By Kathy Montgomery | Photo by Paul Markow
A small mountain community is rocking a big-city vibe, thanks to Foxfire at Alpine.
Owners Steve and Lisa Malcolm lived part time in the small Eastern Arizona town of Alpine for a decade. They moved there full time after the Wallow Fire of 2011, opening Foxfire in 2013. The name refers to the nighttime bioluminescence of certain types of mushrooms that grow in the wake of fire — evidence that beauty can grow from devastation.
The urban feel of the dining area, with polished wooden tables and a contemporary color scheme, reflects Lisa’s 27 years with Darden Restaurants, parent company of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, as well as high-end eateries such as the Capital Grille and Eddie V’s.
She’s also behind most of the menu, which includes signature pizzas, pastas and specialty items such as Asian barbecued salmon and macadamia-crusted mahi-mahi. The barbecue sauce, though, is Steve’s.
The restaurant offers gluten-free options such as bumblebee stew, the Malcolms’ take on a Cajun dish made with black beans and yellow corn. But there’s also plenty for traditionalists, with New York strip and rib-eye steaks, as well as a spicy elk burger, made more flavorful by the addition of veal chorizo.
Foxfire became so popular, it wasn’t long before the Malcolms needed to expand. They built a saloon next door, paneling the interior with pine and juniper salvaged from the fire. The menu is the same, but the feeling is more rustic, with country tunes rather than the coffeehouse music that plays in the restaurant.
The saloon includes a glass garage door, which can be raised in good weather, and a covered patio. Most recently, the Malcolms added a stage for an expanding music program.
A flatpicker, Steve rounded up some fellow bluegrass musicians to play on Wednesday nights. The music became so popular, he started offering live music on Friday and Saturday nights as well. Fridays are generally country or vintage rock. Saturdays could be anything, says Steve, who brings in bands from as far away as Tucson.
In August 2015, Steve put together a free one-day music festival. This year, he plans to expand it into a three-day event, with bluegrass and acoustic music, on the third weekend in August.
On the last weekend in September, Foxfire also hosts an Oktoberfest event, with beer brats, sauerkraut, spaetzle and apple strudel, among other German dishes, plus a variety of German beers and, of course, music.
A longtime resident who has seen new restaurants come and go has watched all of this with surprise and more than a little respect. “They’ve elevated the whole town,” he says.
You might even say they’re on fire.
Foxfire at Alpine is located at 42661 U.S. Route 180 in Alpine. For more information, call 928-339-4344 or visit www.foxfireatalpine.com.