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Featured Dining LocationTinderbox Kitchen is located at 34 S. San Francisco Street, in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-226-8400 or visit www.tinderboxkitchen.com.

© Paul Markow


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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 2010
From a small BYOB in Scottsdale that serves something called Death by Elvis to a rustic-but-comfy, pueblo-inspired hideaway in Greer, there's something for everyone in our third-annual collection of the state's best places to fuel up when you hit the road.

by Nikki Buchanan

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It's one thing to know where to go skiing, fishing, hiking, golfing or shopping in our state, quite another to know where to eat, drink and be merry before and afterward. To that end, we've searched high, low and in between to bring you 25 noteworthy Arizona restaurants you'll want to try. A few bring history or longevity to the proverbial table; one is so new the paint's barely dry. Some offer big-city sophistication, while others are cozy mom-and-pops brimming with small-town charm. Our third-annual "Best Restaurants" list offers choices — to dress up or dress down, to splurge or save money, to challenge or comfort yourself. So tuck in that napkin and let's get started.


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AH Best Restaurants


AH Best Restaurants 2014 >>
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Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar, Phoenix
Ensconced in a renovated old farmhouse surrounded by the trees, flowers and organic gardens of the iconic Farm at South Mountain, Quiessence could easily get by on charm alone. Lucky for us, chef-owner Greg LaPrad — who takes the locavore move-ment to loco extremes — would never stand for that. His sophisticated American comfort food is made from pristine ingredients sourced from local farmers and ranchers or prepared in-house from scratch. LaPrad makes his own pasta, his own charcuterie, his own bread (in an outdoor hearth), his own pickles, even his own vinegar. He also butchers hogs fed to his specifications. Apparently, the only thing he doesn't do is sleep.
6106 S. 32nd Street, 602-276-0601, www.quiessencerestaurant.com.


Randall House, Pine
When Barbara Frazin-O'Connor and her husband, Patrick, bought and converted the historic Randall House to a restaurant, they restored the wood floors, exposed parts of the original log and adobe walls and used Mary Ellen Randall's doilies on their glass-topped tables. More importantly, they continued her tradition of hosting the townspeople of Pine. Locals (and lucky tourists who stumble upon this charming place) are treated to homemade soups, made-from-scratch pies, fancy salads and fluffy pancakes chock-full of blueberries. Last year, the O'Connors began offering Saturday night dinners, too, featuring prime rib plus a nightly special. Mary Ellen would surely approve.
3821 N. State Route 87, 928-476-4077.


Raven Café, Prescott
Sure, its wood floors, high ceilings and polished bar tops hearken back to Prescott's rough-and-ready past, but this comfy, come-as-you-are café and watering hole housed in a historic building has a distinctly modern edge. It's a gathering place for customers of every stripe, there to sip wine, drink beer, listen to local entertainment, watch a classic movie, grab a bite or ... save the planet (that would be Wednesday night's environmental awareness program). Like any good 21st century saloon, this one keeps its worldly clientele happy with a menu that ranges from burgers to beet-chevre salad.
142 N. Cortez Street, 928-717-0009, www.ravencafe.com.


Stables Ranch Grille, Tubac
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa sits on what was once a 400-acre, Spanish land grant ranch, and the property's flagship restaurant is named for the stables that housed the horses of Spanish cattlemen and soldiers long ago. This wonderfully atmospheric place evokes Tubac's Iberian roots, boasting original stone floors and ceiling beams, as well as a commanding stone fireplace. A contemporary, Spanish-inflected menu incorporates wild game and Southwestern ingredients, while the wine list earned an award from Wine Spectator. Here, Cave Creek's Eric Flatt (of Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright's fame) conjures the romance of Colonial Spain and celebrates the natural beauty of Southern Arizona.
Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, 1 Otero Road, 520-398-2211


St. Francis, Phoenix
Chef-owner Aaron Chamberlin had a hit on his hands from the instant he opened his doors last fall. It's impossible to pin the monstrous buzz he's received on any one thing when so many things are so right. Who doesn't love the '50s-era, Wendell Burnett-designed space, warmed up with wood and original brick, opened up by pivoting doors that pull the outside in? Much of Chamberlin's simple, seasonal menu is built around a massive, wood-fired brick oven, issuing forth flatbread topped with mission figs and arugula, seafood soup (think bouillabaisse) and crispy roasted chicken. For dessert, sticky toffee pudding with sweet cream gelato is completely over the top.
111 E. Camelback Road, 602-200-8111, www.stfrancisaz.com.


The Peaks at Amberian Lodge, Greer
Although many restaurants on the mountain serve hearty American dishes for a boisterous après-ski crowd, this rustic-but-comfy, pueblo-inspired hideaway overlooking Greer Valley offers a more subdued, upscale experience. The seasonal, global menu might include wild Alaskan cedar plank salmon, pesto-rubbed Tuscan ribeye or Moroccan barbecue pork chop, but the signature dish is surely the creamy, herb-flecked lobster pizza. Monday wine tastings have become a huge hit, but no matter what the month, day or hour, call ahead. When the lodge hosts weddings and retreats, it's closed to the public.
One Main Street, 928-735-9977, www.peaksaz.com.


Tinderbox Kitchen, Flagstaff
Simply reading chef and co-owner Scott Heinonen's mouthwatering menu is enough to make the hearts of serious food-lovers skip a beat. Smoked salmon-deviled eggs with fried capers and red onion; barley malt-glazed Berkshire pork chop with buttered hominy and slab bacon-braised greens; spicy sausage links (made in-house) with creamy blue cheese grits and fennel slaw; duck confit with buttery, bread crumb-crusted, jalapeño mac-n-cheese ... Heinonen calls it American Comfort Food Redefined. The rest of us just call it fabulous. Everything about this clean-lined, contemporary space (including its informed servers) says Big City — except, of course, the prices.
34 S. San Francisco Street, 928-226-8400, www.tinderboxkitchen.com.


Tucson Tamale Co. Tucson

From this spartanly furnished tamale shop and factory come the biggest, most interesting tamales in the state. Chef-owner Todd Martin, a tamale freak with a penchant for the exotic, draws inspiration from Spain, Italy, the Southwest, Midwest and Mexico — offering his lard-free, gluten-free, hand-rolled creations from a rotating portfolio numbering more than 25. Everybody loves the AZ (slow-roasted sirloin with smoky chipotles), the Santa Fe (green-chile pork with cheddar) and the signature Tucson (a four-cheese blend with roasted jalapeños), but adventurers hold out for specials such as barbecued pork with pineapple or turkey with cranberry, wrapped in sage-dusted masa, which replicates the whole Thanksgiving shebang in one bite.
2545 E. Broadway, 520-305-4760, www.tucsontamalecompany.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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