Water-side restaurants are rare in these parts, as you might expect living in the desert. However, there are more than you might think (as long as you think there are fewer than five).
The next time you’re hungry, and you’d rather enjoy a view of sparkling blue rather than desert brown, try one of these aquatic-adjacent eateries.
Note: We aren’t including restaurants and bars next to pools. Click here to see our list of pool-adjacent spots. Or would you rather watch a movie while you eat? Check out these movie theaters that also serve food.
OK, back to the topic at hand.
1. Dillon’s KC BBQ Bayou
Fans of Dillon’s KC BBQ will be delighted to know that it now boasts a water-front location. Take a trip out to the West Valley and the Pleasant Harbor Marina at Lake Pleasant. You can enjoy the sun and water, and then chow down on casual food that ranges from appetizers like onion rings to fresh soups and chili to a range of barbecue meats, sandwiches, burgers and more.
Address: 40202 N 87th Ave, Peoria, AZ 85383
Phone: (928) 501-2227
2. The Watershed
If we told you this restaurant resides in Tempe, you might assume it perches on Tempe’s largest body of water, Tempe Town Lake. However, it actually sits on a man-made lake south of Baseline between Rural and McClintock.
The Watershed features a water-side patio that seats 200, and even maintains a boat for aquatic excursions. For food, it serves Modern American style, from grilled burgers and wings to gumbo and green chile meatloaf. It also includes a bar that serves wine and boasts 20 beers on tap.
Address: 5350 S. Lakeshore Dr. Tempe, AZ
Phone: (480) 756-0508
3. Lakeshore Restaurant
For our next spot, you need to head northeast to Saguaro Lake. This reservoir plays host to boaters, swimmers, fishermen (fisherpersons? fisherpeople?) and — courtesy of the Lakeshore Restaurant — hungry diners. The restaurant looks out over the water and serves everything from seafood to barbecue to salads. On Wednesday and Friday you can even order all-you-can-eat fish and chips.
Address: 14011 N Bush Highway, Mesa, AZ 85215
Phone: (480) 984-5311
4. Cress on Oak Creek
With that picture, do we really need to say anything else? OK, OK; we’ll fill in some details, such as where to find it.
As you might notice, the other restaurants — even though they’re on the water — still give off a desert vibe. Cress on Oak Creek clearly doesn’t and that’s because it makes its home in gorgeous, higher-elevation Sedona.
The vision of famed executive chef Rochelle Daniel, the restaurant came about as part of a $7 million renovation of the exclusive L’Auberge de Sedona resort. As you might imagine, Cress on Oak Creek aims for fine dining at its — well — finest.
The menu incorporates “locally foraged and hand-selected ingredients” into its prix-fixe (“fixed price”), multi-course culinary masterpieces. Just be sure to save up because you’ll pay for what you get.
Address: 301 L’Auberge Lane, Sedona, AZ 86336
Phone: (855) 905-5745
Don’t just make it a day trip. Learn more about the L’Auberge and two more amazing Sedona resort and restaurant spots.
5. O.H.S.O Eatery & nanoBrewery
We cheated a bit on this one as the O.H.S.O. Eatery & nanoBrewery in Arcadia actually sits along the canal, which doesn’t provide as much of a water view as the other restaurants on this list.
On the other hand, it does feature a spacious — pet-friendly! — outdoor patio with clever recycled fans. Add in the excellent American-style food and house-brewed beverages, and you’ll want to drop by when you’re on an evening dog walk or bike ride.
Address: 4900 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Phone: (602) 955-0358
Bonus: Lake Powell
If you’re in northwest Arizona, want a water-side bite to eat, and happen to drop by Lake Powell, consider patronizing either the Rainbow Room and its breathtaking view (shown above) or Ja’di’To’oh Restaurant, which sits a few hundred yards out on the lake itself.
You might notice that many of the entries above exist near a man-made lake or reservoir. Click here to learn more about nearby dams, lakes and reservoirs and how much fun they can be for boating, swimming and more.
– Justin Ferris, Phoenix.org