Best Of Food & Drink

  • Best New Restaurant

    The Local

    We had some doubts about the young chef who told us he "just wanted to have fun," and yet every time we eat a meal at The Local, Chris McKinley proves he truly knows his way around the kitchen. The chef's unique style of modern American cuisine pulls influences from...

  • Best Chef

    Josh Hebert at Posh Improvisational Cuisine

    Phoenix may not set every trend, but thanks to chef Josh Hebert, we have at least one restaurant that's undeniably innovative. At Hebert's sleek Scottsdale dining spot, you can belly up to the chef's counter and have an experience unlike any other. The restaurant offers no set selections. Instead, Hebert...

  • Best Culinary Adventure

    #PM31 at T. Cook's

    Once a week (every Wednesday, to be exact), T. Cook's chef Paul McCabe takes a small number of fortunate diners on an unforgettable culinary journey. The multi-course dinner experience — named #PM31 after the chef and the number of the restaurant's communal chef's table, at which the dinner is likely...

  • Best Food Truck

    Jamburritos Cajun Grill Express

    Long before Mexican fusion food was trendy, Michael J. Brown dreamed up the Jamburrito. It's a simple but ingenious creation that offers New Orleans flavor in a novel and easy-to-eat form. The classic chicken Jamburrito features Cajun chicken etouffee, jambalaya rice, smoked Andouille sausage, cheese, and lettuce wrapped in a...

  • Best Place to Take a Foodie

    Binkley's Restaurant

    On the national stage, there's really only one chef from Arizona who consistently makes a splash, and that's Kevin Binkley, a three-time James Beard Award semifinalist. Ask just about any foodie in the Valley and they'll tell you that Binkley's flagship restaurant in Cave Creek is the best restaurant in...

  • Best Place to Take a Scenester

    Lux Central

    Looking for a place to get some work done inconspicuously while still managing to see and be seen by at least three people you know? Then you'll want to head to Lux Central, the hipster-chic coffee shop/restaurant/bar located on Central Avenue north of Indian School Road. If you live in...

  • Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner

    Pizzeria Bianco at Town & Country

    Whenever we have a visitor from out of town, we drag them, willing or not, to experience chef Chris Bianco's award-winning pizza. After all, what's a visit to Phoenix without tasting one of the city's most famous foods? For many years, that endeavor meant subjecting our guests to hours-long wait...

  • Best Authentic Arizona Restaurant

    Rancho Pinot

    If the sheer lasting power of this restaurant doesn't qualify it as a true Arizona gem, then we hardly know what else could. But decades of business aside, Rancho Pinot continues to beguile us with its rustic Western décor, which includes cowboy paintings and other Arizona-themed accents. Chef Chrysa Robertson...

  • Best Breakfast

    Matt's Big Breakfast

    Thick-cut peppered bacon? Check. Perfectly cooked cage-free eggs? Check. Some of the most incredible hash browns you'll ever eat? You bet. So, by our count, Matt's Big Breakfast has all the makings of a perfect breakfast. Yes, even in its bigger space you'll probably have to wait for a table...

  • Best Downtown Lunch

    Carolina's

    We once read that making too many decisions causes your brain to crave glucose. Though we're not sure about the science behind that supposed fact, we can tell you from firsthand experience that an especially stressful day of work always makes us crave a Carolina's tortilla. This no-frills restaurant has...

  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Bink's Midtown

    Sitting on the spacious outdoor patio at Bink's Midtown while you look out on the neighborhood brings a sense of community that's rare to find at restaurants in this town. We've spent more than one Sunday morning digging into chef Kevin Binkley's seasonal fare while feeling deeply appreciative of the...

  • Best Seafood

    Angry Crab Shack

    Normally, we shy away from any situation that requires wearing a plastic bib with a crab on it, but when it comes to dining at Angry Crab Shack in Mesa, it's our pleasure. This popular East Valley restaurant offers bags of seafood by the pound — everything from giant orange...

  • Best BBQ

    Little Miss BBQ

    There aren't many places in this town where you'll find people lined up outside in the middle of summer, but that's exactly the sight you'll see five days a week at Little Miss BBQ. Hungry folks looking for a taste of Scott and Bekke Holmes' barbecue endure the heat because...

