- 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.
- Barrio Cafe: (Phoenix; tel. 602/636-0240): Chef and owner Silvana Salcida Esparza conjures up alluring dishes using traditional Mexican ingredients and her own mind-expanding experiments with chilis. (No tacos and tostadas here.) A must stop for foodies in Phoenix.
- 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.
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.