Food & Drink

  • BEST PLACE TO SPOIL YOUR DINNER

    Sweet O Wine & Chocolate Lounge

    Don't get us wrong — we adore the savory dinner options at Sweet O Wine & Chocolate Lounge. From cheeses and dips, served with excellent grilled bread from Simply Bread, to fresh salads and creative panini, there's plenty on the menu that we're happy to fill up on. But why try to save room for dessert when that's the star… More >>
  • BEST SIGNATURE DESSERT

    Cuppa Red Hot Chocolate at Cowboy Ciao

    We sure love hot chocolate, although in the warmer months (when we'll only drink iced lattes) we can hardly stand the thought of it — unless it's Cowboy Ciao's unforgettable take on the classic cold weather treat, the Cuppa Red Hot Chocolate. Here, pastry chef Tracey Dempsey interprets it as a cool, utterly decadent dessert: a rich chocolate-cinnamon pot de… More >>
  • BEST CHEESECAKE

    Bertha's Café

    We usually order dessert when we're out somewhere fancy, when the conclusion of a multicourse meal calls for something sweet to go with our after-dinner cup o' joe. But after lunch at a sandwich shop? Hardly ever — unless we're at Bertha's Café, where it's a given. At this friendly, inconspicuous little eatery, desserts are impossible to resist, appealingly displayed… More >>
  • BEST RED VELVET CAKE

    Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles - CLOSED

    Check your guilt at the door. From buttery grits and mac 'n' cheese to the famous fried chicken served with a hot stack of waffles, everything at Lo-Lo's is stick-to-your-ribs delicious. So it only makes sense that dessert here would be a luscious affair, worth every calorie-laden bite. And, boy, does the red velvet cake deliver. One slice of this… More >>
  • BEST OLIVE OIL CAKE

    radioMILANO - CLOSED

    We love olive oil drizzled on salads or soaked up with a soft piece of bread, but in dessert? Admittedly, the sound of olive oil cake turned us off at first. But we were very pleasantly surprised when curiosity got the better of us at radioMILANO, and now it's our favorite choice for sweet satisfaction at the end of the… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM

    Mary Coyle Ol' Fashion Ice Cream Parlor

    Gelato, yogurt, custard — we can't keep track of the latest frozen treat trend, and frankly, why bother when you've got Mary Coyle in town? For more than 50 years, this wonderful business has padded hips in the Valley with its homemade ice cream — featuring old standards like rocky road and chocolate mint chip in a throwback of an… More >>
  • BEST MILKSHAKES

    MacAlpine's Soda Fountain

    We used to think of milkshakes as a summertime treat, until we moved to Phoenix. Now they're as essential to us year-round as sunscreen, flip-flops, and car window shades. Whenever we're in the mood to cool down with a creamy, dreamy chocolate malted, or a picture-perfect strawberry shake with whipped cream and a cherry on top, we head to MacAlpine's… More >>
  • BEST SPA CUISINE

    Sprouts

    After getting rubbed, scrubbed, and generally pampered to the point of exhaustion, a spa-goer is bound to get hungry. After all, you can only get so full on apples and cucumber-lemon water. At most spas in the Valley — which qualify as some of the best in the country — the dining options run the gamut of light fare, from… More >>
  • BEST DELICACIES

    Méthode Bistro

    Some people need to be dared to try foie gras or escargots, but not us. The only thing we don't like about them is that they aren't more popular. Luckily, Méthode Bistro satisfies our jones for exotic ingredients, and then some. Yes, they have foie gras — paired with chocolate croquembouche and lavender gastrique — while their snails are basil-fed… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO RUB ELBOWS WITH THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

    Lola Tapas

    Phoenix would be a much more neighborly city if only there were more restaurants like Lola Tapas. Spending so much time in our cars, in a land where pedestrians are few and far between, we won't just stumble on a sense of community unless we frequent the same places over and over — or unless we stop by Lola for… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET A CELEBRITY CHEF

