From rugged outdoor adventure to family-friendly vacations to unforgettable romantic getaways, you’ll find it all among Arizona's red rock wonderland.
Such diversity may account for Sedona’s wide-ranging culinary scene. Rarely will you find this much gastronomic quality and variety in such close quarters. Hearty breakfasts to start your day, casual Mexican eateries, pizza, seafood and sophisticated chef-driven restaurants featuring splendid views are all part of the mix.
Here are 10 of the best restaurants you’ll find amid Sedona’s soaring red rock landscape, where a liberal dash of scenic beauty accompanies every meal.
Sample a few items from the raw bar at Shorebird and you’ll be convinced you’re in a beach town. Only the red rock vistas spilling through the oversize windows of this upscale restaurant say different.
The ahi tuna nigiri tastes delightfully fresh and light, and pairs perfectly with a ginger dressing. Landlubbers will find plenty to enjoy, like a heritage pork chop with Brussel sprouts and brandy-poached apples. Shorebird also offers a daily brunch menu, including chicken chilaquiles, egg white frittatas and Maryland crab eggs benedict.
Details: 150 State Route 179. 928-203-5465, www.shorebirdca.com.
Despite the name, the menu at Sedona Crepes is loaded with a variety of breakfast options. The chorizo crepe is crowded with eggs, potatoes, guac and cheese. They also serve up omelets, waffles, and breakfast platters along with paninis, tacos, and other lunch choices.
But it takes a special kind of willpower to walk into a crepe restaurant and not try one of the sweet versions of these delicate rolled pancakes. The Nutella arrives stuffed with chocolate hazelnut spread, strawberries, bananas and topped with almonds.
Details: 164 Coffee Pot Drive, Suite H. 928-862-2037, www.sedonacrepes.com.
Discover the origins of pizza at one of Sedona’s newer restaurants, Vespa Healthy Italian Café. This bright and airy, order-at-the-counter spot feels like a New Age Italian deli. They feature a variety of flatbreads served in a rustic elongated oval shape and made from a light chewy dough that is gluten-celiac-keto-friendly and organic.
La pinsa Romana, or Roman flatbread, is considered the ancestor of pizza. At Vespa, the Contadina is topped with whole milk mozzarella, roasted mushrooms, Italian sausage, arugula and parmigiano. Sandwiches are made using the same yummy dough. Salads and some exquisite desserts round out the menu.
Details: 1350 State Route 89A. 928-862-2228, www.vespaitaliancafe.com.
This upscale romantic restaurant is Chef Lisa Dahl’s most ambitious enterprise, an exquisite melding of art and architecture. Natural stacked stone, rusted metal panels and walls of windows all framed by shady patios are part of the décor that’s unlike anyplace else in Sedona.
Sitting on a bluff, Mariposa provides incredible views to accompany the warm atmosphere and excellent South American-inspired food. Start with the flaky handmade empanadas before moving on to the creatively prepared steak, fish and chicken entrees.
Although it’s not required, this is one of those places where it’s fun to dress up a bit. They’re also open for lunch.
Details: 700 State Route 89A. 928-862-4444, www.mariposasedona.com.
Located at the Arabella Hotel, Molé offers a sophisticated take on Mexican cuisine combining traditional flavors and contemporary techniques. Start with the iron skillet cornbread, crunchy on the outside, soft inside with Hatch green chiles adding a sly heat to the sweet butter you’ll be slathering on.
The Molé con Pollo is rich and complex, not your typical neighborhood chicken enchiladas at all. House-smoked organic chicken mixed with pickled red onions, sesame seeds, queso fresco and Oaxaca cheese is topped by a blanket of chocolate molé, adding a sweet smokiness to the dish.
Details: 725 State Route 179. 928-282-7177, www.molecomida.com.
