SW Aviator Magazine - June/July 1999 issue
$100 Hamburger:
The Sedona Airport Restaurant
by Noah Masterson
Past the twelve thousand foot peak of Mount Humphreys and over the Mogollon Rim lies Sedona, Arizona. And for a moment, it's as if Columbus detractors were right; the earth is flat and you could very well drop off the edge. Sedona wouldn't be such a bad place to die, or at least retire. The reds and greens of cliffs and trees offer heavenlike serenity. After the Grand Canyon, it is the second-most visited site in Arizona.

The Sedona airport rests on a mesa, and landing on it is akin to landing on an aircraft carrier. (Granted, my pilot pointed out that it would be a very large aircraft carrier.) Walk past the tourists lined up for biplane tours, through the gift shop, and you arrive at the Sedona Airport Restaurant: a sprawling operation with two dining rooms and patio seating.

Inside, the place is elegant, with modernist chairs and booths, clouds painted on the ceiling, and hues of lavender and baby blue. Aluminum siding and posters of vintage aircraft give the place the requisite airplane hangar-feel. The windows offer a view of the airport's runway. We arrived at 11:45 a.m., and breakfast was still being served. (When the clock struck noon, we witnessed an elaborate changing of the guard as breakfast menus were exchanged for lunch menus.)

The breakfast menu comprises nearly 30 items, including omelets, waffles, burritos, sandwiches and the usual egg combos. We kicked off the meal with coffee, which was standard-issue, perfectly okay joe. I drink mine black, but my pilot and co-pilot wanted cream, which turned out to be an ordeal. After repeated requests, we eventually grabbed the attention of a busser, who brought the cream.

Our meals gave us less trouble. I ordered the veggie croissant sandwich, which was served with hash browns. It was a tasty affair, containing a scrambled egg, sliced tomatoes, avocado and cheese (I substituted Jack for Swiss). The ingredients worked well together, and the hash browns tasted freshly sliced—not reheated from a frozen brick. I failed to flag down a waitress for Tabasco, and I had to snag some from a neighboring table.

Also on the table were Eggs Benedict, which arrived expertly poached with a somewhat thin Hollandaise sauce. The dish was fine, and my compatriot consumed it in short time.

The heartiest eater at the table ordered one of the heartiest breakfasts: the pancake sandwich, served with pancakes, eggs and bacon. This is one of those classic American best-of-both-worlds breakfasts, which hits the spot when you need fuel for the flight home. Rave reviews were mumbled between bites.

While the food at the Sedona Airport Restaurant was genuinely good, the service was not. We couldn't help but notice that the staff—though friendly—seemed a lot busier than they should have been. A fair number of diners populated the establishment's tables, but not enough to merit the panicky, inefficient bustling of the waiters, waitresses and bussers. Chalk it up to poor management and lack of competition.

Overall, our experience was positive; the quality of food outweighed the quality of service. Breakfasts range from $4 to $7. Lunches—which include sandwiches, salads, and Mexican favorites—cost slightly more. Dinners are in the $15 range and feature a variety of seafood, beef, chicken, pasta and vegetarian entrées. Breakfast for three came to $22.46.

The Sedona Airport Restaurant is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. They accept credit cards and have a full bar (don't forget to have a designated flyer!). Phone: (520) 282-3576.

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