Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.
For 25 of our favorite places to eat in Arizona, pick up a copy of our 2011 "Best Restaurants" issue, on newsstands now. In the meantime, enjoy our lists of winners from years past.
Best Restaurants 2009
Here's the thing about human beings: Sooner or later, every single one of them has to eat.
Even supermodels and kids named Mikey. With that in mind, we present our second-annual "Best Restaurants in Arizona" issue, straight from the mouth of the state's most-respected food critic.
From the big lake in the north to the grasslands of Sonoita in the south, we've combed the state in search of Arizona's best restaurants. Why? Because we know that tramping around,
taking photos and buying trinkets tends to make people hungry. Some of the restaurants on this list are classics, beloved by their communities for decades, while others are newcomers, destined
for long-lived success. Some are upscale. Some are down-home. We hope you'll appreciate them for precisely what they offer — whether it's charming décor, great food, friendly service, gorgeous views or maybe a piece
of Arizona history. Each, in its own way, is noteworthy.
So, buckle your seat belt. We promise a delicious trip.
In 2005, Pat and Heather Grimm turned the old Rexall Pharmacy into a sweet, cluttered café; now they can't beat the locals away with a stick. Using real maple syrup for their blueberry- and walnut-studded buttermilk pancakes, locally roasted beans for their espresso, and homemade, Jim Beam-spiked barbecue sauce for their Huckburger (stacked with ham and Swiss cheese), this quality-driven operation has been featured in both Gourmet magazine and Jane and Michael Stern's Road Food. Save room for house-baked pies, scones and cinnamon sticky rolls. 75 Erie Street, bisbeebreakfastclub.com or 520-432-5885.
For the quintessential Arizona experience, there's nothing quite like Kai, the Native American-inflected, AAA Five Diamond dining room at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, situated on a vast tract of desert owned by the Gila River Indian Community. Stunning sunset views and striking art are the backdrop for chef de cuisine Jack Strong's astonishing food, a seamless melding of classical technique with indigenous ingredients, many of them grown on the surrounding reservation. Smoky wood-grilled squash soup, floated with a spicy-sweet wisp of cotton candy (a playful nod to the Pima cotton-growing culture), is one of many luscious examples of Strong's talent for taking flying leaps of creativity yet remaining grounded. 5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, 602-225-0100 or wildhorsepassresort.com.
& Cactus Garden, Casa Grande
If you have a taste for history, you'll love BeDillon's, a graceful adobe home built in 1917 and quietly falling apart until its rescue by Michael Jackson (no, not that Michael Jackson) in 1990. Jackson kept and restored as much of it as possible, including the stunning cactus garden (featuring 85 global varieties) and the museum, which houses an amazing collection of Native American artifacts. That said, most people come to BeDillon's for the food, driving from Tucson or Phoenix for bacon-wrapped black olives stuffed with jalapeño cheese, hand-cut steaks and ultra-buttery apple cake. 800 N. Park Avenue, 520-836-2045 or bedillons.com.
El Conquistador, Douglas
Originally built in 1907 and rebuilt in 1929 after a devastating fire, The Gadsden Hotel is called "the last of the grand hotels," a moniker you'll appreciate when you see the white Italian marble staircase in the lobby and the Tiffany stained-glass mural on the wall of the mezzanine above it. The hotel's dining room, El Conquistador, is modest by comparison, but still maintains a stately air. Its Mexican-American menu is mostly old school, too, featuring super-nachos, burritos, steaks, fried shrimp, baby beef liver and roast turkey with cranberry dressing. The Gadsden Hotel, 1046 G Avenue, 520-364-4481 or hotelgadsden.com.
Ensconced in a Craftsman bungalow built in 1911, this Modern American bistro is charming and homey, boasting two cozy fireplaces, a relaxing garden and a wide porch for outdoor dining. Chef Tony Cosentino and his sister, Jill (who named the restaurant for their late mother), change their globe-hopping menu to reflect the seasons. Selections might include a fried green tomato and turkey sandwich, baklava-baked Brie with peach-fig chutney or cider-brined pork loin with poblano-cheddar polenta. The wine list has received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, while the restaurant has earned three diamonds from AAA. Josephine would surely be proud. 503 N. Humphreys Street, 928-779-3400 or josephinesrestaurant.com.
Libby's El Rey Café, Globe
Loyalists swear El Rey is the king of Mexican food, not just in Eastern Arizona, but in the whole state, and they've been saying so since Viviano and Marian Bracamonte opened this tiny spot in 1947. Their daughter Libby took over in 1988, and aside from adding two soups to the menu, she does everything exactly the way her parents taught her — grinding corn for the tamales, making flour tortillas and salsas fresh each day, and pouring butter (an El Rey distinction) over the house-made corn chips. 999 N. Broad Street, 928-425-2054.
Molly Butler's, Greer
Molly Butler began offering food and lodging to local ranchers, travelers (and probably outlaws) back in 1910, and the rustic restaurant that bears her name has been operating continuously for nearly 100 years. When the weather's nice, lunch and dinner are served on the deck overlooking Greer Meadow — where deer, bears and coyotes are often spotted. But this cozy little piece of White Mountains history caters to locals, too, just the way Molly did, keeping them happy with Hot Dang Chili, signature prime rib and Molly's special steak smothered in creamy Mormon gravy.
109 Main Street, 928-735-7226 or mollybutlerlodge.com.
The Asylum, Jerome
With its breathtaking views of the Verde Valley, this tranquil haven, housed in the historic hilltop Jerome Grand Hotel, really does offer asylum from the rat race below. Maybe that's why it's John McCain's favorite restaurant. Of course, it couldn't hurt that the boutique wine list, honored by Wine Spectator, offers 40 by-the-glass selections. Or that inspired New American menu selections, such as prickly pear barbecue pork tenderloin and roasted duck breast with spicy orange-plum salsa, are first-rate. Thanks to McCain, The Asylum has now been featured in dozens of major publications, including The Wall Street Journal. Let's hope all the publicity doesn't create bedlam.
200 Hill Street, 928-639-3197 or theasylum.biz.
Hubb's Bistro, Kingman
When Hurricane Katrina struck, Jason and Jennifer Pfaff left their jobs at the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi to buy the historic Hotel Brunswick on Historic Route 66. Mississippi's loss is Arizona's gain. Thanks to their talent, attention to detail and wine knowledge (both are certified sommeliers), gracious Hubb's brings fine dining to this former cowboy town. Although the lunch menu has a slight Southern accent (featuring muffalata and blackened catfish), the dinner menu offers eclectic options such as pan-seared diver scallops with wasabi mashed potatoes and ginger-braised beef shortribs with brown sugar and bourbon glaze.
315 E. Andy Devine Avenue, 928-718-1800 or hotel-brunswick.com.