  • Best Steak House

    Steak 44

    We'll admit, we were skeptical of the newest restaurant to come from the Mastro family. Would Steak 44 bring over-the-top décor and boring chophouse classics to Arcadia? Fortunately, the answer is no. Despite being an upscale and still relatively pricey restaurant, Steak 44 manages to feel like the type of...

  • Best French Restaurant

    Zinc Bistro

    For francophiles. there's nothing not to like about chef Matt Carter's Zinc Bistro. The restaurant hits the nail on the head when it comes to replicating a charming Parisian bistro. The tin ceilings, abundance of light, and spacious patio make you feel as though you're dining in the City of...

  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Khai Hoan Restaurant

    True food love is almost as much about the nostalgia as it is the food itself, and for many Valley residents, eating at Khai Hoan in Tempe is a beloved ritual. Before pho was on every corner, Khai Hoan was serving bowls of the soup for years, being the first...

  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Cafe Ga Hyang

    Sure, there are plenty of times when any old Korean barbecue place will do. But when we get a hankering for top-quality banchan and sizzling bowls of bibimbap, there's only one place that truly satisfies. That's Cafe Ga Hyang. Stop in for lunch and you'll find a quiet little West...

  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine

    It seems everyone has their own favorite place in the Valley to order a bowl of pad Thai, but if you seek fresh, flavorful Thai cuisine, then you absolutely have to try Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine in Mesa. You might think all pad thai is created equal, but once you try...

  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    ShinBay

    On the exterior, chef Shinji Kurita's James Beard Award-nominated restaurant looks like just another sleek strip mall dining spot in Scottsdale. But take one step inside and you'll immediately know that you're about to experience something special. Everything from the classical music that plays through unseen speakers to the attentive...

  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Hong Kong Asian Diner

    Drive by this quiet strip mall restaurant in south Tempe and you'd never expect it to be a haven for those seeking expertly executed Cantonese cuisine. As with many great but underappreciated restaurants, this is a family-owned and -operated spot where service is friendly but far from formal. And that's...

  • Best Dim Sum

    Great Wall Cuisine

    You never know who you'll run into at Great Wall Cuisine on Sunday mornings. We've seen local politicians, chefs, and everyone in between standing outside the unremarkable strip mall restaurant waiting for a table. The inevitably large and diverse Sunday crowd gathers and waits (sometimes for up to an hour)...

  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Little India

    There certainly are larger Indian restaurants in town, as well as a large number that offer a wider array of dishes than this tiny Tempe spot. But that doesn't mean we don't have an irresistible urge to head to Little India at least once every few weeks. It's our favorite...

  • Best Mediterranean Restaurant

    Middle Eastern Bakery Deli

    When it comes to restaurants, at least, the line between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean gets fuzzy. Luckily, we're here for the food, not to draw lines on a map, because all we know is that Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli in Central Phoenix serves some of the best falafel and...

  • Best Jewish Deli

    Goldman's Deli

    There's nothing fancy about Goldman's — and we wouldn't want it any other way. It feels as though this classic Jewish deli has been in the same spot forever, a place where the chopped liver is creamy, the matzoh balls are fluffy, and the corned beef is spot-on. Put it...

  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles

    Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles may have relocated to shiny new digs in the same neighborhood south of downtown Phoenix in 2012, but we can assure you that the much bigger, more contemporary space hasn't had any effect on the restaurant's soul-filled food. It's really no surprise that this restaurant serves...

  • Best German Restaurant

    Haus Murphy's

    Serving Valley residents who want a really great brat these past 18 years, Haus Murphy's has gone on to become a local tradition. Who else serves such authentic schnitzel? No one else, that's who. We love the jägerschnitzel, a pile of pork loin that's breaded and sautéed to a golden...

  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Franco's Italian Caffe

    Italian-born chef Franco Fazzuoli truly makes you feel like family when you dine at his Scottsdale restaurant. In 2012, the chef returned to the Valley after leaving for a stint in New York and opened the cozy Franco's Italian Caffe. You'll often see Fazzuoli wandering between the tables and bustling...

