Arizona is justly famed for its spectacular scenery, from red rocks and buttes to canyons and deserts. But many first-time visitors will be surprised by the variety and quality of the state’s dining scene. Here’s more good news: you’ll find plenty of places that combine great views with great food, and they range all across the price spectrum.
The only problem with my ten favorite scenic chow-down spots (arranged from north to south): While there, you might have a tough time deciding whether to focus on your plate or gaze out into the middle distance.
Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room – Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim
The only fine-dining option at the national park’s North Rim, this restaurant never takes advantage of having a captive – and captivated by the view – audience. You’ll find everything from wholegrain penne pasta to New York strip steak.
Rainbow Room – Lake Powell Resort, Page
Much of the menu here mirrors the landscape outside: Southwest-inspired items like margarita chicken reflect the soaring sandstone buttes beyond the vast glass windows, while the trout and bass, say, pay tribute to the sapphire-blue lake created when Glen Canyon was flooded. Burgers, steaks, salads, etc. are available, too.
El Tovar Dining Room, Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim
Casually elegant with a gourmet-oriented menu, from polenta corncakes at breakfast to natural veal scaloppini saltimbocca at dinner, this restaurant has something to please even the pickiest members of the family – whether or not they recognize the names of what they’re eating.
Barley Brothers, Lake Havasu City
Peering at London Bridge while quaffing excellent handcrafted brews might make you think you’re in Merry Olde England. The giveaway that you’re not: The tasty wood-fired pizzas, Italian sausage sandwiches, ribs and the like.
Yavapai Restaurant, Enchantment Resort, Sedona
As if the views of the red rocks of Boynton Canyon weren’t heady enough, this elegant dining room has a dazzling wine list to complement its upscale regional American menu, featuring such signature dishes as buffalo tenderloin and rack of lamb.
Javelina Cantina, Sedona
Good Mexican food, potent margaritas and a deck with knockout vistas of Coffee Pot Mesa and other red rock landmarks...what more could anyone want from a casual restaurant in the Southwest?
The Haunted Hamburger, Jerome
The burgers that emerge from the kitchen of this hillside eatery in a bustling ghost town – thus the restaurant’s name – come with everything, including amazing Verde Valley vistas. Other pluses: Onion rings, ribs, desserts.
Elements, Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale
The farm-fresh food on the stylish menu of this stylish restaurant may have Asian accents (grilled salmon with bok choy and udon noodles, for one), but the views of Camelback Mountain and Greater Phoenix can’t be found anywhere except in the Sonoran Desert.
T-Bone Steak House, Phoenix
If you’ve come to Arizona with Wild West fantasies that involve cattle and cacti, you couldn’t find a better spot to indulge them than this down-home steakhouse, backed up against South Mountain. You can even ride up on horseback, pardner.
Anthony’s in the Catalinas, Tucson
Mountains and desert and city – oh my! To breathtaking vistas, add a wine list that continually wins the coveted Grand Award from Wine Spectator and fine Continental cuisine. What better inspirations for celebration, even without any particular occasion?
(Updated by the Arizona Office of Tourism - 2009)