Best of Phoenix®

Best Of 2002

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Food & Drink

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Breakfasts
J.P. Pancake
Courtesy of J.P. Pancakes

It takes a lot to get us out of bed before noon. Cold cereal won't do it. An everyday scrambled eggs 'n' bacon breakfast from Denny's most certainly won't. But J.P. will.

All the expected items are available, but they're unexpectedly good. A biscuit combo mounds a duo of fat dough rounds with two eggs, cubed grilled potatoes and ladles of creamy, sausage-studded gravy. French toast is just fabulous, splayed six slices across and fashioned from thick challah dipped in lots of egg and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Dress it up with cinnamon, fresh strawberries or gingered peach compote. Specialty pancakes are indeed special, crowned with fresh blueberries, blended with chopped mixed nuts, or crafted from natural whole grains. A wonderful oven-baked apple pancake comes glistening with fresh sliced apples and sugar-cinnamon glaze. Fancier and fantastic: five kinds of Belgian waffles, or a plate of three eggs scrambled with silky lox and chopped onion, partnered with three pancakes, buttery home fries or toast. And the pigs in a blanket are terrific. Plus, breakfast is served all day. That's well worth waking up for.

9619 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, 85258
MAP
480-596-9369
Readers Choice

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT
Salt Cellar Restaurant
550 North Hayden, Scottsdale
480-947-1963

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
several Valley locations

BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT
Sophie's French Bistro
2320 East Osborn
602-956-8897

BEST MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT
The Persian Room
17040 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-614-1414

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT
Delhi Palace
several Valley locations

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Olive Garden
several Valley locations

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT
RA Sushi Bar Restaurant
several Valley locations

BEST BARBECUE JOINT
Honey Bear's Bar-B-Q
5012 East Van Buren
602-273-9148
and
2824 North Central
602-279-7911

BEST BAKERY
Vie de France
14202 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-483-5656

BEST PLACE TO POP THE QUESTION
The Melting Pot
8320 North Hayden, Scottsdale
480-607-1799
and
3626 East Ray, Ahwatukee
480-704-9206

BEST JUICE/SMOOTHIE SHOP
Jamba Juice

BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
Pita Jungle
1250 East Apache, Tempe
480-804-0234
and
1949 West Ray, Chandler
480-855-3232

BEST COFFEE HOUSE
Starbucks

BEST NEW RESTAURANT
Vie de France
14202 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
480-483-5656

BEST OUTDOOR PATIO
Zipp's Sports Grill
7551 East Camelback, Scottsdale
480-970-9507

Best Superhero Restaurant

The fact that Cafe ah Pwah boasts a beautiful, contemporary European menu in a charming, cozy bistro setting is deserving of an award in itself. The fact that its owner Karen Kapraszewski was brave enough to set it in the tiny country center of main street Gilbert makes her our restaurant hero.

This place could be kicking butt among the best in Scottsdale, but here it is, nestled among antique stores, barbecue shops and farm tool rental yards. Chef Mark Rubin is blazing new paths in a strange new world, and for that, we salute him.

He's got great cuisine under his cape. Grilled hanger steak (French) goes Southwest with marinated onions and smoked Gouda in a tortilla. Pork takes an Asian influence with hoisin glaze, wasabi-dusted focaccia, napa cabbage slaw and sweet potato crisps. And skillet-seared sea scallops have rarely been so well-treated as they are here with goat cheese polenta, tomato confit and saffron jus lie.

Faster than Superman, Kapraszewski takes us on an edible voyage around the world. That's pretty super stuff.

Best Steak House
The Grill
Jackie Mercandetti

Beef. It's what's for dinner. Particularly if it's dinner at The Grill, the Valley's shrine to prime, dry-aged meat. The restaurant is part of an AAA Five Diamond Resort, and looks it, complete with breathtaking views of the 18th hole of the emerald green Tournament Players Club of Scottsdale stadium golf course. Cigars? Martinis? Of course. But we're here for our favorite entree on the hoof: the classic grilled prime, dry-aged rib eye, paired with "Yorkshire'' mushroom waffle and baby broccolini. It's toothsome, buttery tender, and spills luscious golden red juices when cut. Sure, it's an expensive investment, but worth it. Because when it comes to the best beef, the steaks are high.

7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale, 85255
MAP
480-585-4848
Best Cowboy Steak House
The Horny Toad
Courtesy of The Horny Toad

The story of the Horny Toad is pure cowboy yarn: "Sometime during the last century, an old prospector working the area a few miles northeast of the little town of Phoenix, Arizona, came upon a small watering hole. He thought to himself that this here was mighty purty scenery and he'd bet them Easterners would give an arm and a leg for some of this property. They could build them some roads and put up funny names on the street signs and everybody'd be carefree, even if they had to live in caves and drink from the creek.

"His aching feet reminded him not to buy any more of those 2 for $5 boots. As he eased the boots off to soak his tired feet, he saw the many calluses they had given him, and he said to himself, I sure am getting horny toed.'"

Hmm. We seem to remember a more racy yarn a few years back (the restaurant prompted another down the street, the Satisfied Frog), but these days Cave Creek is turning into a family town. Whatever. The Toad still delivers mouth-watering barbecued beef and baby back pork ribs, barbecued chicken, fried chicken and chicken-fried steak. Fancier plates feature things like New York strip steak, top sirloin and prime rib. And in good cowboy tradition, meals include a variety of the fixin's -- soup or salad, potato, cowboy beans, garlic bread and veggies. Yee haw!

6738 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 85331
MAP
480-488-9542
Best Cult Restaurant

She is the Supreme Master Ching Hai, a self-proclaimed reincarnation of Jesus and Buddha, and millions around the world believe her. Phoenix is just one of many cities where the Master's faux-meat recipes satisfy hungry vegetarians who clamor for soy chicken, duck or lobster, brought to your table by followers who wear the Master's image on amulets around their necks. The atmosphere is new-age dental office, the walls Pepto-pink and hung with the Master's mediocre paintings. And then there's the video bar, where you can watch the Supreme Master addressing the masses at her public appearances, and where there are many oh-so-holy items for purchase, including soy jerky, videos, audio cassettes, and large cans of Tuno.

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Best Breakfasts: J.P. Pancake

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