Best Of Food & Drink
Best New Restaurant
Forno 301 Pizzeria
Italian-born owners Roberto Dadone and Luca Dagliano and Cuban native Mili Fernandez make up the trio behind Forno 301 Pizzeria, a lively restaurant that's brought European flair to downtown Phoenix. Both Dadone and Dagliano bring decades of restaurant experience from Italy — but it's the pair's dedication to doing things...
Silvana Salcido Esparza
From humble beginnings in central California, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has risen to become the reigning queen of Mexican food in metro Phoenix. Her original restaurant, Barrio Cafe, is nothing short of a local landmark and has drastically transformed the popular perception of Mexican food since opening in 2002 and...
Best Culinary Adventure
Blank Space at Crudo
Last fall, Crudo launched a mystery dinner series that tested the creativity of some of the Valley's best chefs — and the trust of Valley diners. Called Blank Space, the monthly series featured big-name talent, including Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant, Gio Osso of Virtù Honest Craft, and Josh Hebert...
Best Food Truck
Considering that Luncha Libre is one of the Valley's longest-running food trucks, we wondered why owners Tim and Kim Cobb hadn't opened a regular restaurant. After all, their Lucha Libre-themed Mexican food truck has been featured on Food Network's Eat Street show and serves some of the best mobile food...
Best Place to Take a Foodie
Claudio Urciuoli has been one of the most popular Italian chefs in town for years, but at Noble Eatery, he's offering rustic and unforgettable food that's unlike anything he's done before. Simplicity is the name of the game, and Urciuoli has dedicated himself to sourcing the very best ingredients and...
Best Place to Take a Scenester
DeSoto Central Market
Though it opened only in April, DeSoto Central Market already has become one of the best places to bump into those who care as much about eating good food as they do about who sees them eating good food. And it's easy to understand why. The market's collection of food...
Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner
Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain
Between the picturesque venue, pristine food, and, let's be honest, high prices, it's easy to understand why Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain is a go-to spot for impressing out-of-town visitors. The lush acreage surrounding the restaurant begs diners to admire the beauty of the farm before settling in...
Best Authentic Arizona Restaurant
Dining trends have come and gone over the past two decades, but through it all, Rancho Pinot has remained. So what gives this Scottsdale restaurant its lasting power? Well, there's the restaurant's always-polished American comfort fare, as well as owner Chrysa Robertson's enduring dedication to using local produce and ingredients...
Best Steak House
J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician
Located on the fifth floor of the Phoenician resort, J&G Steakhouse offers breathtaking views of the Valley from its patio and a modern menu of seasonal steakhouse fare in the sleek dining room. Overseen by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and run by executive chef Jacques Qualin, this restaurant appeals to...
Best Irish Pub
Located in the former saddle shop of Tempe pioneer R.G. Andre, Rúla Búla's name might translate from Gaelic to "uproar and commotion," but to us, it's always seemed more like an oasis from the sorority and frat-driven din of Mill Avenue in general, a homey respite where it's possible to...
Best English Pub
George & Dragon Pub
Phoenix's favorite English pub, George and Dragon, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and though 1995 might have been the height of the Britpop craze, George and Dragon has maintained its appeal for two whole decades. Modeled after classic British pubs, the walls are decked with Union Jacks, and the...
Best German Restaurant
With a spacious outdoor beer garden and 28 beers on tap, Brat Haus in Scottsdale makes every day seem like Oktoberfest. All you have to do to join in is fill a pint, a stein, or a giant glass boot with the beer of your choice and head outside for...
Best French Restaurant
Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge
Every year, the number of white-tablecloth, fine-dining restaurants in town dwindles as more casual New American restaurants spring up. But that only makes Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge all the more precious. Located at Biltmore Fashion Park, this sleek French eatery continues to offer upscale fare including foie gras, veal...
Best Italian Restaurant
This year, Marcellino Ristorante celebrated five years at its Old Town Scottsdale location, but chef Marcellino Verzino has been in the business for much longer than that. Before moving his restaurant to Scottsdale, he and his wife, Sima, had a successful run in North Phoenix, and even before that, he...
Best Italian Deli
Where to go in the Valley for the most Italian cheeses and cured meats, the best holiday candies and cookies, the paisano-perfect canned tomatoes, vegetables, olive oils, and pastas? Niccoli's has it all. You'll feel as though you've maybe stumbled into old Roma instead of having just walked in off...
