Just south of Flagstaff, Arizona, sits one of the most stunning areas of the country. Sedona offers red sandstone formations that carve out canyons and buttes that are particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset, when they glow in oranges and reds. Technically, the rocks are part of Arizona’s Red Rock State Park, a 286-acre nature preserve along the banks of Oak Creek. Here, a look at where to fuel up before or after striking out on a hike.Read More
The 12 Essential Restaurants in Sedona, Arizona
Where to find mole-braised short ribs, shrimp and grits, and creekside pork chops in the staggeringly scenic desert destination
1. Tii Gavo
Tii Gavo means “gathering place,” and this restaurant, with an outdoor terrace and fire pits overlooking the red rocks of Sedona, sits inside the Enchantment Resort. Casual fare ranges from stuffed peppers and tamale bowls with mole-braised short rib to ahi grilled churrasco with creamed local greens and street tacos.
2. Elote Cafe
Wildly popular Elote Cafe moved into the heart of Sedona with chef and owner Jeff Smedstad’s menu culled from 20-plus years of travel across Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, and his native Arizona. Lamb adobo with an ancho chile sauce, Niman Ranch skirt steak with pasilla chile sauce, braised beef short ribs stuffed into a roasted poblano chile, smoked brisket enchiladas, corn-crusted scallops, and buffalo mole poblano create a meal to remember. Save room for Mexican chocolate pie for dessert.
3. Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits
The Cowboy Club’s long history started in 1946 when it opened as a saloon and pool hall that attracted Hollywood’s Western stars from Burt Lancaster and John Wayne to Donna Reed and Joan Crawford while they filmed in the red rocks of Sedona. The tavern became The Cowboy Club in 1993, retaining restored barnwood walls, a renovated fireplace, a reconditioned bar, and other charming details. The restaurant offers pecan-smoked prime rib on Friday nights and buttermilk fried chicken on Sundays. Try the elk chops or bison pot roast on the dinner menu.
4. Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill
Over the past 20 years, chef Lisa Dahl created a restaurant empire in Sedona. In 2015, she opened Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, with dishes from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay guiding her menu. A filet mignon comes with a Gorgonzola chipotle sauce, while a seafood trio comes with cold water lobster tail, hokkaido seared sea scallops, and jumbo grilled tiger shrimp. House specialties include pollo rustico with charred corn and roasted potatoes, and a steelhead ocean trout finished with a cilantro-mint pesto and frijoles negros with quinoa pilaf. The only thing that might outdo the food is the view.
5. Creekside American Bistro
Creekside American Bistro brings comfort foods such as braised short rib, shrimp and grits, and lamb adobo, as well as a grilled bruschetta board for two, ahi tuna tacos, and a crabcake for more casual fare. Those views of Oak Creek can be seen from two patios. The weekend brunch features huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and a Sriracha chicken and rice bowl.
6. Heartline Cafe
For more than 25 years, the Heartline Cafe has been a mainstay in Sedona with its patio dining and wine lists. A rainbow trout comes with a pecan crust while a mustard peppercorn tops the tenderloin. For something a bit more local, try the tequila lime-marinated salmon with ancho chile aioli.
7. Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante
Chef Lisa Dahl serves Italian dishes from her childhood at Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano. Dahl makes her grandmother’s tortellini with prosciutto and green peas in an alfredo sauce, vegetarian portobello mushroom grilled in a house marinade, and salmon with a Neapolitan limoncello reduction sauce. Live jazz and a deep wine list round out the restaurant.
8. The Golden Goose American Grill
Steaks, seafood dishes, and burgers make up the menu at the Golden Goose American Grille. Hash brown-crusted Scottish salmon, pecan-crusted trout, a delmonico cut of rib-eye, and a porterhouse pork chop join meatloaf, chicken fried chicken, or chicken marsala on the menu. Try the smokehouse bacon cheeseburger.
9. René at Tlaquepaque
Tucked inside the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village find Rene, a French restaurant for more than 35 years with lunch and dinner worthy of any special occasion. Stuffed acorn squash, roasted duck with wild rice and mushroom cake, and seared sea scallops over a prickly-pear beurre rouge at dinner are just some of the star dishes.
10. Tamaliza Cafe
Tamaliza Cafe is a family-owned, counter-service Mexican restaurant that specializes in tamales. Diners can order vegan, vegetarian, chicken, pork, and beef varieties, but options do change based on what produce is available. Outdoor seating provides vista views.
Located at Los Abrigados Resort & Spa, Timo offers a wine bar that uses a wood oven to cook dishes. Elk and buffalo meatballs, a pan-seared salmon with a white truffle-mango relish, and lemon oregano chicken make the menu, but save room for tres leches cake and warm bread pudding. Bonus: Wine tastings take place every Friday through Sunday from 4 to 5 p.m.
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12. The Hudson
This cozy American eatery has the feel of a neighborhood gem with its industrial-chic dining room and a deck overlooking the red rocks of Sedona. Mark and Lisa Shugrue opened the Hudson in 2015 and brought on chef Jeff Storcz to create sophisticated comfort food. Pick three bruschetta, which range from house-smoked salmon or a pancetta, mascarpone, and black fig variety to those topped with mushrooms or Brie, apples, and fig jam. Thai scallops, barbecue-braised pork tacos, shrimp pasta, and butternut squash ravioli are some of the favorites here.