Defining Arizona cuisine is like trying to rock climb the Grand Canyon without a rope—not going to happen. But now that the Old Pueblo called Tucson has been dubbed a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Arizona as a food destination is gaining clout. Aside from adventurous outdoorsy things to do and world-renowned spas and hotels, folks are starting to travel to Arizona for its one-of-a-kind meals.
Spicy tastes of the state’s southern border and ranch-style bison burgers and elk sausage of northern cattle country reflect an attractive Wild, Wild West image. And New American cuisine in casual Tucson is also tempting taste buds, as is inventive cocktails at the trendy Scottsdale waterfront and surprisingly fresh seafood in quirky rural areas.
There are also Ethiopian soups in cozy strip malls, Spanish tapas near museums, and Napolitano-style pizzerias in almost every town. Adventurous chefs aren’t afraid to experiment, exploring the distinct flavors of the Sonoran Desert and blending them with familiar tastes from around the world. Here’s a mix of some of Arizona’s best.