Food & Drink

  • Readers' Choices

    Best Margarita Spot Macayo's several Valley locations Best Mexican Restaurant Macayo's several Valley locations Best Salsa Blue Agave Oyster & Chile Bar Shops at Gainey Village 8787 North Scottsdale Road, Suite A-102, Scottsdale 480-607-9222… More >>
  • Readers' Choices

    Best Breakfast Spot International House of Pancakes several Valley locations Best Downtown Executive Lunch Durant's 2611 North Central 602-264-5967 Best Romantic Restaurant The Melting Pot 8320 North Hayden, Scottsdale 480-607-1799 3626 East Ray, Ahwatukee 480-704-9206 Best Healthful Eating Pita Jungle 1250 East Apache, Tempe 480-804-0234 1949 West Ray, Chandler 480-855-3232 Best Late-night Meal Denny's several Valley locations Best Outdoor Patio Dos Gringos 4209 North Craftsman Court, Scottsdale 480-423-3800 Best Happy Hour Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar several Valley locations… More >>
  • Readers' Choice

    Best Bakery Paradise Bakery several Valley locations… More >>
  • Readers' Choices

    Best Classic Pizza Papa Johns several Valley locations Best Desserts Cheesecake Factory 15230 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale 480-607-0083 Best Gourmet Pizza Pizzeria Bianco 623 East Adams 602-258-8300… More >>
  • Readers' Choices

    Best Barbecue Honey Bear's Bar-B-Q 5012 East Van Buren 602-273-9148 2824 North Central 602-279-7911 Best Chinese Restaurant P.F. Chang's China Bistro several Valley locations Best Coffee House Starbucks several Valley locations Best French Restaurant La Madeleine French Bakery and Cafe several Valley locations Best Greek Restaurant Greekfest 1940 East Camelback 602-265-2990 Best Indian Restaurant Delhi Palace 5050 East McDowell 602-244-8181 16842 North Seventh Street 602-942-4224 933 East University, Tempe 480-921-2200 Best Italian… More >>
  • Best Tortillas

    La Sonorense

    Grocery store tortillas tend to be thick and doughy, and bear as much resemblance to the real thing as does Roman Meal to a crusty loaf of French bread. While dreadful tortillas will do if you spread distractions like cheese and salsa all over them, you'd never just pop one in your mouth, plain. But La Sonorense's thin, tasty, fresh… More >>
  • Best Cheap Mexican Food

    Guedo's Taco Shop

    Usually, we've got enough just in pocket change to cover the tab at this pink adobe taco hut that's always hoppin' to the beat of lively salsa music. Sometimes, the cooks get in the groove, singing along as they bang pots and pans. It's a short menu, with just a few quesadillas, tacos, burros, tortas, flan and Mazatlán mud pie. Everything… More >>
  • Best Day Of The Dead Crafts

    Museo Chicano - CLOSED

    Finally, a place for anyone who's been dying to find that elusive skeleton basketball player shooting a lay-up in midair. The Chicano museum, located downtown, has a great gift shop filled with Day of the Dead crafts, as well as a wide variety of Mexican artwork, books and furniture. Dia de los Muertos collectibles range from the classic skeleton bride… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    El Encanto Mexican Cafe

    Recipe for a good margarita: 11/2 cups gold tequila, 3/4 cup Triple Sec, 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 6 lime wedges. Recipe for a great margarita: Run, don't walk, to El Encanto. There's just something about the margs at Valley landmark El Encanto. Perhaps it's the quality ingredients. Perhaps it's the fact that they're… More >>
  • Best Mexican Takeout

    Albuquerque Tortilla Company

    Our casa es su casa. Just keep your cotton-pickin' hands off our comida -- when it's Mexican takeout night, that is. At this to-go-only place, we can buy the basics if we want to cook at home: corn husks, Mexican cheeses, chile sauces, three kinds of chorizo, masa, hominy, blue corn and white corn tortillas, or fresh chips and salsa.… More >>
  • Best Az-mex Restaurant

    Mangos Mexican Cafe

    There's a definite gluttonous appeal to most American-style Mexican places, with their dishes heavy with sauce, sour cream, guacamole and ungodly calories. That's okay when we're craving a good, old-fashioned bomb in our bellies. But we hate to sacrifice real Mexican flavor and spice under all those toppings. That's why we love Mangos, where everything is made fresh, from its… More >>
  • Best Place To Take A Foodie

    Medizona

    Foodies are so easily bored. But they won't be singing their "been there, done that" song at Medizona, an intriguingly novel restaurant from star chef Lenard Rubin. Rabbit, fig and pine nut baklava with quail egg and chive sauce? Oh, sure, we had that for lunch. Eggplant tacos with lamb, arugula, Kasseri cheese, cucumber-radish relish and roasted tomato-garlic sauce? Yawn. Yeah,… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Mexican

    La Hacienda

    When it comes to Mexican cuisine, we Phoenicians are so caliente we sizzle. We're home to the only Mexican-style restaurant in North America that's garnered both Mobil Four-Star and AAA Four-Diamond ratings. Lounging like a Spanish Colonial estate against the McDowell Mountains, this place has class: low ceilings with dark wood beams, wood-framed windows, glowing fireplaces, Mexican folk art and… More >>
  • Best Authentic Mexican

    El Tlacoyo

    Why is it Americans are so frightened when an ethnic restaurant promises to offer specialties of its homeland, then does? It's right there on the sign and menu at El Tlacoyo: "cuisine of Hidalgo," a state in east-central Mexico. This means scary-to-most-of-us goodies such as cheese crisp with brain, cactus soup, pork stomach tacos, beef head burros, head cheese tortas,… More >>
  • Best Place For A First Date

    Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club - CLOSED

    Jeez, dating is expensive. Dinner and a movie can run $75 plus. (Think about the cost for two: $15 for tickets, $7.50 for watered-down soft drinks, $8 for sacks of stale popcorn, or $7 for boxes of Goobers, and another $40, easy, for steaks afterward.) At Farrelli's, we can scope out a potential paramour and enjoy a fine meal and… More >>
  • Best Adovada

    Los Dos Molinos

    We get chills just thinking about the chiles at Los Dos. How hot are they? Well, the restaurants close for the month of July. Sure, the owners get some well-deserved vacation, but we think the real reason is to comply with Arizona's summer anti-burn laws. Los Dos' adovada ribs have been known to set off fire sprinklers, the fall-off-the-bone meat… More >>
  • Best Mexican Bakery

    La Purísima Pasteleria

    When thinking of tinkering with tamales, we head to La Purísima for the fixings. With such marvelous masa, even the worst cooks would have trouble messing up a green corn or red chile beauty. But mostly, we come for the sweet, ready-to-eat creations. There's no better pan dulce -- warm, fluffy and with just a hint of sugary tone. The empanadas… More >>
  • Best Tacos

    Lulu's Taco Shop

    Back in 1989, Gilbert was a sleepy bedroom community. That was also the year the town welcomed Lulu's Taco Shop. Since then, Gilbert has exploded into one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. Coincidence? We think not. Being in the same neighborhood as Lulu's authentic, Guadalajara-style soft tacos is enough reason to call Gilbert home. Owners Israel and Lourdes… More >>
  • Best Mexican Sausage

    Carniceria Chihuahua

    If you ever catch owner Arturo Lom up to his elbows at the sausage machine, you'll know why we love this place. The aromas of garlic and spices seize your olfactories long before the chorizo links ever hit the grill. Lom likes to mix lean cuts of beef and puerco and he stuffs them into genuine sausage casings; the recipe… More >>
  • Best Hot Sauce

    Arizona Gunslinger

    For the wickedest, wildest, put-hair-on-your-chest hot sauce you can get, look no farther than right here in the Valley, where Gunslinger is made using all-natural ingredients. Gunslinger habanero pepper sauce does the job and then some, boiling over with the potent chile, a hundred times hotter than the jalapeņo. A few drops of this on your morning eggs and you'll… More >>
  • Best Top-secret Hideaway Mexican Restaurant

