15 Best Restaurants in Arizona Slideshow
November 11, 2015
Arizona is home to some of North America’s most historic foodways and some truly amazing restaurants
15 Best Restaurants in Arizona
The abundance of Arizona’s delicious natural resources means that when they’re paired with excellent culinary execution, the results can be both awe-inspiring and life-altering. It’s no wonder, then, that it plays host to some truly awesome gastronomic experiences — read on to find out the 15 not-to-be-missed restaurants in the Grand Canyon State.
#15 Christopher’s Restaurant and Crush Lounge, Phoenix
In 1995, the James Beard Foundation named chef Christopher Gross Best Chef: Southwest, and just two years later, Gross was the first chef in Arizona to be honored with the Robert Mondavi Culinary Award of Excellence. Today, Christopher’s still serves some of the best food and offers one of the best wine selections in the state; menu highlights include lobster pot pie, comforting mac and cheese au gratin, and an amazing chocolate mousse tower.
#14 Coppa Cafe and Bistro, Flagstaff
Husband-and-wife duo Brian Konefal and Paola Fioravanti are behind Coppa Cafe and Bistro, located just an 80-minute drive from the Grand Canyon. There they serve Euro-centric cuisine that incorporates a lot of what their region has to offer, sometimes even foraging the nearby forest for ingredients. Their house-cured meats, particularly the prosciutto, are noteworthy, as are the red wine-poached eggs served during brunch.
#13 Citizen Public House, Scottsdale
Want French flair without all the fuss? Citizen Public House is probably the place for you. In a bright space with vaulted ceilings, you can enjoy pork belly pastrami with rye spaetzle, Brussels sprout sauerkraut, and mustard jus; burrata with pickled grapes, red spinach, chile oil, basil seed vinaigrette, and Noble bread; and country-fried rabbit with butter-braised white asparagus, roasted corn, cherry and brandy reduction.
#12 Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
2003 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest, Chris Bianco, serves not only addictive thin-crust pizzas but also fantastic antipasti (involving wood-oven-roasted vegetables), perfect salads, and homemade country bread at Pizzeria Bianco that are so good, the sometimes-horrific wait is totally worth it. We hear that the rosa pie with red onions and pistachio and signature marinara with red sauce, oregano, and garlic (no cheese) are potentially life-altering.
#11 L'Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek, Sedona
Chef Rochelle Daniel serves French fare in a romantic setting at the signature restaurant of L'Auberge de Sedona Resort & Spa, and she just took part in The James Beard Foundation’s Taste America when it rolled into Phoenix in September. Not only is her elegant eatery great for dates, but her breakfast and brunch items — like the crab omelette with hollandaise, kale, truffle, and roasted red potatoes — are also crowd pleasers.
#10 Vincent on Camelback, Phoenix
Chef Vincent Guerithault and his restaurant are no strangers to high praise — he was the 1993 James Beard Award recipient for Best Chef: Southwest and was a semi-finalist for Outstanding Chef in 2008 and 2009; the restaurant was a semi-finalist for Outstanding Service in 2000 and Outstanding Restaurant a whopping four years in a row (2010 to 2013). Diners enjoy the French spin on southwestern staples like the duck tamale with Anaheim chiles and raisins and wild boar loin with parsnip purée and habañero sauce.
#9 Deseo, Scottsdale
Executive chef Chris Masco serves dishes that showcase traditional Latin American flavors and his refined, contemporary style at Deseo in The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. Try his millionaire tacos with lobster, ahi tuna, Japanese hamachi, and a yucca tortilla; Colorado lamb chops with truffle chimichurri and uala potato; and for dessert, the crema catalana with sherry-glazed berries and coconut tapioca. The bar program is also noteworthy, so definitely treat yourself to a caipirinha while you’re there.
#8 T. Cook’s, Phoenix
Located inside the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, T. Cook’s has been delighting diners with its Northern Mediterranean-inspired fare for ear. Todd Allison was appointed executive chef back in May 2015 and just a few months later was one of two Host Chefs for the Taste America dinner when The James Beard Foundation came to town. He’s a hospitality expert and offers a wide variety of menus, but if you’re just in for dinner make sure to try the grilled Spanish octopus with charred green beans, roasted tomatoes, artichokes, and lemon-caper aioli; anything and everything from the “From Our Fireplace” section; and the seafood entrées are particularly good — think seared scallops and whole roasted sea bream.
