Sunlight spills across Sedona's red rocks, causing the sandstone to glow with brilliant reds and oranges. Shugrues Hillside Grill sits by a nearby hill, its walls of windows and its outdoor patio enveloping customers in the area's natural beauty. This scenic locale is the workplace of Chef Michael Mullins, his wife Shelly, and two of their children, but it’s also home to the chef’s critically acclaimed seafood menu. Inside, visitors can peek at the restaurant's Best Seafood of Sedona Awards, which its website claims it has won more than 20 years in a row. It’s an impressive feat, but perhaps not a surprise to anyone who's met Chef Mullins, or snuck a surveillance device into his chef's hat.
To complete his menu, the chef flies in fish from around the world, bringing a taste of the sea to Arizona. On any given night, he can be seen grilling, sautéing, and blackening ahi tuna, or stuffing fried tilapia with crab, though diners aren't restricted to seafood. He also braises racks of lamb, grills steaks, and whips up a full weekend brunch menu with favorites such as buttermilk biscuits and gravy. Imported wines, beer, and specialty cocktails also complement each dining experience.
Romantic Italian Villa | Farm-to-Table Cuisine | Housemade Pastas and Sauces | Award-Winning Wine List
The Ambiance: Exposed stone draped in curtains, soft lighting from tulip-shaped fixtures, and walls adorned with Italian artwork all help set the scene for what Frommer’s called “the most romantic restaurant in Sedona.”
Who’s in the Kitchen? Chef-owner Lisa Dahl is a strong supporter of the farm-to-table movement. She relies solely on local USDA-certified growers—freshness that’s reflected in her food’s flavor and vivid appearance. In addition to Dahl & Di Luca, she also runs several other restaurants in the Sedona area and has published an award-winning cookbook, The Elixir of Life.
Don’t Miss This: The beauty of the interior spills outside. Though it’s impossible to overlook, be sure to stop and appreciate the flaming torch columns, Italian cypress trees, and fountain surrounded by flowers on your way in.
Bolognese: an Italian meat sauce, typically made from onion, celery, carrots, wine, tomatoes, and meat, such as beef or pork.
Fra diavolo: a spicy Italian sauce that’s usually blended with tomatoes and chili peppers.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Stop into Chef Dahl’s other Italian gem, Cucina Rustica (7000 State Route 179), for equally tasty organic creations.
Grass-Fed, Hormone-Free Beef | Branded Buns | Twice-Fried Belgian Frites | Local Draft Beers | Charitable Contributor
The Beef: Diablo sources its beef from what it calls the Diablo Trust ranches, otherwise known as Bar T and Flying M. These ranches are located near Flagstaff, and they only produce beef from grass-fed cattle that have been raised on the open range without antibiotics or growth hormones. A 95% lean blend of steak, ribs, and chuck goes into each patty, which receives just a light seasoning of salt and pepper to retain its natural flavor.
The Bun: Each burger is served on a preservative-free english muffin baked by MJ's Bread in Phoenix. Aside from the nooks, crannies, and crispy mouthfeel, the most notable thing about the english muffin is the “db” logo that’s been branded into it. A gluten-free version is also available.
The Fries: Each burger is served atop a pile of house frites. These crispy morsels are prepared Belgian-style: fresh potatoes are twice-fried in peanut oil and seasoned with herbes de provence—a mixture of marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and several other spices.
What to Drink: Diablo’s serves draft beers from local and regional breweries and wines from family-owned vineyards scattered throughout the western United States. Scan the blackboard to see if anything jumps out at you, or ask your server for some recommendations.
Burgers for the Better: Diablo Burger is a member in the 1% for the Planet organization, a group of companies spread across more than 40 countries that have all pledged to donate 1% of their sales to environmental organizations.
Modern Grove Neighborhood Eatery and Market is all about the community?and the restaurant has the people, atmosphere, food, and chalkboards to prove it. In the dining room or on the breezy patio, guests settle in at one of the locally made tables, formed from 150-year-old barnwood, before tucking into their hearty, from-scratch meals. Natural light floods the space as the community enjoy organic salads, gourmet pizzas, or their bacon cheddar burger, a nominee for Best Burger in the Arizona Daily Sun's "Best of Flag 2013." Pints from local breweries and glasses of boutique wine sustain guests ready to hunker down for a pleasant hour or two, while the Morton Grove's Market offers retail items, ready-to-eat sandwiches, and take-away meals for those in a hurry. The high-top community table encourages patrons to make new friends, and brightly colored chalk on the wall-sized community calendar keeps diners in-the-know as to what's happening in Flagstaff.
At Hog Wild Restaurant, Dawn and Mike West marinate their baby back ribs for hours and slow-smoke their beef brisket and pork. It’s this Chicago-style “low-and-slow” cooking method that has helped the couple—who opened a pair of restaurants in the Windy City before relocating to Cottonwood—repeatedly win the Verde Valley Readers’ Choice Award for Best Barbecue in the Verde Independent. And the good press doesn’t end there; in 2009, the eatery earned recognition as one of the top six barbecue places in Arizona from the Arizona Republic, which praised the cooks for their “unforgettable” baby back ribs with “pitch-perfect sweet sauce.”
Hog Wild supplements its tender beef brisket, pulled pork, and ribs with nonbarbecue items, fittingly from the Wests’ hometown. Italian beef sandwiched between Chicago’s soft Gonnella bread, Italian sausages, and hot dogs topped with very specific fixings round out the menu.