There are a lot of things we’re thankful for when we moved to Congress last year, but shopping isn’t one of them. Sure we have a couple of local grocery stores and merchants nearby that we make do for basics, and there’s always Amazon for the occasional weird stuff we need, but making a Costco run takes days of planning. The stores are far enough away that we plan our trip into town with multiple stops along the route. Shopping at the big box store is an all-day trip.
Our house is conveniently (if you can call it that) located midway between the two nearest stores. We exclude the one in Sun City because it’s impossible to maneuver around the golf carts and inattentive drivers. Our choice is between the Deer Valley store on I-17 and the one in Prescott. The drive time difference is literally five minutes, so the choice comes down to what other errands we need to run. If I need to pick up some hardwood, we go to Deer Valley. If I need something at Harbor Freight, we head to Prescott (for our friends out-of-state, the townspeople pronounce it ‘Press-kit’ and they’re not shy about correcting you). During the summer though, Prescott wins hands down because it’s in the pines and cooler.
When we make the Prescott run, Queen Anne and I try hard to build in time for lunch, and our favorite place there has become El Gato Azul a tapas place at 316 West Goodwin Street. Goodwin is the street that runs along the south side of the courthouse; the restaurant is two blocks east of Whiskey Row.
The restaurant building is a small one story box on the east side of the Willow Creek trail. It’s smaller than most fast food chains, and the Dijon mustard colored façade has lavender ledges covered with potted plants and lights. The clutter almost obscures the sign.
To enter, you step down from the sidewalk (an access ramp is a few steps to the right) and walk through the bright blue door. Inside the dining room are two . . . maybe three tables and behind the hostess station, an ‘L’ shaped bar fills the rest of the room. The décor is a mix of upscale Goodwill and early garage sale interspersed with canvases from local artists. If you’ve come to eat, (why else would you be there) the host/hostess will escort you back outside through a door on the right. Here is a large covered main dining area that is open in summer, but enclosed with clear vinyl curtains in winter; portable heaters provide warmth.
The food that we expect at El Gato is not what you’d call rib sticking comfort food, but small dishes as you would find in a Spanish tapas bar, but with a southwest influence. It’s more of a tasting menu where you get an interesting burst of flavor combinations in one bite. As with a Chinese restaurant, it’s fun to pick out several items and share. One dish is not enough for a full meal, but the Queen and I fill up by sharing three items. It’s sort of like making a dinner out of a couple of appetizers. Plates range in price from $10-$13 each, so it’s not cheap. They offer a list of soft drinks along with the stocked bar.
The next time you travel up Prescott way and you want to try something different, the Queen and I recommend you give El Gato Azul a try. We recommend it, even though Anne is now annoyed with me for letting The Blue Cat out of the bag.
Till then . . . jw