  • Best Italian Deli

    Romanelli's

    For Phoenicians who grew up on the west side, having the city's best Italian deli practically in your backyard was a pleasant perk. For everyone else who liked authentic Italian baked goods or needed a nicer ricotta for their Easter pie, it meant driving farther. Because Romanelli's is it, where...

  • Best Gourmet Pizza

    La Piazza PHX

    Sometimes it's hard to know whether what you're ordering is truly "authentic" unless you've traveled to the source and tasted a dish when it was created. Fortunately, that is not the case when you order a Neapolitan pizza at downtown Phoenix's La Piazza PHX. The restaurant, the second from the...

  • Best Pizza Slice

    Mamma Mia

    For more than a decade, this Valley favorite — particularly the original location in Arcadia — has been satisfying our cravings for a quick slice. The homey atmosphere and friendly staff and consistently delicious Italian cuisine are great, but we come here because, instead of offering two or three heat-lamped...

  • Best Cheese

    Arizona Cheese Company

    Sweet, squeaky cheese curds. We fell in love with Arizona Cheese Co. at first bite. Though there aren't many people making cheese in the Phoenix area right now, Arizona Cheese is representing well with its regular and spicy jalapeño-flecked cheese curds, as well as cheddar, Monterey jack, and pepper jack...

  • Best Wings

    AZ88

    From Little Caesar's on up, we can safely say we've tried just about every wing in this town, and our favorite resides at AZ88. The artwork at this Scottsdale mainstay changes often, but the menu has stayed the same for years, and that's just fine with us, particularly if that...

  • Best Grilled Cheese

    Palette at Phoenix Art Museum

    Who thinks of a museum cafe as a destination? Only those of us who have eaten a grilled cheese sandwich at Phoenix Art Museum's Palette, one of the city's nicest downtown lunch spots. Hidden away on the "For the Kids" section of a menu full of entrées with groan-inducing names...

  • Best Hot Dog

    Hot Dog Stop

    If you're from the East Coast, then you know what's up with the name Sabrett. It's New York's most widespread brand of hot dog, one you may have eaten under a street vendor's blue-and-yellow-striped umbrella. It's not exactly the kind of food you'd expect to find in a North Scottsdale...

  • Best Hamburger

    Ingo's Tasty Food

    Visit this new diner just once, and your stomach may begin to growl whenever you near 40th Street ever after. The grass-fed hamburgers at Ingo's Tasty Food, the newest restaurant concept from LGO Hospitality (the folks behind popular Arcadia staples including La Grande Orange grocery, Chelsea's Kitchen, and Grateful Spoon...

  • Best Sandwich

    Fried Green Tomato Sandwich at Welcome Diner

    We've been fans of Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson since before they landed at Welcome Diner. Back in the day, the couple served their über-satisfying Southern fare via food truck under the name Old Dixie's. It's been a good year or so since they settled into the permanent digs, which...

  • Best Caesar Salad

    Alexi's Grill

    The joy in a good Caesar is the combination of texture and taste and, for those of us who love all things salty, the pleasure of eating anchovies with cheese. A well-made Caesar involves whole leaves of romaine dressed with oil, garlic, lemon, anchovy paste (or Worcestershire sauce, made from...

  • Best Soup

    Chodang Tofu and BBQ

    Korean cuisine hasn't really taken root in Phoenix yet, but what our Valley does have is Chodang, and that's definitely good enough for us. Located just north of downtown Chandler, chances are you've driven by this spot a few times and never even noticed it. Well, it's time to stop...

  • Best Ramen

    Hana Japanese Eatery

    A wise chef once told us that there are as many types of ramen as there are chefs who make the dish. In short, it's a highly personal food and everyone has a favorite style. We're confident in saying the bowl of tonkotsu ramen at Hana Japanese Eatery has to...

  • Best Escargot

    Petite Maison

    There's escargot and there's escargot, and then there's Petite Maison's escargot with bone marrow and white anchovy, a delectable treat for those of us who like eating snails. Braised in burgundy and seafood broth and dished up with boquerones in butter, garlic, and crème, the slugs are plated alongside tasty...

