Arizona has a growing food culture and restaurants are always popping up with all kinds of new fusion dishes. But one of the things that makes Arizona unique culinary-wise is the traditional foods that, at times, may be a little difficult to find—but absolutely worth the trip. Here are some dishes that you really should take the time to find and enjoy:
This Navajo delicacy is the sheep's small intestines wrapped around the large intestines, then roasted over a fire until crispy. It is quite simply delicious and can be found at some Navajo-owned restaurants.
Check out this video of the ach'íí' being prepared. VIDEO
2. Carne asada tacos
Carne asada is delicious on its own, but a portable version that adds even more flavor? You don't want to miss out on it.
If you want a solid breakfast that won't disappoint, try chilaquiles as a meal. The base part of the dish inlcudes fried tortillas drenched in salsa and topped with eggs. Some people add beans, meat, and a variety of toppings.
If you're wondering where to get some, check out MartAnne's Cafe in Flagstaff.
Most people consider this Arizona's state food, so need I say more?
5. Huevos rancheros
If you need another breakfast option, huevos rancheros is divine and the dish is kind of similar to chilaquiles. However, I think this one is a much easier find across the state. If you eat them at a restaurant, just make sure they aren't stingy with the salsa.
6. Mesquite pancakes
With all of the mesquite trees found across the southern portion of the state, it's a wonder that mesquite flour (made from those little seeds and pods that get thrown into compost piles) isn't more popular. This protein-rich dish that is a more local version of your breakfast favorite. They're near impossible to find in restaurants so try out a recipe on your own!
7. Mutton stew with homemade tortillas or frybread
Comfort food at its finest, mutton stew (really, a soup) is exactly what it sounds like: sheep meat in a broth with some vegetables. Some families have slight variations in how it's prepared, but most often it looks just like this.
8. Navajo tacos
I'm a bit biased. I'm Navajo, so to me (and the 173,00 other Navajos living), these forever will be Navajo tacos. NOT Indian tacos. But, seriously, if you haven't had the pleasure of what's basically taco fixings served on top of a pillowy soft frybread, you're missing out.
9. Piki bread
Papery and thinner than the phyllo pastries you're used to in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, piki is a blue corn-based grain staple of the Hopi diet. You can sometimes find them at pow wows or tribal markets, but one restaurant that does serve this on their menu is the Turquoise Room in Winslow.
Here's another delicious soup that really ought to be a staple in Arizona households. Traditionally, it is a hominy soup made with pork, but you can substitute just about any meat.
11. Prickly pear jelly
Made from the little fruit pods that grow from the pricky pear cactus (yes, you can eat the paddles of the cactus as well), these unique desert fruits are mild in flavor. In addition to jelly, they can be made into juices, candies and marmalade.
12. Red chile stew with a side of chumath
A bright, atomic red, this beef stew is about as spicy as it looks. Eat it with a piece of fry bread or, for a less fatty version, chumath, which is essentially a huge tortilla. We recommend checking out the Fry Bread House in midtown Phoenix for a sample.
13. Sonoran dog
The Arizona version of a hot dog, this meal is wrapped in bacon and served with beans, tomatoes, and other toppings in a deliciously fluffy bolillo bread.
What other dishes would you add to this list? Are there any restaurant favorites you have?