While the farm to fork movement has been popular for years, forest to fork is a relatively new concept. The Table at Junipine Resort tucked away in Oak Creek Canyon may be changing that. Whatever the two award-winning chefs, Jaren Bates and Brett Vibber, forage on Monday and Tuesday determines the all-Arizona menu for the rest of the week.
Mushrooms are gathered from the pine forests around Flagstaff, cholla buds, ocotillo flowers and mesquite pods from the high desert. It all gets incorporated along with Sedona trout, Sonoran wheat pasta, and local Iberico pigs fed Arizona acorns. The result is a delicious and innovative sampling of Arizona terroir.
Details: 8351 N. State Route 89A. 928-282-3375, www.junipine.com/dining.
The sunlit Mesa Grill sits at the Sedona Airport atop a high plateau with panoramas spilling away. They serve a wide range of selections behind a wall of windows so you can enjoy views of the red rocks as well as planes and helicopters taking off and landing.
There’s an innovative Southwestern flair to the menu that sparkles with fresh ingredients. The crispy skin red trout is served with sautéed spinach, green chile grits, caper butter sauce and crisp trout chicharron. Or start your day off with hearty breakfast tacos of homemade chicken chorizo, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, pico and fire-roasted salsa.
Details: 1185 Airport Road. 928-282-2400, www.mesagrillsedona.com.
How does one of Sedona’s smallest eateries maintain one of the most expansive menus?
Anyone craving authentic Mexican food should visit this nondescript little pink box of a building. The namesake tortas are towering concoctions of house-made meats and fresh ingredients. Good luck finishing one of these piled-high sandwiches on your own.
The rest of the menu features an encyclopedia of Sonoran-style selections. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, like fried cactus tostados. There is a second, larger Tortas de Fuego location at 6657 State Route 179 in the Village of Oak Creek.
Details: 1630 State Route 89A. 928-282-0226, www.tortasdefuegosedona.com.
Unobstructed red rock views pair nicely with any dish at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen at Amara Resort and Spa. With an expansive patio, this is the kind of place to enjoy a casual cocktail and appetizer or to celebrate a special occasion. The recently revamped menu highlights seasonal flavors and a creative spin on signature classics.
Start off with skillet street corn, a sweet-salty-creamy-spicy medley that primes any appetite. For the butternut squash relleno, a roasted poblano is stuffed with squash, grilled button onions, golden raisins, crunchy pepitas and Oaxaca cheese and served with forbidden black rice. Delicious and healthy. SaltRock serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Details: 100 Amara Lane. 844-489-9662, www.amararesort.com.
This casual, family-friendly restaurant delivers the kind of lavish panoramas you expect to find at a high-end resort. Three big porches nestle among the trees in the shadow of Snoopy Rock. Gourmet pizzas are the star, including the white pie topped with roasted peach, pancetta and seasoned ricotta.
Hideaway House also features a large selection of sandwiches, salads and entrees such as sautéed shrimp and gnocchi in a tomato basil sauce. Save room for one of their scratch-made desserts.
Details: 231 State Route 179. 928-202-4082, www.sedonahideawayhouse.com.
This article was featured in the Arizona Republic.
Meet Roger Naylor
Arizona Republic contributor and author Roger Naylor will be discussing his new book, "Awesome Arizona: 200 Amazing Facts about the Grand Canyon State," across the state. Here's where you can meet him and catch his talk and slide presentation. All the events are free and books will be for sale.
Saturday, April 29: 2 p.m. at Peregrine Book Company, 219A N. Cortez St., Prescott. 928-445-9000.
Tuesday, May 2: 1 p.m. at Rim Country Museum, 700 S. Green Valley Parkway, Payson. 928-474-3483.
Saturday, May 6: 11 a.m. at North Mountain Visitor Center, 12950 N. Seventh St., Phoenix. 602-343-5125.
Monday, May 8: 12:15 p.m. at Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, 409 W. Riordan Road. 928-779-4395.
Find the reporter at www.rogernaylor.com. Or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RogerNaylorinAZ or Twitter @AZRogerNaylor.