    Sea Saw

    You can watch chefs cooking on television, or perhaps at a culinary festival, but most of the time, in the real, day-to-day world of the restaurant biz, they work their magic behind the scenes. At Sea Saw, though, chef-owner Nobuo Fukuda and his team of kitchen protégés are as much an attraction as the food. With just a handful of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS A NEW YORKER

    elements

    When we hit up the Big Apple, our friends like to dazzle us with a whirlwind of bright lights/big city excitement. But when they visit us, we don't even attempt to reciprocate. Why bother, when there's nowhere in the Valley that could compare with Manhattan's intensely urban vibe?Instead, we show them our yin to their yang at elements, the jewel… More >>
  • BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    Yasu Sushi Bistro

    Despite the name, sushi isn't the only reason to visit Yasu Sushi Bistro. This stylish, pocket-sized restaurant also happens to feature ultra-buttery wagyu, Japan's most sought-after, exquisite beef. Here, you get to grill it yourself at your table. Other top-notch dishes from the sumibiyaki menu — items cooked over fragrant binchotan charcoal — include sea scallops wrapped in bacon, and… More >>
  • BEST AUTHENTIC ARIZONA RESTAURANT

    Pink Pony Steak House

    Forget about time machines. If you want a blast from the past, just ride the Pink Pony into the sunset of Scottsdale history, back to the good old days when baseball greats like Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, and Willie Mays hung out at this Old Town landmark. Around for more than half a century, the old gal's held… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT THAT LIVES UP TO THE HYPE

    Binkley's Restaurant

    In just a few short years, the reputation of chef-owner Kevin Binkley's eponymous fine dining establishment has risen to nearly legendary status, thanks to a combination of attentive, professional service, charming atmosphere, and above all, outstanding French-influenced contemporary cuisine that's both inspired and inspiring. Despite its far-flung location in Cave Creek — better known for biker bars and desert scenery… More >>
  • BEST ROMANTIC DINNER

    T. Cook's

    Just stepping foot on the grounds of the Royal Palms Resort & Spa is enough to make you swoon. With its stately Spanish colonial architecture and lush, manicured grounds, it's no wonder this elegant property is a popular wedding site. But even if you're barely past your first date, dinner at T. Cook's is sure to spark some romance. From… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

    Rancho Pinot

    It seems like Tom and Chrysa Kaufman opened their charming eatery just yesterday, but believe it or not, it's been almost 14 years since this New Times favorite was the buzziest new restaurant in town. Plenty of accolades have followed (including many "Best ofs"), lots of competitors have come and gone, and the Kaufmans are now divorced (chef Chrysa has… More >>
  • BEST SOUTHWESTERN RESTAURANT

    Sierra Bonita Grill

    Inspired by the pioneer ranches of the Old West — and named after southeastern Arizona's Sierra Bonita Ranch, founded by Henry Hooker in 1872 — charming, comfortable Sierra Bonita Grill puts a delicious gourmet spin on our state's culinary traditions. The menu is mostly creative comfort food, with Mexican accents and native Southwestern ingredients. The red chile pork tamale, a… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

    Wildfish Seafood Grille

    It might sound like heresy to pick Wildfish over Eddie V's, but don't worry — they're related. Wildfish has all the ultra-fresh seafood you'd expect at its big brother restaurant, only it's housed in a sleek, sexy spot at the Scottsdale Waterfront. Reserve a table in the dining room when you're up for a full meal with all the bells… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE STEAKHOUSE

    Donovan's Steak and Chop House

    Who ever thought that steak could be trendy? From the looks of all the high-end steakhouses cropping up around town, sizzling slabs of beef are, ahem, hotter than ever. But they've always been in style at Donovan's, where all the steaks — the juicy New York strip, buttery filet mignon, and monster 20-ounce porterhouse, among others — are aged, USDA… More >>
  • BEST UPSCALE ITALIAN RESTAURANT

    Marcellino Ristorante

    Marcellino Ristorante is a romantic fine-dining spot that transcends its inconspicuous location so well that you'll not only forget you're in a strip mall, you'll wonder whether you've stumbled through a magic portal straight to Italy. The authentic cuisine will suspend your disbelief, too. Sima Verzino will greet you warmly when you arrive, while her husband, chef Marcellino, works his… More >>
  • BEST CORNER ITALIAN RESTAURANT

    Tesoro Ristorante Italiano

    There's nothing wrong with a little downsizing. Filomena and Anthony Di Franco, former owners of the popular but defunct Molise, sold their original restaurant and opened this charming nook two years ago. It seats fewer than half the guests that Molise once did, but that only means you'll get more attention from Filomena herself, along with daughter Ania and son… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    Zinc Bistro

