Parada del Sol Parade, Festival Bring Wild West Back to Scottsdale

Scottsdale Parada del Sol Parade | Kent Ennis

The 65th annual Scottsdale Parada del Sol Parade and Trail’s End Festival is set to bring Wild West adventures and history to downtown Scottsdale starting this week.

Parada President Wendy Springborn said the event dates to 1951. Back then, it was named the Sunshine Festival. Springborn, who moved from Illinois to Arizona in 1969, said she has many fond memories of the festival and parade from her early days in the Valley.

“Back in my grade-school days, there would be a month's worth of events going on in downtown Scottsdale leading up to the parade and rodeo," she said. "It’s gotten a smaller footprint as far as dates over time, but the city is really trying to bring back events for a Western week to give residents and visitors an opportunity to experience some of the history of Scottsdale.”

Parade attendees and festivalgoers can experience Western bands, dancing, activities for kids, an Arizona wine garden, Aztec and folklorico dancers, and more. Those who want more than just one day of Western fun can join in events throughout the week, including an art walk and Pony Express mail delivery.

The upcoming Scottsdale Western Week features a number of free, family-friendly events, including:

Western Spirit Gold Palette ArtWalk
Thursday, February 8, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The Scottsdale Gallery Association transforms its popular ArtWalk series with a Western theme, including Scottsdale’s finest examples of Old West and contemporary art. Visitors can experience live mariachi performances, a rope-trick artist and live demonstrations inside some of the galleries.

Hashknife Pony Express Mail Delivery and Community Celebration
Friday, February 9, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The oldest officially sanctioned Pony Express celebrates its 60th year with riders blazing their trail from the tiny town of Holbrook to the streets of downtown Scottsdale. Arriving on horseback and covering a relay mail route of more than 200 miles, the annual delivery consists of 20,000 pieces of first class mail that bear the “Hashknife Pony Express” insignia.

65th Annual Scottsdale Parada del Sol Parade and Trail’s End Festival
Saturday, February 10, 10 a.m. to noon (parade), noon to 4 p.m. (festival)

As in years past, 2018’s Parada del Sol promises a variety of horse groups, including mounted riders of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Posse, the Hashknife Pony Express riders and the Scottsdale Charros, as well as horse-drawn carriages, bands, wagons and stagecoaches.

Arizona Indian Festival
Saturday, February 10, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, February 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Held at Scottsdale Civic Center Park, this two-day, family-friendly event features Arizona tribes sharing cultural experiences, traditional dwellings, art demonstrations, Native American storytelling, performances, music and contemporary entertainment, and an artisan market.

Whether you make it to all the stops or just have time for one Western Week event, consider spending your Saturday in Scottsdale for the parade and festival. “It’s just a wonderful time to come down and see all the beautiful history of Scottsdale in the parade,” Springborn said. “Come out and enjoy a wonderful day and afternoon.”

To learn more about the events planned around the Scottsdale Parada del Sol Parade and Trail’s End Festival, visit

— Kirsten Kraklio

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3 Arizona Restaurants Honored by James Beard Foundation

Fry Bread House, Phoenix | Via Facebook

An upscale Paradise Valley restaurant, a Tucson fast food joint and a Phoenix eatery named for a Native American staple have all received an honor from a prestigious dining organization.

El Chorro Lodge, El Guero Canelo and the Fry Bread House are among the new America's Classics Awards winners from the James Beard Foundation. The awards, created in 1998, recognize locally owned restaurants that serve "quality food that reflects the character of their communities."

It's actually the second such honor for the Fry Bread House, which received the same award in 2012. The Phoenix restaurant, which opened in 1992 and moved to a new location on Seventh Avenue in 2013, serves fry bread and other Native American dishes.

El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley specializes in upscale American fare, while Tucson's El Guero Canelo, which started as a hot dog stand, serves Sonoran-style Mexican fare.

For the complete list of America's Classics Award winners nationwide, click here.

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Website: Mesquite Pods Are Arizona's 'Grossest' Food

Are mesquite pods really Arizona's "grossest" food? | Raymond Shobe (via Flickr)

A prominent website's ranking of each state's "grossest" delicacy will probably upset some foodies in Arizona and elsewhere.

