- Cowboy Ciao (Scottsdale; tel. 480/946-3111): Scottsdale may not have many real cowboys anymore, but it has great cowboy chow. Forget burned steaks and chili; this place serves the likes of buffalo carpaccio and wild-boar meatballs.
- Vincent on Camelback (Phoenix; tel. 602/224-0225): Chef Vincent Guerithault has made a career of merging classic French culinary techniques with the robust flavors of the Southwest. The results, for many years, have been absolutely unforgettable.
- Fry Bread House (Phoenix; tel. 602/351-2345): Unless you've traveled in the Southwest before, you've probably never had a fry-bread taco. This stick-to-your-ribs dish is a staple on Indian reservations throughout Arizona, but the fry-bread tacos at this Phoenix restaurant are among the best I've had anywhere in the state.
- Blue Adobe Grille (Mesa; tel. 480/962-1000): This nondescript restaurant in an otherwise forgettable area of Mesa serves some of the best Southwestern fare in the state. Meals are flavorful (without being too spicy), prices are great, and there's even a good wine list.
- The Turquoise Room (Winslow; tel. 928/289-2888): This restaurant serves dishes that incorporate both Mexican and Native American influences and conjures up the days when the wealthy still traveled by railroad. Rarely will you find such superb meals in such an off-the-beaten-path locale.
- Café Poca Cosa (Tucson; tel. 520/622-6400): Forget the gloppy melted cheese and flavorless red sauces. This place treats south-of-the-border ingredients with the respect they deserve. It's Mexican food the likes of which you'll never find at your local Mexican joint.
- El Charro Café (Tucson; tel. 520/622-1922): Nothing sums up Tucson-style Mexican food quite like the carne seca at this, the oldest family-run Mexican restaurant in Tucson. Carne seca, which is a bit like shredded beef jerky in a spicy sauce, is made from strips of beef that air-dry on the roof of this restaurant.
- El Guero Canelo (Tucson; tel. 520/882-8977): Ever had a Mexican hot dog? No? Well, here's your chance. Wrapped in bacon, topped with beans and salsa, and known locally as Sonoran dogs, the pups served at this big Mexican fast-food joint are legendary.
- Janos/J Bar (Tucson; tel. 520/615-6100): Serving a combination of French-inspired regional and Southwestern dishes, Janos has long been one of Tucson's premier restaurants. While Janos is as formal a place as you'll find in this city, J Bar is a more casual bar and grill.
- Desert Rain Café (Sells; tel. 520/383-4918): This little cafe an hour west of Tucson on the Tohono O'odham reservation serves simple dishes made with traditional ingredients such as tepary beans, cholla cactus buds, and prickly-pear syrup. If you happen to be passing through the area, Desert Rain should not be missed.
- Canela (Sonoita; tel. 520/455-5873): This little roadside bistro in southern Arizona's wine country is one of the best restaurants in the region and is a good place to sample the likes of quail stuffed with chorizo sausage-cornbread stuffing. Whether or not you're in the area to taste wine, you should be sure to fit Canela into your itinerary.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.