    Zinc Bistro is as seductive as any restaurant you'd find in the City of Lights. Bright and airy by day, with abundant windows, high tin ceilings, crisp white tablecloths, and ample patio seating fit for an afternoon of people-watching, this stylish boîte transforms into an intimate, candlelit dinner destination come sundown. Grab a stool at the restaurant's namesake, a sleek,… More >>
  • BEST GREEK RESTAURANT

    GreekTown

    Okay, so it's perched on North Seventh Street instead of a rocky cliff by the Mediterranean, but this white-washed taverna is still a great place to find homestyle dishes just like gia gia used to make. We're not sure if there really is a staff of busy Greek grandmothers in the kitchen at GreekTown, although the food sure tastes like… More >>
  • BEST GERMAN RESTAURANT

    Black Forest Mill - CLOSED

    New ownership and a fresh makeover have re-energized the former German Corner restaurant, which reopened as Black Forest Mill earlier this year. With a spacious bar area (where there's a sports bar vibe), cozy dining rooms with curtain-draped booths and dark wood paneling, and even a small dance floor (there's live accordion music on Friday and Saturday nights), it's a… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Dragonfly Vietnamese Kitchen

    Looks generally aren't everything when it comes to Vietnamese restaurants, which can range from bare bones to dive-y. And that's fine by us, as long as we get our pho fix. But when there's a good-looking newcomer, we notice. Dragonfly has a charming, relaxed cafe atmosphere that sets it apart from a lot of its competitors, but it's more than… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    Swaddee Authentic Thai Cuisine

    Somehow the stylish folks at Swaddee have managed to dress up a run-of-the-mill strip mall space and make it feel like a treasure, with Thai artwork in gleaming jeweltones, and pretty patterned slipcovers to disguise the chairs and booths. The food is all about splendor, too, with fragrant flavors like basil, coconut, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. We're so crazy about… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    Super Dragon Restaurant

    Who cares if Phoenix doesn't have a real Chinatown? Even though we might have to drive a little further to find it, we still have killer Hong Kong-style food at Super Dragon, an institution whose reputation goes well beyond its north Phoenix address.Unlike the typical Chinatown dive, the atmosphere here is soothing and immaculately clean, but the flavors are just… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    Hodori

    Looking for a hot ticket to spicy Korean cuisine? Try Hodori. Tucked into one of the East Valley's best strip malls for Asian cuisine (also home to Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants, as well as a small Korean grocery store), this no-frills eatery feeds a savvy crowd that's hungry for authentic Seoul food at reasonable prices. Hodori doesn't skimp on the… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Sushi Ken

    We first found out about this recent addition to the Ahwatukee dining scene from several friends who raved about it — and all of them are Japanese. Kinda says something about a place, doesn't it? Of course, you don't need to be a Nippon native to figure out what a find Sushi Ken is. We love the casual, unpretentious atmosphere,… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    Indian Delhi Palace Cuisine of India

    From crisp, white tablecloths and ornate Indian décor to the incredible, complex aromas wafting from the kitchen, everything about Indian Delhi Palace hints at a good meal to come, even before you crack open the menu. And sure enough, once the royal feast kicks in, you'll be dazzled by the flavors here — smoky chicken tikka masala, luscious lamb korma,… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Tasty Kabob

    We're in heaven every time we head down Apache, from Rural to McClintock — as far as we can tell, there's nowhere else in the Valley with such an incredible variety of Middle Eastern restaurants in such close proximity. Really, they ought to rename it Shawarma Street. And planted right in the middle of it all is a lovely bistro… More >>
  • BEST ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT

    Blue Nile Café - CLOSED

    Ethiopian dishes may not be household words yet — zegeney, anyone? — but no matter. All you need to know is that the food at Blue Nile Café is as homey and satisfying as any meat-and-potatoes meal, with way better seasonings. And thanks to moist injera (a kind of thin, spongy sourdough bread), you don't even need to eat with… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

