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Featured Dining LocationIn the Southern Arizona village of Tumacacori, the colorfully decorated Wisdom's Café (named after the family by the same name) attracts customers from near and far who rave about the food.

© Paul Markow


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Best Restaurants 2012
There are three main ingredients that go into a great restaurant: food, service and ambience. In our fifth-annual roundup of the state's best eateries, we feature 15 places that can deliver all three. Places like Cibo in Phoenix, Downtown Kitchen in Tucson and Garland's in Sedona. Among others. We'll tell you about all of them, and we'll even throw in a few of their signature recipes. Eat Here!.

by Nikki Buchanan

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Moose Henri's, Lakeside
You don't have to be the outdoorsy type to appreciate Doug Wetmore's laidback bar and grill, adorned with snow skis, snowshoes, water skis and moose in every conceivable representation. But it helps if you love life's simple pleasures — say, an 8-ounce, spice-rubbed and charbroiled Moose Burger served with jalapeño coleslaw and a cold beer. The menu is limited to all-day burgers and sandwiches, a handful of dinner entrees, 20-plus wines by the glass and 24 beers on tap, half of them Arizona microbrews. Lots of bang for the buck here, including a monthly pig roast so popular customers start lining up before the doors open.
4207 White Mountain Boulevard, 928-368-5127, www.moosehenris.com
recipe>


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Santiago's, Bisbee
Holy Molé! That's not only the name of chef Karina Franco-Batty's popular chicken enchilada dish, but also the exclamation customers are inclined to make when they taste the complexly seasoned, not-too-chocolatey molé sauce that smothers it. But utterances of surprise and delight are commonplace at this cute, colorful Mexican-food favorite, particularly for the tableside guacamole, Rocky Point tacos, diablo shrimp and sopaipillas. Seasonal fruit margaritas, tequila flights and a 55-bottle tequila selection make downtown people-watching all the more fun.
1 Howell Avenue, 520-432-1910, www.santiagosbisbee.com
recipe>


Satchmo's, Flagstaff
Jamie Thousand, who named his down-home, New Orleans-themed barbecue joint for jazz great Louis Armstrong, modestly calls himself a "home cook who grew up on barbecue," but he thinks like a chef, smoking brisket over hickory (because beef can stand up to hickory's intense smoke) and chicken over apple or cherry wood (because its delicacy requires something lighter and more aromatic). Besides turning out fantastic barbecue and sides, Thousand smokes anything edible, including nuts and cheeses in the cooler months and spices all year-round, which add layers of flavor to rubs and a handful of Cajun specialties such as gumbo and jambalaya. This Missouri boy is wildly inventive — just like old Satchmo.
600 W. Third Street, 928-782-7988, www.satchmosaz.com
recipe>


Sirens' Café, Kingman
Former So-Cal gals who once lived on a boat, mother-daughter team Denise McMillan and Carmella Hynes named their small, intensely blue deli and catering company Sirens' and, for grins, gave it a mermaid theme. But they spend their days at the stove, not at sea, turning out creative sandwiches and quiches, lovely soups and off-the-hook cheesecakes, making everything from scratch (including their insanely popular artichoke spread, mixed with house-made ricotta, Parmesan and fresh dill). The mermaids know 90 percent of their customers by name and often grant requests (with notice) for specific dishes. How's that for a siren song?
419 E. Beale Street, 928-753-4151, www.sirensinkingman.com
recipe>

Wisdom's Café, Tumacacori
Decorated with family heirlooms, antiques, photos, paintings, trophies, farm tools and gifts from customers, this funky Mexican-food roadhouse, named for the multigenerational Wisdom family who owns it, brims with character. But ask legions of snowbirds and locals why they visit so often and you'll get a slew of food-related answers: shredded turkey chimis, fantastic tortilla soup, tampiqueña and, of course, the fabled cinnamon- and sugar-dusted fruit burro desserts, ordered before dinner. And just so you know, it's a wise customer, indeed, who drinks only one of Wisdom's deliciously potent margaritas.
1931 E. Frontage Road, 520-398-2397, www.wisdoms cafe.com
recipe>


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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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