Carolina: Cruising Past 70: TRAVEL AWAITS: 6 Unique Dining Experiences In Arizona

Friday, April 8, 2022

TRAVEL AWAITS: 6 Unique Dining Experiences In Arizona

The complete article was published in Travel Awaits on  July 2. 2021.

For me, a unique dining experience is not just about food; it is also about the place. Is there a majestic mountain, a flowing river, a refreshing lake, a sunny beach, etc. as a backdrop? Here are six places we recommend.

1. The Dolly Steamboat (headline photo)

The Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake offers dinners onboard the boat. "They were actually replaced by wine cruises with live music during the days of Covid but the Twilight Dinner Cruise has now since resumed at 5 pm every day. Imagine having dinner (and wine) while you cruise around the lake, viewing great vistas, admiring desert plants that grow among the rocks, and spotting wildlife that is taking a peek at you whatever else is happening below... dinner served buffet-style was always bountiful...An added bonus is that you get a different view of the lake and its surroundings on the way back after the sun goes down."

2. Cress on Oak Creek

by Oak Creek

But the dining experience I will never forget we discovered when we were invited to have lunch by an Australian friend when she was part of an art program offered by L’Auberge, a group of cottages “nestled under a canopy of sycamore trees” in Sedona, Arizona. Cress on Oak Creek is known for creekside dining since its tables are right beside Oak Creek where birds chirp while you delight in an exquisite meal. The following year, my husband brought me back there for a magical tenth Anniversary lunch." The only drawback is Cress is a fine dining restaurant with an expensive price range. 

3. Mariposa Latin-Inspired Grille

the garden at Mariposa

The other Sedona dining place you should visit is the Mariposa Latin-Inspired Grille. "It is perched atop a scenic bluff giving panoramic views of the majestic rocks to every table. My husband thought it was good enough for our 11th-anniversary dinner. The spacious 6,500 square-foot restaurant has a 1,000-lb door crafted from African and South American stones. There are also two glass-enclosed wine vaults with more than 600 wine bottles, including many rare South American varieties. At the heart of the restaurant, are a wood-fired grill and wood-burning oven. And Chef Dahl creates a unique South American-inspired cuisine inspired by her travels to Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile." There is a dress code (Resort Casual) or sit at the expansive patio that leads right into the wide well-manicured grass lawn in a huge garden that looks out to the red rocks unobstructed. We had an anniversary “photoshoot” there!

4. Salt Cellar

the only thing above ground

"For our ninth anniversary, my husband looked hard for a seafood place because that is my favorite, having grown up in the Philippine islands. Luckily, he found one that was always part of the “Best of Seafood” lists in the Phoenix Metropolitan area since 1971. But there is another draw to this place. Salt Cellar is the only underground restaurant in Arizona. Decorated as a “snug seaside hideaway,” this dining place is located below ground on the posh side of the valley, in upscale Scottsdale. When you descend the antique wooden three flights of stairs to the select tables below, you will be welcomed into a world far removed from the desert."

5. Wrigley’s Mansion

the view from Wrigley Mansion 

We were able to dine at the elegant Wrigley Mansion because a friend is a member. "Wrigley’s Mansion is a renowned Phoenix landmark built by the chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. in 1932 as a 50th-anniversary gift to his beloved wife. It looks very similar to the Wrigley Mansion on Catalina Island off the Los Angeles coast which was another gift of Wrigley to his wife. Both sit atop a hill, commanding dramatic views of the mountains and the city (island). Inspired by architectural elements from Spain, California Monterey, and the Mediterranean, the original tiles that were shipped from the Wrigley family’s tile factory on Catalina Island are still there." Wrigley Mansion also offers tours of the elegant house. See the sweeping grand staircase, fabulous first-class décor, and even a vintage telephone system.

6. Market Cafe

the Father celebrating

'My husband saw an ad mentioning dining by a waterfall in the desert that is Phoenix. However, during the Covid lockdown, Market Café in The Buttes of Marriott was only open for breakfast, from 6: 30-10:30 am. We decided to begin his 2021 Father’s Day celebration with a special morning meal, even if that meant waking up early. We just had to make sure that -- even with the 30-minute trip from our home -- we could get a table on the row closest to the unique scene."




  1. We are always looking for unique dining experiences. Here are the six we love around Arizona!

  2. Thanks for all the great Sedona recommendations! Yum!,

  3. We always love to find unique spots to eat. I like the idea of planning a meal on the Dolly Steamboat on Canyon Lake. A constantly changing view would be perfect. And a sunset view at the Wrigley Mansion is definitely worth planning.

  4. Every single one of your dining experiences sounds amazing. I never dined next to a waterfall though. Did you get wet? Wrigley Mansion is another dining place i would not miss, if in the area.

  5. I love all 6 of these dining experiences. My favorite is the steamboat - Desert Belle which plies around Saguaro Lake sounds perfect. Nothing like dining and feasting your eyes too! The sunset and waterfall views also look awesome. :-)

  6. I love the variety in the dining experiences you found in Arizona. We will certainly have to take your recommendation for Cress on Oak Creek. We are ok splurging on an expensive meal if the food and ambiance make it a special event. Although the Mindful Dining Experience may be a bit of a stretch. Good to know they have other a la carte options!

  7. Great ideas for places to dining in Arizona. I will definitely use your recommendations on my next trip. I would like to visit The Dolly Steamboat, Wrigley’s Mansion and Market Cafe.

  8. Oooh all those restaurants sounds mouth watering and great experiences as well. Especially when you can enjoy beautiful views too.

  9. These are definitely some amazing dining experiences. I wonder what else does that mindful dinner experience at the Creekside Reserve Gazebo offers for that crazy amount of money. Dining at the Salt Cellar sounds pretty amazing as well, especially with that double offer.

  10. Great round up, but I think I like your tip to make a day out of The Buttes. Eggs benedict poolside and dinner at the Top of the Rock with panoramic views of the city sounds perfect.

  11. I haven't been to Arizona yet and never thought of it as a place for fine dining. Your post, however, proves that it is some sort of Cockaigne ;-)

  12. I love food blogs as I get to learn what others are offering our there to the world!In this list, I particularly like the Salt Cellar and The Dolly Steamboat. It looks so romantic to have dinner in that location. Indeed, the food scene did not disappoint!

  13. These experiences sound really wonderful. However, my favorite is The Dolly Steamboat. If I get an opportunity, I would like to do the Astronomy Cruise Dinner. I know my husband will love it very much.

  14. These all sound so inviting and romantic in there own way. I’d head straight for the Cress on Oak Creek or something similar first. I just love to be outside and near flowing water.

  15. I didn't know there was more than one Wrigley Mansion. I'm familiar with the one on Catalina Island. Sure sounds like you've put together a great list of romantic dining experiences.

  16. Puloma BhattacharyaApril 19, 2022 at 3:02 PM

    Each of these restaurants offer a unique dining experience with a spectacular ambience. Just like their names these restaurants are special like the Market cafe's waterfall background,the iconic Wrigley's mansion named after the chewing gum magnate and the Dolly steam boat giving you sailing experience.

  17. It is great to see you two exploring interesting dining places in Arizona. All of them have spectacular views and topnotch ambiance. I would love the Cress on Oak Creek even though it is a bit of expensive, but it's all worth it.


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