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Asi Es La VidaJake's on the Green

© Paul Markow

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Best Restaurants 2014
Arizona has a long list of great restaurants, and every April, we feature some of the best. The selections are typically based on a combination of food, service and ambience. This month, however, we took it to a higher authority: We enlisted the help of the local fire departments. We also managed to snag a few of the restaurants' favorite recipes, which you can find by clicking the links that accompany each entry.

By Nikki Buchanan

Editor’s Note: “Follow the firetrucks.” That’s how the editorial staff of this magazine decides where to eat lunch. It’s a strategy based on the theory that firefighters are foodies, and, therefore, they probably have some solid insight into the best restaurants in their respective neighborhoods. It’s worked well in ours, so we figured we’d take it statewide. The feedback from the firemen (and women) was spectacular. What follow are their picks on where to eat. Of course, there are many other great restaurants in Arizona, but according to the everyday heroes who drive the firetrucks, these are among the best.

Average Entrée Cost
$ = $10 and under
$$ = $11-$19
$$$ = $20-$30

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Grand Canyon Coffee & Café, Williams
Established: 2007
Cuisine: Mexican/Chinese/American
Chefs: Johnny Gomez, Lisa Oakley (baker)
Price: $
Open: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Business hours vary during the winter.
Information: 125 Historic Route 66, Williams, 928-635-4907, www.grandcanyoncoffeeandcafe.com

So, a Chinese guy, a Mexican guy and an American guy walk into a bar ... no, wait ... ’nother story. But just such a joke might come to mind when you see the menu at cozy Grand Canyon, where owner Anna Dick combines “good-old American hot sandwiches” and homemade soup with her mother’s best Mexican specialties and a handful of Chinese-American recipes preserved from the café’s previous owners. Where else in Williams (or maybe anywhere, for that matter) can you get a tuna melt, a chile relleno and chow mein under the same roof? Housed in a historic building on Williams’ main drag, this quirky, likeable spot is famous for its Canyon Burrito, a New Mexico-style monster filled with eggs, potatoes and green-chile pork, served enchilada-style with a generous melt of cheese. After such excess, there’s hardly room for homemade desserts. But try.

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AH Best Restaurants

AH Best Restaurants 2014 >>
2013 >>
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Jake's on the Green, Flagstaff
Established: 2012
Cuisine: American
Chef: Co-owner John Gates
Price: $-$$$
Open: Hours vary by season.
Information: Continental Country Club, 2380 N. Oakmont Drive, Flagstaff, 928-526-7990, www.continentalflagstaff.com

Huge picture windows overlooking the golf course offer spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks, but that’s just one of many reasons tourists and locals flock to this cavernous-but-clubby hangout. Twelve big-screen TVs lure duffers and sports nuts inclined to swig cold beers and stiff cocktails while grazing on macho nachos, sliders and chicken lettuce wraps. In the summer months, Jake’s offers three squares, dishing out everything from eggs Benedict and blueberry pancakes to Reuben sandwiches, burgers, fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, slow-smoked baby-back ribs and slow-roasted prime rib (the latter on weekends only). Breads and desserts are made in-house, and despite the upscale atmosphere, the place exudes a family friendly vibe.

Nana's Sandwich Saloon, Wickenburg
Established: 2008
Cuisine: American (sandwiches)
Chefs: Manuel Morales, Janet Bowie (baker)
Price: $
Open: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday
Information: 48 N. Tegner Street, Wickenburg, 928-684-5539, www.nanassandwichsaloon.com

Owner Sherry Hunt is the “Nana” in question at this cute, cozy spot, specializing in big, beefy sandwiches (16 in all), salads, homemade soup, quiches, coffee drinks, green drinks and pies. Yes, homemade pies — five varieties offered each day, which might include deep-dish apple or berry cream. It’s doubtful whether the fire crews who drop in regularly browse through Hunt’s girly gift shop, featuring ceramic roosters, country jars and cookbooks, but it’s a cinch they like her imaginative, belly filling eats — especially the Hotshot 19 sandwich, named for the
19 valiant men who lost their lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013. That one surely leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouth.

Kasa Mia, Nogales
Established: 2010
Cuisine: Mexican
Chef: David Vindiola
Price: $-$$$
Open: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday
Information: 460 N. Arroyo Boulevard, Nogales, 520-287-4040
Owner Margarita “Maggie” Vindiola was a banker who always dreamed of owning her own restaurant. Stumbling upon an available historic building (a former ice plant, circa 1924) and falling in love with it was just the impetus she needed to leave the lettuce and jump into the soup. And, indeed, hearty Mexican soups such as posole, fideo, cocido and menudo are Kasa Mia specialties, so homey that customers often describe them as “just like Nana used to make.” The rambling space, big enough to accommodate weddings and quinceañeras, also specializes in parrilladas (generous grilled-meat platters), as well as cordial “mi kasa es su kasa” hospitality.

TrailRiders Restaurant, Eagar
Established: 2010
Cuisine: Mexican/American
Chef: Tim Cluff
Price: $-$$$
Open: 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., daily
Information: 140 N. Main Street, Eagar, 928-333-1446

Back in the day, executive chef Tim Cluff worked in the kitchen for his granddad, former Apache County Sheriff Edgar Merrill, who owned a ’60s- and ’70s-era restaurant in St. Johns called Trail Riders. So it seemed appropriate to Cluff, whose family settled in Eastern Arizona generations ago, to take all that history with him to Eagar, where he and his kitchen crew turn out everything from hand-cut steaks, pork chops, ribs and chicken-fried steak to huge chimichangas, Cluff Tacos (ground chicken with green chiles and avocado), biscuits and gravy, and a stack of pancakes topped with vanilla-scented buttermilk syrup. Given its mix of rustic cowboy décor and fancy cocktails, it’s no wonder TrailRiders functions as a social hub for Eagar’s own, offering Friday-night fish fries and UFC fighting on eight big-screen TVs.

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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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