Arizona is no doubt a coveted vacation spot for travelers from across the country and around the world. The state’s Grand Canyon treasure, spring training offerings, pristine golf courses and resorts, to-die-for weather (minus a few summer months, let’s be honest), and its desert beauty allure even the pickiest of travelers. What visitors and residents alike may not be aware of is that Arizona features some of the best cuisine in the country. Whether the visitor is searching for a relaxing lake-front atmosphere or a down home barbeque hot spot, these five Arizona gems are sure to complement any Valley of the Sun travel plans.
There may not be any ocean views in Arizona, but when visitors make their way to Scorpion Bay Grill they won’t even notice. Located on the west side of the stunning Lake Pleasant, Scorpion Bay Grill is a newly remodeled lake-front restaurant that features a relaxed, friendly atmosphere making all visitors feel right at home. Guests can nosh on appetizers like Loaded Potato Skins or Iron Skillet Totchos (tater tot nachos). They can fill up on the amazing Ranch Chicken Flatbread Pizzas or the Southwest Burger (featuring avocado, pepper Jack, jalapeno and bacon) or enjoy lighter fare options like the Ahi Nicoise Salad or Cabo Tacos. The establishment also features a full-service bar so guests can pair cocktails with the amazing cuisine choices. Visitors will not be disappointed by the gorgeous views, friendly service and outstanding food. Oh, and don’t forget to rent a pontoon boat or kayak to experience the gorgeous water and surrounding terrain or try out a paddle boarding yoga class while you are there!
Location: 10970 Peninsula Blvd., Morristown
Tagline: Purveyors of fresh food & cocktails on the water
Family Friendly: Yes, indoor and outdoor seating available
With a focus on using quality, locally-sourced ingredients, Joe’s Farm Grill delights its guests three meals a day. The establishment’s structure was created from the Johnston family residence originally built in 1966. The Grill blends indoors and outdoors to create a peaceful, comfortable mid-century modern “burger stand.” Harvesting goodies from its 12-acre organic farm called Agritopia, fresh produce is always on the menu to make the diner’s experience top notch. Guests can choose from BBQ pork and Baby Back Ribs or try the farm favorite Sonoran Dog (a hot dog wrapped in bacon, topped with beans, cheese, sour cream and jalapenos) or the Gouda Garlic Bacon Burger Stack, among other notable offerings. Most meals come with one or two sides that include goodies like French fries and Cole Slaw - or for an additional charge Sweet Potato Fries or Onion Rings. Don’t forget their unique grilled pizzas or lighter menu items such as the Grilled Wedge Salad or the BBQ Chicken Salad. With so many fresh and delicious items to choose from, guests might go for lunch and return for dinner and breakfast too!
Location: 3000 E. Ray Rd. Bldg. 1, Gilbert
Tagline: Common food done uncommonly well
Family Friendly: Yes, kids menus available
Located in the hip Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, Chelsea’s Kitchen offers its diners a relaxed, comfortable ambiance with chic décor. With a simple, yet diverse, fresh and delicious menu, Chelsea’s Kitchen is sure to have something to satisfy all appetites. For starters one can’t go wrong with the gluten free Corn Bread with Green Chile or the Deviled Eggs plate. The Grilled Swordfish tacos are rumored to be the best in town, but any of the tacos—from vegetarian to ribeye steak—will not disappoint. A plethora of burgers, including the Roasted Jindori Chicken or the Grilled Faroe Island Salmon, are standouts. For a lighter choice, the Tuna Sashimi Salad with a spicy ginger lime vinaigrette or Brussels Sprout Salad might fit one’s fancy. If someone in the party is inclined to do a little day drinking, it’s rumored that the prickly pear margarita is a must try!
Location: 5040 N. 40th St., Phoenix
Motto: Provides high-quality, honest food that is always fresh
Family Friendly: Yes, kid menu available
Anyone interested in Central Texas-style barbeque need look no further than Little Miss BBQ! The restaurant got started when its owners entered numerous barbeque contests. The husband and wife duo may not have been terribly successful the first few tries, but they soon perfected their goods and now have people standing in line (sometimes for quite a long time) to buy their incredible offerings. They are only open Tuesday-Saturdays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or until they run out of food—which does happen, so get there early! The restaurant serves its meals meat market style—by weight on butcher paper with onions, pickles, jalapenos and white bread. They use the best meats available and their sausage and sides are made fresh in house. Choices of meat include whole or chopped Brisket, Pulled Pork, Pork Ribs, Turkey or Sausage. Guests can pick sandwiches with the option of some crave-inducing sides including Ranch Style Beans, Jalapeno Cheddar Grits, Potato Salad or Coleslaw. If one wants to walk on the wild side after filling up on the delicious barbeque, Bekke’s Smoked Pecan Pie is not to be missed. Using Arizona oak and pecan wood and roasting the meat in gigantic Camelback Smokers, Little Miss BBQ’s meals are on point as demonstrated by the patrons repeatedly coming back for more.
Location: 4301 E. University Dr., Phoenix
Tagline: BBQ – A slightly obsessive passion
Family Friendly: No separate kid’s menu, but kids are welcome
Founded in 1990 by a husband and wife team with Southwestern and Asian roots, Chino Bandido was born. It’s not often that Mexican and Asian cooking styles blend together, but at Chino’s that combination is, well, divine (It’s even written on the wall as you enter, “To Eat is human, to chino divine”). Originally modeled after “hole-in-the-wall” joints the owners loved (true story), Chinos has grown into a popular destination for locals and visitors to the Valley alike. As guests enter, the friendly staff offers a tasting bar with some of the restaurant’s delectable fare to help in the decision-making process. Single item bowls or combo bowls can be ordered, which include steamed rice and incredible beans in addition to the main entrée (s). Items such as the Chile Relleno, the Gringo Chicken (flavored with tomatoes, green onions and a butter-garlic sauce), and Jade Red Chicken are favorites. Brave diners may try the Jerk Chicken, which is marinated in a sauce featuring some of the hottest peppers in the world. Scrumptious Teriyaki Chicken and quesadillas are always a hit as well. For a unique, one-of-a-kind experience, Chino Bandido takes the cake – or the delicious snickerdoodle cookie included with each meal. And the giant stone panda mascot dressed in a sombrero while holding chop sticks just makes it more fun!
Location: 15414 North 19th Ave., Phoenix
Tagline: Eat at Chinos Live Forever!
Family Friendly: Yes, children’s options are available
Scorpion Bay is Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering everything from daily pontoon and ski boat rentals to slips for harboring your yacht (or dinghy). Come for the fishing or come for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await less than an hour out of Phoenix. https://www.scorpionbayaz.com/