Arizona ranges from the funky to the upscale for dining

By Brandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Every winter, golfers flock by the millions to the Valley of the Sun. And hey, they have to eat somewhere. The Phoenix/Scottsdale area offers a wide variety of upscale restaurants, more so than other less commercial Arizona destinations. But look hard and you can still find the funky, back road Mexican favorites as well.


Scottsdale/Phoenix Don & Charlie's: This is a place geared to the sports fanatic and is wildly popular during spring training. You might even spot a ball player or two here some evening. The walls are loaded with memorabilia and the menu is heavy on ribs, steaks and fish.

7501 E. Camelback Road Scottsdale, AZ 480-990-0900

Fox Sports Grill: This restaurant is the first of a new national chain in Scottsdale. If you are getting anxious waiting for your food to arrive, simply ask the staff for a putter and balls and visit the free putting green outside. Fox Sports Grill has been open just over a year and is taking the sports bar genre to a new level.

16203 N. Scottsdale Road Scottsdale, AZ (480) 368-0369

Acacia: Located at the Four Seasons Troon North resort. This is an upscale, high-end restaurant with exquisite Southwestern décor and cuisine. Some of the sample menu items: Pacific blue nose snapper grilled and served over al dente flat pasta, with artichokes and fresh spring peas, or dry-rubbed double lamb chops, served in a garlic lime sauce and topped with quenelles.

10600 E. Crescent Moon Drive Scottsdale AZ 85255 (480) 513-5085

Acapulco Bay Company: Known for having some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine in the Valley of the Sun. The menu is extremely large and the seafood options, including shrimp, octopus, red snapper, tilapia and lobster tails are endless.

3030 N. 68th St. Scottsdale AZ (408) 429-1990

Carlsbad Tavern and Restaurant: A delightfully funky Mexican eatery with a cozy patio. The Carlsbad's signature spicy habanero cheeseburger is served with a free glass of milk to extinguish burning tongues.

3313 N. Hayden Scottsdale AZ (480) 970-8164

Cowboy Ciao: This place in Old Town Scottsdale with its wild and imaginative décor serves American cuisine but doesn't stop there. It ties in influences from Southwest to Italian to Mexican. The vegetables at Cowboy Ciao are abundant and delicious on every entrée.

7133 E. Stetson Scottsdale AZ (480) 946-3111

The Fry Bread House: Specializes in southwestern Native American fry bread. Offers many broths to dip bread, including the hominy beef stew, which is a favorite. Takeout is usually the preferred approach at the Fry Bread House, but you may dine in as well.

4140 N. Seventh Ave. Phoenix AZ 84014 (602) 351-2345

Eddie Matney's: Offers dynamic, bold eclectic food on a frequently changing menu. The atmosphere of the restaurant is a tasteful contemporary Sultan décor. The appetizer menu is a class in itself.

2398 E. Camelback Road Phoenix AZ 85016 (602) 957-3214

Convivo: Don't let its modest location in a strip mall fool you: Convivo is a glamorous award-winning restaurant. Convivo puts a twist on traditional American cuisine, using its own fresh produce to add a worldly flavor to it. Fish, such as tuna and salmon are a favorite.

7000 N. 16th St. Phoenix, AZ (602) 997-7676

Harris' Restaurant: Famous in San Francisco, this steakhouse has recently opened in Phoenix. Harris' cooks up the classics: sirloin, prime rib, New York strip, porterhouse and filet mignon, raising the bar for red meat in Phoenix.

3101 E. Camelback Road Phoenix AZ 85016 (602) 508-8888

Arizona Roadhouse and Brewery: Has its own microbrewery on-site. Even though it has a large brew selection, Arizona Roadhouse is a definite jump from usual "bar food". Also features live music daily and happy hour specials.

Open till 1 a.m. nightly. 1120 Apache Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85281 (480) 929-9940


Tucson Some 120 miles southeast of Phoenix, Tucson has its own distinctive Southwestern flavor as the second largest city in the state. Much of Tucson' s best dining are local favorites, many famous by word of mouth, a specialty dish and an expansive bar. Perhaps the only thing better than the food is the authentic charm itself.

