NEVER ENDING STORY
America's Favorite Restaurants
We've asked you a few times to tell us about your favorite restaurants, and nearly 600 of you of have responded. It's always tough to narrow down the list, but here's our updated, always-changing take on where to eat like a local, from sea to shining sea. (Keep telling us about your favorites, and we'll keep improving our list.)
**NOTE: This article was updated on Monday, June 29, 2009
NEW! ARCTIC ROADRUNNER in Anchorage, Alaska
If you're in Anchorage and you've had your fill of seafood, this old-timey burger joint should do the trick. Don't opt for anything too fancy: The standard combo of cheeseburger, milkshake, and French fries or onion rings is delicious and plenty filling. There's no table service, and the place doesn't take credit cards. Order at the counter, take your number and pay in cash, and then consider eating outside at the tables along Campbell Creek, where the salmon you just spared (well, unless you ordered the salmon burger) are known to spawn. Arctic Roadrunner has been in business for four decades; the walls are covered with photos of patrons who've visited this perennial spot for "the best burger in Anchorage." Information: 2477 Arctic Blvd., 907/279-7311. Price check: A standard burger is $5if you want something more complicated, the Kodiak Islander is $6, and the Keeneye burger, with mozzarella cheese, is $6.25. Milkshakes start at $4. Thanks for sharing: Reader Scott B was the first to tip us off.
NEW! ELOTE CAFE in Sedona, Ariz.
It doesn't look like much from the outside, and that's putting it nicely, but if you don't get to Elote before 6 p.m., expect to wait an hour or more for dinner. Bide your time at the bar with perfect margaritas (there are five versions) and servings of free popcorn dusted with chile powder. All of the Mexican dishes are prepared imaginatively, with gourmet overtones: Start with the sopa de elote, and then move on to standout plates like enchiladas, carne asada, chile relleno, tacos with mole sauce, or anything slow roasted. The menu's smaller plates are close to entree size, so visitors often keep prices moderate by eating tapas-style. The patio has great views but can be cold at night, especially during the winter months. Elote knows it's popular; unless you have a party of five or more, no reservations are considered. Information: 771 Hwy. 179., 928/203-0105, elotecafe.com. Price check: Chicken tacos with mole sauce are $9.50, quesadillas are $11, and margaritas start at $7. Of the large plates, the chile relleno is affordable at $16.50. Thanks for sharing: Reader sharonlash was the first to tip us off.
NEW! FEZ in Phoenix, Ariz.
Just off the Indian School light-rail stop in Central Phoenix, Fez serves traditional American staples with Mediterranean accents in a friendly, contemporary setting. The Fez burger is a massive half-pound sandwich on ciabatta, improbably stacked with pears, crispy onions, feta cheese, and cilantro. Lighter eaters opt for the tasty Fez lettuce wraps with minced chicken and dried fruits, or one of the four kisras, Mediterranean flatbread pizzas with toppings like lamb or grilled chicken. Restaurant acolytes love all four types of fries, heaped into generous baskets, but can't agree about which is best. Bring a crowd and order one of each kind, then top it all off with one of the 20-plus martinis to keep the ensuing French fry debate civil. Information: 3815 N. Central Ave., 602/287-8700, fezoncentral.com. Price check: Salads like the tomato taza run about $6.50 for a small portion (it's plenty big!), while fries are $4.50 a basket. The signature Fez burger costs $11; a martini is $9.50. Thanks for sharing: Reader SuzyA was the first to tip us off.
FLANCER'S in Gilbert, Ariz.
There's nothing ordinary about the Southwestern food at Flancer's. Sandwiches are dressed with condiments like prickly-pear glaze, orange-cranberry barbecue sauce, chipotle mayonnaise, and New Mexican green-chili mayonnaise. Even the names of the sandwiches are unique: It's About Thyme has balsamic-and-thyme marinated chicken with basil mayo, sautéed mushrooms, melted provolone, lettuce, and tomatoes. Owner Jeff Flancer graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked in high-end restaurants. Information: 610 N. Gilbert Rd., 480/926-9077, flancers.com, sandwiches from $6.75. Jennifer Causey, Chandler, Ariz.
GELATO DOLCE VITA in Mesa, Ariz.
Before leaving Italy for Arizona, Walter Bergamaschi and Marti Printy took a course at Gelato University, outside Bologna. They're constantly adding to their flavor library, which includes dark chocolate and habanero peppers; desert-flower honey; and kiwi and chardonnay. It's not uncommon for a customer to ask for a telephone call when a favorite flavor is available. Information: 5251 E. Brown Rd., 480/329-2143, gelatodolcevita.com, from $2.50. Nila and Scott Erickson, Mesa, Ariz.