A Special Dinner Place – Café Roka, Old Town Bisbee
It was my first evening in Bisbee. Everyone, from the innkeeper to the woman on the street, said I had to try Café Roka. Café Roka is conveniently located in a historic building on Main Street in Bisbee. It’s right in the middle of everything.
Café Roka reminded me of those San Francisco Italian restaurants tucked away in historic narrow Victorians. But as I walked in, I noticed something different. There was a bar at the center of the restaurant and patrons were eating and savoring drinks on both sides. The bartender kept up interesting conversations with patrons while dispensing martinis, wine and beer and taking orders for dinner at the bar. The place really hummed with activity. It is yet another Bisbee gathering place.
What sets Café Roka apart is the quality of the cuisine. Chef Rod Kass is a master at taking Italian dishes to a new level. Now, mind you, this is rural southern Arizona, not San Francisco or New York. But you certainly wouldn't know that as you dined at Cafe Roka. I tried the vegetarian lasagna, mainly because it had my favorite vegetable, asparagus, as an ingredient. I learned that all meals consist of 4 courses… soup, salad, sorbet intermezzo and entrée. And I found that each course was prepared with fresh ingredients, artfully presented and paced for dining. All the better to enjoy conversation and the live music. The chef is vegetarian, himself, and so you will always find some great vegetarian dishes amid the traditional lamb and beef offerings. The evening I was there one of the delightful sounding specials was salmon and crab cake. I had my heart set on an Italian experience and so, reluctantly, bypassed this offering.
I have to agree with the innkeepers, the women on the street and the people I met at Café Roka. It is the best restaurant in the area and a must-do for any weekend stay in Bisbee. The Café Roka website will give you a great idea of what to expect.
During the summer, Café Roka has shortened hours and is not open every evening. Check the website or call them for the hours and, for a reservation. Phone: (520) 432-5153.
The Bisbee Breakfast Club
Where else would one go in Bisbee for breakfast? The Breakfast Club is new, in an old setting and retains the charm of the old soda fountain that once existed in this Lowell section store. The “new-old” Breakfast Club opened in 2005 and, judging by the number of locals frequenting the restaurant, it has been a rousing success.
I went to The Bisbee Breakfast Club early one Saturday morning. It was the off season as far as tourists go. But the restaurant was packed! It was, as the name suggests, a club of sorts. People greeted each other and discussed local politics at the counter.
But the Breakfast Club is no typical greasy spoon café. The owners and chefs know what they are doing. They offer daily specials, traditional meals and really unusual dishes (at least for the standard café).
I sat at the counter and watched the talented chefs at work. I saw potato pancakes, huevos rancheros, biscuits and waffles fly out of the kitchen. As they worked, staff from the back kitchen brought out tempting fluffy lime pies to place in the display case.
I opted for orange juice and a wonderful slice of freshly baked quiche. It was accompanied by fresh fruit. I enjoyed that creamy quiche and realized I needed to return some time to sample the potato pancakes, biscuits and French toast. So much breakfast, so little time.
Outside, the roar of motorcycles heralded the arrival of a group. Leather clad bikers came in, and took up several tables (luckily, it’s a fairly large place). They, also, knew where to go for breakfast!
The food was excellent and the service efficient. But what I enjoyed most was that The Breakfast Club has become part of the Bisbee culture. It’s a gathering place and I was pleased to be part of it, even if it was just for a Saturday morning.
The Bisbee Breakfast Club is open from 7am to 3pm and so you can go there for lunch too!
To get to The Breakfast Club, head south along highway 80 from the historic section of Bisbee. After you pass the mine pits, turn right immediately on Erie Street. You will be heading into the Lowell area. The address is: 75 A Erie Street - Bisbee, Arizona . If you reach the traffic circle, you have gone too far! More… Breakfast Club Website.