If you happen to find yourself in the state of Arizona, you won’t want to miss out on the incredible dining scene. Here’s a guide to the best food in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon state has a lot to offer in terms of natural wonders and the rugged pull of the desert. Anyone who has had the privilege of staring up into the arms of saguaro cactus knows the beauty that can be found there.
But Arizona also has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights. It might not be the first place you think of when someone asks you about the state with the best food, but it probably should be.
Keep reading to discover our list of the best food in Arizona, and why this underrated foodie paradise is worth a visit.
1. Sonoran Hot Dogs
Chicago hot dogs ain’t got nothin’ on Sonoran ones. Forget the weird neon relish, and replace it with BACON, wrapped around the hot dog prior to grilling.
It’s a pork on pork situation, and the result is amazing.
Sonoran hot dogs were invented in the 1980’s in Hermosillo, the capital city of Sonora, Mexico. The Sonoran Desert, which covers a good deal of the southern half of Arizona, also gets its name from the Mexican state.
In addition to the grilled bacon, you’ll find onions, tomatoes, pinto beans, jalapeno salsa, and mayonnaise, all on a bolillo-style bun.
It’s truly a masterpiece.
2. Fry Bread
Anyone who has Native American heritage, is friends with somebody who does, or has seen the movie Smoke Signals, is definitely familiar with fry bread.
For those of you that have been missing out, fry bread is a simple delicacy that is pretty well described by its name – you take dough, flatten it out, and fry it in oil or lard.
The exact ingredients of the dough can vary from one tribe to another, but flour, water, sugar, salt, and lard are the basic ingredients.
Lakota people eat their fry bread with wojapi, which is a pudding-like dessert made of chokecherries or blueberries. But down in Arizona, the most common way to see fry bread served is in Navajo tacos.
A piece of fry bread (which is oftentimes the size of your head) is used as the vessel for ground beef, shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, and whatever other fixings you like on your tacos.
Whether you cut it with a knife and fork, or try to pick it up with your hands is up to you. Either way you’re going to need a napkin, and probably a nap after, because Navajo tacos are so good they’ll put you in a food coma.
A lot of what makes the food in Arizona so delicious and unique is the deep cultural history they represent.
Because it’s sitting right there on the border, Arizona has no shortage of mind-blowingly good Mexican food. Tex-Mex is our Americanized version of a lot of these dishes, and if you have to choose to try just one while you’re in AZ, go with chimichangas.
Chimichangas were invented in Tucson, though there is much debate as to who was the first person to actually do it. They’re basically a deep-fried burrito and can be made with a wide variety of different ingredients.
If Arizona can’t agree on who invented chimichangas, they’re certainly not going to be able to agree on who makes the best ones. But one place you can’t go wrong is at Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen in Phoenix, where Founder Woody Johnson is one of the folks who claims to have invented the dish.
4. Red Chili Stew
Soon the days are going to start getting cooler, and you’re going to be craving some warm soups to keep your insides cozy.
Arizona takes full advantage of its proximity to New Mexico to use tons of their red and green chilis in spicy, comforting cuisine.
Whether they’re dried, powdered, fresh or frozen, the red chilis used in this dish come together to create some of the most satisfying soup on the planet. Add extra chili if you can handle the heat, or pair the stew with some fry bread to help cool things down a little.
Any way you try it, you’re bound to love this hearty chili.
5. Lindy’s Diner on 4th
If you’re not planning to stop in Tucson on your trip to Arizona, you should rethink your priorities.
Tucson boasts Lindy’s Diner on 4th, a funky little place that some people argue has the best burgers in the state.
With grimy burger names like the Dirty Sanchez and the Fat Bastard, and ingredients like ghost peppers, homemade jalapeno potato salad, and raspberry preserves, Lindy’s is not afraid to get creative with their menu.
The ambiance and decor of the joint is equally eclectic, making Lindy’s a great place to go with friends if you’re looking to have fun and maybe get a little feisty.
And if you’re in the mood for something grilled, but want to go a step up from a burger, then check out this company, who can help you make a reservation at some of the best steakhouses in your area.
6. Prickly Pear Margaritas
With all of this delicious food, you’ll probably be thirsty for a tasty drink. Do yourself a favor and order a prickly pear margarita.
Prickly pears are the fruit of the Opuntia cactus. They’re bright pink nodules that grow at the tops of the cactus pads and are the perfect tangy compliment to a refreshing margarita.
The flesh of the pads, known as nopal, is also used in a wide range of dishes, from tacos to salads to soups. So make sure to eat as much cactus as you can while you’re in Arizona.
A cactus a day keeps the doctor away.
And if you’re someone who worries about chemicals and pesticides, there are plenty of health food stores that sell organic prickly pears.
This is Only the Beginning of the Best Food in Arizona
There are so many good eats in this state, it was super hard to narrow them down. Planning a trip to try all of the best food in Arizona might leave you on the road for several months!
Start making your list now, or take a look at our blog for more useful tips on home decor, health, business, and a wide range of other topics that will improve your life.