Michas: A casual, family owned Mexican restaurant open since 1976. Michas has been nationally acclaimed in several publications and its entrées are reasonably priced, many under $10. Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. 2908 S. Fourth Ave.

Tucson, Az (520) 623-5307

El Torero: offers great Mexican food and atmosphere in south Tucson. Known mostly to locals due to its location off the beaten path. Famous for its cheese crisp and chimichangas.

231 E. 26th St. Tucson, AZ (520) 622-9534

El Minuto Cafe: Serving Mexican food for over 70 years in Tucson. El Charro has a signature carne seca - a mix of dried, shredded beef, green chiles and onions, served in many of the dishes. An extensive menu, offering everything from authentic Mexican to a new, health smart section.

354 S. Main Ave. Tucson, AZ (520) 882-4145

Old Pueblo Grille: Blends old, Sonoran tradition and cuisine with its own American stamp. The bar at Old Pueblo features over 80 blends of tequila. The Sonoran filet medallions and flame-grilled salmon are two of the Grille' s many specialties.

60 N. Alvernon Way Tucson, AZ (520) 326-6000

Lil' Abner's Steakhouse: On the outskirts of Tucson, but regarded by many as serving the best steaks in the city. The restaurant is filled with the aroma of a wood fire grill used to cook many different cuts and sizes of steaks. Lil' Abner's is also known for top-notch service.

8500 N. Silverbell Road Tucson, AZ (520) 744-2800

El Mezon del Cobre: Puts an original Southwestern spin on seafood such as Guaymas shrimp, Enchiladas a la Mezon and Carne Asada Sonorense. El Mezon was rated as one of the best seafood restaurants in Arizona by Arizona Business magazine. Also features a live mariachi band on weekends.

2960 N. First Ave. Tucson, AZ (520) 791-0977

El Corral: Open for over 60 years in an historic Tucson ranch house complete with flagstone floors and stone fireplaces. The prime rib is El Corral's specialty, which also has steaks, chicken and fish.

2201 E. River Road Tucson, AZ (520) 299-6092

Casa Del Rio: Has been serving authentic Mexican cuisine since 1979. A large menu with an array of choices at reasonable prices but is known mostly for its famous chimichangas and salsa.

1060 S. Pantano Road Tucson, AZ (520) 296-2309

Rosa's: offers authentic Southwestern food and distinctive décor. Rosa's has been a Tucson favorite for over 30 years. Serves breakfast lunch and dinner, along with an extensive wine list and some of the city's finest margaritas.

1750 E. Fort Lowell Road Tucson, AZ (520) 325-0362

Southern Arizona Dining Guide

Head south of Tucson on I-10 and you will come to Cochise County on the American-Mexican border. Naturally, the best food in the area is southwestern and Mexican fare. You will be shocked at the affordability compared to the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Bisbee: Bisbee Grille: Opened in 2001, the Bisbee Grille has already made a name for itself in Bisbee. It has steak, fish, chicken and vegetarian food with a southwest flair. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

2 Copper Queen Plaza
(520) 432-6788

Tachos Tacos: Known for having some of the best Mexican north of the border. Tachos Tacos is an extremely good value and serves authentic dishes such as caldo de queso, menudo and sopa de tortilla.

115 Naco Highway
(520) 432-7811

Café Roca: A fine upscale four course dinner. Café Roca serves Western and Italian inspired cuisine. Restaurant hours vary by season.

35 Main Street
(520) 432-5153

Benson:Magalys: Serves up some of the best, authentic Mexican in Benson. A festive atmosphere and a wide appetizer menu.

675 W. Fourth St.
(520) 586-2027

The Chute-Out Steakhouse: Boasts having the best steak in Arizona. The portions will satisfy any appetite and the price is right as well. The Chute-Out prides itself in its service as well.

161 S. Huachuca
(520) 586-7297

Sierra Vista: The Mesquite Tree: Serves up steak, chicken and fish dishes in a quaint, authentic Southwestern atmosphere. The Mesquite Tree also has a full bar and wine list.

South Highway 92 and Carr Canyon Road
(520) 378-2758

Daisy Mae's Stronghold: Fantastic Mesquite-Grilled Steaks and barbeque. Daisy Mae's has very friendly service in a casual atmosphere.