  • Best Octopus

    Virtù Honest Craft

    Octopus is having its moment right now. You'll see it popping up on many menus around town, but if you want to try the cephalopod in the best possible conditions, you have to eat it at Virtù. Though Chef Gio Osso's menu changes all the time, you can always find...

  • Best Sushi

    Yasu Sushi Bistro

    Sure, Yasu Sushi Bistro is no new kid on the block. This tiny North Phoenix spot has been around for more than five years. And though time has passed and trends have changed, we continue to love what chef-owner Yasu Hashino does behind the restaurant's sushi counter. Yes, the nigiri,...

  • Best Crepes

    Crepe Bar

    No one does crepes like Jeff Kraus. At Crepe Bar, the chef constantly looks for ways to break down the traditional notions about this classic French dish and make it something uniquely his own. It started simply enough with dishes like the Breakfast Burro, a breakfast burrito by way of...

  • Best Vegetables

    FnB

    They don't call her "the veggie whisperer" for nothing. Chef Charleen Badman really does have the magic touch. In fact, we once took a tomato-hating friend to her restaurant, FnB, and watched in awe as our dining companion devoured a whole roasted beef steak. "I've decided, if Charleen cooks it,...

  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Bragg's Factory Diner

    For some of us, life is all about the pursuit of three things: innovative vegetarian food, quirky yet cozy design, and well-crafted puns. Fortunately, all of these things can be found at Bragg's Factory Diner. Bragg's is pure Arizona goodness, from the vintage maps, knickknacks, and state postcards that adorn...

  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Green

    Damon Brasch is a genius, and if you don't believe us, consider the Taco Bell bean burrito. Both Brasch and the Taco Bell people had the same idea a long time ago: vegan comfort food. For years, Brasch has been frying tofu and potatoes and blending soy "ice cream" and...

  • Best Gluten-Free Restaurant

    Grabbagreen

    If "fast casual" and "gluten-free" are the culinary buzzwords of 2014, then Grabbagreen is the perfect love child of this year's biggest trends. The restaurant offers a menu of all-natural and gluten-free eats in a bright, clean, fast-casual setting. Diners can choose from a menu of juices, salads, smoothies, and...

  • Best Gluten-Free Bakery

    Jewel's Bakery and Cafe

    Even people who aren't concerned about whether their cupcakes contain wheat flour are flocking to this bakery, because Jewel's baked goods are so good. Not over-sugared, like so many dessert items tend to be, Jewel's gluten-free, sugar-free, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, and organic treats are magic on a plate. Check...

  • Best Bakery

    Barb's Bakery

    Normally, we reserve eating cake for special occasions. But the chocolate cake at Barb's Bakery is so good that we regularly bust out a whole one for events as mundane as Sunday night dinner. And that's not the only irresistible sweet we love from Barb's. The case is always full...

  • Best English Muffin

    La Grande Orange

    We've said it before and we'll say it again: There is no better English muffin this side of Great Britain — dense and sour, yet still somehow light. La Grande Orange knows how to make the baked good that's become one of its signature staples. Trends come and go (you...

  • Best Bread

    Noble Bread

    Baking good bread isn't the kind of thing that can be rushed, and that's something Jason Raducha and Claudio Urciuoli understand. The duo is responsible for Noble Bread, a small-scale bakery that brings Old World techniques to diners. Last year, Urciuoli left his executive chef post at Noca to join...

  • Best Pastries

    Merci French Café and Pastisserie

    When Duc and Noelle Liao's Scratch French Café closed, our hearts sank like a poorly made soufflé. Luckily, word of Merci followed shortly after. While the décor may have changed, the location and, more importantly, Liao's pastries remained the same. With all the finesse you'd expect from legit French pastry,...

  • Best Cupcake

    Urban Cookies

    In the world of baked goods, one thing is certain: Not all cupcakes are created equal. From fancy chains to casual supermarkets, it seems everyone's offering cupcakes. And often you take a bite at your own risk. Not so at Urban Cookies, where award-winning baker Brady Breese offers an eclectic,...

