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Who cares what New York Times thinks? Arizonans know best local restaurants. Here are top picks

By Bahar Anooshahr, Arizona Republic,


Some Arizonans are still disappointed that the state's restaurants did not make the New York Times 50 best list, which has included at least one Arizona restaurant every year since it was launched in 2021.

"Super lame!" wrote Hayley Ringle on Facebook. "So many amazing AZ restaurants to choose from."

In the wake of the great snubbing, our readers spoke up about their favorite restaurants, and we wanted to share the recommendations that kept pouring in.

From woodfired creations to rustic French nibbles, these restaurants are a great reminder of the richness of our dining scene. Here are nine spots (in alphabetical order) that the readers feel are among the best restaurants in the country.


Rochelle Daniel's Flagstaff restaurant landed her on the 2022 James Beard semifinalist list. In addition to her fine dining background, she loves to grill and that's reflected in Atria's menu of smoky meats and seafood. The roasted bone marrow dish, made with mushroom, brandy, garlic and fresh bread, was called one of the seven natural wonders of the food world by the former dining critic.

Details: 103 N. Leroux St., Flagstaff. 928-440-4377, .


Bacanora made the New York Times list in 2022 , and while it isn't likely they would name the same restaurant again on the best-of list, it's fair to say this restaurant deserves all of the accolades. They bill the fare as Sonoran comfort food, but what is served is also sophisticated and refined. It's no wonder it landed on so many best-of lists and even earned 5 out of 5 r estaurant reviews.

Details: 1301 Grand Ave., Unit 1, Phoenix. .

Barrio Cafe

The James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef 2023, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, opened Barrio Cafe on a small budget in 2002, and her modern Mexican menu won the heart of food critic Howard Seftel, who gave the restaurant five stars. Chef Esparza has become a Phoenix icon in her own right for her social activism . Barrio Cafe is known for itsguacamole, made tableside with pomegranate seeds.

Details: 2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix. 602-636-0240, .


Since opening a brick-and-mortar in February 2023, Chilte has garnered much national attention. Writers from Bon Appetit to Mashed fell in love with L.T. Smith's mole, especially the Amarillo style topped with crickets from Oaxaca.

Details: 765 Grand Ave., Phoenix. 602-807-5225, .


FnB's vegetable-forward menu won chef Charleen Badman a James Beard Award for “Best Chef — Southwest” in 2019. The restaurant's menu rotates seasonally and includes dishes like summer squash torta with labne, bread and butter pickles. And it's widely considered one of the best restaurants in the state.

Details: 7125 E. Fifth Ave., Suite 31, Scottsdale. 480-284-4777, .

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With chef Drew Anderson at the helm, Kai celebrates Native American ingredients and modern interpretations of the cuisine with dishes like The Birth Is Pee-Posh Garden, made of candied pecan soil, confit of baby potatoes, pickled chioggia beets, sunchoke cream and fermented white asparagus, and Pisin, made with grilled tenderloin of American bison, 60 day-corn puree, oxtail, bean cassoulet, cholla bud and saguaro blossom syrup.

The restaurant has received numerous accolades, including the AAA Five Diamond Award and Forbes Five-Star Award. La Liste named it one of the best in the world in 2019.

Details: Inside Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass at 5594 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Gila River Indian Community. 602-385-5777, .


Located inside a charming restored bungalow, Sottise — French for foolishness — is created by the team behind Restaurant Progress with a menu of homey dishes inspired by the French countryside. Find escargot de bourgogne, steamed mussels with garlic and creme fraiche and baked brie with peaches, hazelnut, calvados honey and baguette crisps.

Details: 1025 N. Second St., Phoenix. 602-254-6378, .

The Larder + The Delta

James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Chef in 2022, chef Stephen Jones' menu is the story of Southern foodways with dishes like hot water cornbread with whipped clover honey butter and bee pollen and hoppin john , made with Carolina gold rice, sea island field peas and herb salad.

Details: 200 W. Portland St., Phoenix. 480-409-8520, .


James Beard Award semifinalist for Emerging Chef in 2022, chef Donald Hawk and his team create many of their dishes with indigenous Sonoran ingredients. Mesquite and elote make appearances in pasta, and appetizers feature local tepary beans and huitlacoche butter. The white Sonoran wheat pretzel served with guinea hen butter and Arizona honeycomb was recognized as one of the New York Times' "25 Restaurant Dishes We Couldn't Stop Thinking About This Year."

The concept is an homage to Arizona, right down to the name, which is a nod to Feb. 14, 1912, when Arizona officially became a state. The not-so-secret bar, located in an alley behind the restaurant, is aptly named 1912 and features a cocktail menu almost as exciting as what's coming out of the kitchen up front.

Details : 4130 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-612-2961, .

'Order every dish': Phoenix Mexican restaurant named 1 of the best new restaurants in the US

Reach the reporter at . Follow @banooshahr on X, formerly Twitter .

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Who cares what New York Times thinks? Arizonans know best local restaurants. Here are top picks

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