After 15 years of wandering Mexico, Chef Jeff Smedstad had eaten enough of the country’s cuisine to begin inventing his own recipes. He still honors the classics in his signature elote appetizer, which coats grilled corn kernels with cotija cheese and spicy mayo, but he flaunts his inventiveness with desserts of chocolate tamales filled with dried cherries.
Forget comfort food like your mom used to make—Red Rock Cafe does comfort food like the cowboys. Its four types of eggs benedict include the Southwest benedict, sporting black beans and green chilies, and the Cowboy benedict, which swaps out ham for sausage and hollandaise for country gravy. There are also sandwiches for later in the day, but be warned, the cafe closes at 3 p.m.
Though pieces by local painters brighten the walls, the true art of René happens next to your table. There, servers carve racks of Colorado lamb to be served with mango chutney and mint hollandaise, and they flambé desserts of cherries jubilee. Match these and other French-inspired dishes with a long catalog of wines.
Inside the Tlaquepaque shopping complex, beer scientists conduct careful alchemy. Their fermentation process results in six regular microbrews, including the spiced Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale, and seasonal offerings such as a chocolate porter made with Ecuadorian cacao. Sip your chosen beer to the beats of Irish music, or shimmy along on Drums & Dance Tuesdays.
If drinking tea makes one wise, WhiteAugust has more wisdom than a microfiche containing two centuries of Greek philosophy. Green teas such as the Meyer-lemon-infused Playful Daydream ($5.50 for 50g, $10.50 for 100g) and the raspberry- and pomegranate-flavored Morning Geisha ($9.25/$17.75) satisfy the greenest cravings, while spicily colorful Kaleidoscope ($5.95/$9.95) and bold, vanilla-beaned Constellations ($15/$29.95) represent the richness of moderately caffeinated black teas. Whites, oolongs, herbal reme-teas, and the audacious new Camellia Sin teas help round out an impressive collection of rejuvenating extracts that will soon overflow and overwhelm the earth with pungent potabilities.
Mago Cafe's eclectic Korean menu shares the spotlight with the café curator's encyclopedia of rich Sedona history. Steam billows from clay bowls of savory Korean stews ($13.95–$14.95), and razor-thin rib eye swan dives into the Olympic-size depths of mushroom-and-onion sauce in the Bul-Go-Ki plate ($15.95). A vegetable Jeon ($9.95) walks the line between pancake and pizza with produce trimmings, and a Volcano Vegetables stir-fry ($12.95) erupts with 15 vegetables that cascade into a sea of rice and organic greens. The piled-high stuffings in a selection of sandwiches—including the cayenne-peppered Red Rock hot tofu ($9.95)—peer over the edges of four artisan breads and arrive, like a newborn Cabbage Patch Kid, blanketed in organic romaine, tomatoes, and sprouts.