Arizona’s Locally Loved Restaurants

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By: Daniella Castillo and Traci Huttsell

Arizona Sonora News Service

If driving through Arizona, grab some lunch or dinner at these locally loved restaurants located throughout the 15 counties.

 

Apache

Take a trip to Molly Butler Lodge and Cabins in Greer to experience their “famous dining” in a casual setting.

“They’re very quaint, and different than most restaurants,” said Ted Dietstraten, owner of Lazy Trout Market and Cabin Rentals.

The food is mainly steak and seafood, but the atmosphere pretty is laid back and relaxed, Dietstraten said.

Dietstraten said this restaurant has been around since the early 1900s and serves as a staple for the community and visitors.

Other local favorites in Apache County include:

Cochise

For great atmosphere and a variety of food, travel on down to the Screaming Banshee Pizza in Bisbee.

“I first ate there one year ago, and now I eat there at least once a month,” said Mandi Boykin, engineering technician IV/RAM Project Lead with Fort Huachuca.

The atmosphere may be the best part of the restaurant because people are able to watch their food be prepared, Boykin said.

The Screaming Banshee plays music and their food choices are definitely different, Boykin said.

Other local favorites in Cochise County include:

Coconino

If a colorful atmosphere is desired, come on down to MartAnne’s in Flagstaff.

“The atmosphere is kind of funky,” said Tina Martinez, whose mother owns MartAnne’s.

Martinez said their appearance resembles the diner feel with several “Day of the Dead” paintings hanging on the walls.

MartAnne’s won “Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurant” and “Best Breakfast” for the Best of Flag in 2011.

Other local favorites in Coconino County include:

Gila

“When it comes to Mexican food here, you can’t go wrong,” said Ellen Kretsch, director of the Globe-Miami Chamber of Commerce.

A few places include Guayo’s El Rey Cafe and Guayos on the Trail, Kretsch said.

“You’re not going to walk into … a chain and get this kind of quality,” Kretsch said.  “They are all family recipes … and all have their own twist on each recipe.”

There is also Joe’s Broad Street Grill, and that’s more of a traditional diner, Kretsch said.  “It serves more comfort food style.”

Other local favorites in Gila County include:

Graham

Comes take a trip down the Salsa Trail.

Over a dozen Mexican restaurants make up the Salsa Trail, each featuring their own twist on classic recipes.

Taco Taste, located in Safford, is one of these restaurants located on the Old West Highway.

“Oh my goodness, they have the best food,” said former Safford resident, Megan Lockhart.

Lockhart said she and her family visited this restaurant frequently while living in Safford.

Other local favorites in Graham County include:

Greenlee

Tyler’s Taste of Texas brings BBQ to Arizona.

“They have a great location, great food and great service,” said Becky Nutt, executive director of the Greenlee County Chamber of Commerce.

Nutt said one special aspect of Tyler’s Taste of Texas is its “unique restaurant atmosphere.”

They stay busy all the time and are able to accommodate large parties, Nutt said.

Other local favorites in Greenlee County include:

La Paz

Makena Grill brings a little bit of Hawaii to Arizona.

“The atmosphere is Hawaiian style,” said Marisa Samuels, co-owner of Makena Grill.  “It’s casual, relaxed, and full of aloha.”

Samuels said she often has customers tell her that they “really like the positive vibe” Makena Grill offers.

As the sign in the window reads, “Aloha Served Daily.”

Other local favorites in La Paz County include:

Maricopa

For fresh food and a family friendly environment, Joe’s Farm Grill is the place to go.

“We’re farm to table,” said Anthony Femano, general manager.

Not only is every meal made-to-order with their own produce, but Joe’s Farm Grill offers the majority of their seating outdoors, allowing for families to relax in the warm Phoenix weather as children are free to run around.

Femano said two of their most popular dishes include the Fontina Burger and their Ahi Tuna Sandwich.

Joe’s Farm Grill was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” and has since received travelers from all over the country.

Other local favorites in Maricopa County include:

Mohave

They may only be open for dinner, but this Mohave County Italian restaurant has attracted people all the way from Italy.

