Combine good food with ideal weather and remarkable views and you’ve got the makings of a memorable meal. And Arizona has all these things. The state could very well have been designed for dining al fresco.
Who wants to stay inside when you can grab a table out on the patio? Enjoy vistas of red rocks or tall mountains or sparkling water or even shiny vintage trailers beneath a big Arizona sky. Treat life like a stylish and comfortable picnic by eating outside at every opportunity.
Here are eight of the best restaurant patios in Arizona, from casual to sophisticated, that serve up a side of the great outdoors with every meal.
Jerome: Haunted Hamburger
Eating at the Haunted Hamburger is a highlight of any Jerome visit. This former boardinghouse clings to the side of the mountain, sneering at gravity. The dining room offers big picture windows but snag a seat outside if possible, either on the covered deck or at the back-side View Bar where big vistas stretch across the entire Verde Valley.
The menu features chicken, fish, ribs and salads but come on — you’re sitting in a place called the Haunted Hamburger. Treat yourself to a generous slab of ground beef cradled on a cushiony bun baked fresh on the premises.
The Haunted Burger is piled high with an unholy combo of bacon, green chiles, grilled onions, guacamole and Swiss and cheddar cheeses. Or stick with the basic cheeseburger and drag it through the well-stocked toppings bar.
Details: 410 Clark St., Jerome. 928-634-0554, https://thehauntedhamburger.com.
Cottonwood: Pizzeria Bocce Patio Bar
This swank pizzeria in Old Town Cottonwood helped define the city’s rising culinary scene, creating a spot that is sophisticated and authentic.
Chef Michelle Jurisin traveled to Italy to become certified by Verace Pizza Napoletana. Pizzas are made the traditional way, using imported Caputo flour to form crusts that are hand-stretched. They’re topped with fresh ingredients and cooked in a wood-burning oven.
The most popular is the Cire’s with house-made Italian sausage, pepperoni, ricotta, mushrooms, basil and fresh mozzarella. The Meat Pie comes heaped with pepperoni, prosciutto, soppressata, Italian sausage and mozzarella.
A beautiful stone patio with benches and comfy couches surrounds a fire pit and bocce ball court. It’s a great place to relax with a specialty cocktail.
Details: 1060 N. Main St., Cottonwood. 928-202-3597, https://boccecottonwood.com.
Lake Havasu City: Burgers By the Bridge
Nestled at the base of London Bridge, this open-air restaurant serves as Lake Havasu City’s unofficial rec room.
Sitting right at the water’s edge, diners enjoy beautiful views of the boats, the bridge and palm trees from their shaded tables, along with a cool vacation vibe. Even though you’re a long way from the islands, you almost expect to see Jimmy Buffet waiting in line at Burgers By the Bridge.
A full bar keeps the cocktails flowing and everything in the kitchen is made fresh. The juicy Black Angus burgers are tasty, and the lightly battered fish and chips may be the best in town.
Details: 401 English Village, Lake Havasu City. 928-302-6780, https://www.burgersbythebridge.com.
Sedona: Mariposa Latin-Inspired Grill
This upscale restaurant is an exquisite melding of art and architecture. Natural stacked stone, rusted metal panels and walls of windows are part of the décor that’s unlike anyplace else in Sedona.
Yet it’s almost impossible to resist that expansive patio where you’ll find soothing water features, a colorful garden keeping the kitchen supplied with fresh herbs and some breath-snatching scenery.
Sitting atop a bluff, Mariposa provides a panorama of red rock views to accompany the excellent South American-inspired food. It’s especially dazzling at sunset. Most dishes are prepared on a wood-fired grill or in a wood-burning oven. Start with the flaky handmade empanadas. Dress is resort casual.
Details: 700 State Route 89A, Sedona. 928-862-4444, https://www.mariposasedona.com.
Show Low: The House
Dining at The House feels like you’re hanging out at a friend’s backyard barbecue.
