TV Western tenderfoots will revel in all that is Black Bart’s. This kitschy Flagstaff restaurant (plus bar, musical review, general store and RV park) just off the interstate invokes an 1890s saloon motif, complete with a player piano and singing waiters. Named for the infamous stagecoach robber and part-time poet, Black Bart, the restaurant features typical steakhouse fare: beef, chicken, seafood, ribs, potatoes and biscuits with honey butter. (High-falutin’ dining this ain’t, missy, so go elsewhere if you’re hankerin’ for pate de foie gras.) Every evening the western-garbed Black Bart Singers put on a lively musical revue for diners. You can also peruse the trophy wall or the 6,000-square-foot display of antiques and collectibles in the general store. One imponderable as you sit by the fire drinking a beer: If that scalawag Black Bart were with us today, would he drive an RV?
After a full day of experiencing Sedona’s concentration of vortexes (locations that New Agers believe release psychic energy from the Earth), you’ll enjoy settling down for dinner at this cozy, serene restaurant. The married owners merged his love of cooking with her love of Arizona into an intimate, good-vibes eatery just beyond the touristy shopping district. Even if New Age is not your cup of tea, you can still appreciate the Heartline Cafe’s crisp white and pink linens, locally inspired bistro cuisine and mellow atmosphere. A few coveted tables are tucked outside amidst the patio gardens, but don’t fret if you aren’t seated here: sitting indoors better shields you from the unforgiving Arizona heat, and you can still enjoy the lush foliage on your way out. Try the southwestern black bean soup for a spicy starter. The grilled swordfish with pickled ginger and the oak-grilled salmon mystically impart a delicious Sedonan sense of well-being. You need not believe in the power of crystals to enjoy a meal at the Heartline, although you do get the feeling that if John Tesh were in town, he would eat here.
On the road between Flagstaff and Sedona, travelers marvel at the beauty of Oak Creek Canyon. And for those intrepid souls who want to tarry awhile and do not mind traversing a creek to do so, Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge is worth the challenge. Visitors from all over the U.S. — Martha Stewart among them — have stayed at these rustic cabins (some of which were built in the 1930s and the remainder in the 1970s by the current owners). The simple accomodations, set against the red cliffs of Sedona and overlooking either the creek or gardens, are a perfect place to catch up on your reading and experience life without TV and telephones. The grounds include organic gardens, a greenhouse, orchards and chickens — all of which result in fresh contributions for meals. (Even the house specialty drink, the Banjo Bill, is made with cider from the apples grown on the premises.) Get on the waiting list early: guests return season after season and often make their reservations a year or more in advance.