#7 Tarbell's, Phoenix
French-trained Mark Tarbell has cooked all over the world, but he’s called the Southwest his home since 1988. He was nominated as Best Chef for the region by The James Beard Foundation, beat Cat Cora on Iron Chef (the only winning contestant of the fifth season), and his namesake Phoenix restaurant has felt the love from the industry, too, as it was named Best Restaurant by Food & Wine and was the recipient of a Wine Spectator Award of Excellent, among other accolades. Be sure to take full advantage of the extensive vintage offerings, including a surprisingly long list of half bottles, and enjoy a glass or bottle with the likes of warm "bacon candy" with frisée, radicchio, and soft-boiled egg and house-made ribbon pasta with chicken fennel sausage, crushed Campari tomatoes, and Parmigiano-Reggiano broth.
#6 Nobuo at Teeter House, Phoenix
Before opening Nobuo at Teeter House, Tokyo-born Nobuo Fukuda earned a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest and Best New Chef from Food & Wine while operating his now-defunct Sea Saw. Today, he serves his award-winning omakase in a renovated historic bungalow built around the turn of the twentieth century. You’ll be dazzled by Fukuda’s inventive techniques and flavors, such as the Panko-fried soft shell crab salad with rice noodles, shiso, cucumber, peanuts, and nuoc cham; the shiromi carpaccio with ginger, yuzu kosho, sesame oil, garlic, and house-made focaccia; and gindara saikyo yaki — miso-marinated black cod.
#5 Binkley's, Cave Creek
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable culinary experience, head to Binkley’s for one of the tasting menus. Kevin Binkley has been nominated for the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southwest four years running now (2012 through 2015), and was the only finalist repping Arizona at the awards this year. His chef de cuisine, Brandon Gauthier, was named Best Chef de Cuisine by Phoenix Magazine in 2014, and this dynamic duo does not disappoint. There’s a four-course and two five-course menus, but you might as well go big or go home and go for the six-course commitment, or else good luck choosing between dishes of foie gras, lobster, and squab.
#4 Talavera, Scottsdale
Executive chef Mel Mecinas has been with the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts for nearly two decades, moving from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, to Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, which houses Talavera. Fun fact: chef Mecinas served the second of seven courses to Julia Child at her 90th birthday dinner. And hey, what’s good enough for Julia is certainly good enough for us — especially Mecina’s forest mushrooms with duck confit, Brussels sprouts, pomegranate, and coffee vinaigrette and short rib osso bucco with white Cheddar polenta and citrus-hazelnut gremolata.
#3 The Turquoise Room, Winslow
2012 James Beard Award Best Chef Southwest nominee John Sharpe serves regionally sourced, contemporary Southwestern cuisine at The Turquoise Room at La Posada Hotel. The restaurant is named after a luxury dining car from the mid-1930s, and Sharpe has published a cookbook that contains many of the institution’s recipes. You should definitely try a few dishes made by Sharpe, however, such as his signature soup of creamy sweet corn and spicy black bean topped spicy chile cream; his crispy pork carnitas served on a bed of black beans in a red chile pool and topped with a mango salsa, served alongside creamy polenta and fresh vegetables; and for dessert, the warm prickly pear cactus and spice bread pudding made with pecans, almonds, raisins, cherries, cranberries, and spice that’s baked and topped with prickly pear cactus syrup, whipped cream, and strawberries.
#2 FnB, Scottsdale
FnB made a big splash when it opened in 2009, and was named Best New Restaurant by numerous Arizona publications, and you know they’ve kept it up as chef Charleen Badman was a nominee for the James Beard award for Best Chef: Southwest for the past two years (2014, 2015). Badman pays attention to seasonal offerings and rotates her menu accordingly, but expect dishes such as confit chicken liver toast with egg, pickled beet, and pea greens; roasted carrots, avocado, harissa aioli, dukka, and cilantro; and, in case there was any doubt, make sure you sample some of its outstanding wines.
#1 Virtù¸ Scottsdale
Chef Gio Osso has been bouncing around the Phoenix dining scene for some time now and has garnered both a local and national following — case in point: Upon opening in 2013, Esquire immediately named Virtù one of the top 20 restaurants in the nation. Then, the next year, the JBF recognized Virtù by nominating it for their Best New Restaurant award. Osso is doing exciting things in his kitchen, and we encourage anyone and everyone to go check him out; there’s charred octopus with ceci, calabrese chile butter, rucola, and fennel; bone marrow tots (be still our beating heart!) with horseradish aioli and “jerky” crumbs; and day boat scallops with corn five ways: baked, roasted, fried, grilled, and popped. Innovation just tastes so darn good, doesn’t it?