    Mini Mercado Oaxaca - CLOSED

    Now this is a jewel of a secret, deserving of only our closest friends. Virtually nobody except Oaxacan transplants knows about this charming mini market, restaurant and takeout station, but it stocks everything we need, including the elusive chapulines -- real grasshoppers roasted with garlic, lemon and lots of salt. We can buy the basics for our kitchen, including oversize… More >>
  • Best Place To See Flying Saucers

    Rosa's Mexican Grill

    Rosa's prides itself on its authentic, Baja-style Mexican food, and one of its best-selling dishes is a gift from the heavens called Flying Saucers. An eight-inch crisped flour tortilla is buried under mounds of beans, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, salsa fresca, cheeses and our choice of beef, pork or chicken. These saucers soar because of their top-quality ingredients. Salsas are… More >>
  • Best Carniceria

    El Tarachi

    The recent boom in these small Mexican meat markets has filled the Valley with scores of places to get your adobada and ranchera. Yet we prefer the sizzling variety of this bright place. The smiles behind the counter take you back to butcher stores you probably knew, when Joe -- now Jose -- could prepare your cut before you could… More >>
  • Best Tequila Selection

    Coyote Grill

    Gone are the days of binge-drinking whatever rotgut tequila could be thrown back with a lick of salt and a suck of lime. Now, we like to taste our tequila -- sipping it like cognac, even. And the best place to savor tequila is Coyote Grill, with an impressive list of 110 varieties, including blanco and plata (not aged), reposado… More >>
  • Best Carnitas

    Arriba Mexican Grill

    Arriba Mexican Grill has been serving up New Mexico cuisine at its Phoenix cantina for years. This year, its owner took a bold move and expanded to two other Valley locations. They're as packed as the original. One reason, we suspect, is word of mouth about Arriba's breathtaking carnitas. The grilled piggy pieces come two ways, traditional style with fajita fixings… More >>
  • Best Place To Wine About Dinner

    Wright's

    Okay, so we didn't conduct a personal count, but we're taking Wright's word that its wine cellar/private dining room boasts 10,000 bottles. Certainly it looks to be true, with a sea of shimmering bottles just begging to be opened and sampled. While the wine -- and the resort, built in 1929 and inspired by the desert-design concepts of Frank Lloyd… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Pepe's Taco Villa

    Best Mexican restaurant in Phoenix? Them's fightin' words to most folks. And people here cling to their favorite joints as if they were family members. We've got no problem proclaiming a winner, though. While many Mexican restaurants have a few remarkable specialties, at Pepe's everything on the menu is worthy of award. The place isn't fancy -- just two small… More >>
  • Best Airport Fare

    D'Atri's at Scottsdale Municipal Airport

    Fine dining has landed at the Scottsdale Municipal Airport, thanks to the Valley's own Channel 3 celebrity Jan D'Atri. This joint's home-style Italian food is so delicious that you'll find us there, even if the only baggage we've got is our childhood. The location's a surprise, until you remember that Scottsdale Airport is frequented by folks who don't want corn… More >>
  • Best Mexican Seafood

    San Carlos Bay Seafood Restaurant

    How the Sea of Cortez came to splash onto the shores of McDowell Road and the Squaw Peak Parkway, we'll never know. We're just glad that it did, bringing with it the magical cookery at San Carlos Bay. The oceanscape-painted building is deceptively small, yet the kitchen cranks out an impressive variety of seafood specialties, ranging from simple (shrimp cocktail)… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat If You're Starting A Diet Tomorrow

    Honey Bear's BBQ

    From the first seductive aroma of smoking meat and simmering sauces, this artery-busting, fat-packing food demands we EAT UP. Honey Bear's slogan: "You don't need no teeth to eat our meat." That's true. Tender pieces of pork, beef and poultry fall off the bone before we open our mouths. Sure, we could eat light, maybe subsisting on a piece of… More >>
  • Best Mole

    El Tepeyac Azteca

    Mention anything involving even the ghost of chocolate, and most people come running. Mention mole, though, and most folks stumble, not quite sure what we're talking about. There are millions of recipes for mole, each as diverse as the genetic code for babies. But generally, mole is a rich, velvety sauce containing a dozen types of dried chiles, nuts, seeds,… More >>
  • Best Paleteria

    Flor de Michoacán

    Drive around downtown Phoenix on a summer day, and you'll spot several pushcart vendors selling paletas, those distinctly Mexican frozen-fruit bars. But Flor de Michoacán is one of the Valley's few true paleterias, the kind of shop found within a five-block radius of practically any Mexican town. Flor de Michoacán was opened by Nathan and Adam Hatch, two brothers who… More >>
  • Best Fish Tacos

    Acapulco Bay Company

    Behold the unassuming fish taco: little more than seafood and tortilla. But in the right hands, a fish taco can be a feast. We worship the masterful mitts of the chefs at Acapulco Bay Company, where the tacos de pescado bring mountains of grilled white fish that's been spiced with slow-burning heat. No goopy sauce to get in the way… More >>
  • Best Chips And Salsa

    Los Sombreros

    Somebody's having fun with the chips at Los Sombreros. While we enjoy the kitchen's traditional crispy chips, fresh and gently salted, we're also presented with clever little nibbles that look like wagon wheels. They're noodles, we're told, the dough thin and fried to a feathery lightness. Either munchie makes a delightful tool for shoveling medium-hot homemade pico de gallo, or… More >>
  • Best Caterer

    Continental Catering

    An event just isn't a success unless the food is fabulous, and Continental Catering is the life of our party. In business since 1966, Continental is our choice for both VIP dinners and family milestone celebrations. For those fancy evenings, go with an elaborate spread of herbed mesquite grilled rack of lamb with smoky tomato jalapeņo sauce, tournedos of beef… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat Cheap, Fast And Healthfully

    World Noodles

    Chefs Eddie Matney and Dave Andrea own two important Valley restaurants, but they've branched out into convenience food, setting up a casual, quick-dining and take-away concept. World Noodles serves -- what else? -- noodles, cooked to order in a wok and heaped in a big bowl for just $3.95 to $6.50 (most are about $5). For this, we get a healthy… More >>
  • Best New Phoenix Charm

    Cowboy Ciao

    Folks who've never been to Phoenix are convinced that we dine solely on hunks of steak, barbecue beans, baked potatoes and paint-peeling coffee made with eggshells. Leave it to Cowboy Ciao, with its ultra-stylish, spaghetti Western ambiance, to show them creative American cuisine, spiked with influences from Italy, Mexico, and, of course, the Southwest. The Stetson chopped salad is legendary, and… More >>
  • Best Patio Dining

    House of Tricks

    It's easy to miss House of Tricks as you drive by on the two-lane street next to ASU -- and that's part of the reason we love it so. Set, amazingly enough, just steps from a row of Tempe's rowdiest bars and restaurants, this Victorian-inspired 1920s chateau lolls in quiet splendor behind a thick flush of trees, trellises and a… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat, Drink And Be Merry

    Kazimierz World Wine Bar

    Kazimierz shows how terrific the upscale sip-and-nibble concept can be, with a fashionably funky interior, eclectic music, creative wines and superb "small plates" of creative, refreshing snacks. After finding the door (it's hidden in the back, with no sign), snag a cozy, cushy, overstuffed armchair or sofa. Sprawl back amid candles and shrouded lamps, enjoying a magical display of lights… More >>
  • Best Upscale Breakfast

    Squash Blossom

    The idea of morning sure sounds good: happy chirping birds, gentle dew, rose-kissed clouds. But it's never that way as we stagger all sticky-eyed, wild-haired and crabby-spirited out of bed. That's the time to treat ourselves to an indulgent breakfast at Squash Blossom, a gorgeous place overlooking a two-and-a-half-acre water playground. Breakfast is an expensive treat -- $10.75 to $14.50 for… More >>
  • Best So-late-it's-early Breakfast

