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Featured Dining LocationWood-fired pizza is one of the specialties at Liberty Market in Gilbert.

© Paul Markow


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Best Restaurants 2011
In places like Phoenix and Tucson, it's pretty easy to find a good restaurant. But where do you go when you're in Wikieup or Snowflake or Camp Verde? You could pack a lunch or eat fast food, but there are so many other options, including the 25 locally owned eateries in our fourth-annual "best restaurants" issue. There are plenty of others, of course, but this should fill you up for a while.

by Nikki Buchanan

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We hope you're hungry, and we hope you have plenty of gas in the car, because after you've read our fourth-annual "best restaurants" issue (a roundup of 25 great places to relax over breakfast, grab a snack, have a frilly girls' lunch, enjoy a fancy dinner or just wolf down a hot dog), you're going to want to hop in your buggy and eat your way around the state. Just like Arizona, our list is diverse, offering a bit of history here, a dash of family friendliness there, all served up in one delicious melting pot. Dig in, and drive carefully.


Fork in the Road American Bistro, Sedona
The word "bistro" has become meaningless through overuse, but Fork in the Road perfectly illustrates what such a place ought to be, matching its contemporary good looks to an appealing menu that displays panache while dispensing comfort. Here, you'll find an Irish onion soup, laced with Guinness and cheddar, as well as prawn pakoras, duck cassoulet and spicy shrimp remoulade served with fried green tomatoes. If you've been looking for a Sedona restaurant that combines white-tablecloth elegance with melting-pot accessibility, put a fork in it.
7000 State Route 179, Suite C106, 928-274-8066, www.forkintheroadbistro.com.


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AH Best Restaurants


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Fratelli Pizza, Flagstaff
Voted "Best of Flagstaff" by the Arizona Daily Sun seven years in a row, these two easy-on-the-wallet pizza joints bake their praiseworthy pies in stone deck ovens, which requires the kind of skill you'll never find at a corporate pizza place. Better still, the Fratelli fellows sell their pizza by the monstrous slice, offer loads of meal deals to cash-strapped NAU Lumberjacks and make deliveries (sometimes by bicycle) to downtown bars. You can imagine the kind of goodwill that creates. Eat in at the East Side location or at the recently-remodeled and expanded store downtown.
119 W. Phoenix Street, 928-774-9200; 2120 N. Fourth Street, 928-714-9700; www.fratellipizza.net.


The German Café, Sierra Vista
How appropriate that the owner of this small, cozy Gasthaus is originally from Essen — a German city and the German word for "eat." Deutschophiles admit they can't get enough of the schnitzel, smoked pork chop, potato dumplings, potato pancakes, red cabbage, sauerkraut and warm potato salad, all so authentically prepared that a little piece of der vaterland seems to have been plunked down in Sierra Vista. Start with a good German beer; end with German coffee and apfelkuchen. Einfach himmlisch!
1805 Paseo San Luis, 520-456-1705.


Irene's Real Mexican Food, Globe
Now that so-called "Mexican street food" has been co-opted and hyped to the hilt by number crunchers in business suits, an old-school place like 31-year-old Irene's seems especially sweet. You won't find much in the way of sizzling décor here — just comfy booths; a straightforward selection of tacos, enchiladas, chimis and burros (don't miss the signature Gollo, made with green chile and whole beans); and house-made salsa that's positively addictive.
1601 E. Ash Street, 928-425-7904.


Leff-T's Steak House & Grill, Dewey
Ditherer alert: If you're one of those people who approaches every meal as if it might be your last, you're in for a meltdown at Leff-T's, a rustic, Western-themed hangout with a novella-length menu. Will it be creamy chicken and wild rice soup, mesquite-smoked ribs or chicken, walleye, freshly ground burgers (fixed a half-dozen different ways), liver and onions, a chicken-fried steak, fettuccine Alfredo, a turkey relleno sandwich (a Southwestern take on the Monte Cristo) or just a big juicy ribeye? Relax. This is probably not your last supper ... or lunch. Visit on your birthday and a hot fudge sundae brownie is complimentary.
150 S. State Route 69, 928-632-1388, www.steaksaz.com.


Liberty Market, Gilbert
Homeboy Joe Johnston has the restaurant world sewn up in Gilbert, offering his hordes of hungry disciples three great dining venues: Joe's Real Barbecue, Joe's Farm Grill and, most recently, Liberty Market. Housed in what was once Gilbert's only grocery store (circa 1935), the baby of the bunch is Joe's most winsome resto to date, serving up breakfast, wood-fired pizzas, freshly tossed salads, inspired sandwiches, made-from-scratch sweets, wine, craft beer, and terrific coffee and espresso, the latter whipped up in a vintage machine from Italy. Locals drop in for free Wi-Fi and neighborly gabbing, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
230 N. Gilbert Road, 480-892-1900, www.libertymarket.com. 


Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles, Phoenix/Scottsdale
Clearly, Larry "Lo-Lo" White inherited the fried-chicken gene. As the grandson of Mrs. White, owner of Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café (the center of Phoenix's soul food universe), he learned all there is to know about catfish, cornbread and collard greens (and, of course, that gloriously crunchy fried chicken) at his grandmother's knee. Lo-Lo began making late-night chicken and waffles at Mrs. White's in the '90s, a venture so successful that in 2002, he bought his own restaurant, which is ensconced in a cramped and quirky South Phoenix house. He's been cranking out epically good food ever since, opening a second location in Scottsdale nearly two years ago. The math is simple: chicken + waffles = Lo-Lo.
10 W. Yuma Street, Phoenix, 602-340-1304; 2765 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-945-1920; www.loloschickenandwaffles.com.


Luchia's Restaurant & Gifts, Wikieup
Loads of road-weary travelers blow right through Wikieup (population 300 plus change) on their way to Vegas, and that's a shame. What they miss is Luchia's, a restaurant/gift shop combo that smacks of kitsch but actually brims with timeless Southwestern charm, thanks in large part to the patio out back. Furnished with hand-tooled leather tables and chairs (made in Mexico and called Equipale), the place is a soothing desert sanctuary replete with flowers, cactuses, a koi pond and roaming peacocks. It's a great place to relax over reasonably priced breakfasts, burgers and Mexican food, saving room (if you're smart) for homemade black walnut cream pie.
15797 S. Highway 93, 928-765-2229.

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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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