    Green

    Even card-carrying carnivores won't miss their beloved animal protein at Green, where seemingly hardcore vegan cuisine — which leaves out dairy as well as meat — gets an American comfort-food spin. Whether you prefer mock meats, tofu, or just a whole lot of vegetables, Green's preparations are fresh and flavorful, with exotic seasonings and sometimes a gutsy degree of spiciness.… More >>
  • BEST BYOB

    Coup des Tartes

    Oh, so you're finally gonna dust off that nice bottle of wine you've been hoarding for so long? It's about time. And, boy, do we know just the place for you to drink it: Coup des Tartes, a wonderful but almost too well-hidden bistro located just south of Highland, in a quaint, historic house.With wood floors, coved ceilings, and candles… More >>
  • BEST DINER

    Welcome Diner

    Whether you're a nostalgia buff or just a burger lover, head to Welcome Diner for some old-fashioned flavor. Situated on a quiet corner in the historic Garfield District, just a few blocks east of all the art galleries on Roosevelt Row, this adorable Depression-era diner, done up in bright white paint with cheerful red trim, is a true vintage treasure.… More >>
  • BEST JEWISH DELI

    Scott's Generations Deli

    You've got to consider a lot of things, when looking for just the right Jewish deli. How are the knishes? Is the meat fresh? The bagels? What sort of horror will cross the waitress's face when you try to order ham and cheese with mayo on white bread? (Just kidding; we know we're in Phoenix, meaning deli staff has seen… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN DELI

    Andreoli's Italian Grocer

    If you think Italian delis are defined by meatball subs and tortellini salad, boy, are you in for culture shock. A far cry from the old-school neighborhood deli standard, Andreoli's is way more Old Country, making it a rare find. Nowadays, how many delis are hangouts for honest-to-goodness Italians? Here, they're all around you, feasting on authentic dishes like grilled,… More >>
  • BEST CAJUN RESTAURANT

    Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen - CLOSED

    Who cares if Mardi Gras is months away? As long as we can get a mighty fine taste of Louisiana, we're always ready to let the good times roll — and Baby Kay's is the place to bring the party. Tucked into the Town & Country Shopping Center, this Big Easy-going eatery is the perfect place to share good conversation… More >>
  • BEST SOUL FOOD RESTAURANT

    Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café

    When you're looking for a little Southern comfort, Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café will definitely do the trick. This modest downtown eatery, where the menu's written on the walls and customers use the honor system to pay the cashier, has been keeping locals fat and happy for 40-odd years, thanks to delicious fried catfish, golden hunks of fried chicken, chicken-fried… More >>
  • BEST BARBECUE RESTAURANT

    Joe's Real BBQ

    You never know when a good idea may strike. For Joe Johnston, inspiration struck on his frequent business trips to Texas, where he sampled the goods at every barbecue joint he stumbled upon. By the time he found the perfect spot to open a barbecue restaurant in his hometown — a 1929 brick building in downtown Gilbert — he'd already… More >>
  • BEST N.C.-STYLE BARBECUE

    Restaurant 28 - CLOSED

    There's plenty of 'cue in the PHX, but only one place serves up anything close to the vinegary pulled-pork ambrosia known as North Carolina-style BBQ. Actually, NC BBQ is divided into opposing camps, a sweet tomatoey version, and a tangy vinegary recipe that's the most beloved amongst Tar Heels. Thing is, not many folks outside of Carolina appreciate the vinegar-drenched… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST ALL DAY

    Butterfield's Pancake House & Restaurant

    Unlike many restaurants, where breakfast offerings are off-limits by 10:30 or 11 a.m., Butterfield's starts dishing it up at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. and doesn't stop until midafternoon. That's a good thing. It doesn't matter if it's a plateful of scrambled eggs with prosciutto, a fluffy stack of buttermilk pancakes, or a spinach crepe slathered in creamy Hollandaise… More >>
  • BEST HANGOVER BREAKFAST

    Harlow's Café

    There's nothing like breakfast at a great greasy spoon to kick-start our day after a long, booze-soaked night of partying at Casey Moore's. Tucked into a humble freestanding building on a rare stretch of University that hasn't been razed for high-rise condos, Harlow's Café seems as if it sprouted up for the very purpose of soothing our aching heads and… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

