As its name would suggest, Carefree is a laid-back town, with a sense of humor to boot. Look out for quirky street signs (Ho Hum Road and Nonchalant Avenue) and keep in mind the town’s motto (“home of the cowboys and caviar”). Phoenix lies about 30 miles to the south, and the Continental Mountains rise just to the north and create a nice backdrop opposite the Black Mountain range. There are a handful of hiking trails in the area, but for those who prefer the comforts of saddle, you can rent a bike from the hotel or sign up of for a guided horseback ride through the desert. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
With pages full of flavors traditional to Mexico City, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Cozumel, the menu at Haciendas Mexican Grill is like an atlas of Mexican cuisine. Guests can taste the classic Mayan influence on the nation’s dishes with the cochinita pibil, a cut of pork that slowly marinates in a stew of achiote, orange juice, and banana leaves, or revel in the country's knack for sauces with the dark-brown dressing of the pollo con mole. The chefs also take slight liberties with the dishes, infusing the chocolate fondue with ancho chiles and transforming the humble hamburger with oaxaca cheese and chipotle mayo. To honor Mexico's extensive coastlines, the chefs drench jumbo prawns, stuffed salmon filets, and lobster ravioli in spicy cream sauces.
Outside the dining room, guests can experience Mexican culture with specialty margaritas, tap and bottled beers, and other libations in the restaurant’s three bars. Like an interstellar pub crawl, each bar features a different atmosphere: one sports a scenic view of the mountains, another buzzes with a row of LED TVs, and an outside patio grants fresh air and warm sun ideal for a round of icy beverages.
Successfully polishing off one of Blu Burger's signature creations isn't always an easy feat. These meaty towers and onion buns teeter under the weight of generous portions of applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and melted cheeses dripping with housemade sauces. Though some diners try to tackle the five signature selections, others extend their culinary creativity to design their own burgers, choosing from an eclectic variety of bases—including Black Angus or Kobe beef, bison, and portobello mushrooms. Customers further customize patties with their choices of buns, cheeses, specialty toppings, and more than 10 types of sauces, which join the selection of 12 craft beers on tap.
In the bustling dining room, tinted windows cast a blue hue on funky artwork and colorful hanging lights. Outside, blue umbrellas speckle the courtyard, protecting diners from both the elements and the notice of paragliding Hamburglars.
Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
Rosati's Pizza literally began with one man. When he started his first restaurant in Chicago as an Italian immigrant more than a century ago, Ferdinand Rosati worked as the cook, waiter, dishwasher, and host. Despite the hectic schedule, the passionate restaurateur still found time to prepare each guest his signature pizza a'olia, a soul-warming blend of cheese and housemade sauce served on a crispy thin crust. From that cracker-thin foundation, Rosati's has grown to incorporate slabs of baby back ribs, baked pastas, and Italian sandwiches to its menu at locations across the country. A family-friendly establishment, Rosati's mixes cocktails for adults from a full-service bar as kids play games and puzzles designed to distract them from the rounds of pizza frisbee.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.