Best Colombian Restaurant
La Tiendita Cafe
"Lo mejor de Colombia en Arizona" is La Tiendita Cafe's slogan, and it's true. This Mesa restaurant and market brings traditional fare from the South American country to the Valley — everything from Colombian-style arepas and empanadas to Colombian coffee and other hard-to-find grocery products. If it's your first time...
Best Mediterranean Restaurant
Princess Market and Deli
This family-owned and -operated market and restaurant has been chugging away in Mesa for more than a decade. It's a good thing, too, because without Princess Market's hummus, we might have a serious meltdown. Sold on-site at the restaurant, in tubs at the market, and at a few farmers markets,...
Best Puerto Rican Restaurant
We fell in love with this family-owned and -operated restaurant almost at first bite. The Chandler eatery serves homestyle Puerto Rican food in a simple, counter-service setting. Start with an order of the restaurant's tostones (slices of fried plantain), which can and should be dipped in mojo de ajo (oil...
Best Indian Restaurant
Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian Kitchen
You won't find any meat on the menu at Woodlands — but we promise you won't miss it when you get a taste of the restaurant's bold curries and fresh chutneys. If you're confused about what to order, just ask for a few suggestions, or go for one of the...
Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Da Vang Coffee Shop
There are few better hangover cures than a piping-hot bowl of pho with a banh mi on the side. Yep, you read that correctly. Desperate times often call for an entire sandwich on the side of your meal. And don't be confused by the restaurant's name. Da Vang Coffee Shop...
Best Thai Restaurant
We were worried last year that Thai Rama would close permanently after a car crashed into its building. Thankfully, everyone was fine and our favorite Thai place was up and running. Once again, we could devour the classics it makes so well, including the comforting paht thai, the spicy satay...
Best Korean Restaurant
This Mesa restaurant has been serving authentic Korean fare for years, and we're happy to say that in all that time, HoDoRi hasn't slipped. On any given night, you're likely to find dozens of diners in the restaurant tucking into oversize bowls brimming with rice and spicy meats or scooping...
Best Chinese Restaurant
New Hong Kong Restaurant
Chef Jian Yu came to the Valley from China's Guangdong province in 1997 and worked at several restaurants around town before taking over New Hong Kong Restaurant nearly a decade ago. Since then, he's built a loyal following of fans who know this place is a destination for well-executed Chinese...
Best Japanese Restaurant
Hana Japanese Eatery
If loving Hana Japanese Eatery is wrong, then we don't want to be right. This cozy family-owned and -operated restaurant offers excellent Japanese cuisine including sushi, noodle dishes, and traditional dinner entrées. You'll often find brother-and-sister sushi chefs Koji and Lori Hashimoto behind the restaurant's sushi bar plating photo-worthy dishes...
Best Soul Food Restaurant
Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Since 1964, this downtown Phoenix restaurant has been serving such Southern and soul food classics as macaroni and cheese and collard greens, beloved fried chicken, and chicken-fried steak. The menu is written on the wall — as are many names and messages from customers over the years. The scrawled-on walls...
Best Vegetarian Restaurant
Sam Fox's Flower Child is a vegetarian's paradise. The majority of the restaurant's menu is vegetarian-friendly fare, and the restaurant itself, well, it makes you feel like a million bucks. Designed to look like a farmhouse — albeit a perfect farmhouse filled with beautiful people — Flower Child makes eating...
Best Vegan Restaurant
This place is a vegan's dream come true. Some of the handcrafted and locally sourced goodies in the case at 24 Carrots Natural Café and Urban Juicery are examples of raw food done right (not heated over 115 degrees), and others are gluten-free. The dining room has an array of...
Best Gluten-Free Restaurant
Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen
Sometimes it can be hard to find upscale organic farm-to-table food that appeals to mixed company — and by mixed company, we mean the gluten-free and the rest of us. If you have ever had trouble finding a spot that caters to both your appetite and your allergen restrictions, this...
Best Gluten-Free Bakery
Gluten Free Creations Bakery and Caffette
Imagine eating a Twinkie, only one that tastes good and is gluten-free. That's the Winkie. And the Winkie, along with large cookies and moist cupcakes in a wide variety of flavors (from double chocolate to carrot) are just some of the sweets available at Gluten Free Creations. In addition to...