    El Chorro Lodge

    When we can't stand the thought of Denny's, and only a classy brunch will do, El Chorro Lodge is our choice for a leisurely Sunday-morning feast. The menu has an old-school vibe — chipped beef, anyone? — not for any intentionally retro-chic reason, but because El Chorro's a Valley institution (just look around at the properly dressed clientele, which looks… More >>
  • BEST AFTERNOON TEA

    Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa

    Every so often, we like to wave our little pinkies high and take in afternoon tea at one of the posh spots in the Valley. This year's fave? The venerable Arizona Biltmore — as much for its history as for its heavenly finger fare. (Well, the salmon mousse with mascarpone cheese on a mini fish bouchee did put it over… More >>
  • BEST TEA FOR KIDS

    English Rose Tea Room

    Whether you're 6 or 60, young lady, there's nothing better than a tea party. And that's why we are so in love with the English Rose. Their "Nursery Tea" is just right for our little one — complete with a three-tiered tray, bearing beautiful PB&J and cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit, and cookies. Even lemonade in the china teapot, if that's… More >>
  • BEST HEALTHFUL TEA

    Mandala Tearoom

    We practically floated out of the Mandala Tearoom, and it wasn't just because we were so buoyant, after sampling the black pomegranate iced and hot orange detox tea. The bare-bones, relaxed vibe of this self-described "urban tearoom" seeped into our karma, making us feel like we'd just been in tree pose for a week. We do have to admit that… More >>
  • BEST VODKA-INFUSED HIGH TEA

    The Ritz-Carlton

    If holding a stiff drink in your hand is more your cup of tea, then the Ritz-Carlton is for you. Around the world, the hotel chain is known for its signature, afternoon tea service. But on Thursday and Friday afternoons in Phoenix, the hotel's "salon de thé" takes a twist. Jeffrey, the Ritz-Carlton's tea master, has created a line of… More >>
  • BEST BAR FOOD

    The Roosevelt Tavern - CLOSED

    What we love about the food at this cool downtown tavern is how quirky and unexpected it is. (It's not unlike the watering hole itself, which resides in a restored, century-old house, where indie rock blares from the sound system and craft brews flow from the taps.) If your idea of bar food is fries, greasy pizza, and hot wings,… More >>
  • BEST NAMESAKE

    Vincent Guerithault on Camelback

    More than 20 years since Chef Vincent Guerithault first dazzled Phoenix foodies with his ground-breaking menu — which combines traditional French cuisine with distinctively Southwestern touches — his restaurant still sets an example for fine dining in the Valley. Nowadays, of course, Guerithault's fusion cuisine is considered classic, unlike so many restaurant trends that have come and gone over the… More >>
  • BEST SPIN-OFF RESTAURANT

    Vincent's Market Bistro

    No, you really can't have too much of a good thing. Chef Vincent Guerithault clearly knew he had a winning formula with his long-running Saturday market, which takes place during nonsummer months in the parking lot outside of his eponymous fine-dining establishment. So, a few years ago, taking the idea a step further, he opened Vincent's Market Bistro, right on… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET PIZZA

    Pizzeria Bianco

    Just because it's gourmet doesn't mean it's pretentious. On the contrary, Pizzeria Bianco's menu is streamlined and simple, with only six kinds of pizza and 10 add-ons. These rustic pies don't try to show off with outlandish combinations of exotic toppings. Instead, they're all about the best, freshest ingredients available, from handmade mozzarella to local, organic vegetables. And the crust?… More >>
  • BEST SLICE OF PIZZA

    Mamma Mia

    Back East, there's no shortage of great little local joints where you can grab a quick slice or two, suck down a soda, and get on with your day. But for some reason, the Valley's got a severe shortage in that department. (Sure, there's plenty of pizza to be found, as long as you're hungry for a whole pie.)Good thing… More >>
  • BEST WHITE PIZZA

    Miele's Pizzeria

    Does the absence of red sauce on a pizza make any difference? You bet it does. White pizza's a class unto itself — a distinctly craveable dish that seems simple, but is hard to find done as beautifully as Miele's fine pie. Here, the crust is crisp and flavorful, thin but still sturdy enough to hold a gooey, bubbly layer… More >>
  • BEST BURGER

    The Orange Table - CLOSED

    Most of the time, we can behave ourselves at restaurants, politely munching on an appetizer that we'd rather inhale, or discreetly digging into an entree that we feel like shoveling into our mouth. Not when it comes to burgers, though. When we get our hands around a good one, all attempts at civility fall by the wayside, and our primal… More >>
  • BEST FRIES