    LEO

    We've been known to stay out a bit past curfew on weekends, and most places roll up the carpet by 10 or 11 p.m. That's why we're so thrilled that LEO takes its "late, early and often" acronym seriously. Until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, get a jump-start on breakfast with a fine steak-and-eggs or three-egg ham-and-cheese omelet, both… More >>
  • Best Downtown Casual Lunch

    Coronado Cafe - CLOSED

    The only problem with Coronado Cafe is that it's so hard to find parking. And, if we show up at high noon, it's so hard to find a table. We don't mince words when telling our lunch dates that they'd better be on time -- this cafe doesn't seat partial parties. Once we've settled in, though, utopia usurps in this charming… More >>
  • Best Place To Take An Out-of-towner For Lunch

    Lon's at the Hermosa

    Lon's is generally known to be a great place for a nice dinner, and it's often difficult to get a reservation. But it's easy to get a table at lunch, which is strange, given the fact that the outdoor patio is the loveliest place in the whole Valley to sit outside on a nice day. Visitors will be suitably charmed… More >>
  • Best Place For A Downtown Executive Lunch

    A League of Our Own

    This classy supper club gives us hope that, yes, Phoenix will someday have an honest-to-goodness downtown dining scene. Business associates will be impressed with A League of Our Own's 1940s-style elegance, featuring Tiffany-look lamps, plush booths and vintage photos of famous women. They will also be impressed with your taste in cuisine, as you guide them through an ambitious -- and… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat With The Chef

    Michael's at the Citadel

    Its roots are in Europe, but it has taken firm hold in the Valley. It's the chef's table, an exclusive seating directly off the kitchen, with personal attention from the celebrity chef. With six to eight of our closest friends, we're in for a remarkable seven-course meal, custom-crafted, and with each detail explained by award-winning chef-owner Michael DeMaria -- an… More >>
  • Best Place To Sniff A Cork

    My Wine Cellar

    This little place in an Ahwatukee strip mall is aptly named. It's a snob-free zone where everyone feels at home at wine-tasting classes, theme nights and private parties. Best of all, you can stop by anytime, belly up to the bar and sample any of the 40 or so open bottles. Buy some cheese and crackers and hang out for… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Hit By A Meteor

    Cosmic Pizza

    Here it comes, spiraling toward the Earth, a spinning, hot orb that lands with a thundering thud. We're not getting out of the way, though, because it's a pizza, a beautiful feast that's crashed into our table at Cosmic Pizza. It's called the Meteor, and it's out of this world, monstrous with six meats -- pepperoni, sausage, sirloin, Canadian bacon,… More >>
  • Best Restaurant For Remote Control Freaks

    Damon's

    We hate going to sports bars where screens are tuned to some obscure sporting event we have no interest in. Or worse, the game is something we care about, but the volume is turned down or the bar chatter is so loud we can't hear the play-by-play. At Damon's, you, the sports fan and diner, are in control. A hybrid… More >>
  • Best Late-night Meal

    Christopher's Fermier Brasserie

    We know where to hunt down the most magical midnight snack: at Christopher's, where from 10 p.m. to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there's a sumptuous gourmet spread set out for a mouth-watering $9.95. We choose cheese: selecting from Taleggio, Reblochon, Fourme d'Ambert, Camembert, Stilton and Tete de Moines. We pick pizzas, chomp on cheeseburger and fries, and crave a croque… More >>
  • Best Private Dining Room For The Rich

    The Praying Monk

    Ah, we miss the days of the dungeons. Time was we could punish an inept private chef by chaining him to the rack, and tossing the leftovers to the crocodiles. Now, our staff is unionized and gets all bent out of shape over a little constructive criticism. Unless we reserve the ultra-luxe private dining room at the Phoenician resort, in… More >>
  • Best Private Dining Room For The Rest Of Us

    Dick's Hideaway

    How cool is it to take a sudden turn, open a door that looks as if it leads to nowhere, and announce to your companion that you've arrived at your highly select dining secret? This private party room is a little hole in the wall. It's a hidden hole in the wall, in fact, behind a door set invisibly into the… More >>
  • Best Place To Pig Out For Just A Few Pennies

    Bennett's Bar-B-Que

    This is a belly-buster, an all-you-can-eat fiesta with five meats (pork, brisket, sausage, chicken and pork spare ribs), served with beans, coleslaw, French fries and garlic bread. At just $14.99, we don't know how this restaurant makes money. Because, while other places might try to trick us with subpar products, the 'cue served here is topnotch, slow smoked over hickory… More >>
  • Best Romantic Restaurant

    The Latilla Room

    There's something so purely sensual about the setting at Latilla. Tucked into the Sonoran Desert foothills, the restaurant treats us to a symphony of wood, white adobe and Native American weavings. Giant wood posts stand sentry; the room's ceiling is crafted from ocotillo branches (latilla, or "little sticks" in Spanish). We nestle in booths in the intimate, staggered seating areas,… More >>
  • Best Place To Expect The Unexpected

    Palm Court

    "Conference Resort" rarely conjures images of fine dining. And the name describes this property perfectly. It caters primarily to large groups; we can't even get a table without being asked which company we're with. But, hey, we'll lie about our affiliations if it gets us seated for the surprising sustenance served here. This is old-style class all the way, rich with… More >>
  • Best Party Platters

    Flancer's Cafe

    To look at this simple little storefront, you'd never think that its chef-owner, Jeff Flancer, is a graduate of the renowned Culinary Institute of America. All doubts will be put to rest after one bite of any of his creative, full-flavored creations. Just as surprising is the fact that his party platters, which each feed 25, cost an incredibly low… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat Cheap And Fast

    Miracle Mile Deli

    Our time is valuable. We don't always have the luxury of a relaxed, hourlong lunch. (Okay, actually we do -- but our bosses are reading this.) But no way, no how, are we going to waste our greenbacks (or our guts) at most drive-through grease pits. Why would we, when we have Miracle Mile delicatessens, where the time between ordering… More >>
  • Best Old Phoenix Charm

    Pink Pony Steakhouse

    As Scottsdale has grown up around it, the Pink Pony, owned by the same couple for 50 years, has stayed firmly in its past -- from the large, rose-colored ceramic pony behind the bar, to the comforting retro menu that has long charmed spring training baseball camps -- the Cubs, the Angels, the A's, the Mariners and the Giants. There's real… More >>
  • Best View

    Different Pointe of View

    The views from this place are pretty enough to eat. We're standing on the patio, mesmerized by the panorama of the Valley from 1,800 feet above the desert. When we move inside for dinner, we take the beauty with us, seated next to floor-to-ceiling windows framing a stunning Arizona sunset. After dinner, we collect for drinks on a gorgeous patio,… More >>
  • Best Patio Dining Not Overlooking A Parking Lot

    Carlsbad Tavern and Restaurant

    What is it with casual Valley restaurants putting us on a patio where we're face-to-face with the car bumpers that crowd strip malls? Carlsbad Tavern is having none of that. This funky, New Mexican eatery had adapted its building along busy Hayden Road to take advantage of its virtues. Originally a seafood restaurant, the property wraps around a Disney-style "pier" overlooking… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Kiss the Cook

    We'll gladly pucker up for the pancakes served at Kiss the Cook. We'll surrender a smooch for the seafood omelet, brimming with bay shrimp, crab and broccoli in a smothering of Cheddar cheese. And we'll bust a buss for biscuits, homemade, drowning in country gravy and teamed with our choice of bacon, sausage or country ham. We won't even tell… More >>
  • Best Continental Breakfast

    Café Soleil

    When the sun breaks over the horizon, we're inclined to groan and stuff another pillow over our head. We know we need to snack on something to regain our strength, but eggs, bacon, home fries and toast will simply send us back to bed. Day breaks more gently at Café Soleil, a tiny, colorful cafe that's blissfully quiet and stocked… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Marquesa

