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There are a surprising number of local flavors to experience in Sedona, which has a culinary culture inspired by Mexican, Western and Native American dishes. Here are the five best food experiences in Sedona:
1. Arizona wine. Wine from the highlands of Arizona is surprisingly good. With the wide variety and blends, there’s an Arizona wine for every palate. From the Rhone varietals grown near Sedona to the Spanish whites and reds of southern Arizona, high-desert grapes are producing delicious, full-bodied wines. You’ll spot Arizona wines on many Sedona restaurant menus, discover your favorite along the Verde Valley Wine Trail or do a tasting at a Sedona wine bar.
2. Huevos rancheros. A breakfast egg dish with origins in Mexico, huevos rancheros is a hearty breakfast meal found at many Sedona restaurants. It starts with two fried eggs (huevos) placed on pan-warmed tortillas and topped with cheese and tomato sauce spiced with green chilies, cumin and chili powder. This spicy breakfast meal filled cowboys and their boss men (rancheros) in preparation for a hard day’s work of moving cattle. Today it’s the perfect energizer for hiking or exploring the western landscape.
3. Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale. This Arizona favorite can be found on tap from Tucson to the Grand Canyon, and of course, in Sedona where it’s brewed. The deep copper, nutty-tasting ale is named after the creek that flows through Sedona that helped carve the world-famous Oak Creek Canyon centuries ago. The brew master won a gold medal from the North American Brewers’ Association. Look for the deep copper-colored brew in the glass of the satisfied local sitting next to you.
4. Anything cactus. From specialty cocktails to gourmet dishes, the prickly pear cactus fruit called tuna and paddles (aka leaves) are a staple in Sedona cuisine. Most often, you’ll find the prickly pear cactus fruit’s sweet fruity nectar in margaritas and mojitos, as well as tea, ice cream and coleslaw. The leaves of the cactus — called nopales — are harvested from the desert with tongs to avoid the sharp needles. Try fried cactus tuna at the Cowboy Club Grille in uptown or nopalitos at Elote, though both are used on many menus around town.
5. Green chilies. Not as hot as its cousin the jalapeño chile, the mild green chile — after being roasted, peeled and chopped —is added to favorites such as green chile and pork stew, huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos (roasted chilies stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried) and enchiladas. Green chiles add a smoky taste and a hint of spice to any dish. You’ll find green chilies as an important complement to omelets, corn dishes, salads or even pizza at any Sedona restaurant.