Famous for its breathtaking Red Rock scenery, luxurious resorts and spas, unique shops and galleries, plus dozens of hiking trails boasting stunning views, people come from all over the world to soak up the quintessential Southwest charm that is Sedona, Arizona.
What many may NOT know is that Sedona is surrounded by a number of equally charming small towns that comprise the rest of the Verde Valley. Born and raised in Cottonwood, about a 15 minute drive from Sedona, I have watched my hometown boom in the past decade, showcasing new award-winning wineries and top notch restaurants that compare or exceed the best of Sedona restaurants.
I have composed a list of the best Sedona restaurants from spots in the Sedona area and the surrounding Verde Valley to the colorful/historic ghost town of Jerome and Cottonwood. If you’re visiting the area, trust my lovely self, these Sedona restaurants are worth the short drive!
Jerome: The Mine Cafe
If visiting the old mining town of Jerome, one of the “must-stop” locations is The Mine Cafe, easily on the list of the best Sedona restaurants. Being the only restaurant in Jerome to serve lunch AND breakfast until 3pm, The Mine Cafe sits in a discrete building below street level, making it a little tricky for some to find, but once you walk into its cozy basement abode, you’ll be ready to chow down!
You’ll find an assortment of flapjacks, scrambles, french toasts, breakfast ‘wiches, as well as lighter options. The number one thing I recommend? Find a dish that serves their homemade vanilla bean whipped cream. YAS, please. Top it off with their incredibly good coffee, locally roasted in Sedona. The Mine Cafe (115 Jerome Ave., Jerome, AZ 86331//928.639.0123)
Jerome: The Haunted Hamburger
Ghosts and spirits and burgers OH MY! Once an abandoned building that sits atop Jerome’s hillside, The Haunted Hamburger has become a unique dining experience serving an array of juicy burgers with a side of eyebrow-raising stories of ghostly encounters occurring on the premises. I’ve tried most of the burgers, my fav being “The Haunted Burger.” Reason? One word: Guac.
In addition, the menu offers specialty cheesesteaks, chili dogs, onion rings the size of hands, and seriously, don’t even get me started on their colossal desserts. Oh, and feel free to visit the over-stocked condiment bar to satisfy your topping-happy needs. With unbeatable views overlooking the entire Verde Valley, you’ll definitely want to stay awhile at this Sedona restaurant and wait to witness your own spooky happenings. The Haunted Hamburger (410 Clark Street, Jerome, AZ 86331//928.634.0554)
Occupying a building with a “past” (having been built in the early 1900’s), Grapes Restaurant and Bar was originally a telegraph and pony express station, then a machine shop, a Shell station, and a house for the Jerome volunteer fire department. Wowza!
Owned by the Jurisin family, also owners of The Haunted Hamburger, Grapes serves a little bit of everything: specialty sandwiches, soups/salads, wood-fired pizza, and amazing pasta dishes. It’s upscale food at reasonable prices, keeping my belly and wallet equally satisfied. Linger over your meal in a large comfy booth or make your way outside to the fun patio with a great Jerome view. Grapes (925 N. Main Street, Jerome, AZ 86331//928.639.8477)
Cottonwood: Crema Craft Kitchen
Welcome to Crema in Old Town Cottonwood! Another historic building with character, Crema Craft Kitchen and Bar is actually two buildings that are connected underground by tunnels once used by bootleggers. Scandy. This establishment too is owned by the Jurisin family and is actually their sixth and latest restaurant in the Verde Valley. Crema is the ideal Sedona restaurant for brunch open from 7am-2pm.
Their menu is endless serving mouthwatering mammoth cinnamon rolls, Bread Pudding French Toast, savory Asparagus and Lobster Benedicts, breakfast tacos, and my number one, the Chilequiles. The list goes on! If you’re anything like myself and can’t go a meal without consuming some sort of potato, don’t leave without trying a side of their Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole. You’ll thank me later. Fun Fact: Their mimosas are all topped with a candy rock sucker. Like, okay, sure. Crema Craft Kitchen (917 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, AZ 86326//928.649.5785)
Cottonwood: The Tavern Grille
I have childhood memories of the 1923 building that houses The Tavern Grille. Once the longest running single-screen theater in the United States, it sadly burned in a fire in 1998. Once again, the lovely owners of Crema, Grapes, and The Haunted Hamburger saved and restored the Old Rialto Theater, keeping the charred concrete walls, and created a foodie space that deserves a spot in the best restaurants in the Sedona area.