    It's too difficult to decide what to order from Marquesa's amazing menu. This Mobil Four-Star restaurant is also one of two AAA Five-Diamond restaurants in Arizona, and serves cuisine from one of Spain's best-kept secrets: Catalan, blended with Italian and French influences. The feast never ends at this market-style brunch, with highlights like sautéed shrimp with saffron potatoes and truffles… More >>
  • Best Place To Hide In The Dark At Lunch

    Monroe's Food and Fine Spirits

    It's another one of those days. The boss is being completely unreasonable, expecting us at work before noon, when we only get up at 11 a.m. so we won't be late for our lunch break. So we soothe our ruffled dignity by hiding in the cozy heart-of-downtown darkness that is Monroe's. Descend weathered wooden stairs to reach the dim, candlelit… More >>
  • Best Downtown Lunch

    El Portal

    The new El Portal hasn't been in business long, but this little house turned eatery has become a fast favorite among the downtown crowd, with some of the best Mexican food anywhere in metro Phoenix. Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox and her politico husband Earl refurbished the old, long-shuttered facility last year with simple booths and tables, accented with… More >>
  • Best Healthful Eating

    Green Leaf Cafe

    Pity the poor dieter who believes that eating well has to taste bad. These pitiful creatures have never embraced the power of fresh ingredients, fats served only in restrained portions, and everything snapped up with exotic spices. At Green Leaf Cafe, healthful dining goes global, influenced by the cuisines of Persia, the Mediterranean, Italy, America and Mexico, even Cajun and… More >>
  • Best Place To See Cooks Who Love Their Jobs

    Guedo's Taco Shop

    In some restaurants, getting an up-close view of the kitchen and the folks who are slaving away over the proverbial hot stove might just spoil your appetite. But at Guedo's, watching the cooks work adds to the sheer joy of eating their signature tacos. We love waiting in line to order here, because while Spanish music blares from the speakers,… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat At The Bar

    Razz's Restaurant

    Talk about cooking lessons. We've always loved Chef Razz Kamnitzer's creative Mediterranean-inspired dishes. Now, with his newly relocated restaurant, we can sit at the bar directly overlooking the master in action in the tiny, galley-style kitchen. We study Kamnitzer performing his ballet, his neatly tied signature ponytail spinning as he makes it look easy to work on a half-dozen orders… More >>
  • Best Place To Eat Without Silverware

    Classic Italian Pizza

    Why would we let something as superficial as a fork get in the way of genius? Nothing comes between us and the incredible pizzas crafted by chef Halim Nefic. His pies aspire to art, spun in whisper-thin circles, topped with the freshest, most vibrant ingredients, and baked in a wood-burning oven to crisp, perfect contentment. Dough is made fresh daily and… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Sophie's: A French Bistro

    French food has always been considered special treat fare, and with opulent names like poisson ou fruit de mer à la discretion du chef, croque monsieur and les frittes à la Parisienne, it's no wonder. Sophie's, though, brings flights of fancy down to earth, with fantastic food that, once we know what it is, feels like an old friend. That… More >>
  • Best Place To Impress A Client

    Gregory's World Bistro

    As with any business presentation, preparation is key. So study up on Gregory's menu before bringing that Fortune 500 bigwig client to the restaurant. You'll want to impress him or her with your world-class knowledge of fine cuisine and wines. And if any Valley restaurant tests your skills, it's Gregory's. Starters stun with ethereal combinations like salmon ceviche with white-bean… More >>
  • Best Cheap Dinner In An Odd Atmosphere

    Don Jose's

    Thriving for several decades in a former IHOP A-frame, "The Don," as regulars affectionately refer to it, can never be accused of lacking atmosphere. Go in -- hungry, of course -- and munch thin, hot chips and admire the year-round, Mylar Christmas decorations that spin and twinkle lazily in the manufactured breeze. Vintage bullfighter portraits compete with velvet paintings and… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food In A Restaurant

    Rancho Pinot Grill

    Divorce? Death in the family? Nothing that a little meat loaf and mashed potatoes can't fix. Because we turn to comfort food during difficult times, it had better be nice food. No hard edges, nothing challenging, no effort involved. Nonni's Sunday Chicken, which is always on the menu at Rancho Pinot Grill, is a hearty, soul-satisfying bowl of love. To… More >>
  • Best French Pastries

    Pastry Maxine

    Pastry chef Richard Ruskell could impress us with just his star-quality résumé: award after pastry award in eight years at our Valley's world-class Mary Elaine's. He could win us over with the clever hiring of Scott Fausz from Scottsdale's stellar Pierre's Pastries. Ruskell certainly gets our warm thoughts for naming his shop after his beloved Dalmatian, whose photos are proudly… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Sir Charles Bar-B-Q Pit

    Charles Taylor -- "Sir" to his friends -- has changed his location since he started barbecuing in the Valley in 1969, but not his food -- out-of-this-world pecan-smoked meats, tangy sauce and a dazzling display of belly-filling side dishes. Sir Charles' edge-charred pork ribs fall off the bone at our softest tooth-tug. Beef ribs and brisket are beauties, juicy pulled… More >>
  • Best Drive-through Fast Food

    Vaquero's Carne Asada

    Neither of these carne asada emporiums is in any upper-crust neighborhood. There's not much to impress from the outside. But we're not going in anyway; we're barely slowing down, even, pausing just long enough to place our order at the speaker and, within minutes, make off with our booty of remarkably inexpensive, tasty Mexican food. Vaquero's is open 24 hours a… More >>
  • Best Place To Fulfill Your Apple-a-day Quota

    Candy's Apples

    Whoever coined the phrase "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" never considered the sinful creations that Candy's turns out. Candy's starts with immense, hand-selected Granny Smith apples of unparalleled crunch and flavor. Then it mounds this gift of nature with various combinations of ingredients, ranging from traditional caramel to peanut butter, macadamia nuts and Heath Bar pieces, completely… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Grocery

    Yusef's Middle Eastern Restaurant, Grocery and Deli

    If Yusef's doesn't have it, you don't need it. That's our thought, anyway, after browsing through hundreds of Middle Eastern and North African items stocked on the shelves of this delightful shop. All the basics are covered: powdered sumac, Turkish coffee, teas, zaatar (thyme and sesame seeds to be blended with olive oil and dipped with pita), and kadaifi (phyllo dough).… More >>
  • Best Peruvian Restaurant

    Peruanitos

    Good food, just like llama used to make. That's the inspiration behind Peruanitos, owned by the de Arriola family, a group of talented chefs relocated from Peru. The charm is visible in the decor, bright and cheerful, and yes, decorated with giant stuffed toy llamas. It's even more apparent in the food, a celebration of one of the world's oldest,… More >>
  • Best Soft Drink Selection

    Pop the Soda Shop

    Pop rocks! And nowhere in town will you find a wider selection of the bottled bubbly (non-alcoholic variety) than at this fizz fanatic's paradise, a soda supermarket that stocks hundreds of hard-to-find carbonated potables. Specializing in regional and imported sweetened swills you either haven't tasted in years or never knew existed, the inventory (some 300 brands) includes such arcane quaffs as Mexican… More >>
  • Best Cookies

    Fat Cat Cookies

    Maybe your house was filled with the smell of fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies every week when you were a kid. Or maybe your mom's idea of making cookies was opening a package of Chips Ahoy!. Whether you're reliving your childhood or compensating for it, you'll want to drop in on Fat Cat Cookies. Every morning finds owner Linda Schneider up to… More >>
  • Best Lemonade

    Jamba Juice

    How can something so simple go so wrong so often? Phoenix is a veritable citrus mecca, yet drinks bearing no trace of lemon get passed off as lemonade here every day. And don't get us started on how people have served us Crystal Light with a straight face, as if we wouldn't know the difference. Lemonade is simple; there's no… More >>
  • Best Italian Grocery

