Downtown Prescott AZ: Dining, Sipping and Wandering

Explore historic downtown Prescott, Arizona. Discover a colorful history and good food along Whiskey Row and throughout downtown.

I spent a month exploring historic Prescott, Arizona. It gave me an opportunity to get to know more about the area's rich history. I also had a chance to check out my favorite spots along Whiskey Row. In addition, I discovered some new exciting, contemporary restaurant and bar options in downtown Prescott.

Courthouse Plaza is the Center of Downtown Prescott

Courthouse Plaza, the center of downtown Prescott, is where you’ll find a vibrant sense of community, a place where you’ll find both summer events and the magical Christmas lighting event. On quiet days, wander throughout the grassy square. There, you’ll find statues depicting key events in this once territorial capital of the state of Arizona.

Downtown Prescott Courthouse

A bronze statue of an 1890s-era law officer paying his respects to the fallen honors 18 law officials who have died in Yavapai County in the line of duty from 1865 to the present. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Across the street from the square, you’ll find historic Whiskey Row, shopping, traditional restaurants, and some new exciting dining options drawing foodies from near and far.

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Whiskey Row
's Palace Saloon and Restaurant

If you’ve been to Prescott, you’ve probably stepped through the swinging saloon doors into the historic Palace Saloon, established in 1877.

Palace Saloon

Prescott's historical buildings are filled with wild west stories. Just step inside. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Western History at The Palace

Filled with Wild West history and memorabilia, The Palace is the place to go to soak up some territorial Arizona atmosphere. Such notables as the Earp Brothers and Doc Holladay frequented the saloon. The Palace is the oldest frontier saloon in Arizona and the most well-known and historic restaurant and saloon in the state.

The Palace Saloon

In “the day,” these were regulars at The Palace Saloon and Restaurant. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

First thing you see when you enter if the ornate 24 foot-long solid oak bar, a room filled with memorabilia, and wooden tables and chairs where men gathered to gamble. On the wall to the right is the original safe where “the house” stored their gains.

Palace Safe

The original Palace Saloon safe has the name of the first owner, Robert Brow, painted on it. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Historic Bar

The hand-carved bar has quite a history. It was made in San Francisco and installed in the original Palace Saloon. In 1901 a massive fire in Prescott burned the saloon down and it is said that patrons hauled the huge bar outside and across the street to save it. The tale goes that these dedicated patrons did it without spilling a drop!

The Palace Bar

The Palace Bar is the original. Note the condiments. You can have your meal right at the bar. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Arizona Memorabilia at The Palace

Toward the back is the dining room decorated with an Arizona flag mural. Locals rave about the Beast Burger made with a half-pound burger made up of bison, Wagyu beef, New Zealand elk, and wild boar. This hearty burger is topped with grilled onions and mushrooms and veggies served on the side.

Palace Saloon Dining Room

My favorite dining room for an old-time Arizona atmosphere – the Palace Saloon. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Especially during rodeo days — Prescott is known for holding the longest-running rodeo in the world — hearty appetites opt for the tender steaks offered by The Palace. How about a 10-ounce Angus Roughrider Ribeye served with vegetables, a Sidewinder Side, hot fresh dinner rolls, and your choice of soup or side Sagebrush or Caesar salad? The whole menu reads like a Western novel.

Although you can go saloon-hopping seeking out the best western band on just this one block, The Palace is a “must do” on every visit.

Downtown Prescott Dining Finds

On my summer getaway to the cool pinewoods of Prescott, I had the opportunity to expand my dining repertoire past my traditional haunts like the Gurley Street Grille and Murphy’s, always favorites. What I found were some creative venues where you can enjoy healthy fresh food and craft cocktails—even an agave drinker’s heaven!

