Here are a few of my favorite restaurants around the state. Check back, because these will be updated often.
Jimmy's Hot Dog Company, Bisbee
The signature dish at Jimmy's is the classic Chicago hot dog which is culinary architecture. To qualify as a Chicago dog, an exacting blueprint must be followed. Start with the Cadillac of tube steak, Vienna all-beef hot dogs in natural casings. The casing gives it that satisfying snap, releasing juices and flavor at every bite. The dog nestles on a poppy seed bun from S. Rosen's, a Chi-town institution. Ingredients are piled on in precise order-mustard, neon green relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, a pickle spear, two sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.
The result is a private riot in your mouth, a joyous collision of flavors. The juicy beast rolls across your taste buds in waves, a meal vastly more complex and savory than most served on fine china flanked by an array of forks. Jimmy’s serves a full slate of dogs and sandwiches including brats, grinders, meatball subs and the SeaDog, wild caught cod in crispy beer batter. All sandwiches come with delicious, fresh-made fries, bursting with a salty zing of real potato flavor. 938 W. Arizona 92, 520-432-5911.
Redneck’s Southern Pit Barbecue, Kingman
If there’s a foolproof way to open a restaurant, Bubba and Tammy Floyd found it. The husband and wife team, originally from Tennessee, built a full-service barbecue trailer and became a welcome presence at Mohave County events. For five years crowds lined up at fairs and rodeos to sample the Floyd’s down-home pulled pork, slow-cooked ribs and hearty side dishes. Along the way they built up a huge, hungry clientele clamoring for more.
So when the Floyd’s opened a cozy eatery in May, crowds poured in. Appropriately enough for someone dishing up Memphis-style barbecue, they landed on Beale Street and are leading the revitalization of downtown Kingman. Everything that comes out of the kitchen is based on old family recipes, including Grandma’s cobbler. All meats are languidly cooked over hickory wood and served with sauce on the side. 420 E. Beale St., 928-757-8227.
Troia’s Pizza Pasta Amore, Sedona
The hostess station at Troia’s is like the Arrival gate at the airport. Almost everyone who walks in is greeted with hugs and raucous hellos. Open 15 years, serving a slate of healthy, vibrant Italian cuisine, it’s no wonder Sam and Rosanne Troia know everybody in town and about half the population of the state. If they don’t know you at the beginning of the meal, they will by the time you’re moaning over the homemade tiramisu.
Chef Shawn Murphy believes in striking the right balance with fresh, simple ingredients. Take the sautéed mussels served in a roasted garlic and white wine broth created from a bare handful of ingredients, but you’ll want to sop up every last molecule with the crusty bread. Mix and match pastas and sauces but be aware you’ll receive over a one pound serving. Put on your game face. The chicken Milanese combines the soft crunch of the zesty pan seared breading with the tender meat. It’s served over linguine with seasonally fresh vegetable. 1885 W. Arizona 89A, 928-282-0123, www.troias.com.
Greek Islands, Flagstaff
These guys practically invented the $10 meal. Their highest priced item is the moussaka, a lasagna-like dish of eggplant, potatoes, ground beef and cheese served with basmati rice for $9.99. The place is a proud hole-in-the-wall that can fit 35 people inside and on their back alley patio, and often do. Since opening last July word of mouth has created a huge fan base for their authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
Everything is made from scratch, including the creamy, zingy tzatziki with a nice garlic bite. The gyro platter comes with a small Greek salad, pita, gyro meats, tzatziki and basmati rice. The chef’s vegetable plate is a mad medley of spicy delights with hummus, tabouli, dolmades and spanakopita amongst an array of veggies and olives and nuggets of feta cheese. Opa! 109 E. Phoenix Ave., 928-779-0106.