I don’t know how many restaurants there are in Patagonia, AZ and was in fact surprised to find six listed at tripadvisor.com. First on the list was Velvet Elvis Pizza Company, but as hard as this may be to believe, I wasn’t in the mood for pizza. In second place was our ultimate destination—Gathering Grounds.
“The name says it all: an espresso bar with creative soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods with gluten free and vegan selections, good for ya beverages in addition to coffee and teas, and lots of people—and art. The long side wall features the work of local artists, changing with a new show and reception the first Thursday of each month….
And it seems that the ownership and operation of this small café is a family affair. “Mack, Audrey’s brother, is the creative Head Chef. While he has had no formal training, he creates amazing specialty dishes and sauces. Heather, Audrey’s sister, is the Head Pastry Chef. She creates a wide variety of amazing baked goods, including Old Fashioned Cream Scones, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Rhubarb Pie, and Gluten Free Chocolate Cake (Audrey’s Favorite) just to name a few. From the minute you walk in, you are welcomed to the community, not just from employees, but the locals who visit the Gathering Grounds daily” (patagoniasbuzz.com). (Just who is Audrey? I haven’t a clue.)
And while I suspect that this colorful duo are fellow travelers, I am sure that ninety percent of the diners were locals and well-known to each other.
And, since Patagonia is only eighteen miles from the U.S. Mexico border, no one seemed surprised to see this very large Border Patrol agent (he with his back turned) come in for a cup of coffee to go.
Both of us chose a cup of the minestrone soup to go with our meals. This was a chunky mix of carrots, green beans, kidney beans, onions, and celery in a tomato broth that was infused with oregano. Now I am sure that any self-respecting Italian would look at this soup and exclaim “questo non è un minestrone.” Why? The absence of pasta, which I suspect was a deliberate decision on the owners’ part, to make this soup acceptable to those on gluten-free diets. Even without the pasta, it was delicious with a savory broth and lots of veggies that hadn’t been so overcooked that they turned to mush.
To accompany his soup, Chuck ordered the Quirky Turkey—turkey, tomato, lettuce, mayo, and cranberry sauce served on whole wheat bread. But he did ask that the tomato be omitted.
I toyed with the idea of ordering the Arizona Cheesesteak (grilled roast beef, onion, and poblano chilies topped with mayo and cheddar cheese and served on French bread), but instead opted for the simpler Turkey Melt—turkey breast topped with mild green chili and mozzarella and served on grilled sourdough.
We both wanted a little dessert (No, I said a LITTLE dessert)
This was a very good casual lunch. Nothing fancy. Nothing outré. But certainly worthy of 4.0 Addies.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.
(We wondered about the significance of this figure on one of the display cases.)