Best Sunday Brunch
Chef Bernie Kantak's grits, served during brunch with a thick slice of buckboard bacon and a side of toast, are totally worth getting out of bed for on a Sunday morning. Gussied up with truffle oil and shaved Pecorino Romano, they're creamy and light. In fact, the Grits and Eggs...
Matt's Big Breakfast
When we're in the mood for a simple breakfast done exceptionally well, only one place will satisfy — and that's Matt's Big Breakfast. Along with griddle cakes and oatmeal on the menu, you can find the city's best waffle, perfectly cooked hash browns, and thick-cut peppered bacon that's simply unparalleled...
Best Downtown Lunch
Nobuo at Teeter House
Downtown diners looking for an elegant lunch that won't break the bank need look no further than Nobuo at Teeter House. Located at Heritage Square in a converted historic bungalow, this restaurant is home to James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda, who crafts refined Japanese cuisine that's at once impressive...
Best High Tea
When the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton went kaput a few months ago, ladies all over town shed a delicate tear for the death of high tea, long celebrated with flair and a song by Jeffrey Hattrick, the hotel's tea sommelier. But we soldiered on knowing we'd found an even better tea just...
Best Patio Dining
Fez has relocated, moving into the former Portland's space just off Central Avenue. Friendly, easy service (most of it from young, bearded guys), an open indoor dining room, and a hopping after-hours scene (check out the shifting bar specials) are all pluses. But lately, restaurants and diners are opening all...
Best Lounge Food
Linger Longer Lounge
The food at Linger Longer Lounge isn't just good lounge food. It isn't even just good bar food. The food at Linger Longer Lounge transcends all places within the Venn diagram of establishments that serve both food and alcohol — it's just plain ol' good food. With appetizers, salads, sandwiches,...
Best Place to Eat at the Bar
It is not easy to find Dick's Hideaway on 16th Street. Even when you do know what you're looking for, don't be embarrassed if you walk by it a couple of times before you realize that those doors with the iron bars on them are actually the entrance to a...
Best Restaurant for Kids
It isn't that the kids' menu at Beckett's Table is leagues above anyone else's — it isn't. With well-executed basics like grilled cheese, hot dogs, and sliders, it's predictable fare. But what differentiates Beckett's Table from others is how successfully it executes on its motto: "Come together." From top to...
Best Romantic Restaurant
The House Brasserie
Braving the crowds and craziness of Old Town Scottsdale on a Friday night may not sound like the recipe for the most romantic evening with your loved one, but just beyond the hustle and bustle you'll find one of the most romantic spots in the Valley: the House Brasserie. Trees...
Best Hot Sauce
Homeboy's Hot Sauce
Jacob Cutino only started making Homeboy's Hot Sauce in March, but already it's become a favorite ingredient of some of the Valley's best chefs. You'll see it on the shelves at markets including La Grande Orange and Luci's Healthy Marketplace, as well as on the menu at restaurants including Crudo,...
Crepe Bar might not be the first place you think of when it comes to vegetables, but it should be. Chef Jeff Kraus nearly always offers a selection of daily small plates that showcases local produce, usually from the nearby Farm at Agritopia. We've had everything from lightly tempura-battered green...
Best Caesar Salad
There's plenty to like about this popular midtown restaurant, long a favorite of locals. But the Caesar here is really exceptional, with a good black-pepper kick and crunchy, housemade croutons crusted with cheese. Salads at pizza places are often second cousins to a main course, but not the Caesar at...
Lillie Mae's Blue Ribbon Pickled Garden
We love pickles. We'll eat them on sandwiches, with eggs, in a Bloody Mary, or plain. And our favorite place to get all sorts of pickled veggies is from Lillie Mae's, a vendor you can find at several local farmers markets. Owner Dawn Peterson makes hundreds of jars of pickled...
Virtù Honest Craft
When you learn exactly what goes into the making of chef Gio Osso's grilled octopus at Virtù Honest Craft, you'll be amazed. Not because it's so complicated or because the ingredients are so exotic. But rather, it's the simplicity and ease of this dish that really surprises. Osso cooks the...
Little Cleo's Seafood Legend
If Sam Fox restaurants typically offer style over substance, then Little Cleo's Seafood Legend is the exception. Located at the bustling Yard in north Central Phoenix, this East Coast-inspired restaurant provides a perfect escape — an escape that's bolstered by generous amounts of oysters, crab, and other fresh seafood. We...
