Hopping through Holbrook


Holbrook, Arizona.  "Where's that?" seems to be the most common response to hearing the name of this city.  "It's in Navajo County.". [glazed look, feigning knowledge not wanting to belie more ignorance] "You know, you pass through it on the way to the Petrified Forest if you're taking the west entrance."  "Oh, ok," says the person who stopped being interested between 'Holbrook' and 'Arizona.'

But, look, Holbrook has the only Popeye's Chicken in Navajo County, so take note.

Ok, Holbrook.  Honestly, not a place to stay the night unless you're on a long trip and this happens to be where you are at dark.  But if you find yourself passing through it's not so bad and, depending on where you're coming from in city frame-of-reference, can be a refreshing experience.



Tear some tortilla, put on some cheese fries, top with guac, sour cream, beans, steak, fold, enjoy, repeat until comatose.
And OH MY GOD, go to Jalapeño Poppers (maybe AKA Jerry's).  Yes, the more discerning food snob would be repulsed by the name, then again by the signage, then again by the interior...but for the love of everything that is holy, treat yourself to a meal here.  Whether you go on one-dollar Wednesdays and gorge on tamales, tacos, or the other two amazing items you can get for a buck, or if you go and have a proper wild-west meal of green chilie cheese cheese fries and steak picado, you won't be disappointed. 

There's the antique store (House of Originals) that's also the best coffee shop in town. It's off Navajo Boulevard north of Rt. 180.  It's literally beside the building where Google drops a pin if you just map "Holbrook, AZ." Don't get too excited, it's not a coffee shop in the big city sense.  For one, when I ordered a 3-shot Americano the two patrons seated at the antique café tables in the café nook tittered in amusement to themselves and said to me "you're gonna be awake!" But they do take credit cards, which can be a rarity in small-town Arizona.  They do not have wireless internet...but they can direct you to THE restaurant in town that does.


That would be Romo's - THE place with WiFi.  Also, a darn good burrito.  You won't want for Mexican food options in Holbrook, but as long as you're sampling them stop by Romo's, it's delicious and the salsa served with your standard complimentary chips has a nice, chunky homemade quality to it.  The service is polite and even accommodating to me hauling in a box of case-files, my tablet, my briefcase, and pulling up to the 4-top with an electrical outlet nearby.  And that small-town quality I mentioned before, yea, as I wrestled the door open to squeeze out with a file box under one arm and briefcase under the other the folks walking out in front of me said "you must be a lawyer."  I felt like My Cousin Vinny, but in the wild west and I was dressed like Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers (when he's dressed like an attorney). 

Not craving Mexican or antiques?  There's a delightful Italian restaurant attached to the divest bar I've seen in years. (Mesa Italiana Restaurant)  Due to high winds you have to enter through the dive and go in to a white tablecloth Italian restaurant.  Quite the shock to the senses.  But they actually make a solid eggplant parm and their salad dressing isn't just creamy Italian.  Something of a Holbrook gem, if you ask me.  I was lucky enough to go on a night where 97% of the patrons were the red hat ladies.  They seemed fun.


Seriously, WHY?
Holbrook also has such curios as the Wigwam Hotel.  I don't know if the fact that it's called the Wigwam but the units are built like teepees is ignorant, ironic, or slightly racist.  Either way, it's some true Route 66 Americana--even seen on An Idiot Abroad (Netflix that, enjoy yourself).  In the summer, at least, there are regular evening Native American dances in the little park across from the antique store/coffee shop.  Then you have a multitude of petrified wood stores, some Route 66 memorabilia, a store that sells alien things and petrified wood (anyone know that story??), and a passable facsimile of the theater in South Park. 

The real delight of Holbrook comes in the evening in the summer when the monsoon storms sweep the high desert and the sunset paints the sky in pastel.  No matter which way you look, you'll be delighted. 




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