Thrillist's list was published earlier this year, but the Arizona Daily Star noticed it last week. The headline: Every State's Grossest Food (That People Actually Love). And in Arizona, the website claims, mesquite pods are the least appetizing thing around.

While taking in the stark beauty of the Arizona desert, you might notice some of the vegetation appears to have 8in-long, chartreuse-colored spiders crawling out of its branches. Chill. Not only are these lil' wormy monsters harmless legumes, they're actually edible. And, more importantly, they (especially the honey-mesquite variety) taste like organic Skittles. You can pop them right off the branch and eat the pods like jumbo green beans, or mash them into a fine powder to make flour, jelly, or even cocktails. See, Skittles do grow from trees. They're just a little uglier. The only catch is the alien that eventually hatches inside your stomach if you eat more than three.

The author of this blog post readily admits to not having sampled mesquite pods, but if they're the grossest thing Thrillist could come up with for our state, then Arizona appears to be doing pretty well. As the Daily Star noted, the organization Desert Harvesters hosts a mesquite-milling festival in Tucson every summer. And mesquite flour is a favorite among the gluten-intolerant.

Arizona's entry on this list looks even better when you compare it with some other states' "grossest" foods — notably the pickle dog (Minnesota), scrapple (Pennsylvania) and Brunswick stew (Virginia). Those all might be delicious, but the Arizona Highways staff probably won't find out anytime soon.

You tell us: What is Arizona's grossest food?

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Dine 200 Feet Underground at Grand Canyon Caverns

Caverns Grotto didn't exist when these guys showed up at Grand Canyon Caverns. If it did, they'd have a little more meat on their bones. | Cindy Roth

A popular tourist attraction along Historic Route 66 is opening a restaurant that's unlike any other in Arizona.

As ABC15 reported last week, Grand Canyon Caverns, located along Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman, has created Caverns Grotto, a four-table restaurant where diners can enjoy lunch or dinner in a cave 200 feet underground. There, they'll have an uninterrupted, 360-degree view of a cave that's part of the largest dry caverns in the United States, the facility said.

The restaurant, which is set to open around August 15, will be a pretty exclusive spot, with a capacity of only 16 diners at a time. Reservations are being accepted now, and if there's enough demand, the restaurant might add another table.

Caverns Grotto will offer an all-you-can-eat lunch for $49.95 and a dinner, which will include unlimited salad and dessert, for $69.95. Both include a tour of the cave, which normally costs $20. The food will be made above ground and brought down to diners via the facility's elevator and a pulley system.

This isn't the only unique thing to do at Grand Canyon Caverns; you can also spend a night in the Cavern Suite if you've got $800 to spare. More affordable motel rooms are available at ground level.

For more information about the caverns, click here.

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Fire Destroys Apache Junction's Mining Camp Restaurant

Courtesy of Mining Camp Restaurant

A Phoenix-area restaurant that's been serving up family-style ribs and other Western fare for more than a half-century burned to the ground last week.

The Mining Camp Restaurant, located just southeast of the Apache Trail (State Route 88) in Apache Junction, was destroyed early Tuesday, July 25, Valley food blog Mouth by Southwest reported.

The restaurant was built with ponderosa pine logs from the Payson area, according to its website. It opened in 1961 and was a popular tourist destination known for its family-style, all-you-can-eat dinners, which featured barbecued ribs, baked beans and other dishes served on old-fashioned tin plates.

The Mining Camp also featured dinner shows at certain times of year, and hosted weddings and other events.

Mouth by Southwest reported the cause of the fire had not been determined, but that the building appeared to be a total loss. There was no word on whether the Mining Camp's owners would rebuild the facility.

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Space Age Material Aids ADOT Bridge Repairs

Crews repair the Interstate 17 bridge over 19th Avenue using a new carbon-fiber technique. | Courtesy of Arizona Department of Transportation

Two major Interstate 17 bridges in Phoenix were recently repaired using a new carbon-fiber technique developed by a Tucson company.