  • Best Candy Store

    Super Chunk Sweets and Treats

    Since opening late last year, Super Chunk Sweets and Treats has wasted no time winning us — and our sweet tooth — over with its ever-growing selection of handmade candies and desserts. Owner and confectionary mastermind Country Velador brings sophistication to the idea of a classic candy store by offering...

  • Best Shaved Ice

    RaspadoRico

    As shaved ice replaces frozen yogurt as the de rigueur cold treat, we are on the hunt for creative ways to eat it. If you can dream it, chances are RaspadoRico can make it. The bright shop stocks a rainbow of fresh fruits, chili powders, sweet condensed milk, and ice...

  • Best Milkshake

    The Stand

    There aren't many decisions to make when you're dining at The Stand, the Arcadia burger and taco joint. The menu keeps it short and sweet, just a small selection of tacos and a burger you can customize with toppings. The only real choice you're going to have to make is...

  • Best Ice Cream

    Doc's Artisan Ice Cream

    Usually, we're too busy stuffing our faces with ice cream to stop and wonder what's actually in a pint of mint chocolate chip. Fortunately, one chat with Doc Brown of Doc's Artisan Ice Cream changed all that. Brown, a former police officer with a serious love for all things frozen...

  • Best Gelato

    Cool Gelato Italiano

    You might not expect to find top-quality Italian gelato in Old Town. But that's where artisans Alberto Della Casa and Letizia de Lucia decided to open their one-of-a-kind shop in 2012. The husband-and-wife team were born and raised in Italy and trained with the nation's champion gelato artisan, as recognized...

  • Best Desserts

    Le Napoleon

    These days, it's easy to find a bakery that specializes in the pastry trend of the week. Cupcakes? Yup. Macarons? You bet. But what about a place with an array of sweet delights ranging from hard-to-find European pastries to handmade chocolates. For that, you'll want Le Napeleon bakery in West...

  • Best Mall Food

    Julia Baker Confections at Biltmore Fashion Park

    Malls are upping the ante on refreshments these days — there's a Pita Jungle at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and some of the most authentic Mexican street snacks in town are at Arizona Mills. But our favorite mall food takes the cake — or, rather, delivers it. And on fine china...

  • Best Food Intersection

    Warner and Dobson, Chandler

    Metro Phoenix doesn't really have "littles," per se — no Little Italy (unless you count the proliferation of Domino's outlets near ASU), no Chinatown, not even a Little Mexico in a city so close to the border. But if you are looking for Asian food in the Valley, you'd do...

  • Best Day Off

    Day Off Dinner at The Clever Koi

    It seems nearly every restaurant in town has its own beer or wine dinner series and/or chef collaboration — otherwise known as a good excuse for chefs to hang out while working. Still, no one has done it quite as well as Clever Koi. This summer, the restaurant hosted a...

  • Best Place for a First Date

    The House Brasserie

    First impressions are lasting, and when it comes to impressing your food-loving date, there's no better place to go than The House Brasserie. The restaurant's covered outdoor patio features strings of twinkling lights, while the interior boasts luxe patterned wallpaper and a collection of elegant but weathered mirrors. With all...

  • Best Romantic Dinner

    Cafe Monarch

    There's no place quite like Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale, which is what makes the restaurant so alluring. The candlelit patio with rustic metal chandeliers hanging from the branches of lush greenery and quietly bubbling fountains will have you feeling as if you've stepped into a fairy tale in which Cupid...

  • Best Restaurant for Kids

    St. Francis

    Dining with the kids isn't always pretty, and we're not just talking about their behavior. Kid-friendly restaurants tend to make us want to stick forks in our eyes. But now you can ditch Red Robin, Applebee's, and any place with a sneeze guard over the salad bar in favor of...

  • Best Place to Dine with Your Dog

    O.H.S.O. Eatery + nanoBrewery

    When it comes to dog-friendly restaurants, O.H.S.O. takes the phrase to a new level. Lots of places will tolerate your four-legged friend, but few (if any) make your pooch feel as welcome as this Arcadia spot, the original O.H.S.O. location. Dog owners and their canines are openly encouraged to dine...