    Guido's Chicago Meat and Deli

    It's not often that we break into tears at the sight of food. But as soon as we walk into Guido's, our hearts swell, and our eyes well up at what must be the closest thing to heaven on Earth for real (or wanna-be) Italians. How could we not grow misty over San Marzano tomatoes? Overwhelmed by olive oil, bread and… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Elements

    It's easy to become bored by same-old, same-old classic American food. Yet we've become overwhelmed by chefs conjuring up crazy concoctions like wasabi-glazed truffles in caramelized cognac with anchovy chutney. That's why we're so taken with the Asian-influenced American cuisine served at Elements. Rather than shtick, Chef Chuck Wiley wisely keeps Asia to an accent, focusing on the beauty of… More >>
  • Best Produce

    Guadalupe Farmer's Market

    The name is deceptive: This is a shop with regular hours, not a weekend event. For cooks who despair of finding exotica like in-season cherries for less than $7 a pound, or for those who have heard tell of mythical eggplants that come in colors other than purple but have never actually witnessed such sights, the Guadalupe market is a… More >>
  • Best Organic Produce

    Boxed Greens

    Short of manning your own farm, you won't find a better, more reliable way to get organics than with the home delivery service of Boxed Greens. This company cuts out the middleman, so the just-picked treasures come right to our door, guaranteed by 7 a.m. This certified organic produce is grown mostly right here in Arizona, without pesticides. It's all the… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Market

    Trader Joe's

    Gourmet grub doesn't have to be expensive. This we learned at Trader Joe's, an amazing emporium of more than 800 upscale items for remarkably palatable prices. We love the freshness, and the variety of product, too. TJ's shelves -- and now ours, too -- are stocked with delicious things like sweet garlic sauce, artichoke lemon pesto, Satsuma mandarin oranges in… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Shopping On The Cheap

    Vincent Guerithault on Camelback Farmer's Market

    Saturdays, fall through spring, take on special meaning for gourmets who are looking to score some extra-special treasures for just a few shekels. Perhaps it's a bottle of little-known boutique wine, an obscure blue-veined cheese, artisan breads or organic produce. We find them here, all crafted or grown by independent vendors, and at factory-to-us pricing. Fair-weather Saturdays are when Guerithault… More >>
  • Best Wine Shop

    Sportsman's Fine Wines and Spirits - CLOSED

    Sportsman's has won our Best of Phoenix so many years now that some might think we own stock in this popular wine shop. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is true is that Sportsman's continues to surprise and delight with the breadth of its selection, expertise of knowledge, and flat-out friendliness to connoisseurs as well as people who… More >>
  • Best Cheese Selection

    Duck and Decanter

    When we say, "Pass the cheese, please," it's no easy proposition. It takes several trips to cart over the more than 60 varieties the Duck brings in from around the world. This is a virtual tour of the classiest cheeses from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, England, Belgium, and, of course, the good old U.S.A. Exploring for l'Explorateur, a triple-cream… More >>
  • Best Baguette

    Arizona Bread Company

    Many of the specialty breads here are wonderful -- the olive bread is a standout -- but if a bakery's all-important baguette doesn't deliver, then all the chocolate-cherry loaves in the world don't make up for the failure. The simple baguettes at Arizona Bread Company -- and the slightly larger and terribly useful sandwich-size baguettes -- display all the hallmarks… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Chain

    Chart House

    The word "chain" conjures up images of cookie-cutter chow and surroundings, unimaginative stuff created to appeal to the masses. That's why Chart House breaks the chain for us. The place is too pretty to be prefab, with lots of dark woods, a clubby, upscale style and unparalleled lakeside views, particularly at sunset. The cuisine isn't chain-style, either. The fish is… More >>
  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Desert Greens Cafe

    Think you've had a mixed green salad? Not until you've experienced this one, stocked with sprouts, carrots, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, tomato wedges and cucumber slices. Stir-fry shines, too, like the saguaro sesame tofu, tossing baked bean curd with steamed broccoli, carrots, zucchini, napa cabbage and ponzu vinaigrette over brown rice. We also love the Southwestern green corn tamale, studded… More >>
  • Best Animal Lover's Restaurant

    The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association Vegetarian House

    This place desperately needs to edit down its name to something you can say without taking a breath in the middle, but that's okay. Its noble intentions make up for it. As the menu says: "With respect for all life, we proudly serve all dishes free of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and MSG." (We always knew MSG was a living… More >>
  • Best German Restaurant

    Mueller's Black Forest Inn

    The cuisine at Mueller's can be difficult to pronounce -- gebackner camenbert mit preiselbeeren, for example -- but it's easy to swallow. Gebackner is a small baked round of Camembert served with sweet-sour lingonberries. Along with cream of carrot soup or herring in cream sauce gussied with apples and onions, it makes for an appealing appetizer. Entrees are just as energetic,… More >>
  • Best Southwestern Restaurant

    Vincent Guerithault on Camelback

    Chef Vincent Guerithault's eponymous eatery, tucked into an (who would believe it?) office park between a gas station and a massage parlor, celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. When he first introduced his menu, people scoffed: a combination of classic French cooking with flavors of Mexico and the American Southwest -- in a town that didn't even stock cilantro in… More >>
  • Best New American Cuisine

    Convivo

    When chef Jeffrey Beeson took over tiny Convivo this year, a great thing just got better. The setting in this modest place off a strip mall parking lot is casual, but the eats are all glamour -- American classics goosed up with unexpected flavors. Local produce is a star here, and we get our daily vitamins with the Convivo Collection,… More >>
  • Best Place To Buy French Pastry Where They Actually Speak French

    Au Petit Four French Pastry and Bakery

    There's something decidedly unromantic about having your éclair handed to you by a person wearing a cowboy hat or a teenager who repeatedly uses the word "like" as a modifier. Rest assured that this will never happen to you at Au Petit Four French Pastry and Bakery, located between a pair of escalators on the ground level of the Camelback… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Greekfest

    If Helen had a face that could launch a thousand ships, then Greekfest serves entrees that can launch a thousand tips. Greekfest has been our favorite for too many years to count, and somehow, it keeps getting better. Owners Susan and Tony Makridis have built an empire of the senses, with stunning flavors, a Grecian palace setting, and personality so… More >>
  • Best Oyster Bar

    Hapa Sushi Lounge

    There are those days when nothing will satisfy your culinary cravings like oyster omakase. You know the feeling. Hey, when that mood hits, head for Hapa Sushi Lounge. Omakase, of course, means a multicourse chef's choice dinner (in Japanese). And at Hapa, depending on the bounty of the day, it can be an upscale orgy of mollusks exquisitely paired, if… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Haiku

    Haiku, the poetry, tries to capture life's emotion in a few simple lines. Haiku, the restaurant, is -- as its menu gushes -- a blend of "poetic food and art." And it succeeds in capturing the best of local Japanese dining experiences in a tiny, 10-table spot with a brief, uncomplicated menu and always-fresh ingredients. Like its namesake, Haiku embraces… More >>
  • Best Eggs Benedict

    El Chorro Lodge

    El Chorro Lodge is a Valley landmark, lauded for its historic roots, graceful foothills setting and famous sticky buns -- massive cinnamon rolls that come with every meal. But just as worthy of fame are the most delectable eggs Benedict anywhere in Maricopa County. El Chorro doesn't underestimate the power of these beauties, featuring them at Sunday brunch, but also… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Sushi on Shea

    Sushi is sushi, right? Really, it's just rice, mixed with vinegar, and topped with stuff. Raw tuna. Yellowtail. Maybe some nori (seaweed), or, for a splurge, a quail egg. It's not even cooked. So what makes a sushi chef a chef? A few minutes watching the professionals at Sushi on Shea is all the answer you need. It's art in… More >>
  • Best Crepes

    French Ambiance

    You don't have to travel to France to enjoy crepes. Instead, stop in at our favorite bistro right here in town for a spectacular selection of entree and dessert crepes. Crepes salees are very thin, lightly salted buckwheat packets, folded around some of the most seductive stuffings imaginable. We ascend the French Alps, packing in fresh spinach, Swiss, béchamel sauce and… More >>
  • Best Bargain Sushi

