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Fri, Nov. 15

Chew on This: Park your appetite at this deli

Plain can be good, very good.

The Park Plaza Liquor and Deli is nothing fancy. It's a seat yourself place, with 10 tables arranged somewhat haphazardly in the front of the liquor store.

What it lacks in atmosphere it more than makes up for in taste, locals will tell you.

Pretty close to perfection, say the Internet reviewers: The Park Plaza has received an average 4.5 stars - out of 5 - on Yelp.com (54 reviews), Urbanspoon.com (35 reviews) and Tripadvisor.com (46 reviews).

Samples of every-day critics:

"The pizza is outstanding. Made from scratch artisan pies."

"Can't wait to return ... highly recommended!"

"A must in Prescott."

"The food is always perfect and beer is even better."

On a recent weekday at lunchtime, The Park Plaza was packed with people nibbling on French Dips (Angus top round, topped with Swiss cheese on a toasted sub served with hot au jus), hot pastrami on rye (with Swiss cheese and mustard on rye), tuna melts ... Most of the sandwiches are $9.99, which includes coleslaw, potato salad, mixed greens, Caesar salad, shoestring fries.

From the grill, the hamburger range includes the Plaza burger (Angus ground beef, romaine, tomatoes and red onion with choice of cheese on brioche roll, $8.99), the Rodeo Burger (with apple wood smoked bacon, barbecue sauce, onion ring and cheddar cheese, $9.99) and the popular Elly Burger (jalapeno cream cheese, fried jalapeno, barbecued bacon, $9.99).

For the "Man v. Food" crowd, try the Ron Swanson Challenge: A dare to eat eight fat cheeseburgers and a basket of fries in 30 minutes. If you down it all, you ate for free; fail, you pay $30.99.

Then there are the pizzas - hand-tossed dough topped with house-made mozzarella, baked up in a wood-fired oven. There is a "meat lover's" (pepperoni, two kinds of Italian sausage, bacon, salami and ham), Park Plaza Pie (Alfredo sauce, "lots of thick bacon," baked ham and red onion), "the stikin' rose" (heavy garlic, red onions and pepperoni). Small pies are in the $11.99-13.99 range, larges from $16.99 to 18.99.

For lighter and/or healthier eaters, the Plaza has a nice selection of salads, including "goin' Greek" (Romaine lettuce, kalamata olives, feta cheese, artichoke hearts and sliced pepperoncini, $7.99) and chopped Italian (chopped Romaine lettuce, Genoa salami, chicken breast, tomatoes and provolone, $8.99).

The Plaza is also known for its wood-fired macaroni and cheese ($9.99 for cavatappi pasta with house-made cheese sauce, topped with parmesan garlic bread crumbs and served in a cast iron dish; add back, green chili or goat cheese for an extra $2, chicken for $3). This is a filling, gooey, delightful starch-feast.

And to wash the burgers, pizzas and other treats down the hatch?

Craft beer lovers will enjoy the wildly enthusiastic variety on tap - the brews are rotated every few days. The other day, the selection of 16 microbrews included Left Hand Brewery's Good Juju Ginger, Maui's CoCoNut Porter, Rogue's 19 Original Colonies Mead, Squatters' potent (9 percent) Hop Rising Double IPA. Pints range from $4 to $6 - half-price at happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m. daily.

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