Perfect for lunch and dinner, my go-to suggestions are the Buffalo Wings, Southwestern Prime Rib Melt, The Filet Trio, all topped with a noteworthy mention of blue cheese, cajun cream, and demi glaze sauces, or any combo of their many delectable soups, salads, and mini sandwiches. The Tavern Grille (914 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, AZ 86326//928.634.6669)
One of my favored Sedona restaurants for that special occasion, date night, or “Heck, it’s Wednesday and I want a steak!!” -me. The menu at Nic’s Italian Steak and Crab House is superb and you’ll be instantly overwhelmed by their selections of steaks, seafood, pastas, ribs, and chicken because without a doubt they will all look SO good!
But I have faith in you, whatever you choose, no mistake will be made. I will, however, leave you with 4 words to mull over: Crabby Mac-N-Cheese. And the Surf ‘n Turf. And the Lasagna. And the whole dessert tray. Shoot, that was more than 4 words. Nic’s (925 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, AZ 86326//928.634.9626)
Cottonwood: Pizzeria Bocce
When it comes to Sedona restaurants, this is hands down my favorite and best restaurant in the Sedona area. Another Jurisin restaurant, they did not mess around when it came to their fifth eatery, Pizzeria Bocce. With its authentic Napoletana pizza making, every pizza is made with love the traditional way, with gluten free flour, hand kneaded, topped with fresh ingredients, and then baked in a wood burning oven that was imported from Italy itself.
Not serving just pizza, Bocce serves exceptional salads, appetizers, made to order decadent desserts (such as their Flourless Chocolate Cake. All my gluten free peeps say, “HEYYYYY”), and unique craft cocktails where you can enjoy them all on their patio bar with big fire pits and a bocce ball court. What locals further love about Bocce is the tradition of the Wine Dinners, which includes a handcrafted 4 course dinner, prepared all by chef and owner herself, Michelle Jurisin, complimented with a selection of hand picked wines. Reservations are limited for this, so chip-chop-chip! Pizzeria Bocce (1060 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, AZ 86326//928.202.3597)
Cottonwood: Merkin Vineyards Osteria
With the Verde Valley growing immensely in vineyards and wineries, Merkin Vineyards Osteria has caught my attention, placing it in the best restaurants in the Sedona area. All of Merkin’s wine and food ingredients all come from Arizona’s premier farms, fields, pastures, and trees. I have yet to find a tasting room that serves food beyond a cheese and cracker platter, but behold Merkin is the place. To. Be.
Their menu isn’t extensive but choose from a fair selections of antipasti, perhaps a charcuterie board to share or a plate of lightly toasted bruschetta. You will be most impressed though with their pasta selections, all hand made right in front of you. My go-to is the Merkin Mac and Cheese, made from scratch with red wine and prickly pear infused pasta with pancetta-mascarpone cream sauce, and “dusted” with beet powder. Yeah. They really went there. Merkin Vineyards Osteria (1001 N. Main Street, Cottonwood, AZ 86326//928.639.1001)
Sedona: Elote Cafe
I’m gonna be super upfront with each and every one of you right now. Born and bred in Arizona, the runner-up Mecca of Mexican food, I know it. And I know it well. Elote Cafe in Sedona has officially been chosen as the best Mexican food I’ve ever graced my taste buds with. I would write an award-winning novel in great detail about each of their entrees, but I know we’re all short on time. An absolute must when you’re choosing among some of the best Sedona restaurants.
Here’s the must-haves, emphasis on MUST: The Elote dip (it’s what they’re known for), Smoke Brisket Enchiladas, Smoked Pork Cheeks, the Mexican Chocolate Pie, and the Flan de Camote. I recommend you order all of the things in one sitting, just in case this is your last meal. There’s no time for messing around, people! And while you inevitably wait for a table because it’s that popular, don’t miss out on their complimentary popcorn powdered with a tangy chili spice. Elote Cafe (771 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ 86336//928.203.0105)
Sedona: Mariposa Latin Grill
If you’re ballin’ on a budget like myself, Mariposa Latin Grill in Sedona may have to wait until that next paycheck comes in, or you can call mom and dad and inform them it’s their turn to take you out. But. BUT. Mariposa is definitely among other Sedona restaurants that in no way shape or form will disappoint. The fine cuisine is Latin inspired, more notably from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, and this type of food one won’t find anywhere else in the Verde Valley.
The featured Tapas are muy bien! And I would highly suggest the Handmade Empanadas, each filled with bomb ingredients such as beef filet, poblano, and truffle queso to name a few. But what you really want to break your diet for are the “Decadent Sides.” If the Lemon Mashed Potatoes, Triple Queso Truffle Mac and Cheese, or Yuca Fries with Pimenton Aioli (to name a small sample) were the only dishes you came to enjoy, well then you’ve experienced Mariposa entirely. Mariposa (700 Hwy 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336//928.862.4444)
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