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Featured Dining LocationTanuki Sushi Bar & Garden is located at 1221 E. Fry Boulevard, in Sierra Vista. For more information, call 9520-459-6853.

© Edward McCain


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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.

by Nikki Buchanan

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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.


regional map Northern AZ Dining Guide Western AZ Dining Guide Central AZ Dining Guide Eastern AZ Dining Guide Southern AZ Dining Guide
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AH Best Restaurants


AH Best Restaurants 2013 >>
2012 >>
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2009 >>

Tanuki Sushi Bar & Garden, Sierra Vista
Okinawa-born Michiko Maggie Grace sets high standards for her first-class operation, crammed with Japanese mementos from loyal customers. She drives to Tucson a couple of times a week to pick up fresh fish, flown in from Los Angeles, and hires trained Japanese sushi chefs (not Caucasian 20-somethings in samurai headbands) to sweat the details. All sauces are made from scratch, and cooked dishes such as sukiyaki, tempura and udon are prepared with the same concern for quality and authenticity.
1221 E. Fry Boulevard, 520-459-6853.


Canela, Sonoita
It's been nearly four years since chef-owners John Hall and Joy Vargo moved from Seattle to Sonoita (Southern Arizona's wine country) to open winsome, wood-beamed Canela, which deftly expresses wine-country sensibilities by showcasing locally produced food and wine. Their frequently changing menu, built around what's fresh and in season, might feature seared pork belly with grilled radicchio, raisins and blood orange vinaigrette; roast quail with cornbread stuffing; and powdered sugar beignets with pineapple compote. If you're lucky, you'll stumble across one of their four-course, special occasion tasting menus, priced at $45-$60 with wine pairings.
3252 Highway 82, 520-455-5873 or canelabistro.com.
Los Dos Molinos, Springerville
If you have an asbestos-plated palate and profuse head-sweating doesn't embarrass you, take your heat-seeking self to the original Los Dos, dishing out fiery New Mexico-style Mexican food since 1978. Decorated with cowboy hats and branding irons, this tidy operation is run by Antoinette Chavez (daughter of founder Victoria), who makes everything to her mother's specs, including signature adovada ribs, chile rellenos and bluecorn enchiladas smothered in red or green chile and topped with a fried egg. Save room for honey-dripped sopapillas, and come summer, ask for fruity house-made sangria.
900 E. Main Street, 928-333-4846 or losdosmolinosaz.com.


Vogue Bistro, Surprise
From its designer-named martinis and bold, black-and-white color scheme to its French-inspired menu and TV clips of fashion models walking the runway, Vogue is everything its name implies: a stylish restaurant that reflects trends without being trendy. Chef-owner Aurore de Beauduy brings her Le Cordon Bleu training to bear on an all-day menu that allows customers to eat as lavishly or budg­et-consciously as they please. Will it be a not-so-humble hamburger (topped with Gorgonzola, applewood-smoked bacon, arugula and caramelized onion chutney), buttery escargots swathed in puff pastry or foie gras cured in Cognac?
15411 W. Waddell Road, 623-544-9109 or voguebistro.com.
Shelby's Bistro, Tubac
What tiny Shelby's lacks in size, it makes up for in charm, sporting an eclectic collection of tchotchkes and a pleasant patio overlooking a pond. Owner Anthony Tay's Mediterranean-inspired menu, which focuses on the foods of his childhood, features pastas; light, thin-crust pizzas (try the Mediterranean, topped with grilled chicken, pesto, kalamatas, artichokes and feta); and lots of seafood, including the signature Southwestern Seafood Bouillabaisse, accented with lime and cilantro.
19 Tubac Road, 520-398-8075.
VinTabla, Tucson
At stylish VinTabla (which means "wine casket"), there is much ado about wine, thanks to Laura Williamson, one of only 130 master sommeliers in the world. She oversees the restaurant's retail wine shop, conducts wine-tastings and classes and maintains a Wine Spectator award-winning global list that reads like a bodice ripper ("juicy & lush" reds, "vibrant & sleek" whites). Executive chef — and Postrio alum — Bruce Yim complements her efforts with an appealing menu of wine-friendly small plates, wood-fired dishes and entrees, including duck sausage and sun-dried cherry pizzetta, salumi, artisanal cheeses and sticky pudding toffee cake.
2890 E. Skyline Drive, Suite 100, 520-577-6210 or vintabla.com.


Twisters 50's Soda Fountain, Williams
Located on the Mother Road, this spotlessly clean, sweetly nostalgic time warp — a black and white-floored soda fountain, furnished with shiny red booths and lots of Coca-Cola memorabilia — is a yummy blast from the past for Boomers. But you don't have to be old enough to remember Chubby Checker to appreciate the excellent burgers, fries, onion rings, malts, shakes, ice cream sodas and banana splits served here. The adjacent Route 66-inspired gift shop is a kick, too.
417 E. Route 66, 928-635-0266 or route66place.com.


Julieanna's Patio Café, Yuma
Burbling fountains, swaying palms, lush lawns and live macaws make this tropical oasis in the desert Yuma's favorite spot for romantic dinners, corporate functions and weddings. While the recently updated lunch menu runs to salads and sandwiches, upscale dinner options include a trendy tower of ahi, avocado and mango; signature prime rib; Chateaubriand; and salmon Wellington. Decorated with local art, the colorful main dining room has its charms, but nothing beats a tiled table on the tropical patio.
1951 W. 25th Street, 928-317-1961 or julieannaspatiocafe.com.

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DiningWhether you find yourself famished in Flagstaff or starved in Sonoita, there are many great spots to find a bite in Arizona... [more

Weekend GetawaysCheck out Weekend Getaways around the state. ... [more]

Events CalendarEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

 

LodgingNo matter where you travel in Arizona, you'll find lodging that ranges from rustic to ritzy, along with everything in between... [more]

External LinksFor more information about great places to visit in Arizona, view our list of links to external resources, from Native American arts to parks and national forests... [more]

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