    Origami's

    There are plenty of places to get cheap sushi; fast-food Japanese shacks abound in our town. But you get what you pay for: flabby, skimpy fish rolls that have been sitting in their plastic trays for hours before you order. And there's usually little choice in these bargain joints; maybe a California roll, sometimes a tuna roll or cucumber roll,… More >>
  • Best Brisket Sandwich

    Scott's Generations Delicatessen

    Brisket can be a thing of beauty. Basically, it's beef, but beef that's been seared, seasoned and roasted with vegetables and red wine for hours on end until it's tender and oh-so-sumptuously infused with flavor. Frankly, though, all that cooking jive is way too much work. So we're thrilled that the folks at Scott's Generations do it for us -- and… More >>
  • Best Sushi Happy Hour

    Kona Grill

    Jean Paul Sartre opined that "Hell is other people." For those who agree, heaven must be a sushi happy hour so tasty and affordable that you don't mind being surrounded by that most annoying variety of Other People: shoppers at Scottsdale Fashion Square. On weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m., and from 9 to 11 p.m., Kona Grill offers select… More >>
  • Best Latin Bistro

    Havana Cafe - CLOSED

    Over there, it's pronounced "cuisine de Cooba." Over here, it's pronounced Havana Cafe. However you say it, Havana Cafe is tiny but classy, and the breadth of the menu is breathtaking. We find it hard to choose, so we love the combinacion de favoritas -- a mouth-watering platter of moros (white rice cooked with black beans), tamal Cubano (tamale of… More >>
  • Best Puerto Rican Bakery

    K-Rico Cafe and Bakery

    Some folks think the only thing a bakery can crank out is sweets. We know better. Pastries are wonderful, but don't overlook more-filling foods, like the delectable wechez, deep-fried potato brimming with ham and cheese. Papa relleno takes the edge off your hunger, bringing a crisp croquette stuffed with mashed potatoes and ground beef, while Argentine-style empanadas are ethereal turnovers… More >>
  • Best Tapas Bar

    Havana Patio Cafe

    We love the concept of tapas: little bites of exciting foods that give us a full spectrum of flavors without filling us up too much. Havana Patio Cafe takes tapas to the top, with a stunning selection of more than two dozen petite plates. Often, the merry place hosts tapas with Spanish wine tastings, too. And there's a daily happy… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Copper Kettle Salads, Balti and Tandoori Grill

    As its name suggests, Copper Kettle is a melting pot of the best of its region, with cuisine spanning Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India in this cozy, casual place. These chefs are talented, firing up a sizzling tandoori grill for clay-oven-cooked marinated meats, poultry and seafood that are moist and rich. Curries bring a subtle blend of meat and herbs… More >>
  • Best Coffee House

    The Muse

    Tucked into a strip mall a ways east of Tempe's beaten path is a charming little alternative to the noisy Mill Avenue chain coffee-house scene. It has all the prerequisites for a good coffee-house experience: lots of parking, plenty of comfortable seating inside and out, and (of course) a wide selection of hot and iced coffee drinks. But it's the little… More >>
  • Best Turkey Sandwich

    Arcadia Farms

    If you're talking turkey, there's no better name than Young's Farm, a poultry ranch in Dewey, Arizona. Of course, such quality meat is expensive, but Arcadia Farms doesn't worry about these things. This country-cottage cafe buys its turkey from Young's, then piles it mile high on its sandwiches, layering thick slabs of real, Thanksgiving-style roasted breast on homemade bread with… More >>
  • Best BYOB

    Au Petit Four

    It's called "the French paradox": Even with diets high in saturated fat, the French tend to live longer. Experts think part of it has to do with tossing back two or three glasses of wine a day, which apparently combats heart disease and cancer. Au Petit is the perfect place to test this theory, kicking back with a mouth-watering selection of… More >>
  • Best Meatball Sandwich

    Nick's

    "On top of spaghetti/All covered with cheese/I lost my poor meatball/When somebody sneezed." The tragedy of this childhood parody of "On Top of Old Smoky" never quite resonated with us until we discovered the meatballs at Nick's. Now, if somebody sneezes on our supper, they're going to lose a schnozz. Nick's is gangbusters on primo meatballs, rolling them by hand… More >>
  • Best Pacific Rim Restaurant

    Restaurant Hapa

    "Hapa" is Hawaiian slang for "half." This describes the Japanese-American background of chef-owner James McDevitt, who -- along with wife Stacey -- brings us American classics infused with Asian electricity. Asian fusion is everywhere these days, with one local place we know of even mixing French foie gras with Chinese five-spice -- how weird is that? But Hapa knows when… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Acqua e Sale

    It has taken owner Daniel Malventano eight years to bring his restaurant into the honest-to-goodness big leagues, but today he's making gnocchi with the best of them. Acqua e Sale has evolved from a casual bistro (with black-and-white checkerboard floors, no less), and now sports sleek cherry wood and stylish, ornately framed black-and-gold prints. But the real revelation here is the… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Italian Restaurant

    New York's Best Italian Bistro

    We love Italian food in New York -- its unpretentious recipes, its massive portions, its bargain prices. But we'd rather pass on the other part of the experience: gruff service and tables jammed too close together. No, we're happy as bugs in a desert rug to stay in the Valley, especially when we can find the same East Coast food… More >>
  • Best Asian Convenience Store

    Fujiya Market

    This bright and shiny little convenience store feels like it was transplanted straight out of Tokyo. The greasy hot dogs, sickly-sweet snack cakes and gargantuan Big Gulps are markedly absent. In their place, you can grab a salmon o-bento (a pretty arrangement of grilled salmon, rice and vegetable side dishes), some pastel-colored daifuku rice cakes filled with sweet red bean… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Chuck Box

    What makes a burger better? Just good, old-fashioned, tender lovin' care. At Chuck Box, your burger doesn't meet the grill of its dreams until you've lined up in front of the steaming charcoal broiler and asked for it by name. Try the Big Juan, a one-third-pound beauty named after Chuck Box's "beef engineer." On hungrier days, gravitate to the Great Big… More >>
  • Best Place To Tour The Orient

    Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

    Toss in a few rickshaws streaking through the aisles, and visiting Lee Lee would be as authentic an experience as any of Asia's bustling open-air markets. Weekends are a zoo here, as happy cookers claw over piles of fresh produce, exotic meats, seafood, herbs and spices. What an incredible selection: bitter melon, long beans and Asian pear, plus an endless… More >>
  • Best-kept Restaurant Secret

    Cholla

    The most we've ever won gambling is a free drink or two. But our luck definitely turned when we discovered this hidden treasure tucked in the far back of a local gaming hall. Cholla is an upscale restaurant with all the elements of a sure bet: complimentary valet parking, a comfortable setting, polished, unobtrusive service and noteworthy cuisine. After dinner,… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Cafe Istanbul

    A lot of the dishes at Cafe Istanbul are really healthful, fat-free and low-calorie. But don't hold that against them. Lay into the lamb appetizer, layered with creamy hummus and pine nuts, or the tender, tangy, stuffed grape leaves. And on a warm day, nothing soothes as much as labni, a velvety yogurt cheese dip garnished with cucumber, tomatoes, olives… More >>
  • Best Belly-busting Burger

    Segal's Kosher Foods

    Big Mac? Ha, that wouldn't even begin to put a dent in our appetites. No, when we want the beef, we want the beef. Segal's stops us in our tracks, with sandwiches that stretch even the biggest stomachs. The quarter-pound and half-pound burgers are simply warm-ups. The battle burger, a half-pound of meat topped with hot pastrami, starts the competition. But… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    C-Fu Gourmet

