We popped into Café Cornucopia during a recent trip to our Bisbee vacation rental, the Toland Adobe. This cafe has delicious food!! Cafe Cornucopia has great sandwiches (I had the turkey and a delicious bowl of soup). We sat at their little lunch bar and watched them make our sandwiches. The staff is friendly to their customers and with each other. Their desserts are in plain view and are very inviting.
Café Cornucopia is much longer than it is wide, with tables for two lined up against the east wall and picture window. A small bar counter sits three more patrons in close proximity to one of the most enticing displays of pastry perfection you’ll ever find. At the rear of the restaurant are beautiful stained glass windows and a small balcony, remnants of the days in which a saloon occupied the venue. Scrawled on two slate boards is the restaurant’s menu. It’s hardly a compendium of lunch favourites, but rather a showcase of a select number of sumptuous sandwiches, soups, and pastries.
The aptly named Anton Ego from the delightful 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille may have summed it up best: “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and read.”
Sometimes stereotypes aren’t far from the truth. That’s especially true when expressing their learned preference for “cuisine” as opposed to “food.” All of their anointed restaurants tend to be of the haughty high-brow variety and readers are treated to a cavalcade of reviews heralding the critics’ haute cuisine favourites. Some of these critics won’t deign to visit “real people” restaurants, much less recommend them.
That’s certainly not the case with one of my very favourite food critics. She writes in a light-hearted, personable manner and unlike “restaurant” critics, writes about bakeries, cafes, cocaine, pizzerias, sushi bars and even taco trucks.
It’s a great list, a true “best of” and not an enumeration of the elite and elegant. The list includes some of the most highly regarded restaurants in Phoenix, Sedona, and Tucson, but it also includes far lesser-known and much more modest diners and cafes in rural enclaves such as Lake Havasu City, Page, Snowflake, Cornville, Yuma and Bisbee, none of which is a budding hub of the population.
Far from being a burgeoning boom town, Bisbee saw its population decline since the exodus of the little city’s copper-mining operations. It remains, however, a town that’s too beautiful not to survive. It is now an idyllic artists’ colony capitalizing on a climate the Chamber of Commerce claims has “the best climate on Earth.” The southernmost mile-high city in America, its average year-round temperature is about 74-degrees. Attitudinally and in the way multi-hued homes are splayed on steep hillsides accessible only on foot, it might remind you of San Francisco–only friendly.
Occupying the first floor of a historical building, its exterior stone facade reminiscent of days of yore, Cafe Cornucopia has none of the flash and panache of modern restaurants. Its signage is plainly lettered with a monochromatic horn of plenty image. A large, 1930s-era picture window enhances views of the restaurant’s interior. It is a bright and cheery ambiance, floors clean enough to eat from.
Café Cornucopia is bustling with activity, but the amicable staff is capable and upbeat, treating all guests to welcoming smiles. We got there at precisely eleven o’clock, and fifteen minutes later not a seat could be found. Some, like us, came because of Nikki Buchanan’s enticing invitation to one of Arizona’s 25 best restaurants. Others are frequent visitors, locals who recognize they’re in the presence of gastronomic greatness.
One of our favorite dishes at the cafe is a chile Jack sandwich, which is layered mild hatch green chiles and monterey jack cheese, warmed, then put on the sandwich of sour dough, 21 grain, or deli rye bread, along with mayo, dijon, lettuce, tomato, and cucumber slices. It is melty and hard to eat with your hands. They also offer a green chile and cheddar quiche.
Few things are as simple and comforting as the combination of soup and salad. Café Cornucopia’s soup du jour offerings will wrap you in a cocoon of warmth and comfort. The butternut squash soup is absolutely wonderful and it actually tastes like butternut squash and not artificial seasonings. It is rich and creamy and it doesn’t have any unnecessary “attention grabbers” that are sometimes included in inferior soups. Try the split pea soup and you’ll realize what you’ve been missing all those years you thought all split pea soup was like the Campbell’s Soup aberration. It’s rich, creamy and extremely satisfying. On top of that, it’s high in fiber and good for you, being a source of low in fat plant protein.
Soup and salad are served with a thick slice of heavenly freshly-baked Honey Oat with Wheat bread.
Baked goods of the day might include cookies, brownies, scones, pies, cakes, and dessert bread, as well as 2 gluten-free options every day. The chocolate brownies are light, delicious and chocolaty. Moist and tender on the inside, they need no embellishment or additives. The lemon bars are similarly terrific with the definite and pronounced tanginess of lemon.
Fresh-squeezed lemonade (or an alternate made such as strawberry-lemonade), as well as superb smoothies, are available to wash your meal down.
Café Cornucopia accepts all major U. S. credit cards; they use Square.