Famed for dramatic Western landscapes on the big screen, Arizona also chews up the scenery on the small screen – sometimes literally. Here are just a few of the state’s great chow-down spots that have turned up on the tube.
Food Wars, BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs vs. El Güero Canelo, Tucson
Conceived in the state of Sonora, Mexico, directly south of Arizona, the Sonoran hot dog is a culinary crossover that inspires strong emotions, including loyalty to favorite purveyors. The basics are the same: a grilled, bacon-wrapped frank that’s smothered in onions, pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, and more. The smack down in Tucson between two top local hot dog shops posed traditionalists (El Guero Canelo) against innovators (BK), inspiring a delicious sibling rivalry – and mouthfuls of fun.
Man v. Food, Lindy’s on 4th, Tucson
Geared toward a big-appetite, low-budget collegiate crowd, Lindy’s is known for its humongous burgers, including one that substitutes grilled cheese sandwiches for a bun. Adam Richman, host of “Man v. Food,” tackled the OMG burger – 12 quarter-pound patties topped with cheddar and Swiss, lettuce, tomato and onion – and prevailed. This monster is on the house if you finish it in 20 minutes or less. Richman didn’t, but his 45-minute victory over the OMG earned him a place on the Wall of Fame.
The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Sweet Republic Artisan Ice Cream, Scottsdale
You might expect a Sonoran Desert town like Scottsdale to be a cold dessert haven, and Sweet Republic doesn’t disappoint. Indeed, Food Network’s Alton Brown found this shop’s Toffee Benofi sundae to be the platonic ideal of confections, with its scoops of handcrafted Madagascar vanilla, whipped cream, almond toffee brittle and salted caramel sauce in a waffle bowl, all made from scratch on the premises. Local ingredients are featured whenever possible for the 20-plus flavors dished out daily.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Joe’s Farm Grill, Gilbert
Lots of places claim to have farm-fresh ingredients, but you can actually see the rows of veggies and herbs in the ground outside this unusual burger joint – or, as Guy Fieri put it when he visited, “They grow it, then grill it.” The beef for the burgers is raised in Arizona, and comes topped with tomatoes and lettuce, which are harvested daily. Choose the farm-made pecan pesto, barbecue sauce or relish for a unique topping.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Brandy’s Restaurant & Bakery, Flagstaff
In laid-back Flagstaff, Guy Fieri’s quest for homey, authentic eats took him to a classic diner that has been a staple in this college town for more than 22 years. But homey doesn’t always mean bland in Arizona. At breakfast, a grilled flour tortilla is stuffed with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, and the house-specialty chipotle sauce. The Southwest Chutney Melt, served at lunchtime, tops Swiss cheese and a choice of deli meats with a tangy tomato-poblano chutney.
$40 a Day, L’Auberge de Sedona; The Cowboy Club, Sedona; Haunted Hamburger, Jerome
Rachael Ray’s whirlwind tour through Red Rock country showed it’s possible to dine well and not spend a bundle. A breakfast at the L’Auberge de Sedona’s Etch Kitchen, set alongside Oak Creek, might include buttermilk beignets or chocolate hazelnut crepes. The specialty of The Cowboy Club is exotic comfort food – bacon-wrapped buffalo meatloaf, say, or wild rattlesnake cakes with grilled prickly-pear cactus pads (sans prickles). As its name suggests, the specialty at the Haunted Hamburger is beef in buns, but the casual menu is large and eclectic, and the views from the patio are spectacular.