The Arizona Department of Transportation says the repairs focused on bridge girders that were damaged when they were struck by over-height vehicles. Instead of a normal repair method, such as injecting epoxy to rebuild sections of the concrete girders, ADOT wrapped the girders in a strengthening material called Fiber Reinforced Polymer, or FRP — carbon-fiber strips that are coated and strengthened with a reinforcing polymer.

The bridges repaired with FRP carry I-17 over 19th Avenue and Jefferson Street in Phoenix. As a result of the repairs, the 19th Avenue bridge is no longer considered structurally deficient, ADOT says. The Jefferson Street bridge was not structurally deficient.

The FRP repair was developed by QuakeWrap Inc., a Tucson company, and was installed by construction firms from Tempe and Tucson. ADOT says the new repair technique can extend structures' life spans and can be completed in much less time than traditional repair methods.

Statewide, ADOT says, less than 2 percent of the department's bridges are listed as structurally deficient. But the department says that designation doesn't mean the bridge is unsafe to use — just that an inspection has identified certain repair needs.

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What's the Best Breakfast Spot in Arizona?

Pancakes at The Original Breakfast House | Via Facebook

The food blog Extra Crispy has released its list of the 51 best breakfast destinations in America — and a Phoenix restaurant is Arizona's representative.

The Original Breakfast House, located at 13623 N. 32nd Street, made the blog's ranking, which was published last month. The restaurant specializes in "unique and original twists on classic diner food," and breakfast selections include the El Paso omelet (which includes chorizo, green chiles and black beans), pancakes (made with a hint of lemon) and egg scrambles with Cheddar cheese and various meats.

Extra Crispy lauded the restaurant's "meaty eggs and omelets decked with linguica, Arizona beef, chicken-fried steak, ham, Spam, carnitas, or chili, as well as lovingly prepped pancakes and French toast with a bounty of fruity and sweet fillings and toppings."

"If you can't find your dream breakfast here, you just aren't trying hard enough," the site added.

The OBH has been in business since 2013 and also features a lunch menu. Its owner, John Stidham, had owned several restaurants in Northern California before retiring to the Valley in 2011.

Like any list of this nature, Extra Crispy's ranking is completely subjective. So, you tell us: What's the best place to get breakfast in Arizona? (A few of our favorites: Matt's Big Breakfast in Phoenix and Tempe, the Waffle Iron in Prescott and MartAnne's in Flagstaff.)

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The Sedona McDonald's: An Arizona Oddity

The McDonald's in Sedona is believed to be the only one in the world with a turquoise logo. | Doug Kerr (via Flickr)

At last count, there were more than 36,000 McDonald's restaurants in the world. But the McDonald's in Sedona is one of a kind.

There's perhaps no more recognizable brand than the McDonald's "Golden Arches." At the Sedona McDonald's, those arches are turquoise (or teal green, or jade, depending on whom you ask).

And while this deviation from the norm has spurred all sorts of theories about building codes and city ordinances, the truth is a little less exciting, according to a news report from a few years back.

It's hard to imagine today, but Sedona wasn't even incorporated as a city until 1988. The McDonald's franchise came along a few years later, when the city was still firming up its building and signage restrictions. The franchise owner worked with the city on the look of the restaurant; since the shopping center next to it featured turquoise signage, the color was a natural fit for the McDonald's.

The fast-food stop opened in May 1993 and has become a minor tourist attraction, with visitors posting photos of "the world's only Turquoise Arches" to social media. And you have to admit, turquoise goes a lot better with Sedona's stunning red-rock views than yellow would.

You can see the unique McDonald's for yourself at 2380 W. State Route 89A in Sedona. And while most of us at Arizona Highways enjoy a Big Mac every now and then, we'd recommend Elote Café, Red Rock Café or one of Sedona's other great local restaurants first.

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Cave Creek's Historic Buffalo Chip Returns After Fire

Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse owner Larry Wendt displays some of the Cave Creek restaurant's Western memorabilia, including a photo of Tom Mix. | Kirsten Kraklio

On Thanksgiving Day in 2015, Larry Wendt watched as the restaurant he took over in 1998, Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse, burned to the ground.

The fire, started by an arsonist, destroyed more than 60 years of Cave Creek history, leaving behind just two charred statues as a reminder. “The building was full of old relics and things from the past from the Buffalo Chip and Cave Creek locals,” Wendt said.

