The best Zelda game is the one that you want to hang out with.
The best Zelda game leaves you daydreaming about her when you're apart. They force you to prepare mentally, something only made possible because of your constant engagement with its challenges. You think, chewing on a drinking straw, "Well, it's been a week. I've checked everywhere. Have I really checked everywhere? Have I really tried everything?" Later that day, you explore a section of woods you hadn't before.
Exploring those woods, a man youn find there tells you he is Gabu.
Your adventure is renewed. It's shit like this that forces us to discuss Zelda II's diamond-caked brilliance. See how it shines!
Other discoveries are more observational. A portable Zelda game like two being considered today afford one luxury of, "trying everything." Even the stupid ideas, try everything, there is no giving up! It's highly-likely you have nowhere better to be, and nothing better to do besides focusing on Zelda. There was always the possibility a dungeon was under THAT ROCK in games like Link's Awakening. It was a portable cartridge. It was waste-nothing data management. There was a density that had to be trusted. That trust was returned. The player was expected to dive into the game's furthest depths.
Certain Zeldas are considered black sheep. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link most of all, perhaps putting The Minish Cap a nearby neighbor. We cannot discount Link's Awakening, either, the literal dream-world brimming with soul that Link must destroy in order to escape. These are all oddly-shaped in betweeners in the Zelda family and examine their worlds with unusually-powered microscopes.
Zelda II was entirely about survival, asking if Link could endure and traverse the wilds with a sword and not much else. The ancient NES sequel demanded you be rock-hard and determined or you would never even earn the game-changing down-thrust attack—a feature vital to the game that doesn't come into play until just before the third castle. The Minish Cap brought together generations of design. Perspective from SNES, world-building from N64, and artistic confidence from GameCube. Link's Awakening was a MacGuyver-style effort to make an adventure from scratch, while tied up in the Game Boy's restrictions, and the result was magnificent.