My best food friend is at it again! Hit me with an awesome guest post about River City Grill in Yuma, Arizona. My sister lives in San Diego which makes Yuma a good stop between my house and hers to get out and refresh a little. I was excited to find a few food nerd gems in Yuma, and even happier that Eric has chosen to write about this one. ~Enjoy!
Guest post by Eric Lanenga
A couple of times a year my job takes me out to Yuma, Arizona. A 200 plus mile drive that I wouldn’t personally consider to be scenic. Besides for a good look at the sheer vastness that is often Arizona, this ride will allow you to see huge fields of agriculture, dirt & sand, a few mountains, Border Patrol, thousands of windshield bugs and so far every single trip there, a delicious Date Shake in the appropriately named, Dateland, AZ. I usually have another employee with me so we make the most of it with iTunes, Sirius Radio and chatting.
Yuma has just over 90K folks living there and displays a strong Military and Border Patrol presence. 90% of the Nation’s winter leafy vegetables come from The Yuma Valley. The sun shines 350 days a year here and in 1995, it reached the current record high temp of 124 degrees!!! Summers are brutal and “winters” are beautiful. The Yuma economy ebbs and flows with their two seasons of winter and summer. Yuma is able to support the population influx of winter farm workers, winter visitors, a healthy dose of recreational vehicle enthusiasts, and then sort of goes into hibernation during the summer.
I’ve been wanting to try River City Grille ever since my friend Steph told me about it 3-4 years ago. It just never worked out until now. The list of destination type places to eat in Yuma is short. So short, in fact, that I can’t think of any. They have several solid Mexican choices and then your typical list of chains. If you ever make it to Yuma and like fish & shellfish, you’ll enjoy River City Grille.
The place has a very unique vibe to it. It’s a free standing old school brick building that just looks like it has character from the outside. Upon entering you get a feeling that it’s a more intimate place. A large mural covers one wall, hand sewn quilts on the other. Custom stained glass with fish let in light above the entrance. The piece of art you see first upon entering is a really cool fish “sculpture” made of different metals with copper fins that has blue lights illuminated for teeth! It’s centered right above the bar. It may sound a tad gaudy from that description but I thought it was awesome. I bet it even looks cooler at night. Stained Glass Fish + Metal Sculpted Fish = Seafood Restaurant!
We were hungry, it was lunchtime, we didn’t have a ton of time so we passed on the apps and went straight to the entrees. Chicken Dijon with a Pesto Penne Pasta, Mustard Crusted Salmon with Pesto Penne and a Lobster Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli with some veggies. All 3 were excellent. The Pesto Penne with the herbs and cheese was rich, velvety, bright, herby and extra tasty. Mustard Salmon was tangy & meaty with a nice crunch on the outside while being tender and moist on the inside. Chicken Dijon had a nice balance as well, nice tang, juicy and moist. Raviolis were homemade and stuffed with a rich ricotta filling, small pieces of lobster meat and a nice red pepper sauce to cut the richness. Portion size was appropriate for lunch and all 3 entrees were between $10 and $12 bucks, which was more than reasonable. The bar looked really cool and they have a huge patio as well. The dinner menu also has 6 entrée choices for Vegetarian/Vegans and for folks who might not be fans of seafood, the Chicken options looked great.
In a chance encounter after our meal, while I was snapping photos for this, a lady was working her way toward the restaurant entrance and said, “Well, if you’re taking photos you must have liked it”. I shared with her that we really liked it and then asked if she was the owner. She was. Nan Bain was her name and we chatted for about 10 minutes. She’s originally from Hood River, Oregon and once owned a restaurant that we actually ate at 2 years ago!!! Small world! She also had an issue with one of her home services, was looking to switch providers, and we were able to help her. The entire lunch was a win!
If you’re ever driving through Yuma on your way to San Diego, or…ACTUALLY going to Yuma and enjoy a menu with tons of fish & seafood options it, want to avoid a chain and support a local establishment with great food, good service and eclectic décor, stop at River City Grille. I don’t think you can go wrong. I’m looking forward to my next visit there already.
River City Grill
600 W. 3rd Street
phone: (928) 782-7988