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BULLETPhoenix and Central Arizona Dining Guide
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The Asylum

With its breathtaking views of the Verde Valley, this tranquil haven, housed in the historic hilltop Jerome Grand Hotel, really does offer asylum from the rat race below. Maybe that's why it's John McCain's favorite restaurant. Of course, it couldn't hurt that the boutique wine list, honored by Wine Spectator, offers 40 by-the-glass selections. Or that inspired New American menu selections, such as prickly pear barbecue pork tenderloin and roasted duck breast with spicy orange-plum salsa, are first-rate.

The Asylum is located at 200 Hill Street, Jerome. Information: 928-639-3197 or www.theasylum.biz.

Barrio Café

Chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza explodes the myth that Mexican food is a bland assemblage of carbohydrates and cheese, taking her customers on a culinary tour of southern Mexico that invariably leaves them breathless — or would that be the potent margaritas? Succulent, achiote-rubbed pork roast, pomegranate seed-studded guacamole, dreamy chiles en nogada and cajeta-filled churros are the not-to-be-missed signatures. Meanwhile, Barrio's edgy local artwork and wildly decorated bathrooms, rife with Mexican kitsch, are always conversation starters, and the Mexican wine list is the best in the state.

Bario Café is located at 2814 N. 16th Street, Phoenix. Information: 602-636-0240 or www.barriocafe.com.

BIN 239

When it comes to wine cafés, Bin 239 ranks right up there among the state's best. Located on charming Marina Street in Prescott, this quaint café offers an amazing selection of wines at reasonable prices, from Oakville Cabernets to Argentinean Malbecs. What's more, the Bin's food menu features fresh selections of soups, salads, cheeses and bruschetta, and the friendly staff is always happy to offer its recommendations for food and wine pairings. For the ultimate Bin 239 experience, sample from the tasting menu. At four wines for $12, it's a bargain and a blast.

Bin is located at 239 N. Marina Street, Prescott. Information: 928-445-3855 or www.bin239.com.

Cave Creek

Although the tiny township of Cave Creek is known mostly for being cowboy chic and chock-full of Old West honky-tonks, there's at least one restaurant where you might want to wear your dress boots. Under the guidance of chef-owner Kevin Binkley, Binkley's offers contemporary American cuisine that changes frequently — based on the availability of fresh, local ingredients and the seasonality of items that the chef must order in. So while one evening's cold appetizers might be hickory-smoked halibut with three-beet salad or Wellfleet oysters with marinated fingerling potatoes, the next week's entrees might include blue cheese-crusted rib-eye or bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.

Binkley's is located at 6920 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek. Information: 480-437-1072 or www.binkleysrestaurant.com.

Featured Dining Location
Elote Café is located at 771 Highway 179 in Sedona. For more information, call 928-203-0105 or visit kingsransomsedona.com.

Elote Café

Jeff Smedstad gained acclaim for his take on Mexican cuisine at Los Sombreros in Scottsdale. Now he's doing the same thing at Elote Café in Sedona.

By Kathy Montgomery

By 6:15 on a Wednesday evening, Elote Café is full, and the foyer is crowded with diners waiting to be seated. Some of them have come for the view — a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass and a small patio open to Sedona's famed red-rock formations. But most come for chef-owner Jeff Smedstad's unique take on Mexican food, particularly those who remember him as founding chef of the acclaimed Los Sombreros in Scottsdale. [more]

Firehouse Kitchen

"Comfort" is the operative word at the Firehouse, where butterscotch and burnt sienna-colored walls are hung with vintage food and beverage posters, and seating runs to high-backed upholstered banquettes or plush, black leather Parsons chairs. The menu is a medley of American mom classics — meatloaf, pot roast, pork chops, barbecued chicken, brisket, cream-enriched mashed potatoes and gooey mac & cheese. Clean your plate and maybe you can have s'mores or homemade apple pie à la mode.

Firehouse Kitchen is located at 218 W. Goodwin Street, Prescott. Information: 928-776-4566 or firehousekitchenaz.com.

Flatiron Café

Shaped like an upended shirt box, Jerome's Flatiron Café might be named for New York's famous building, but there's nothing flat about its assortment of breakfast and lunch entrees. Small and simple, Flatiron serves a variety of inexpensively priced plates, from omelets and fresh-baked pastries to original sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads. There are several innovative dishes on the menu, too, including smoked-salmon quesadillas and black-bean hummus. And although the food is good, the coffee's even better. Whether you are a fan of flavored lattes or regular old joe, pick up a cup for your exploration of Jerome's other attractions — the former mining town is known for its art shops and "haunted" hotels.

Flatiron Café is located at 416 Main Street, Jerome. Information: 928-634-2733 or www.flatironcafejerome.com.

House of Tricks

Just a block or two away from busy Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe, House of Tricks has been letting the good times roll for more than 20 years. Here, chef Kelly Fletcher tackles French and Southwestern cuisine, wrap-ping the two styles up into a unique fusion of flavors. At the same time, wine manager Ryan Brown selects some of the finest bottles available, creating a list that rivals that of restaurants three times Tricks' size. And although this tiny restaurant is well endowed in the good-food department, dinner is as much about the experience as it is about the eats. Mature trees and a variety of colorful plants surround the patio, so book a table and enjoy the scenery.

House of Tricks is located at 114 E. Seventh Street, Tempe Information: 480-968-1114 or www.houseoftricks.com.


For the quintessential Arizona experience, there's nothing quite like Kai, the Native American-inflected, AAA Five Diamond dining room at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, situated on a vast tract of desert owned by the Gila River Indian Community. Stunning sunset views and striking art are the backdrop for chef de cuisine Jack Strong's astonishing food, a seamless melding of classical technique with indigenous ingredients, many of them grown on the surrounding reservation. Smoky wood-grilled squash soup, floated with a spicy-sweet wisp of cotton candy (a playful nod to the Pima cotton-growing culture), is one of many luscious examples of Strong's talent for taking flying leaps of creativity yet remaining grounded. Kai is located at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, 5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler.

Information: 602-225-0100 or www.wildhorsepassresort.com.

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Events CalendarEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

External LinksFor more information about great places to visit in Arizona, view our list of links to external resources, from Native American arts to parks and national forests... [more]


LodgingNo matter where you travel in Arizona, you'll find lodging that ranges from rustic to ritzy, along with everything in between... [more]

Weekend GetawaysCheck out Weekend Getaways around the state. ... [more]

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