Bisbee’s mining heritage gives the town more than it’s fair share of cool bars. Here’s some of our favs:
a) Copper Queen Hotel - This hotel, furnished with Italian tile has a lovely old bar with view to an open patio. This place also happens to be one of the most haunted in town, so if you’re lucky you may run into a spirit or two on your way to your evening drink.
b) Room 4 Bar - This teeeny, tiny bar tucked into a room of the Silver King Hotel claims to be the smallest in AZ and with only 3 chairs I’ll bet it is. They also happen to have a fondness for cats and there’s a fine, old girl who sleeps outside the bar and will happily share a rub while you sip.
c) St. Elmos - Definitely not the classiest of bars, but the oldest and the most local. If you want to see live music and get a real feel of town this is where you go.
3/ Fun Sights
Although I’d call Bisbee more of a street art and food town, there are a definitely a few “standard” sights that are worth seeing.
a) Bisbee Mine Tour - Bisbee was founded on mining and owes its success in many ways to its booming copper mine. This was one of the most productive mines in the US and yielded over 8 billion lbs of copper during it’s 100 year history. You can’t help but notice the massive pit as you enter town and one of the “must do” items is to take a trip into history on the Queen Mine Tour. You’ll get to dress up like a miner and ride the narrow-gauge car 1,500 feet into the mine. As with all tours your experience here will vary depending on your tour guide, all ex-miners. I thoroughly enjoyed our guide, but others report mixed results. Still, it’s an interesting experience.
b) Erie Street & Shady Dell RV Park - Although not an “official” sightseeing stop, it’s worth the 5-min drive down the road to see this interesting stop. Erie street is a vintage museum with a selection of old cars and gas stations. Next-door Shady Dell has its own set of super-cool and pristinely renovated vintage trailers. You can’t bring your rig in here, but you can rent theirs by the night.
After 5 days of gastro-indulgence we wobbled out of Bisbee this morning and headed for a super-secret boondocking spot with bird-watching to boot (fear not, I will eventually reveal). Bisbee has been a brilliant and totally surprising stop. We’ve loved every minute and will certainly be coming back to this town in the future.
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