    We love meals on wheels. As long as the meals are prepared by C-Fu, and the wheels belong to the dim sum carts careening around the warehouse-size dining room seven days a week. Just sit tight and wait for a cart to bring you more than 60 choices to tempt your taste buds. Chow fun noodles, Chinese broccoli, pork siu… More >>
  • Best Beans

    El Conquistador

    Beguiling beans. That's the only way to describe the luscious legumes at El Conquistador. It's easy to miss this place, which is hidden from the street, but to find it is to be rewarded. Here, the basic bean is elevated to a fine dish, multi-textured with the perfect balance of a creamy base and tiny bits of chunk. There's no… More >>
  • Best Contemporary Chinese

    George and Son's Asian Cuisine

    Asian dining is hot these days. The cuisine is now available even at Valley eateries that feature pizza and hamburgers. So how's a China girl to get a second look anymore? George and Son's knows the answer: superior quality, and ample choice. Primarily Chinese, the menu also borrows from Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Singapore, and spruces things up with… More >>
  • Best Tea Room

    Serendipity Tea Room

    Tucked away in the back of an antique mall, Serendipity Tea Room offers the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the real world. The British tradition of midday tea is honored here Monday through Saturday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., with a prix fixe menu for $16.95 and more varieties of caffeinated beverages than you thought existed. Start… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Beans

    Joe's Real Barbecue

    What's more way-out West than barbecue beans? No self-respecting cowboy, after all, could make a meal without his trusty sidekick of beans. But they've got to be real beans -- not that canned, bright-orange stuff ladled out at tourist traps. They've got to be treated with respect, as they are at Joe's. Here, the side dish salutes kidney, lima and… More >>
  • Best Hard-core Chinese Restaurant

    Silver Dragon

    Silver Dragon looks like a typical Chinese chop suey house from the outside, from the inside, and from a glance at its primary menu. But ask for the real thing, the menu written in Chinese with just the briefest of English descriptions, and you'll be led to a private dining room, set with family-style tables. For anyone who's ever had… More >>
  • Best Onion Rings

    Dillon's Restaurant

    What's there to an onion ring? A little vegetable, a little batter, a whole lot of oil, and there you have it. Unless you're at Dillon's. Then you've got an onion ring that's outrageous, over the top, and oh-so-wonderful. These are absolutely some of the most delightful crispy critters we've ever chewed on. It amazes us how decadent a stark pairing… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Pho Bang Restaurant

    We simply can't get our fill of pho. This little joint may be short on ambiance, but maxing out at just $4.50 for an enormous bowl of the savory broth, it's a place where we can afford to eat every meal. Our favorite pho is the tai gau, swimming with brisket, rare eye of round (the meat cooks in its… More >>
  • Best French Fries

    Chicago Hamburger Company

    "Home of the Windy City Slider," the Chicago Hamburger Company's sign reads, and yes, the shop makes a mighty good burger. But it's worth a trip all the way to Chi-town just for this company's French fries. If you think fries are all the same, you've been sleepwalking through fast-food joints. Wake up and sample these spuds. Magnificent models of… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Arisoo Korean BBQ Restaurant

    Most restaurants get cranky if you play with open flame at your table. At Arisoo, they actually encourage it. Okay, so it's a grill set into the table, powered by a gas burner, so you can cook thin strips of meat to your liking, but still, it's leaping flame. Pyro or no, anyone who loves Korean food will be enraptured here.… More >>
  • Best Cowboy Steak

    Rawhide Steakhouse At Rawhide Wild West Town

    What's a cowboy steak, unless it's made by real cowboys? At Rawhide Steakhouse, the place is swarming with 'em -- manning the mesquite broiler, plucking guitars onstage in the dining room, and shooting each other to pieces in faux showdowns outside on Main Street. We think Rawhide Wild West Town is a kick, with its dirt street, boardwalks, haunted hotel, general… More >>
  • Best Appetizers

    Eddie Matney's Restaurant

    The bar at Eddie's is pretty enough to eat, all fashion and fun in a "Moroccan living room" kind of style, with plush chaises and overstuffed chairs. But much better to chow down on are the best nibbles in town -- sumac-grilled lamb chops with mint hummus, spicy "mo' rockin'" shrimp with chewy honey dough balls, and Sonoran crab cakes… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    Ruth's Chris Steak House - CLOSED

    This, friends, is serious steak. Only the finest aged, corn-fed, USDA Prime beef bred in the Midwest makes it to the tables in this elegantly appointed place. Ruth's Chris' beef is never frozen, so you always get exceptionally tender and flavorful meat. Steaks are hand-cut at the restaurant and served in huge portions -- 12 to 22 ounces -- because… More >>
  • Best Fusion

    Coup Des Tartes

    Some chefs treat the fusion concept as license to pair unnatural foods. Sushi schnitzel? Not for us, thanks. Then there are chefs like Natascha Ovando-Karadsheh, who takes classic dishes and marries them with select surprises, for tastes that are inspired but not weird. The handwritten menu changes nightly, depending on available ingredients and the chef's mood. At Coup Des Tartes, we're… More >>
  • Best Goose Liver

    Valencia Lane

    When we were kids, we couldn't stand liver. Then we discovered foie gras, and now we can't get enough. Of course, this isn't just your everyday liver, but a type that's been a prized delicacy since Roman times. The goose variety that's served here has been force-fed until the bird's liver weighs as much as two pounds. Bad news for… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Restaurant

    Mary Elaine's

    For such a big city, we sure don't have much in the way of ultra-luxe restaurants. Maybe we're too laid-back. (Jacket and tie? Surely you jest!) Or maybe no one's been brave enough to take on Mary Elaine's, our grandma of gourmet. This is the swankiest of swank, with rich European decor, white-glove service (even purses get their own little… More >>
  • Best Slice Of Nightlife

    Slices

    It's 1 a.m. on the weekend, and the bars have closed. We're hungry -- and nothing helps soothe a martini-molested belly like pizza. No problem; we've got Slices, serving until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. We could scarf a whole pie, but would probably regret it in the morning. Instead, we'll go by the slice, selected from a variety… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    The Salt Cellar

    The Salt Cellar, despite its funky, underground setting (careful navigating those dark stairs, particularly if you've been washing down your pre-dinner oysters, clams, shrimp or mussels at the bar), is completely serious about bringing us only the freshest, best-quality aquatic fare from around the globe. In fact, its comfy ambiance is one of the reasons we're hooked. Who needs frou-frou… More >>
  • Best Seafood Deal

    Ichi Ban

    It's a fantasy we keep returning to: stuffing ourselves to the gills on quality seafood, without taking out a loan on our house. At Ichi Ban, it's certainly easy to fill up, selecting from hundreds of aquatic items at this buffet-style sushi and seafood fest. But we feel a wave of relief when the bill comes: just $13.95 at lunch,… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Pizza

    Pizzeria Bianco

    Pizza isn't fast food. At least not in the eyes of chef Chris Bianco. A co-founder of the Valley's only Slow Food chapter, Bianco supports the European-inspired ideal of using only ingredients available from local artisan producers. This means select produce from boutiques like Victory Farms, an organic empire that produces amazing micro mizuna, a salad green that tastes of mild… More >>
  • Best Pizza To Pummel Your Appetite

    Western Pizza

    When you're really hungry, don't mess around. Get a large pie from Western Pizza. The 18-inch monster will leave you pushing back from the table, gorged, happy, and with enough leftovers to feast on for a few more meals. At almost three inches thick and tipping the scales at close to 20 pounds, these pies tackle even an offensive lineman's… More >>
  • Best New York Pizza-by-the-slice

    4 Brothers Pizza & Subs

    New York-style pizza is a precise pie. It needs to be huge, as big as a bicycle wheel. Its crust must be thin and foldable. It needs to be baked fresh, and just the littlest bit greasy. It can only be basic -- red sauce, mozzarella, and traditional toppings (no barbecue chicken or pesto potato need apply). And, it must,… More >>
  • Best Baaad Meal

