Two distinct cultures—Native American and Sonoran—have had the greatest influence on native Arizona cuisine. Chiles, beans, corn, tortillas, and squash are common ingredients for those restaurants that specialize in regional cuisine (cactus is just as tasty but less common). Mom-and-pop taquerías are abundant, especially in the southern part of the state. In Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, Flagstaff, and increasingly Bisbee, Prescott, Lake Havasu City, and a growing number of smaller communities, you'll find hip, intriguing restaurants specializing in contemporary American and Southwestern cuisine—often with an emphasis on local produce and meats—as well as some excellent purveyors of Asian cuisine, with Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese leading the way.
Reservations and Dress
Regardless of where you are, it's a good idea to make a reservation if you can. In some places (top resort restaurants in Scottsdale and Tucson, for example) it's expected. We only mention them specifically when reservations are essential (as in, there's no other way you'll get a table) or when they’re not accepted. (Large parties should always call ahead to check the reservations policy.) We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie, which is rare in the casual Southwest, although you may want to dress smartly at a few upscale, cosmopolitan spots in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson.
Online reservation services, such as OpenTable, make it easy to book a table before you even leave home.
Wines, Beer, and Spirits
Although Arizona isn't typically associated with viticulture, the region southeast of Tucson, stretching to the Mexico border, has several microclimates ideal for wine growing. The iron- and calcium-rich soil is similar to that of the Burgundy region in France and, combined with the temperate weather and lower-key atmosphere, has enticed more than a dozen independent and family-run wineries to open in the past two decades in the Elgin, Sonoita, and Willcox areas. A somewhat more nascent but increasingly respected crop of vineyards have developed north of Phoenix, in the Verde Valley around Sedona. Microbreweries are another fast-growing presence in Arizona, with a number of good ones in Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, and Flagstaff, and other notables in Lake Havasu City, Prescott, Bisbee, and a few other towns.
In Arizona you must be 21 to buy alcohol. Bars and liquor stores are open daily, including Sunday, but must stop selling alcohol at 2 am. Smoking is prohibited in bars and restaurants that serve food. You'll find beer, wine, and alcohol at most supermarkets. Possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages is illegal on Native American reservations.
Arizona Craft Brewers Guild. www.azbrewguild.com.
Arizona Wine Growers Association. 623/236–2338; www.arizonawine.org.