9/29/2012

A Taste of Bisbee

Living pretty much in the middle of nowhere limits your dining choices, but happily we're not too far from Bisbee. My husband surprised me with a romantic birthday dinner at the Cafe Roka last night. He managed to get a window table at on the third floor and we had the space to ourselves. Our attentive attentive server whose name was Bronwen (for a character in How Green Was My Valley) only added to our wonderful evening. When dining in Bisbee you get the chance to get to know your server.

The restaurant has an eclectic menu, featuring local produce and meats. Everything is fresh and homemade. The exquisite appetizer of Medjool dates stuffed with bacon and Gorgonzola got the evening started right and we finished with a dessert sampler of Key Lime tart, Nutella cheesecake, and flourless chocolate cake with fresh strawberries. While we leisurely ate our entrees, we had a bird's eye view of the light foot traffic on the winding, narrow Main Street. The Ghost Tour was the highlight as a young woman in 1880s garb with a lantern swinging from her hand led a chattering group up the street.

Now the City of Bisbee is a quirky, offbeat sort of place. It's originally a copper mining town founded around 1880 that saw its heyday at the turn of the 20th century. In 1910, the population was almost 10,000, but today it's half that.  The town is built into the sides of the Mule Mountains which are red rock, an obvious statement of the minerals that once made the fortunes of mining executives.  After the copper mining industry closed down in the 70s, Bisbee had to reinvent itself to stay alive. It has become a sanctuary for old hippies and  outlandishly decorated cars. You have to see one of the cars to really understand.  You'll also find artists, coffee roasters, musicians, antique shops, galleries, restaurants, B & B's, and Brewery Gulch.  There's a festival or some special event scheduled almost every weekend. The Blues Festival just finished and they're getting ready for the 1,000 Stair Climb Race in October.  Because of the odd construction of the houses precariously clutching the sides of the mountains, there are hundreds of stairs to get around areas of Bisbee. A couple of friends competed last year. I've decided my knees can't take a 1,000 stairs at one time. It's that birthday thing we were celebrating.

Bisbee's other claim to fame is its designation as the county seat. The Art Deco period courthouse is perched on a hill overlooking Tombstone Canyon (a street). The Iron Man statue guards the entrance. The modern county buildings are outside of Old Bisbee in a fairly new complex.  I worked for the county when we first moved here in 2003. That department was housed in the old Bisbee High School, an interesting story for another time.

If you ever stop in at Casa Wallace for a visit, we'll include a tour of Bisbee in the package. You won't be disappointed. The mine tour, the shopping, excellent coffee, and people watching are a unique experience.


The FLY! They're bigger out West.

Bisbee Art Car

Courthouse Art Deco Doors

Overlooking Bisbee

Main Street, Bisbee AZ

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Positively encouraging

9/29/2012

A Taste of Bisbee

Living pretty much in the middle of nowhere limits your dining choices, but happily we're not too far from Bisbee. My husband surprised me with a romantic birthday dinner at the Cafe Roka last night. He managed to get a window table at on the third floor and we had the space to ourselves. Our attentive attentive server whose name was Bronwen (for a character in How Green Was My Valley) only added to our wonderful evening. When dining in Bisbee you get the chance to get to know your server.

The restaurant has an eclectic menu, featuring local produce and meats. Everything is fresh and homemade. The exquisite appetizer of Medjool dates stuffed with bacon and Gorgonzola got the evening started right and we finished with a dessert sampler of Key Lime tart, Nutella cheesecake, and flourless chocolate cake with fresh strawberries. While we leisurely ate our entrees, we had a bird's eye view of the light foot traffic on the winding, narrow Main Street. The Ghost Tour was the highlight as a young woman in 1880s garb with a lantern swinging from her hand led a chattering group up the street.

Now the City of Bisbee is a quirky, offbeat sort of place. It's originally a copper mining town founded around 1880 that saw its heyday at the turn of the 20th century. In 1910, the population was almost 10,000, but today it's half that.  The town is built into the sides of the Mule Mountains which are red rock, an obvious statement of the minerals that once made the fortunes of mining executives.  After the copper mining industry closed down in the 70s, Bisbee had to reinvent itself to stay alive. It has become a sanctuary for old hippies and  outlandishly decorated cars. You have to see one of the cars to really understand.  You'll also find artists, coffee roasters, musicians, antique shops, galleries, restaurants, B & B's, and Brewery Gulch.  There's a festival or some special event scheduled almost every weekend. The Blues Festival just finished and they're getting ready for the 1,000 Stair Climb Race in October.  Because of the odd construction of the houses precariously clutching the sides of the mountains, there are hundreds of stairs to get around areas of Bisbee. A couple of friends competed last year. I've decided my knees can't take a 1,000 stairs at one time. It's that birthday thing we were celebrating.

Bisbee's other claim to fame is its designation as the county seat. The Art Deco period courthouse is perched on a hill overlooking Tombstone Canyon (a street). The Iron Man statue guards the entrance. The modern county buildings are outside of Old Bisbee in a fairly new complex.  I worked for the county when we first moved here in 2003. That department was housed in the old Bisbee High School, an interesting story for another time.

If you ever stop in at Casa Wallace for a visit, we'll include a tour of Bisbee in the package. You won't be disappointed. The mine tour, the shopping, excellent coffee, and people watching are a unique experience.


The FLY! They're bigger out West.

Bisbee Art Car

Courthouse Art Deco Doors

Overlooking Bisbee

Main Street, Bisbee AZ

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