By Kathy Montgomery | Photograph by Paul Markow
Prescott restaurateurs have long lured guests with ghost stories. Spirits also attract crowds at Park Plaza Liquor & Deli. Only these are spirits of a different type.
One of Arizona’s largest independent liquor stores, Park Plaza also boasts a rapidly expanding full-service restaurant. Located in a strip mall not far from Courthouse Square, the restaurant has been one of Prescott’s hidden gems since 2007. Its unusual business model offers some obvious perks. For example, if diners don’t care for one of the craft beers or wines on tap, they’re free to choose from more than 1,000 bottled beers or 1,500 bottles of wine.
Spirits aside, folks flock to Park Plaza for surprisingly good food. More pub then deli, Park Plaza features the usual suspects, such as wings and beer-battered onion rings, along with a large selection of salads, sandwiches and burgers. But within that framework, the menu is all over the map.
Sandwiches include gyros, a Cubano, slow-cooked barbecued pork and a turkey pesto melt. Monday night is ramen-and-sake night, with riffs on Asian noodle soups that stretch the boundaries — from Japanese green curry to a hot-and-sour matzo-ball soup created especially for general manager Erik Rackoff.
“I’m a Jew from New York,” he quips. “We love our Chinese food.”
The menu’s diversity grows as popular specials get added. One burger came from a deli counter employee on a day the cooks lacked inspiration: The Elly, served with jalapeño cream cheese, barbecued bacon, fried jalapeños, red onions and chipotle mayo on a toasted brioche roll, sold out, to everyone’s surprise.
But the real draw is wood-fired pizza, crafted from dough made daily from sourdough starter in colorfully named varieties such as the Fluke (pesto sauce, diced chicken breast, feta cheese, red onions, artichoke hearts and fresh mushrooms) and the Stinkin’ Rose (loaded with garlic, red onions and pepperoni).
A larger wood-burning oven gave rise to some of the most popular menu items, including mac and cheese — cavatappi pasta, with a three-cheese sauce, topped with Parmesan garlic breadcrumbs in a cast-iron skillet — and the pretzel, which comes with beer mustard and cheese sauce.
Television inspired the Ron Swanson. The bacon-topped burger is named for the pork-loving misanthrope from Parks and Recreation. And the Swanson Challenge — which began with 30 minutes to eat five patties, 10 slices of cheese and a pound of fries — is Park Plaza’s take on Man v. Food.
Besides a free meal, the reigning champion gets his or her name on the menu and round-the-clock happy hour prices on beer. With each success, the challenge gets tougher. At press time, Adam Richman would have to beat “Big Steve,” who holds the current record of seven patties, to win. That is, if the spirit moved him.
Park Plaza Liquor & Deli is located at 402 W. Goodwin Street in Prescott. For more information, call 928-541-9894 or visit www.facebook.com/PARKPLAZADELI/.