Monarc Duffel Bags

La Planchada Taqueria in Downtown Prescott

Even with my knowledge of Spanish, I was perplexed about the name for this new taqueria located in the historic brick St. Michael’s Hotel building on Gurley Street. Planchada was “ironed,” no? Soon I found out that the name relates to a Mexican ghost tale about a nurse known for her neatly ironed uniform—thus the “ironed lady.” As the tale goes, she married her love, a doctor, who eventually cheated on her. Distraught, both her health and her ability to nurse declined and she ended up dying in the hospital where she worked. Her ghost appears to care for patients and play evil tricks on doctors. The taqueria was named after this well-known ghost.

La Planchera

No nurse ghosts here! Just talented bartenders and cooks making magic at La Planchada Taqueria. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Visiting La Planchada

Ghosts aside, you’ll be impressed when you walk in the door of La Planchada. Bartenders busily shake icy containers of agave elixirs and mix refreshing cocktails for customers who sit at long tables. The decor is dark and cozy, lighted by Mexican stars hanging from the ceiling and brightened by a colorful mural. You order your tacos, tostadas, appetizers, and desserts at the chef’s window. It’s all freshly made—and it's all good. I started with a House Margarita but noted that you could order a tasting of Mezcals, Tequilas, and even Sotol.

Agave Liquors

A wall of agave liquors greets you at La Planchada. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

I found a table outside where I could watch people walk by on busy Gurley Street (dogs were welcomed with a water bowl). I enjoyed a basket of chips and one of their several house-made salsas with my all-time-fav, guacamole. But of course, their guac was different. It was light green, creamy, and had tastes of fresh cilantro and jalapeño. Lovely and nippy!

La Planchada

Start your evening with a margarita and an appetizer at La Planchada. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Food at La Planchada

I tried their brisket taco—melt in your mouth! It was topped with shredded cabbage and tequila pickled red onion. Next time I won't stop at one and plan to order a selection of their special, super-creative tacos. How about a buttermilk-marinated fried chicken taco with house-made wing sauce and tomatillo ranch dressing?

La Planchada

Your taste buds are in for a treat at La Planchada. Photo courtesy Debby Wolvos

Eating at The County Seat in Downtown Prescott

Another day, I headed back to downtown Prescott for a late lunch. I'd been strolling Courthouse Square but didn't notice something new on the second floor of the Bashford Building. Since The County Seat (appropriate name) was also opened by Prescott restaurateur Skyler Reeves, owner of La Planchada, and under the direction of the same Executive Chef, Tony Burris, an advocate of the Prescott farm-to-fork scene, I was curious about the concept. Would it be a different experience?

Chef Tony Burris

Chef Tony Burris brings the produce from Prescott Farmers Market purveyors to his restaurants. Photo courtesy Debby Wolvos

The Bashford Building

It was a busy Saturday in downtown Prescott (lots of tourists) and I entered the Bashford Courts building through a tea and spice shop. Colorful glassware and attractively merchandised gift items caught my eye.

Bashford Courts

There's plenty to entice you at the shops in Bashford Courts. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Stepping into The County Seat

But I was seeking the stairs to get up to the second floor, home of The County Seat. On the second floor, it quieted and I entered a light-filled large open space with contemporary bars and tables and an enticing pastry case. In the corner, there were live plants in attractive containers for sale.

The wall of windows overlooked the historic Yavapai County Courthouse and the grassy park. Shade trees and a row of Arizona flags made the square festive and welcoming on this warm day. It was fun looking out over the hustle and bustle below.

Downtown Prescott

The wall of windows at The County Seat look out over Courthouse Square. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Food at The County Seat

You order at the front desk and receive a number you place on your table. The staff delivers your choices to your table. You can also order online. I was in the mood for fresh, healthy, and tasty so ordered the Sweet Chili Bowl. It's a freshly made bowl filled with tri-color quinoa, sauteed bell pepper, broccoli, snap pea, shishito, green onion, roasted Brussel sprout, carrot, cabbage, kohlrabi, sweet chili sauce with a choice of diced chicken breast or pan-seared salmon. I opted for the chicken.

And, yes, The County Seat had a completely different vibe than La Planchada. It was a place encouraging a sense of community where you could hang out with coffee in the morning and get a little work done on your laptop over lunch.