    Callaloo

    Goats in Scottsdale's posh Fifth Avenue arts district? It's true, except these curried critters reside in stew pots, waiting for the next guest to order them off the menu at Callaloo. Perhaps the most abundant comfort food to be found in the Caribbean, goat stew is a classic one-pot meal designed to disguise the tough chew of animals aged past… More >>
  • Best Italian Beef

    Dawg n' Bergs

    It's true that a boot on a bun probably would be fun at Dawg n' Bergs, a place full of funky, friendly atmosphere. Here's a neighborhood joint at its finest, hidden behind a Circle K but packed with regulars who actually apologize to the cook when they can't spend more time (and money) there. "Busy nothing!" is the warm reply.… More >>
  • Best Pasta

    Leccabaffi Ristorante

    We can never pass up pasta, delicious and delightful in any of its hundreds of whimsical shapes. Should we ever forget why we love it so, one trip to Leccabaffi reminds us. Soft pasta in this quiet, upscale eatery is homemade, lovingly cranked out by real Italians. Sauces are fashioned from scratch and married with straight-from-the-homeland-style ingredients. Spaghetti and meatballs? For… More >>
  • Best Wurst Case Scenario

    Schreiner's Fine Sausage

    This is the stuff all sausages should be made of -- homemade European-style tubes crafted from recipes unchanged by Schreiner's since 1958. And with more than 100 varieties, there are no missing links here. We're partial to Polish kielbasa, German brat and brockwurst and Hungarian kishke, although sometimes we take the high-health road and go for low-fat poultry models. Schreiner's, we… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Luke's Chicago Beef

    The only thing better than a good hot dog is a double dog -- twice the pleasure, you know. And Luke's has both on its menu, all pure juicy beef, and served in classic Chicago style. These tasty pups come tucked in a fresh poppy seed bun, and slathered with yellow mustard, chopped onion, and neon green relish. The capper?… More >>
  • Best Soup

    Kashman's Place - CLOSED

    Whether it's served steaming hot to chase off a chill, or dished up cold to take the sweat from our brow, soup satisfies. And Kashman's has made soup into a year-round comfort food. When it's chilly outside, Kashman's charms with its winter seasonal menu. Selections change daily, and include favorites like a hearty white chicken chili with onion and shaved… More >>
  • Best Giant Wiener

    Alice Cooper'stown

    We suppose it's better to call Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson "The Big Unit" than "The Big Johnson." Still, it's more information than we want to know, thanks. Who came up with this nickname, anyway? The only such thing we're interested in exploring is The Big Unit Hot Dog served at Alice Cooper'stown -- a two-foot-long frank, all beef. And it's a… More >>
  • Best Chicken-fried Steak

    TexAZ Grill

    "Over 473,899 chicken-fried steaks served," boasts TexAZ Grill's marquee -- and we believe it. We're personally responsible for about 208,414 of those orders. That's how much we crave these jaw-droppingly good slabs of hand-cubed beefsteak, double-dipped in a sinfully milky batter and fried. This is down-home Texan tuck-in, too, served with roll-your-eyes wonderful mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, a buttermilk… More >>
  • Best Vegetables

    T. Cook's

    The drop-dead gorgeous historic Royal Palms property makes a delightful place to eat our veggies. Garden-fresh beauties are selected, whenever possible, from local, organic farmers. Boasting select seasonal dishes from Barcelona, Spain, and the Tuscan region of Italy, the menu tempts with such dishes as a salad of organic greens, tomato fresca and pine-nut dressing; chopped vegetable salad with feta… More >>
  • Best Prime Rib

    Don and Charlie's

    The menu at Don and Charlie's warns that its prime rib is served daily until it runs out. So we get there early. We've never been denied, no matter the time -- that's how well this kitchen knows its clientele -- but why risk missing the juiciest, most flavorful cut of rib in town? The best cuts of meat are aged… More >>
  • Best Edamame

    Zen 32 - CLOSED

    So they're green beans. Soy what? That's just it. Edamame are Japanese soy beans, and they're really good for you, packed with stuff that, among other things, is supposed to help prevent cancer. There's not much to edamame -- the pods are simply steamed and flecked with rock salt, then served hot. But this quiet presentation means no hiding faults,… More >>
  • Best Spaghetti And Meatballs

    Tarbell's

    We never thought we'd pay $19 for a plate of old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs and be happy about it. But that's before we discovered the soul-satisfying dish at Tarbell's. This is a full-flavored feast, starring a vibrant marinara made with organic tomatoes (yes, you can taste the difference) and hefty, beefy orbs. Plus, Tarbell's hip, beautiful-people atmosphere comes with the… More >>
  • Best Albóndigas

    Via DeLosantos Mexican Food and Lounge

    Albóndigas is fun to say. When prepared properly, it's even better to eat. The base is simple, really, just a long-simmered blend of beef stock, red pepper, tomatoes, chiles, and herbs like cilantro, basil and oregano. But at Via DeLosantos, this orange-colored soup is terrific -- light, clean and kicky with spice. It's crowded with all the right partners, too:… More >>
  • Best Mushroom Dish

    Rustico

    Sometimes we imagine owning a pig, the kind that sniffs out fancy truffles, so we could train it to seek out fabulous fungi of the mushroom variety that we love so much. But after one day in Scottsdale, the pig would simply hand us our car keys, give us a map to Rustico, and spend the rest of its life… More >>
  • Best Antipasto

    Maria's When in Naples

    Ave Maria. Or, more appropriately, what have you, Maria? Every day is a new bounty, ours for the finding as we step inside Maria's Italian eatery, with its huge antipasto misto table just inside the door. It's a cunning display; after we've seen the gorgeous presentation, we simply have to order it. Selections vary, but you can usually count on… More >>
  • Best Sandwich

    Chompie's Delicatessen

    It's high time to recognize that Chompie's offers way more than its beautiful bagels -- as in more than 60 types of sandwiches. Chompie's does all of its baking on the premises, with choices including kaiser roll, onion roll, challah knot roll, club roll, rye, whole wheat, sourdough, pumpernickel, marble rye, egg bread, bialys and, of course, 25 varieties of… More >>
  • Best Cranky Sandwich

    Capitol Coffee Co. - CLOSED

    Capitol Coffee Co. may call our favorite sandwich the "MeanGirl," but we don't take it personally. Surely the chef is always in a good mood when she makes ours. That's because this sandwich is always delicious, enjoyed in the cozy little refurbished home set with rummage-sale furniture, or taken to go, wrapped in foil to keep the meal hot. It helps… More >>
  • Best Gyro

    Crazy Jim's

    We've met our meat maker. He's Jim Deligiannis, owner of Crazy Jim's, and he's the man behind the remarkable pressed, vertically broiled lamb and beef that is the backbone of our favorite gyro sandwich. The gyro meat has a great supporting cast, too. Every fluffy, golden-toned round of Jim's pita bread is baked on-site, his tomatoes are fresh and ruby… More >>
  • Best Cheesecake

    Cave Creek Coffee Company

    Cave Creek Coffee Company has a simple mission statement: to roast the best damn beans available. We've got a mission of our own: to eat the best damn cheesecake available. Luckily for us, C.C.C.C. comes through on both counts. We don't kid around with cheesecake. Our perfect piece has got to be huge, thick and creamy. It's got to be good… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    RoxSand

    Like fine jewels, RoxSand's desserts are kept under glass, in a "dessert walk" display case. Unlike precious stones, the desserts are small touches of luxury that even we can afford. The array, which changes daily, is dizzying. We can pretty much count on our most cherished creation, though: the B-52 torte, spanning three layers of rich truffle cream, one layer with… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Mary Coyle - CLOSED

    There are triple scoops of ice cream. And then there's the three-foot-tall wonder served at Mary Coyle. "The Mountain" is a seven-pound Mount Everest of various flavors, sauces, nuts and toppings. But Mary Coyle isn't all about excess, even though most of its ice creams carry a whopping 19 percent butterfat content. It's about quality. All flavors are made on the… More >>

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