|Flying into Avra Valley Airport (north of Tucson, Arizona), we overheard a pilot using the airwaves to give his buddy directions to the Sky Rider Coffee Shop. At least one of us was hungry enough to make a note of it, because we were soon taxiing toward the establishment.
After securing the plane, my companions and I took a short walk up a cleverly planned, runway-style pathway, which leads to the Sky Rider's ramp entrance. A beautiful, Southwestern desert garden equipped with picnic tables beckoned us to dine outside, but we resisted and went in to where the action was.
As we entered, we saw that the servers had their hands full with the Sunday morning breakfast crowd. We grabbed an empty table anddespite the scores of other patronswere almost immediately greeted by a friendly waitress who zoomed by, offering us coffee on the way.
The Sky Rider Coffee Shop is known for its daily specials and orders to go. The menu contains the requisite diner-style foods (with a Southwestern flair) at an affordable price. Although I was informed that the menus are about to be revised, the venerable ones from which we ordered included something to suit most every appetite.
Breakfast is available all day long, and ranges from pancakes to huevos rancheros. The Sky Rider specializes in omelets made to suit your personal tastes. We were also happy to discover that either green or red chile can accompany any meal.
We ordered from the breakfast menu, and were impressed with the speed with which our food arrived. We made a quick search for the Jetsons style food dispenser, but saw only an efficient line cook.
The omelets were excellently prepared, with the standard strings of cheese accompanying each bite. The huevos rancheros proved to be slightly runny, and the tortillas were definitely more saturated with oil than I prefer. The flavor, however, was excellent; I guess theres something to be said for the old greasy spoon style.
Everyone in our party agreed that the food was satisfying and that the coffee was plentiful and fresh. There was always a smiling waitress speeding by with a hot pot to refill our cups.
The regular lunch and dinner menu offers an array of hamburgers, sandwiches, and salads. However, Friday night diners can also order such items as Kansas City steak, breaded whiting fillets, and liver and onions. Each dinner plate can be ordered a la carte or as a full meal with soup or salad and your choice of mashed potatoes, french fries, or vegetables. Dinner prices range from $4.50 to $7.50.
Lunch and breakfast are even less expensive, with meal prices varying from a $2.00 hamburger to a $3.95 taco salad. The low prices are especially nice considering that the Sky Rider Coffee Shop doesn't accept credit cards. But never fear; they will take an out-of-town check. In an attempt to suit even the most finicky customer, our waitress pointed out that items on the menu may also easily be exchanged for others.
Although the restaurant is located at the Avra Valley Airport, the majority of its customers are local farmers and bikers passing through the Arizona desertgiving the restaurant a unique, yet comfortable, atmosphere. The manager recommends the courtesy of calling ahead for a reservation, but it doesn't appear to be a necessity. We arrived in the middle of the breakfast rush and didn't have any problems getting a table right away.
The Sky Rider Coffee Shop is open 7 days a week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Fridays, it remains open for dinner until 9 p.m. and features a different special each week. Saturdays and Sundays, a meal known to veterans as S.O.S.a hearty serving of creamed chipped beefcomes highly recommended by the manager.
If you're planning a trip to the Tucson area, or if you're simply in search of a new airport restaurant in which to sip coffee and enjoy a hearty breakfast, the Sky Rider Coffee Shop just may fit the bill.