332 N Garden Ave.
(520) 452-8099

La Casita: Open for 14 years, the Garcia family restaurant boasts 45 years of fine Mexican food service. Offers everything from tacos and enchiladas to thirst-quenching margaritas.

465 E. Fry Blvd.
(520) 458-2376

Northern Arizona

Sedona: Sedona is about a 90-minute drive north from Phoenix, but the trip brings you to a whole new world. The golf metropolis that is Phoenix/Scottsdale is replaced for the home sweet home of Sedona, with its slightly cooler temperatures and Red Rock landscape. The most popular restaurants in the area capture a small-town, Southwestern feeling. The dining options in the picturesque town range from casual to elegant, and offer a wide variety of steaks and Southwestern cuisine.

Café & Cattle Co.: Serves up a variety of steaks and stunning views of the Sedona Red Rocks. Serves steak, as well as fish, chicken and Mexican cuisine. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

771 Highway 179 Sedona, AZ 86336 (520) 282-2188

Casa Rincon & Tapas Cantina: Set in an old world Spanish atmosphere, offers new world Spanish and Mexican cuisine. There is usually live entertainment as well, including live bands, dancing, dinner theatre and open mike night.

2620 W. Highway 89A Sedona, AZ 86336 (928) 282-4849

Cowboy Club Grille: Has been open for more than 50 years in the high desert of Sedona and was an original meeting place for some of Sedona's early settlers. Offers some of the finest Angus steaks and has its signature Rattlesnake and Cactus Fries.

241 N. Highway 89-A Sedona AZ 86336 (982) 282-4200

Javelina Cantina: Voted best of Sedona by Sedona Red Rocks news poll in 1999. Javelina Cantina offers Southwestern and Mexican fare with panoramic views of the Sedona Red Rocks. They pride themselves on their signature Pueblo sandwich.

671 Highway 179 Sedona, AZ 86336 (520) 203-9514

Judi's Restaurant & Lounge: A quaint, hometown favorite in Sedona. Judi's serves lunch and dinner in an intimate setting. They specialize in steaks and boast the finest baby back ribs in the universe. The Sedona Red Rock News voted Judi's the town's best lunch.

Highway 89A & Soldiers Pass Road Sedona, AZ 86366 (928) 282-4449

Rainbow's End Steakhouse & Saloon: Built in the early 1900s and is one of Sedona's oldest restaurants. Rainbow's End has live country music and horseshoe pits. But the real attraction is Rainbow's famous steak and ribs.

3235 W. Highway 89A, Sedona, AZ (520) 282-1593

Sedona Airport Restaurant: Visitors flying into the Sedona airport don't have to travel any farther for a meal. Sedona Airport Restaurant has a varied menu for breakfast lunch and dinner, including a half-pound filet mignon and marinated pork tenderloin.

1185 Airport Road Sedona, AZ 86336 (520) 282-3576

The Heartline Café: Heartline offers gourmet food in a relaxed setting. Heartline Café was voted "Best Overall Restaurant" for three straight years by the Sedona Red Rock News poll. The menu is eclectic, offering anything from pastas to fish to beef tenderloin. Lunch is served four days a week and dinner is nightly.

1610 W. Highway 89A Sedona, AZ 86336 (928) 282-0785

The Wild Toucan Restaurant & Cantina: Offers authentic Mexican cuisine and award-winning salsa and hot sauce in an energetic atmosphere. The Wild Toucan has been open over a decade but has recently had an upgrade to a new building.

6376 Highway 179 Sedona, AZ 86351 (928) 284-1604

Yavapai Restaurant: Located in the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, this is one of the most elegant local places. Yavapai overlooks the Boynton Canyon with a 180-degree view. Set in a modern Southwest atmosphere. Offers internationally known Chef Maguire signature dishes.

525 Boynton Canyon Road Sedona, AZ 86336 (928) 282-2900

Prescott What was once an old mining town in northern Arizona, Prescott is once again booming. This time however, it is in tourism for Valley of the Sun residents looking for a weekend retreat and retirees looking to settle in a small, quaint town. Prescott is 100 miles north of Phoenix and its summer climate is much more moderate than its southern Arizona neighbors.

