9 best restaurants in Sedona
Chefs emphasize local, sustainable foods and seasonal menus.
Now it feels like Sedona is just showing off.
Nestled at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon, this red-rock wonderland is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest and buttressed by four wilderness areas. Chock-full of art galleries, elegant inns and luxurious spas, the city already suffered from an embarrassment of riches. Now that it's added “culinary destination” to its list of attractions, it gets harder to stay away.
Finding a great meal in Sedona was not always easy. Like many tourist towns, food wasn’t necessarily a priority. That began to change as a new generation of chefs opened eateries that offered more exciting and authentic dining experiences. In recent years, Sedona has embraced its reputation as a center of healing and wellness and that’s reflected in the dining culture with more establishments making their menus as healthy as possible.
Here are new restaurants and a couple of old favorites amid the red rocks.
With just one table inside and a bench out front, this is essentially a carry-out tamale stand. But, oh, what tamales! Claudia Gonzalez opened Tamaliza Market in January 2015. She learned traditional Mexican recipes from both of her grandmothers and uses fresh, healthful ingredients in her cooking. No lard or processed foods are involved. Large gourmet tamales are made with non-GMO organic corn masa. All dishes and salsas are made fresh daily and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Gonzalez whips up tamale varieties such as tomatillo chicken and the vibrantly spicy guajillo pork served with red sauce. All tamales, including the veggie and vegan options cost $5, or $8 for the supreme version topped with a cascade of black beans, spinach, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Delicious made-from-scratch chiles rellenos cost $6 for traditional style or $8 for supreme.
Details: 40 Soldiers Pass Road, Sedona. 928-202-9056, www.sedonatamaliza.com.
Editor's Note: Click on the arrow next to the title on the top left corner of the map to select which things to do, hotels or restaurants display.
Just as the name promises, this stylish restaurant perches on the edge of Oak Creek with a beautiful view of Snoopy Rock rising above the sycamore and cottonwood trees.
Serving eclectic American cuisine, the place bustles all day long starting with the popular breakfast. Try eggs benedict ($10) or breakfast tacos (2 for $8.95), soft corn tortillas filled with chicken chorizo, cheddar, scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, cilantro, jalapeños and fire-roasted salsa.
Executive chef Mercer Mohr, a James Beard Award winner, changes the menu every three months to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. At lunch, the ahi tuna burger ($15.25) is diced and spiced with green onions, fresh ginger and shallots, then pressed into a patty and served with wasabi aioli. The South Beach Chicken Avocado Salad, packed with flavor and only about 400 calories, is a favorite as an entree and a happy-hour snacking plate.
Look for Mohr to open a tequila bar above Creekside this year.
Details: 251 State Route 179, Sedona. 928-282-1705, www.creeksidesedona.com.
A Taste of Marrakech
This little place defies description. The owners call it “organic international cuisine with Moroccan influence” but that’s just the start. Menu items range from elk sliders to Chicago hot dogs to falafel flatbread tacos. The focus is on healthy diversity. All meats are free range and grass fed. Salmon is wild Alaskan and all veggies are organic non-GMO.
Three street tacos ($10) come with a choice of meats — the jerk chicken done in a medley of spices is especially good — and are served with a house harissa, a hot chile paste. Veggie kebabs ($11) are cooked to perfection in a white wine, peanut and curry sauce with bits of apple adding a nice sweet note to the spear. Every entrée comes with a choice of side. Options change seasonally; the slightly crisped russet potato bites are delightful. Organic teas are on the menu, as well as beer and wine.
Details: 25 Bell Rock Plaza, Village of Oak Creek. 928-284-4365, www.atom-organic.com.
Resembling a romantic Tuscan villa with fireplaces and fountains, elaborate iron work and Old World doors, Cucina Rustica is perfect for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries or any day ending in the letter Y. The ambiance combined with the ninja-like professionalism of the waitstaff and the rich Italian-inspired cuisine makes every occasion special. The restaurant's farm-to-table practice assures fresh seasonal flavors.
Start your meal with caprese ($12) topped with tomatoes so fresh you’d swear there was a garden out back. Linguine Angelica ($24) is a big plate of freshly made pasta with juicy prawns in a light zesty sauce of lemon, tomato, garlic and Chardonnay with arugula and chili flakes. Melanzane Parmigiana ($20) with its layers of tender eggplant amid gooey mozzarella cheese and yummy marinara sauce will win over even hard-core eggplant haters. Save room for the desserts whipped up nightly.
Details: 7000 SR 179, Village of Oak Creek. 928-284-3010, www.cucinarustica.com.
Opened in May 2015, Outlaw Grille is the perfect spot to grab a burger or sandwich while prowling uptown galleries or refueling between hikes. Hidden away in the retail district, it has a few plain tables in a small dining room, a little patio and more tables lining the breezeway between shops. Order at the window and they’ll hustle your meal out to you.
This is not the place for a romantic dinner but if you’re craving a delicious straightforward burger with a blast of beefy goodness, you’re in luck. The Outlaw Classic, a half-pounder topped with cheese and served with a side ($8.95) is a bargain in the middle of Sedona. The Morning After burger ($11.50) comes topped with a fried egg, crispy bacon and spicy jalapeños. The ribs are hickory smoked and finished on the grill ($17 for a half rack). The homemade sauce is tantalizingly sweet. Wings, chicken fingers, salads, sandwiches and veggie burgers round out the menu. Excellent for kids.
Details: 250 Jordan Road, Sedona. 928-862-4085, www.outlawgrille.com.
Chef Chris Dobrowolski quickly developed a loyal following when he opened a small restaurant in Cottonwood’s original grade school in 2013. He soon outgrew the space and relocated to Tequa Plaza in the Village of Oak Creek in February 2015. Fans of his innovative dishes and passion for local ingredients followed him.
Entrees range from fire-roasted poblano chile relleno ($16.50) to sautéed fresh red trout ($23) to buttermilk fried free-range chicken served with a blue corn and white cheddar waffle with vanilla whipped cream and a side of pineapple kale coleslaw ($21). Almost the entire menu is gluten free.
Committed to obtaining the freshest ingredients, Dobrowolski recently purchased a produce grower. His goal is to sustain Schoolhouse by growing all his fruits, vegetables and herbs in organic conditions. Lunch and Sunday brunch are scheduled to start in late February.
Details: 7000 SR 179, Village of Oak Creek. 928-284-2240, www.vvschoolhouse.com.
3 more new Sedona restaurants
- Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill: The latest enterprise from chef Lisa Dahl is now open for lunch as well as dinner and has some of the best views in Sedona to accompany the excellent food. 700 State Route 89A. 928-862-4444,www.mariposasedona.com.
- Bella Vita Ristorante: This places sits a few miles outside of town at Sedona Pines Resort but the excellent dishes prepared by chef Andrea Di Luca are worth the drive. 6701 SR 89A. 928-282-4540, www.bellavitasedona.com.
- The Hudson: Mark and Lisa Shugrue just opened this place in Hillside Sedona. It features tempting bruschetta, charcuterie and comfort food with a New American flair. Be warned: Although it’s not mentioned on the menu, the cheeseburger is slathered in mayonnaise. 671 SR 179. 928-862-4099, www.thehudsonsedona.com.
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Eat your way around Arizona with Roger Naylor as your guide. Every month in 2016, he'll tip you off to top restaurants in a city or region. Today, Roger shares his favorite finds in Tucson. Coming in March: Deliciousness in Yuma.