Chef and owner Jay Chung brings experience working in Los Angeles and at several other Valley restaurants to his latest venture, Sushi J. Located just outside Old Town Scottsdale, this cozy restaurant serves an uncomplicated menu of sushi, sashimi, and a selection of cooked entrées that make the place suitable...
Posh Improvisational Cuisine
The only thing we don't love about Posh's ramen is that we can't have it every single day. But if we could, we might, so maybe in the end it's a good thing that chef Josh Hebert offers his ramen only on Tuesday nights. That's when his upscale Scottsdale restaurant...
Best Dim Sum
Great Wall Cuisine
We can remember the first time we went to dim sum at Great Wall Cuisine — years ago, but it feels like yesterday. How we stood outside the West Phoenix restaurant with dozens of other diners and how, by the time they called our number, we practically ran to the...
Best Fried Chicken
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
If we're being honest, then we can admit that fried chicken is mostly about the batter. Yes, to have great fried chicken you also want moist pieces of meat, but without the crunchy stuff, the whole dish is pretty much lost. That's why we love the fried chicken at Phoenix...
Monkey Pants Bar and Grill
Monkey Pants Bar and Grill in Tempe serves chicken wings three ways: regular (deep-fried), grilled (deep-fried then kissed on the grill), and blackened (deep-fried then charred until blackened). Ordering grilled or blackened adds a few extra minutes of cook time but also tons of flavor. The traditional hot wings (standard...
Little Miss BBQ
Little Miss BBQ exploded onto the Phoenix food scene last year but hasn't yet lost any momentum. This year, the little barbecue restaurant that could even got some love from Daniel Vaughn, barbecue editor for Texas Monthly and national authority on all things smoked. Of course, we locals didn't need...
The Standard at The Stand
Whether you like yours with cheese or without, the Standard at The Stand in Arcadia is the kind of burger you can always count on. It's just about as basic as they come, but thanks to high-quality ingredients — including beef that's ground daily in-house — this burger is a...
Best Hot Dog
The Pittsburgher at Wimpy's Paradise
Pittsburgh Willy's started as a simple hot dog cart. But over the past nine years, the name has become synonymous with serious gourmet hot dogs all over the East Valley. It's been two years since owner Randy Walters closed up shop inside a Chandler antique mall, but these days you...
Best Grilled Cheese
So maybe it's because grilled cheese is the only item on the Pig's Meow's food menu, but the bar sure does know how to make them. We ask you what possibly could go better with beer and video games than melty cheese and other toppings housed between two toasty pieces...
Meatloaf Sandwich at Ollie Vaughn's Kitchen and Bakery
It's hard to choose just one sandwich from Ollie Vaughn's to name as the best sandwich in the Valley. The small breakfast and lunch spot has a variety of worthy choices, including the ham sandwich, with Gruyère, apple butter, and Dijon or the egg salad sandwich, with capers, currants, and...
Best Gourmet Pizza
Everyone from the New York Times and Bon Appetít to Oprah and Martha has shown mad love for the pizza at Chris Bianco's Pizzeria Bianco. And in addition to Bianco's winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2003, the restaurant's been nominated for the foundation's Outstanding Restaurant...
Best Pizza Slice
Grand Avenue Pizza Company
Grand Avenue Pizza's tiny dining room is jammed full of excellent and affordable by-the-slice Italian lunches. Owner and pizza chef Carson Wheeler, a native of Virginia, opened his pie shop about a year and a half ago in a long-vacant corner store at Grand and Fillmore, and set about pushing...
Jobot has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The coffee shop is still as cozy as ever, but these days, the space has been opened up to create a brightly lit room full of tables, couches, and a comfortable chairs. You'll often find downtown residents hanging out and...
Look closely at the menu the next time you're offered bread service at a high-end restaurant in town. You're likely to notice that the bread comes from Noble Bread — that is, unless the restaurant's making it in-house. There's a good reason Valley chefs and restaurant owners are so fond...
Phoenix may not be a bagel town, but New York City sure is. That's why Nocawich owner Eliot Wexler isn't even bothering to make his own bagels at the newly opened Nocawich in Tempe. Instead, he went straight to New York's H&H Midtown Bagels and convinced the Big Apple bagel...
Welcome Chicken + Donuts
Welcome Chicken + Donuts head baker Casey Hopkins-Johnson works hard while we're still sleeping to make sure the restaurant's pastry case is stocked with more than a dozen kinds of doughnuts every single day. That's quite a feat considering it requires making at least three to five kinds of dough...
