Red rocks aren’t the only reason to make the two-hour drive from Phoenix to Sedona. The city boasts some of the state’s best restaurants, several helmed by chefs who made a name for themselves in the Phoenix metro area before heading north. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a quick bite to eat in between visiting galleries, these restaurants won’t disappoint.
This Sedona favorite serves dishes inspired by James Beard-nominated chef Jeff Smedstad’s travels through Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, and Arizona. Try the pork cheeks with cascabel chile sauce, Elote Café’s signature dish; or, opt for the duck carnitas, paired with an aged tequila or mezcal. Be sure to make room for the prickly pear berry sorbet or the Café Elote, a coffee drink with almond-flavored tequila. Although Elote moved to a larger, 4,800-square-foot space in 2020, you’ll still need reservations to avoid a long wait.
The food—handmade empanadas, ceviches, grilled chorizos, fresh fish, steaks with house-made chimichurri sauce—is amazing, but equally impressive is the interior, designed by chef Lisa Dahl. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame a panoramic view of the red rocks while two glass-enclosed wine vaults house more than 600 bottles of wine. Look for decorative butterflies ("mariposa" is Spanish for butterfly) throughout the restaurant and on the patio.
As with Dahl’s other restaurants (Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, Cucina Rustica, and Pisa Lisa), Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill features all organic vegetables from Arizona farms, as well as meat and seafood from the best sources possible. The restaurant is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
You can’t get any more romantic than Cress on Oak Creek at the five-star L’Auberge de Sedona. As you dine next to the running creek, lights flicker on tables draped with white linen, while overhead, stars twinkle between the leaves of sycamore trees. The menu is prix-fixe, but sure to impress with seasonal offerings such as asparagus tempura and wagyu ribeye from Snake River Farm. Splurge on a bottle of red from Cress’ award-winning wine cellar, or end the evening with a Cognac, Armagnac, port, or dessert wine. L’Auberge’s premier restaurant, Cress is also open for breakfast and lunch.
Relaxed and friendly, this neighborhood restaurant serves up delicious comfort food like chicken wings, burgers, chicken pot pie, and barbecue baby back ribs. For a more upscale meal, opt for one of eight gourmet salads, the 20-ounce prime rib eye steak, or the Thai scallops with rice noodles and spicy Thai peanut sauce. On sunny days, sit on the patio and take in the views of Capitol Butte as you sip a local craft beer, glass of wine, or a specialty cocktail. The Hudson has a daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
A favorite among locals, this family-owned bistro grills some of the best beef in town at reasonable prices. Choose from the Delmonico ribeye, New York strip steak with mushroom gorgonzola, or filet mignon. Seafood lovers can opt instead for ginger-lime glazed Scottish salmon, sesame-crusted ahi tuna, or crab-stuffed prawns. Can’t decide? The surf & turf pairs a 6-ounce tenderloin with a lobster tail for under $50. When the weather is good, grab a seat on the dog-friendly patio.
Long before Mariposa Latin Inspired Grilled came along, Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italian dazzled Sedona with fresh pasta dishes like its classico bolognese (house-made linguine with meat sauce) and seafood classics like calamari capesante (a calamari steak sautéed doré style and finished with lemon, garlic, parsley, and white wine). Carnivores can slice into grilled filet mignon or Australian lamb chops while gluten-free pastas are available for those with dietary restrictions. Pair your entrée with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s wine collection, which has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for 14 consecutive years.
Many Sedona restaurants offer vegetarian and even vegan options, but ChocolaTree Organic Oasis prepares 100 percent organic, vegetarian cuisine that is free of both dairy and processed sugars. For breakfast, you can order avocado toast or a smoothie; later in the day, you have your pick of salads, spring rolls, pizza, and sandwiches. Save room for dessert, though: ChocolaTree also crafts organic, stoneground chocolates sweetened with maple syrup or honey. On the go? The deli case makes it easy to pick up something to enjoy on a picnic or hike.
Best for a Quick Bite: Señor Bob’s Hot Dogs
If you want fast food, skip the McDonald’s with its turquoise arches in favor of this West Sedona staple. Known for its hot dogs and burgers, Señor Bob’s Hot Dogs bakes its own buns onsite every morning, steaming them before stuffing each with a grilled Hebrew National quarter-pound all-beef frank. Add a side of the made-from-scratch fries for the perfect midday meal. Señor Bob’s is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admit it: Sometimes you just want a good cocktail, a great view, and a few tasty bites. That’s when you make a beeline for SaltRock Southwest Kitchen & Craft Margaritas at Amara Resort in Spa. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this Southwestern restaurant has live music most evenings and pours the best margaritas in the city. Take a seat on the patio, and savor views of Snoopy Rock as you sip a West Fork margarita, made with mezcal and jalapeño-infused Jimador Blanco tequila. Small plates like charcuterie, grilled octopus, and tacos make a perfect light snack, but you can order fresh fish, grilled meat, and heartier options for a full meal, too.
You’ll have to get up pretty early in the morning to avoid the breakfast rush at this family-owned restaurant, named after Coffee Pot Rock and known for its 101 omelette offerings. Plan to spend some time perusing the list, which ranges from your basic ham and cheese to the much more adventurous jelly, peanut butter, and banana omelette. The menu also features Belgian waffles, French toast, pancakes, eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros, and a breakfast burrito. Although breakfast is served all day, you can order authentic Mexican dishes and sandwiches after 11 a.m.