Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Chandler, Arizona

Native Cuisine in Arizona

By: Teresa Bitler

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July 10, 2017

Sample American Indian food at restaurants throughout the state.

About the author

Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Sunset and Valley Guide magazines. She is the author of Great Escapes Arizona as well as four Arizona-related iPhone travel apps and is currently working on her second guidebook, Backroads & Byways of Indian Country. She can be reached at www.teresabitler.com.

Squash, beans and corn – the “three sisters” of American Indian cooking – are just a few ingredients used in the flavorful dishes served on Arizona’s tribal lands. You’ll also find lamb, cholla buds and frybread.

Discover these and other indigenous foods at Arizona’s American Indian restaurants.

Kai at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, Chandler

Featured cuisine: Gila River Indian Community

The only AAA Five-diamond and Forbes Five-star restaurant in Arizona, Kai showcases indigenous ingredients in dishes, such as rabbit with Pima wheat berries, duck with a blue corn tamale and buffalo with corn purée.

Dinner is as much about the experience as it is the food. Menus feature watercolor paintings by community artists, flute music floats through the room and staff share traditional stories. Order individual entrées, or take your taste buds on the epic 13-course – or shorter 7-course – tasting experience.

Courtyard Café at the Heard Museum, Phoenix

Featured cuisine: American Indian

Admission to the Heard Museum isn’t necessary to enjoy lunch at its Courtyard Café, but if you visit the world-renowned collection of American Indian arts, don’t miss the opportunity to dine on tepary bean hummus, pork with nopales (cactus) – a featured summer item in August 2017 – or the hominy soup, posole. The American Indian-inspired menu changes twice a year to offer new twists on traditional and contemporary dishes.

If you can’t make it for lunch, the restaurant is also open on First Fridays (except in March), from 5 to 8 p.m., to coincide with the museum’s extended hours.

Fry Bread House, Phoenix

Featured cuisine: Tohono O’odham

This casual restaurant located on Seventh Avenue is a Phoenix institution specializing in the American Indian staple, frybread. Most diners here devour it in taco form, with the fluffy bread serving as a “shell” around their choice of meat, but you can also have it on the side with red or green chile stew, hominy stew, posole or menudo.

Leave room for dessert frybread, with sweet toppings like chocolate, powdered sugar and honey.

Café Gozhoo, Whiteriver

Featured cuisine: White Mountain Apache

Traditional Western Apache dishes, such as acorn stew and red chile, will be on the seasonal menu of Café Gozhoo, the brainchild of classically trained chef Nephi Craig, when it opens in late 2017 in Whiteriver. As often as possible, Craig plans to feature locally sourced, Apache-grown produce and promote healthful eating.

Before or after the meal, diners will be able to purchase arts and crafts, as well as read wellness-related literature. For those in a hurry, Café Gozhoo will also offer grab-and-go items.

Hopi Cultural Center, Second Mesa

Featured cuisine: Hopi

Open 365 days a year, the Hopi Cultural Center is a motel and sit-down restaurant on the Second Mesa. Although burgers and truck-stop fare dominate the menu, you can order a number of Hopi favorites at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Try lamb stew instead of meatloaf or a frybread taco instead of fried chicken. Check out the daily specials, too.

Hogan Family Restaurant, Tuba City

Featured cuisine: Navajo

Located in the same parking lot as the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum and Tuba City Trading Post, the Hogan Family Restaurant serves a little of everything, including steaks, pizza and fajitas, but you’ll also find mutton stew, Navajo tacos made with frybread and other Navajo-inspired dishes on the menu. For more native options, come on Wednesday for the Navajo-themed lunch buffet.

The View Restaurant, Monument Valley

Featured cuisine: Navajo

Although it has arguably one of the best views of any restaurant in the world – the stunning red rock formations of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – the restaurant at the View Hotel has received national acclaim for its green chile stew, featured in Esquire’s “25 Best Bites to Eat in the U.S.A.” Its Le Cordon Bleu-trained Navajo chefs also prepare red chile pork posole, mutton stew and Navajo tacos.

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