It's confusing, we know, but you'll actually find the best cupcakes in town at a cookie store — Urban Cookies, to be exact. This name situation so confounded TV producers that in 2011, when Urban Cookies baker Brady Breese competed on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars (and by the way,...
Every time we go to Essence Bakery, we swear we're not going to go crazy with the pastries — and then we do. It's not that we have no self-control; it's just that the buttery French croissants and delicate macarons are seriously impossible to resist. Chef and owner Eugenia Theodosopolous...
We consider ourselves lucky to have Zak's Chocolate, a chocolate micro-factory, right in our backyard. Owners Jim and Maureen Elitzak opened Zak's in a Scottsdale strip mall earlier this year. From the modest storefront they produce single-origin organic chocolate bars and confections. They do the entire process, from bean to...
You definitely should make time to enjoy a meal at Cowboy Ciao. But we also wouldn't blame you for just stopping in for dessert. Pastry chef Country Velador makes the best part of the meal, dessert, even more fun than it already is, with playfully named creations that take inspiration...
Karl's Quality Bakery
There aren't many places in town where you can find staples like freshly baked bread and bran muffins as well as specialty goods like fruit tarts and the "kronuts" a version of Dominique Ansel's famous dessert. But you can at Karl's Quality Bakery. This decades-old bakery and chocolate shop relocated...
Dolce Vita Gelato
There's no shortage of places to get ice cream and other frozen treats in this town. But when it comes to finding top-quality Italian gelato, the options are limited. One of the very best places to indulge your sweet tooth is definitely Gelato Dolce Vita, an east Mesa gelato shop...
Best Ice Cream
Seven years after opening its doors in North Scottsdale, Sweet Republic continues to wow us with one-of-a-kind flavors of gourmet ice cream. This year, owners Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung made us swoon with doughnut ice cream made with Welcome Chicken + Donuts ring cakes. The culinary mash-up between two...
Best Candy Store
Imagine a brightly lit, cool warehouse stuffed with sweets: a dentist's dream, a parent's nightmare, and nirvana for the seeker of kitschy and obscure candy brands. Looking to color-code your kid's birthday candy bar? Sweeties has every hue of saltwater taffy and coated chocolate candy. What else? All shapes and...
Best Juice Bar
Look, we love that Phoenix continues to up its culinary game. But every once in a while, our digestive system needs a detox. Whether you're looking to recover from a night of hard drinking or a month of heavy eating, Juby True is all about giving you the juice to...
Baiz Market Place
Whether you're looking for a giant tin of olive oil and freshly baked pita bread or Roma tomatoes and Italian eggplant, you can pretty much always find what you need to cook dinner at this Central Phoenix market. Baiz specializes in international foods — in particular, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern...
Best Farmers Market
Uptown Farmers Market
It didn't take long for us to fall in love with Uptown Farmers Market. Between the ever-changing but always excellent selection of vendors and the fun, family-friendly atmosphere, this bi-weekly farmers market has something for everyone. During the cooler months, the Wednesday morning market is a don't-miss event; it's anchored...
Best Desert Farm
Duncan Family Farms
If you've eaten an organic salad during the winter in snowbound cities such as New York or Chicago, then there's a good chance you've eaten lettuce grown by none other than Arizona's own Duncan Family Farms. With more than 8,000 acres of organic farmland in Arizona and California, this giant...
Best Desert-Inspired Menu
You say "desert" and people picture cacti and tumbleweeds, but the truth is you can grow a hell of a lot of veggies in this state. If you don't believe us, just look at the menu at FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale, where James Beard Award-nominated chef Charleen Badman crafts seasonal...
Best Desert-Inspired Desserts
Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
From what we can tell, pastry chef Country Velador gets inspired by everything and anything around her. That, of course, includes our desert landscape, an influence you can taste in creations such as Super Chunk Sweets and Treats' Mesquite Chocolate Chip cookie. With the addition of just a hint of...
Best Date Shake
There's a reason everyone's talking about Couscous Express, a new restaurant in town. Everything about it evokes the unexpected, from its focused regional North African cuisine to its bulk couscous available by the pound to its peanut butter-based date shakes — all of it packed into a quirky little space...
Best Desert View
Arizona's desert landscape is gorgeous. We don't think there's anyone who could argue against that. But where is the best spot to gaze upon the desert's beauty? One visit to the patio at Talavera Restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North and the answer will be clear...