  • Best View

    Jade Bar at Sanctuary

    Jade Bar, the upscale watering hole at the boutique Sanctuary Resort, is an urban paradise in every sense. Just a few steps out of the heart of Paradise Valley and situated just high enough to provide breathtaking views, this bar is a genuine retreat. Best of all, the resort recently...

  • Best Patio Dining

    Ingo's Tasty Food

    Aside from the round chef's counter inside this tiny cylindrical restaurant, the entire dining room is al fresco — and even then, it's not all that large. But size doesn't matter when you're sitting on the outdoor tables at this Arcadia restaurant. This newest addition from LGO Hospitality proves that...

  • Best Lounge Food

    Onyx Bar & Lounge, Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North

    Truth be told, you'd probably enjoy a cold hot dog more if you ate it at Onyx Bar. The impressive space, located adjacent to the resort's dining outlet Talavera, boasts some of the best views of Pinnacle Peak and Troon North that you'll find. Luckily, you don't have to eat...

  • Best Place to Eat at the Bar

    Citizen Public House

    Whether it's for happy hour, late-night eats, or a casual dinner, Citizen Public House's bar makes a great place to enjoy a meal. We have many fond memories of nights that either started or ended with a drink and a small bite at this Scottsdale spot. Part of the draw...

  • Best Wine List

    Vintage 95

    Over at Vintage 95, the name says it all — it's pretty much all about the wine. Sure, the cozy, swanky Chandler lounge serves lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, but for the Southeast Valley's wine connoisseurs, this spot is the ideal place to geek out. With a 13-page list of...

  • Best Bar for Day Drinking

    Dick's Hideaway

    Sometimes, after a night of drinking, the only thing that will cure a hangover is hair of the dog. Hey, we're not judging. We just want you to do it right. With a full menu of New Mexican fare, you're sure to find something full of flavor and with just...

  • Best Place for After-Dinner Drinks

    Hanny's

    Downtown Phoenix has come a long way. Just look at Hanny's. This former midcentury department store turned destination for a late-night dinner and drinks keeps the curfew-breaking crowd classy till at least 1 a.m. every night with handcrafted cocktails that cater to the classics, freshly sliced prosciutto charcuterie boards and...

  • Best Place to Sober Up

    Gus' New York Pizza Lounge

    It's 2:05 a.m. and your feet are starting to ache as you stumble out of the bar. Going home right away just isn't an option, as the idea of getting in a vehicle is making you nauseated. The only logical option is to head to Gus', a 24-hour pizza joint...

  • Best Hangover Breakfast

    Snooze, an AM Eatery

    A good hangover meal needs to be starchy or greasy. That's why we love Snooze, an AM Eatery after a night of boozing. For starch-seekers, there's a selection of pancakes that ranges in flavor from the mildly unexpected sweet potato to truly unique pineapple upside-down cake. Is alcohol still clouding...

  • Best Food Blog

    Cucumbers and Limes (cucumberandlimes.tumblr.com)

    What's not to love about someone who calls out food blogs for being "the endless repetition of one superstar's chef recipe, regurgitated straight from the page of the latest high-priced hardcover cookbook"? Nothing. That's what. And that's exactly why we love Cucumbers and Limes, the food-centric blog of local chef...

  • Best Local Food Publication

    Edible Phoenix

    Foodies and professional chefs and people who just love to eat have come to rely on Edible Phoenix, a quarterly publication promoting the abundance of good food in the Valley. A printed and online celebration of farmers, food nuts, chefs, and restaurant owners, this colorful culinary mag makes our mouths...

  • Best Stories About Wine and Food

    Stay True Radio

    You probably know at least one or two things about Pavle Milic. One could be that he's part of the dynamic duo that runs Scottsdale's FnB. The other is that he is one of the biggest advocates of Arizona-made wine. What you might not know is that he also is...

  • Best Menu

    Second Story Liquor Bar

    Second Story Liquor Bar owner Tommy Plato says his chic new restaurant aims to tell a story. And he's not kidding. Everything from the servers' Mad Men-inspired duds to the restaurant's website ties into his storytelling theme. That even includes Chef Josh Bracher's cuisine, which is organized into acts on...