The County Seat

The County Seat is open, light, and invites conversation. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The food was equally fresh and healthy and was a great daytime venue as well as evening. I noted they offered a happy hour, featured international wines, and low ABV beverages as well as craft cocktails.

Downtown Prescott

A fresh medley of vegetables was ideal for my lunch. Some of the dishes at The County Seat feature local produce from the farmers' market. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Cocktails and Mocktails at The County Seat

I had asked the bartender to make me a mocktail to pair with my chili bowl and I was thrilled to see what they made. I enjoyed a tall refreshing alcohol-free delight topped with fresh blueberries and garnished with mint and a strawberry slice. It tasted like strawberry lemonade but not at all syrupy sweet – just perfect.

Mocktail

Loaded with fresh fruit and taste, the mocktail hit the spot. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

I delved into my chili bowl, found the quinoa at the bottom, and enjoyed the slight sweetness of the sauce. There were so many tastes and textures, I have to say that it would have been excellent with no protein added. It was a relaxing lunch as I watched the rain clouds start to come in over the Courthouse. Feeling full and healthy, I decided to take a stroll and see what else was going on in downtown Prescott.

Stroll and Shop Downtown Prescott

I'll be writing about the art galleries, museums, and fascinating historical sites of Prescott, but this time I decided to check out Cortez Street right around the corner.

Ad Astra Brewery

I found a coffee shop and Ad Astra Brewery with retro-inspired space decor and logo. I heard they had a patio out back and it looked like a cool place.

Ad Astra

Ad Astra Brewing Company – to the stars! Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Ogg's Hogan

I kept exploring and found Ogg's Hogan, chock full of western memorabilia and Native American jewelry. That's where I spent the most time. Once I entered the shop with its old-time trading post feel, I realized that I had been there before. During Prescott's Acker Night, where all the shops and restaurants have live music, I sat and listened to a western band playing 1940-era cowboy tunes. It was a memorable evening and I found exploring Ogg's fun too.

The Ogg family has an interesting history, coming to Arizona in 1925 because of Mr. Ogg's tuberculosis. Before opening the Native American jewelry business, the family raised rabbits, turkeys, and ducks and sold them locally. The Palace Cafe Restaurant bought most of their ducks. Ogg's Hogan is still owned by the family. Prescott is just full of fascinating people and their histories. Many of the buildings in downtown Prescott have historical plaques on them.

Ogg's Hogan

Ogg's Hogan is a treasure trove of western memorabilia. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

More Ideas for Exploring Arizona

Our Wander writers have explored both the history and the contemporary offerings of Arizona and have plenty of interesting ideas for your Arizona getaways and vacations. Here are some stories that might help you in planning your next visit to Arizona and places like downtown Prescott:

Prescott Reading List

Meanwhile, as you plan your trip to explore downtown Prescott, we recommend a few books that will help you brush up on that creative and colorful history. Here are a few of our favorites:

RoamRight travel insurance

When You Visit Downtown Prescott, AZ

Although not everyone is going to be able to spend a month in Prescott, I do recommend taking time to experience this vibrant community situated about 90 miles north of Phoenix. It makes a great weekend escape from the city. You'll find historic Whiskey Row and throughout downtown filled with shopping, traditional restaurants, and some new exciting dining options drawing foodies from near and far. Enjoy your time in the beauty of Northern Arizona and experience downtown Prescott, AZ at any time of the year. Finally, be sure to check out Wander for more great things to see and do when you visit Arizona.

Downtown Prescott AZ: Dining, Sipping and Wandering

Written by Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is back again in the Phoenix area after more than a decade living in New Mexico and Washington state. She travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, festivals, and restaurants, especially farm to table cuisine. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, web sites and magazine articles (both print and online).

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2 Comments

  1. Brigid Rose

    Would love to visit all these places! I’m going to start planning a road trip now!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Rose

      There’s so much to see and do… year-round. I’ve been there at holiday time and now, in the summer. I hear the autumn is gorgeous too!

      Reply

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