A year and a few months later, the Buffalo Chip is in a brand-new facility and offering the Western charm regular customers have grown to love. But it almost didn’t.

“At first, I didn’t intend to rebuild,” Wendt said. “Then there was such an outpouring from the community and the Town Council and all of our old customers and everything. I decided to rebuild, but we knew it was going to take a year or longer.”

Wendt said the community rallied to support him and his staff. “This community — it’s not a large community, it’s only about 3,000 people — they raised $55,000 for my staff. It was right during the holidays, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, and 121 people were out of work,” he said.

Once construction began, it took about four months to complete the new facility. During the rebuilding process, the Buffalo Chip was able to serve customers out of its outdoor bull-riding venue, which was unscathed in the fire. It wasn’t fancy or big, but it allowed Wendt to keep his staff taken care of.

Now, Wendt considers the fire to be a blessing. “We had a very loyal following, but it really taxed the infrastructure of the building,” he said. “The restrooms were small; the kitchen was small.”

“Other than the fact that I didn’t insure it very well, this is a blessing, actually, because everything’s new and updated,” he added.

The new building’s restrooms and kitchen are bigger, and it includes a second floor. But not everything is new. The rustic look is authentic, with antique wood used throughout the restaurant. “When we rebuilt, we could have built out of all new material and made it look like every other place,” Wendt said, “but we were determined to buy all antique lumber — a whole sawmill — and build it back like it would have been in the '50s. I’m proud of it.”

The traditions have stayed the same, too. Visitors can still find boots hanging from the ceiling above the packed dance floor, autographed Western photos on the walls and, of course, the Green Bay Packers memorabilia — in honor of original Buffalo Chip owner Max McGee, the hero of the Packers’ win in Super Bowl I.

“[The Packers] support us unbelievably,” Wendt said. “The third call that I got Thanksgiving morning when I was watching my place burn down — the first one was from my wife, the second was from a neighbor who saw the smoke — the third one was from the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, who said, ‘I’m seeing your place is on fire.’ They’ve just been a tremendous support. I couldn’t ask for a better family away from the Buffalo Chip. The Packers and Wisconsin have been wonderful.”

And, yes, it was a large but sad crowd at the Chip on January 22 for the NFC Championship Game. “We ran into that steamroller, the [Atlanta] Falcons, and they just ate our lunch,” Wendt said.

The disappointing outcome aside, fans of the Buffalo Chip continue to come out and show their support, in part, Wendt says, because of the friendly staff. “You can go any place in Cave Creek and get a hamburger or some barbecue and a longneck beer and a friendly bartender that might say, ‘Hey, how are you doing,’ but the only thing that really sets any place apart is how you treat the customer,” Wendt said.

— Kirsten Kraklio

Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse is located at 6823 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek. For more information, call 480-488-9118 or visit

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Matt's Big Breakfast Adds Tempe Location

Waffles and bacon make an enticing pair at Matt's Big Breakfast. | Courtesy of Matt's Big Breakfast

Many of us at Arizona Highways love bacon, so it should come as no surprise that we love Matt's Big Breakfast, which has grown from humble beginnings in downtown Phoenix to become one of the hottest breakfast joints in town. The bacon there is great, and so is everything else on the menu.

From its initial restaurant downtown, Matt's has expanded to locations in the Biltmore area and at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. And now, Matt's is making its first foray out of Phoenix, setting up shop in Tempe along the shore of Tempe Town Lake.

The new location, at 400 E. Rio Salado Parkway, is in the new Marina Heights development north of Arizona State University. Like the other (non-airport) locations, it's open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

According to a release from the Tempe Tourism Office, the new spot is much bigger than the downtown location, but the menu is the same: fluffy pancakes, omelets, hash browns and savory thick-cut bacon. For lunch, Matt's also offers burgers, BLTs, chili and other options.

Matt's Big Breakfast has been featured in Arizona Highways, and its recipes appear in Arizona's Best Recipes, our cookbook featuring selections from some of the best restaurants in Arizona.

To learn more about Matt's Big Breakfast, visit its website.

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