Southwest flavours in the Grand Canyon State, influenced and bordered by Mexico, New Mexico and California, are a big hit with visitors.
Expect Mexican fusion dishes all over the state, healthy LA-style fare in Scottsdale and Phoenix and typical American favourites roadside.
The trendy, metropolitan areas have something for everyone, but you’ll never be far from Mexican-meets-Southwest inspired cuisine anywhere you go in Arizona.
Eat and drink your way around the state with some of our favourite spots, both casual and classy.
Mornings are a treat at Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. The well preserved mid-century lodging doesn’t only cater for hotel guests, the cool crowd frequent this retro chic hot spot for its indulgent yet healthy menus all day long.
Breakfast in bed is a treat you won’t forget, but grab a shaded table on the patio, a cold brew coffee and a choose from one of the breakfast specialities to set you up for the day. The breakfast burrito with roasted Yukon potatoes will satisfy even the healthiest of appetites.
Farm & Craft in Downtown Scottsdale focuses on healthy and sustainable food, featuring a ‘wellness’ menu, but the bar receives just as much attention to detail.
Kombucha cocktails and organic spirits are enjoyed guilt free. Build your own quinoa bowl and add a few delicious sides like farro mac & cheese.
ETCH Kitchen & Bar @ L’Auberge de Sedona is a hidden haven under a canopy of Sycamore trees on the banks of Oak Creek in Sedona.
On the menu at Etch, simple classics like the mesquite chicken caesar salad with the biggest portion of waffle fries you’ve ever seen, pair perfectly with their signature cocktails.
Try the jalepeño margarita; charred jalapeño infused mescal, chareau aloe vera and cilantro with a pineapple salted rim.
If you’re travelling through Flagstaff, don’t miss out on a visit to Arizona Snowbowl, even in the summertime. The ski resort is open year round and in the absence of snow, you can still take the scenic chair lift to the top for magnificent views of Northern Arizona.
All that altitude will work up a hunger which can be satisfied at the Hart Prairie Lodge with classics like chilli cheese fries, hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches served with a Blue Moon beer.
For a quick and healthy meal on the go, pop into Zoë’s Greek Kitchen in Phoenix after your long haul flight or to stock up on snacks before you hit the road. Fresh Greek and Mediterranean flavours with harissa, feta and healthy grains are delicious and satisfying. Add skewered salmon to your meal and order more hummus than you could ever need and save the leftovers for later.
If you’re in Scottsdale and you enjoyed breakfast at Hotel Valley Ho, you’ll love lunch at Zuzu Café too. The Full Belly Hangover Burger with pork belly, pork chile verde, crispy onion ring, runny egg, jalapeño + fried tortilla strips is a favourite
For the best views of the Red Rocks in Sedona, book a patio table at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill just before sunset and be treated to a second show watching the moon rise over the rocks in the distance.
Restauranteur and chef Lisa Dahl has more than one restaurant in Sedona (Pisa Lisa, Cucina Rustica, Dahl & DiLuca), so if you’ve got time, check them all out.
Make sure you try the ‘aguacate frito’, crunchy fried avocados with pimentón aioli and Ecuadorian-style shrimp ceviche for starter. The Ambrosial salad is delicious too; cluster and baby tomatoes, red onions, balsamic reduction and Gorgonzola for a nice twist on a traditional Caprese.
Don’t leave Scottsdale without dining at The Mission in Old Town. Two absolute must-orders, are the skinny margaritas and ‘tableside’ guacamole. Sip on a Primarita (no sugar, all organic and just half the calories of a regular marg) while a server whips up fresh guac at your table.
Choose from chunky Haas avocado, jalapeño, red onion, fresh garlic, sea salt, lime, tomatoes, chipotle puree, coriander, cotija cheese & roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to your liking.
Try not to fill up before mains though, because the tacos, Grouper and Mahi Mahi will all make your mouth water. Service is second to none at The Mission, your every need is catered for here.
For real Italian pizza in Downtown Flagstaff, you have to take a trip to Pizzicleta. Their wood-fired pizza oven has come all the way from Naples, and the house made naturally-leavened pizza dough is fermented for three or more days, making it easier to digest so you don’t get that heavy feeling (and can eat more pizza!).
Ask for the specials and try the roasted olives and goats cheese salad while you wait for the main event. Informal surroundings, reasonable prices and friendly staff. There’s also a hole in the wall take away window too!
Sophie’s Mexican Kitchen in Tusayan is the perfect pit stop on your way in or out of the Grand Canyon National Park. Tusayan is a resort town near the south entrance with limited decent dining options, so Sophie’s is a real find.
The menu has lots of vegetarian options and portions are hearty. Cheap margaritas too and excellent salsa and chips.
Mother Road Beer Brewing Company is named after its location on a portion of the historic Route 66 road in Flagstaff and is a must-visit when in the area. The community atmosphere is evident from the second you walk through the doors and you can tell even the staff who aren’t related to the owners are treated as family.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more welcoming place to try a few brews! From year round beers, to seasonal drafts, your palette will be catered for at Mother Road. Check out their events page for regular happenings such as trivia night and happy hours and order some soakage from Pizzicletta (see above) next door to keep you going.
The Old Town Scottsdale favourite Rusty Spur Saloon, through its old swinging doors will give you a real taste of that historic cowboy feel. Situated on Main Street, the oldest of Scottsdale’s bars, with live country music (and even a bar tender who sings as he clears glasses) is busy every night of the week for beers and simple cocktails, chats with locals and tourists alike and maybe even a celebrity spot (Clint Eastwood, Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston have all drank here). Try a Prickly Pear margarita with lunch and take a few snaps of the memorabilia adorning every surface.
Obsessed with travel and beauty and unable to find a traditional career that satisfied both passions, I decided to forge my own path by combining the two. I have a tendency to do that, just go ahead and jump two feet in before testing the waters, but luckily it seems to have worked out for me. And more importantly, I have fun doing it.
Visit Nadia’s travel and lifestyle blog, the daily s’elf, to read more about her adventures.