    Joe's Farm Grill

    Nothing goes better with a juicy Fontina burger or a grilled all-beef hot dog than a good basket of fries, and at Joe's Farm Grill — a Jetsons-esque eatery with its own organic farm, located in East Gilbert's Agritopia community — they've turned fry-making into an art-form. Cooked in trans-fat-free oil, Joe's standard-issue fries are crisp and light, a tribute… More >>
  • BEST WINGS

    Long Wong's

    Chicken wings are just an afterthought at so many restaurants, often buried in a list of run-of-the-mill starters like mozzarella sticks or fried jalapeños. That's why we head to Long Wong's when we have a real hankering for them. Here, wings are the star of the menu — no mere appetizer, but the main dish itself. The people at Long… More >>
  • BEST ONION RINGS

    Sonora Brewhouse

    We knew these were our new favorite onion rings when we polished off a whole plate in a matter of minutes. Most restaurants are heavy-handed with the fried coating, which fills us up after we eat just a few. But Sonora Brewhouse does 'em differently, more like tempura than breaded bar snacks. These oversized rings are dipped in hefeweizen batter… More >>
  • BEST PIEROGIES

    A Touch of European Café

    An antiques shopping spree in historic Glendale just doesn't feel complete without a pit stop at A Touch of European Café, a darling BYOB with a handful of tables inside and out. The hearty Polish fare is just the fuel we need when we're trawling for treasures, and reasonable menu prices satisfy our bargain-hunting urge. Fresh kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, and… More >>
  • BEST FISH AND CHIPS

    George & Dragon

    We get the urge to cross the pond whenever we see a British Airways jet flying out of Sky Harbor, but instead of splurging on a plane ticket, we usually just cruise over to George & Dragon for a taste of jolly old England. The place is buzzing with beer-fueled spirit, from the lively crowd at the bar to the… More >>
  • BEST SLIDERS

    Papago Brewing

    We've always looked forward to a mind-boggling beer selection, hearty bar food, and the jolly, life-sized statue of a Belgian monk that awaits us at Papago Brewing. But ever since we sampled the sliders at this friendly, laid-back neighborhood brew-geek hangout, where brewery paraphernalia and beer taps serve as décor, we can hardly come up with an excuse not to… More >>
  • BEST BANGERS 'N' MASH

    The Cornish Pasty Co.

    Few epicurean delights in the Valley are as saliva-inducing and ultimately satisfying as a pint of lager and a steaming hot pasty — Cornwall, England's culinary contribution to the world. Tempe has Cornwall native Dean Thomas to thank for being on the pasty map, and his off-the-charts success with his two-year-old Cornish Pasty Co. is a testament to Thomas' hard… More >>
  • BEST BACCALA

    Veneto Trattoria

    You knew it had to happen. After watching so many episodes of The Sopranos for all these years, we'd start hunting down the Italian delicacies they raved about on the show. Little did we know that baccala is a lot harder to come by in Arizona than in North Jersey. Well, we've finally found the good stuff: Veneto Trattoria's decadent… More >>
  • BEST TAPAS

    Sol y Sombra

    Dimly lit and done up in sophisticated shades of gray-blue and chocolate, with good-looking clientele lounging on plush banquettes and inviting couches, Sol y Sombra is undoubtedly one of the sexiest restaurants in town. But don't get too distracted, at least not until you've ordered dinner — the food here is just as exciting. Executive chef Aaron May and chef… More >>
  • BEST CHICKEN SOUP

    Ajo Al's

    Despite County Attorney Andrew Thomas' failed attempt to ruin this terrific family restaurant with his P.R.-driven "Dirty Dining" campaign (the case was tossed out of court earlier this year), Ajo Al's remains a trusted standby for thousands of spice-happy Valley eaters. We like the food just fine, but it's the chicken soup that brings us back for more, and then… More >>
  • BEST MATZO BALL SOUP

    Kashman's Place - CLOSED

    Steve and Nancy Kashman opened the first of their two Scottsdale delis about six years ago with a simple formula for success: Build the best matzo ball soup around, and they will come. Though it's a schlep up for most of us up to north Scottsdale, we've found ourselves making the pilgrimage with greater frequency in each passing year. Thanks… More >>
  • BEST CAESAR SALAD

