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April/May 2000

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Alexander Eaglerock
The $100 Hamburger
Payson, Arizona
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SW Aviator Magazine
3909 Central NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
Phone: 505.256.7031
Fax: 505.256.3172
Payson Arizona's Crosswinds Grille
by Don Mickey

Each airport restaurant has its own style. Some are cafeteria type establishments, with pre-prepared food and standardized menu items, simply designed to shuffle consumers through as they await their departure. Others are more comfortable, offering a cozy place to retreat from the bustle. Still others offer the feel of a diner, complete with malts and vinyl booths. The most unique airport restaurants, however, are those found at small, general aviation-only airports. These establishments must offer something truly special to pull locals out to the airport, and pilots down from the sky.

Payson, Arizona's Crosswinds Grille does just that. The experience at this out-of-the-way location is more like enjoying a meal at a friend's house than going out to eat. The décor is somewhat like a family room, with tables set up for a gathering of old friends. One wall is covered with photographs of previous visitors, including warplanes and classic aircraft from years gone by. There is no hostess stand or waiting area. The cash register is set up on a small stand near the entrance to the kitchen; one of the few reminders that everyone must indeed pay for their meal.

Reinforcing the homey atmosphere of the Crosswinds Grill is the food. The freshly prepared dishes are by no means gourmet; more like a homemade meal at grandma's house. No unnecessary embellishments or gimmicks, just plain old-fashioned good food.

We flew in to Payson on a clear February day, returning to Albuquerque from Phoenix. This little detour proved to be well worth the fuel. Walking into the Crosswinds Grille, I was delighted by the view. The airport sits on a hill south of the runway, so the north-facing wall of windows provides a breathtaking view of the pine-covered hills rolling off into the distance, behind the foreground of planes taking off and landing. My companions and I sat down and were immediately greeted by a friendly waitress, whose endearing phrases made us feel like a loving aunt was serving our meals.

I ordered the special of the day, Bowtie Pasta with Ham and Peas in Alfredo Sauce. My companions went for more simple fare: one ordering “Dave’s Burger,” the other a Reuben sandwich. Our food arrived quickly, and we dug in without delay. My pasta was very tasty, but more Middle American than Italian in flavor. The Hamburger received rave reviews, its flavor reminiscent of family cookouts. As for the Rueben, we decided it was definitely one of the best of its kind.

Determining I was still just a touch under max gross weight, I remembered the Bread Pudding offered on the dessert menu. I had some incredible bread pudding once when I was a child that changed my life. Now, every time I see Bread Pudding on a menu, I'm tempted to try it. When I do, I'm usually disappointed; it just doesn't compare with the memory I have of this rich, sweet treat. The Crosswinds Grille, however, has changed my life again. The Bread Pudding was excellent. It was perfect. It was exquisite. I felt like a kid eating dessert at grandma's house. And at only $1.50 for a heaping bowl-full, I can afford (ignoring, as we all do, the cost of flying there) to give-in to the powerful pull of Payson’s Bread Pudding whenever I'm over Central Arizona.

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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publishing, Inc. and the staff neither assume any responsibilty for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising out of it. Fly safe.