Murphy's: A classy atmosphere in one of Prescott's historic mercantile buildings built in 1890. Murphy's specializes in steaks and seafood. Open for lunch and dinner and the lounge is open late on weekends.

201 N. Cortez St. Prescott, AZ (928) 445-4044

Gurley Street Grill: Known in Prescott as one of the best deals in town. Gurley's is famous for its ribs, pasta and pizza and also has an extensive wine menu.

230 W. Gurley St. Prescott, AZ (928) 445-3234

Prescott Brewing Co.: A fine selection of brews and good pub fare on Gurley Street in a casual, upbeat atmosphere.

130 W. Gurley St. Prescott, AZ (928) 771-2795

Palace Saloon: Established in 1877, this restaurant is dubbed "the Old West' s most famous saloon." Palace specializes in steaks and seafood and boasts famous patrons Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Located on the famous "Whiskey Row" which has been the set for numerous western film shoots.

120 S. Montezuma St. Prescott, AZ (928) 541-1996

Coyote Joe's: Features live local bands and southwestern and Mexican fare. Some specials include 2-for-1 happy hour nightly and $1 taco Tuesdays. Located in the old Arizona Hotel, built in the late 1800s.

214 S. Montezuma St. Prescott, AZ (928) 778-9570

The Rose Restaurant: Set in an intimate cottage setting, the Rose serves continental cuisine and a fine selection of wines. The Rose is among the finest dining spots in downtown Prescott.

234 S. Cortez St. Prescott, AZ (928) 777-8308

El Chaparral: Serves authentic Mexican fare. Open for over 40 years, El Chaparral has made a name for itself with its chimichangas and strawberry margaritas.

628 Miller Valley Road Prescott, AZ (928) 445-8447

Zuma's Woodfire Café: Serves regional dishes in a relaxed, smoke-free atmosphere. Live entertainment is nightly on one of Zuma's several patios. Over a dozen beers are on draft and Zuma's has a wide selection of California and imported wines.

124 N. Montezuma St. Prescott, AZ (928) 541-1400

Flagstaff Flagstaff is the gateway to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Arizona's native American country. It's also the home of Northern Arizona University and the Museum of Northern Arizona. It's a big tourist destination in summer, but is also popular year-round because of its mountain peaks and snow sports. Restaurants used to be a bit iffy here, but in the past 10 years the dining scene has exploded. Here are a handful of possibilities. Black Bart's Steakhouse and Musical Revue: Black Bart's is one of the longtime Flagstaff places, a cowboy-style steakhouse with rustic tables and chairs. The food is only medium-good; the big attraction here is the waiters and waitresses, all music students from Northern Arizona University, who take breaks from serving your grub to break into song.

2760 E. Butler Butler and I-40 Flagstaff, AZ (928) 779-3142

Beaver Street Brewery & Whistle Stop Café: Beaver Street in old-town Flagstaff is a campus hangout that can be packed with students in the evenings. Lots of salads, burgers, pizzas in generous and tasty portions. And of course, the brews are huge.

11 S. Beaver St. Flagstaff, AZ (928) 779-0079

Jackson's Grill at the Springs: On the outskirts of Flagstaff, this is one of the newer dining spots in the area. It's a beautiful inn in a mountain setting and features spit-roasted chicken, wood-fired pizzas plus unusual dishes with a nouveau Asian flavor.

7055 S. Highway 89A Flagstaff, AZ (928) 213-9350

The Cottage Place: This restaurant is located in a 1909 bungalow, painted burgundy red. It's unpretentious looking, but the food is as nouveau - and sometimes as pricey - as you'll find anywhere. Try the Dijon Crusted Salmon, the Pork Schnitzel, the Grilled Tenderloin Risotto.

126 W. Cottage Ave. Flagstaff, AZ (928) 774-8431

Brandon TuckerBrandon Tucker, Managing Editor

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Genre

    Ender Berett wrote on: Feb 21, 2013

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  • Hi

    Bea Cunningham wrote on: Mar 17, 2008

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