Arizona restaurants include an array of cuisine, but especially many high quality Mexican eateries, thanks to the fact that the state shares a border with Mexico. As far as Southwest cuisine is concerned, it is quite similar to Mexican cuisine, with hot peppers and a certain level of spiciness figuring prominently. The main difference between Mexican food and Southwestern cuisine comes in the relative lack of ingredients such as brain and tripe on the Southwestern frontier.
In addition to its Mexican influences, the food in Arizona has been influenced by Native Americans, Spanish settlers, and cowboys. It is an interesting mix, and at many of the state's newer restaurants, a twist is being put on Southwestern fare, with refreshing meat and fruit pairings complementing the spicier side of things. As for some of the more classic dishes, chili con carne is a favorite, as are tacos, stuffed peppers, and the ubiquitous cheese crisps.
Hard to find anywhere else but Arizona, cheese crisps consist of flour tortillas that are slathered in butter, topped with shredded cheese, and baked to a crisp. Made famous in Tucson, these crispy and cheesy delights are easy to get addicted to. A dish that is somewhat similar to a cheese crisp is a fry bread taco, a Native American treat. There are distinct differences, however. After deep frying a dough disk, the Native Americans eat it as is or top it with ground beef, lettuce, and cheese. As is true of cheese crisps, fry bread tacos can be found at Arizona restaurants from Tucson on up to the Grand Canyon area, with the Navajo Nation area in the northeastern part of the state being a particularly good place to look.
For historical restaurants in Arizona, the restaurants in the Navajo Nation maintain many a link to the past, with traditional dishes such as steam corn and mutton stew being relatively easy to come by. The former is a soup, with the main ingredient being whole corn kernels, while the latter is a stew that usually simmers for at least four hours. Any number of ingredients can be used when making mutton stew, including stewed tomatoes, chopped onions, and fresh rosemary. It goes especially well with fry bread.
Historical restaurants in Arizona can be a blast to visit, especially for history buffs, and many of them can be found in historical destinations, such as Tombstone and Prescott. In Tombstone, it's not uncommon for the staff at the Old West-style saloon restaurants to be dressed in late 1800s garb, and thanks the authentic restaurant decors, you'll think you've been transported back in time. In Phoenix, there is an old soda fountain near the Heard Museum. Mac Alpine's Soda Fountain was established way back in 1928, and homemade fare complements the fountain sodas, the malts, and the egg creams.
Whether you are a meat lover or a vegetarian, finding good food in Arizona is relatively easy, with beans and rice being a common staple on both sides. For meat lovers, some mesquite-smoked baby back ribs are sure to hit the spot, while vegetarians are likely to give roasted stuffed peppers a thumbs up, not to mention bean and cheese burritos.
Whatever your dining preferences, the Arizona restaurants have you covered, with Phoenix and Tucson being home to some of the best restaurants in the state. When you are interested in a break from Southwestern food in Arizona, which might not happen, there are plenty of other options, with fast food eateries being found in good supply as is true in any state. On the more upscale side of the spectrum, exclusive shopping centers, such as the Biltmore Fashion Park in Phoenix, are good places to do some fine dining in Arizona, as are the more luxurious resorts. When it's a more casual dining experience with a fun-filled edge that you seek, the historical restaurants in Arizona will be hard to beat.