Congratulations to our 2022
Foodist Awards Winners & Finalists!

The Foodist Awards recognize the most amazing tastes, faces and places in Arizona food and beverage. Awards are given to entries that demonstrate innovation, quality of execution, effectiveness and an influential impact on the culinary and hospitality industry.

The nomination process is open to the public. Finalists and winners are chosen by a panel of industry experts, organized by The Arizona Restaurant Association.


OUTSTANDING SIGNATURE DISH –Honors the restaurant that quite simply does it best with their own signature dish.

  • Beckett’s Table, Signature Fork Tender Short Ribs
  • CRUjiente Tacos, Korean Fried Chicken Tacos
  • Vivace Restaurant, Osso Buco

INNOVATIVE FAST BITES – This award honors the fast-casual segment and the restaurant that constantly brings innovation to the table.

  • S. Marantos
  • Someburros
  • Thai Chili 2Go

WORLD CLASS DESSERT –This award honors the desserts around the state that are not simply afterthoughts, but could stand on their own.

  • Eegee’s, Eegee
  • Mastro’s City Hall, Butter Cake
  • ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho, Showstopper Shake

EXCEPTIONAL HAPPY HOUR –This award honors happy hours around our state that are outstanding in food and beverage offerings.

  • Macayo’s Mexican Food
  • Postino
  • Roaring Fork


TOP ARIZONA BREWERY Raising a glass to the best Arizona brewery.

  • Barrio Brewing Co.
  • Four Peaks Brewing Company
  • Huss Brewing Co.

SUPERB BAR/NIGHT CLUB –Honoring the best in entertainment, beverage and atmosphere around the state.

  • Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row Scottsdale
  • Garden Bar PHX

BEST BEVERAGE PROGRAM – Recognizing a bar or restaurant that keeps their beverage menu edgy yet approachable embracing all things beverage – spirits, wine and beer.

  • Century Grand
  • Maple & Ash
  • Wren & Wolf

MOST CREATIVE COCKTAIL TO-GO –Cocktails to go may be, hands down, the coolest trend born out of necessity in 2020, and restaurants and their very talented bar teams had fun creating unique beverage pairings with to-go menus, curated cocktails in jars, pouches, and batched for the weekend.

  • Elote Cafe, Blood Orange Margarita
  • Ingo’s Tasty Food, Greyhound
  • Pigtails Cocktails, Quarantine & Chill


INNOVATIVE FINE DINING RESTAURANT CONCEPT –Recognizes a restaurateur or restaurant group who demonstrates that they don’t follow trends; they define them, setting the bar in restaurant operations and the overall customer fine dining experience.

  • Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion
  • Cloth & Flame
  • Sel

EMERGING RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR – Honors promising up-and-comers that demonstrate exemplary talent, showcase innovation and have already distinguished themselves as pacesetters in food, beverage and service.

  • Campo Italian Bistro
  • Chantico
  • Valentine

OUTSTANDING LOCAL RESTAURANT GROUP – Honors a culinary group with more than 3 locations with the same or different brands, demonstrating exceptional achievement and commitment to excellence in marketing, menu design and customer service.

  • Dahl Restaurant Group
  • Fox Restaurant Concepts
  • LGO Hospitality

UNIQUELY ARIZONA – Home to some of the oldest documented food traditions, Arizona has a rich culinary past steeped in tradition. The ARA is searching statewide for the restaurants that embrace not only the local food but are staples of the state.

  • AZ88
  • Macayo’s Mexican Food
  • Phoenix City Grille


PANDEMIC GOOD NEIGHBOR Recognizes the outstanding community leadership and exceptional devotion to making a difference in our neighborhoods and community at large, while navigating the most traumatic two years in our industry during the pandemic.

  • Sasha Raj, 24 Carrots
  • Paul Keeler & Keeler Hospitality Group
  • Rhiba Farms

RESTAURANT TOURISM AMBASSADOR – Led the fight to keep restaurant tourism and the culinary scene top of mind during COVID and after.

  • Debbie Johnson, Arizona Office of Tourism

TOP MIXOLOGIST | BARTENDER – Honoring an individual who is behind the bar or constantly raising the bar and setting trends in the beverage scene.

  • Dominique Jackson, Kaz Bar
  • Sidney Kendall, 36 Below
  • Kim Haasarud, Garden Bar PHX

TOP CHEF Pays tribute to outstanding culinary excellence, breaking new ground with an innovative menu while enhancing the dining experience.

  • Branden Levine, Sel
  • Jennifer Russo, Market by Jennifer’s
  • Marcellino Verzino – Marcellino Ristorante

EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR – Recognizes the front or back of house employee (non-managerial) that has set the gold standard for exemplary customer service and enhancing the overall dining experience.

  • Alejandro Maturana, Ling & Louie’s
  • Hector Cruz Vidal, Jocque Concepts
  • Mary French Dafoe, Tonto Bar & Grill

MANAGER OF THE YEAR– Recognizes the manager that has set the gold standard for exemplary customer service and leadership as well as enhancing the overall dining experience.

  • Jim Gallen, Mountain Shadows Resort
  • John – BJs in Chandler
  • Monica Teligades, Keeler’s Steakhouse

FOOD PIONEER Lifetime Achievement Award. Honors a lifetime of outstanding culinary excellence that continues to educate, inspire, entertain and foster a deeper understanding of the culinary culture in Arizona.

  • Jeff Smedstad, Elote Cafe
  • Matt Carter, Fat Ox, The Mission, Zinc Bistro
  • Michael Rusconi, Rusconi’s Kitchen