The wood-paneled building is simple inside and framed by a patio. Out back, there’s a big grassy lawn that’s dotted with picnic tables, cornhole board and a yard bar that’s like a neighborhood lemonade stand with a liquor license.
The menu is a mix of salads, sandwiches, chili and some impressive burgers. Try the House Burger, a half-pound fresh patty topped with a roasted poblano chile, pepper jack cheese, fried onion strings and chipotle aioli — a nice combo of textures and flavors, a bit crunchy with a little spice on the back end. It’s served with homemade chips.
Details: 1191 E. Hall, Show Low. 928-537-9273, https://thehouseshowlow.com.
Flagstaff: Lumberyard Brewing Company
A great overview of Flagstaff can be gained by spending time on the patio of Lumberyard Brewing Company. First, you’re outside in the cool pine-scented air gazing up at Mount Elden.
And you’re sitting on the edge of the historic downtown in one of the last remaining timber company buildings adjacent to the railroad depot. Traffic flows along Route 66 and trains rumble past. It’s like a geography, civics and history lesson washed down with a smooth pint of Railhead Red, brewed on the premises.
The menu is elevated pub fare with appetizers, sandwiches and salads. Start with the wings, which are plump and meaty and can be swabbed with a variety of sauces. A burly grilled split sausage plate pairs nicely with a cold brew and the mountain views.
Details: 5 S. San Francisco St., Flagstaff. 928-779-2739, https://lumberyardbrewingcompany.com.
Bisbee: Dot’s Diner
This pint-size Valentine diner is tucked away at the Shady Dell, a vintage trailer court, where it’s a perfect fit alongside shiny Airstreams and a few classic cars from the ’50s. It feels like a spot where an “I Love Lucy” episode might break out.
You can no longer squeeze inside Dot’s to snag a stool at the counter. Only outside seating is available with several tables beneath red and white umbrellas.
Dot’s menu is not extensive but doesn’t need to be when they serve such delicious burgers. Meat is so tender you wonder how it ever kept a cow upright. Fresh veggies are piled high, perfectly proportioned to complement that blast of beefy goodness. They grind their own Angus chuck each weekend and cradle it on a cushiony brioche bun. Every bite dances across your taste buds.
Dot’s is open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Fridays through Sundays.
Details: 1 Douglas Road, Bisbee. 520-432-3567, https://www.theshadydell.com.
Sedona: Creekside American Bistro
Just like the name promises, this stylish restaurant perches on the edge of Oak Creek with an intimate view of Snoopy Rock rising above the sycamore and cottonwood trees.
Serving eclectic American cuisine, the place bustles all day long starting with the popular breakfast. Try the eggs benedict or the breakfast tacos with soft corn tortillas filled with chorizo chicken, cheddar, scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, cilantro, jalapeños and fire roasted salsa.
Executive Chef Mercer Mohr, winner of the James Beard Award, regularly changes the menu at Creekside to take advantage of seasonal ingredients. Along with a full slate of tantalizing entrees, they’re also known for their innovative Happy Hour menu that includes Lamb Chop Lolli-pops with pesto dipping sauce.
Details: 251 State Route 179, Sedona. 928-282-1705, https://creeksidesedona.com.
Plan your summer road trips with Roger Naylor
Arizona Republic contributor and author Roger Naylor will be coaxing residents outdoors with presentations from his award-winning book, “Arizona’s Scenic Roads & Hikes.” Each presentation is free and will include a slide show and Q&A.
Payson: 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at the Rim Country Museum, 700 S. Green Valley Parkway. 928-474-3483, https://www.rimcountrymuseum.org.
Phoenix: 11 a.m. Saturday, May 14, at the North Mountain Visitor Center, 12950 N. Seventh St. 602-343-5125.
“Arizona’s Scenic Roads & Hikes” features all 27 of Arizona’s state-designated scenic and historic roads. The stunning drives are arranged by region and include starting and ending points, mileage, vivid photos, full descriptions, nearby hiking trails and suggestions on locally owned places to eat and sleep.
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