Mattina’s Ristorante Italiano in Kingman has been open for about 10 years under different owners.

Trish Bono, co-owner of Mattina’s, said people are surprised with the quality of food and the environment they find in Kingman.

“We take pride in our sauce,” Bono said.  “Our sauces are all made to order and our steaks are fork tender.”

Bono described Mattina’s as a quaint one hundred-plus-year old house that has been converted into a restaurant.

So whether you’re craving Italian style lamb, veal, or pasta, stop by Mattina’s.  Just make sure it’s after 5 p.m. and before 9 p.m.

“We’re a dinner house, always been a dinner house,” Bono said.

Other local favorites in Mohave County include:

Navajo

One Navajo County restaurant’s food comes with some history.

According to Bill Gibson, co-owner of Charlie Clark’s Steakhouse in Pinetop-Lakeside, it’s been around for more than 70 years.

Gibson said Charlie Clark came from back east after running away from his family, got married and had a daughter.

His wife died shortly after that, and Clark bought what was formerly known as Jake Renfro’s Famous Log Cabin Cafe in 1938.

Clark died in 1952 and was buried up the road from the restaurant, Gibson said.

“Maybe that’s why we have issues of ghosts,” Gibson said.  “There have been several sightings and we have customers bring in photos with ghosts.”

Jason Bolton, manager at Charlie Clark’s, said the restaurant offers a rustic, western atmosphere and there’s “a lot of old antique stuff that decorates the dining room.”

Bolton said Charlie Clark’s is known for prime rib and steaks.

Other local favorites in Navajo County include:

Pima

Food so great, even the president stopped by.

Located in South Tucson, Mi Nidito has been a local favorite in Pima County since 1952.

However, former President Bill Clinton is not the only famous guest that has dined in Mi Nidito.

Spanish singers, Enrique and Julio Iglesias, have also eaten there, as well as the more locally known former University of Arizona basketball coach, Lute Olson.

Andrew Torres, Mi Nidito customer, said he recommends this Mexican restaurant because the food tastes “homemade.”

Torres also said its worth the long wait, and despite the “chaos” of how full the restaurant gets, the atmosphere is still relaxing.

“I like the beef chimichanga with red sauce,” Torres said.

Other local favorites in Pima County include:

Pinal

Finding “excellent” Chinese food in the Southwest isn’t a problem.

According to David Malton, business owner, Moon China is “a good place to take a date” in Pinal County.

“There food is prepared nicely,” Malton said.  “There’s no yucky grease.”

Moon China, in Queen Creek, has been around for 30 years.

Dan Zhen, co-owner of Moon China, said Kung Pao, orange and sesame chicken are their best menu items.

“We make original cuisine,” Zhen said.

Zhen also said Moon China’s chef is from south China.

Other local favorites in Pinal County include:

Santa Cruz

Enveloped between 27 holes of golf, 98 guest rooms and a wedding chapel, Stables Ranch Grille serves as a local favorite in Santa Cruz County.

Patti Todd, director of marketing at Tubac Golf Resort and Spa, said Stables is best known for its “excellent steaks and gorgeous view of the Santa Rita Mountains.”

Opened in 1959, the resort also offers al fresco dining.

Other local favorites in Santa Cruz County include:

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Yavapai

After opening about three and half years ago in Dewey, Leff-T’s Steakhouse “really stands out” in Yavapai County.

Myra Moreno, director of sales at the Hampton Inn and Suites, said Leff-T’s offers a “good atmosphere” with its “rustic Western feel.”

Raven, co-owner of Leff-T’s, said other than steaks, their top menu items are mesquite-smoked ribs, fresh ground burgers and a turkey relleno sandwich.

“We have a big variety of food here that can appeal to anyone,” Raven said.

Other local favorites in Yavapai County include:

Yuma

Located in Yuma, Mr. G’s Drive In serves fast “home cooked” Mexican food.

Elizabeth Hunt, bookkeeper at B. G. Family Limited, said its best described as “comfort food.”

“Beans, rice, nothing over the top,” Hunt said.

Mr. G’s has been in business for about fifty years.

Other local favorites in Yuma County include:

 

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