    House of Tricks

    It takes more than creamy dressing and Romaine lettuce to make a good caesar salad, and rare is the restaurant that makes one substantial enough to eat as a meal. But come lunchtime, the memorable version at House of Tricks always satisfies. Here, it's a generous heap of fresh Romaine tossed with lightly garlicky dressing, crisp, homemade croutons, capers, kalamata… More >>
  • BEST SECRET SAUCE

    Med Fresh Grill

    Chef Mustafa's not telling. Tastes like eggplant? Sure, a little bit. Looks a tad like crushed tomato? Yeah, but looks can be deceiving. The spiciness must mean there are some chiles in there somewhere, right? Mustafa just smiles, and asks if you'd like another cup.It's Chef Mustafa San's secret sauce. Of which his fans — who know the guy as… More >>
  • BEST CHICKEN-FRIED STEAK

    TEXAZ Grill

    Oh, so you think you're hungry, huh? Well, let's just see if you can clean your plate at TEXAZ Grill, where homey, stick-to-your-ribs chow, served in Texas-sized portions, is the tastiest way to measure a person's appetite. It's worth stopping in just for some chicken-fried steak, the hands-down house specialty. In business since 1985, this culinary shrine to the Lone… More >>
  • BEST MAKI

    Sushi Eye Bar and Grill

    Roll over, sashimi. Sometimes when we're craving raw fish, we're in the mood for something more exotic than standard sushi bar offerings. When traditional makizushi (sushi rolls) won't do, we head straight for the wacky maki at Sushi Eye. The first time we set foot in this tiny Tempe temple to Japanese food, we instantly knew it was different, from… More >>
  • BEST DIM SUM

    China King

    In other big cities, a jaunt to Chinatown helps ease the wanderlust — and quell the hunger for Chinese food — when a trip to Hong Kong just isn't in the cards. But we do things differently here. Nope, there's no Chinatown in the Valley, but there is Chandler, home to an enormous Asian population with a craving for the… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TOFU

    Fate

    It's easy to be indifferent about tofu. Most of the time, soybean curd is served up as flavorless, flabby white chunks that merely absorb the tastes of other ingredients in a dish. We guilt ourselves into eating it when we're not in the mood for meat because it's light and healthful. But when do we ever crave tofu on its… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A PEANUT

    Lemon Grass Thai Café

    We're connoisseurs of peanut sauce, and lately our obsession has taken us many times to Tempe, where the friendly staff at Lemon Grass Thai have perfected the most heavenly version yet. We're keen on the sizzling beef, a house specialty that sounds quite simple (tender slices of beef, served up on a searing-hot platter, with spinach, cucumbers, and slivered almonds)… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A NOODLE

    Cherryblossom Noodle Café

    We love to sip, slurp, and suck down noodles as often as possible, no matter if they're cold or hot, or from Italy or China. Luckily, instead of gallivanting around town to satisfy our need for novelty, we need only to roll into Cherryblossom for our fix. At this homey, friendly little Japanese eatery, the menu spans the noodle-making universe,… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A POTATO

    Sabuddy Israeli Restaurant

    Who goes out for potato salad these days? Isn't that picnic food, something you can make at home? Well, yeah — except when it's Sabuddy's awesome Russian potato salad, a far cry from the mild-mannered stuff you'll find at the grocery store deli or in mom's fridge. Here, it's chunky, chock full of ingredients, and deliciously zingy, combining tender potatoes,… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A LAMB

    Middle Eastern Bakery, Deli and Restaurant

    Where's Mary's little lamb? We feel a little sheepish telling you we know exactly where, after another wonderful meal at the Middle Eastern Bakery. This Valley staple cooks up wonderful Lebanese chicken and a mean ball of falafel, but our favorite dish is the lamb kebab. Spiced just right with a hint of cinnamon, prepared perfectly, it's served with a… More >>
  • BEST USE OF AN ALLIGATOR

    Twisted

    How is it that some of the world's strangest-looking critters happen to be some of the tastiest, too? Because on looks alone, alligators seem like they'd be about as tough to eat as an old lady's handbag. In truth, gator meat is surprisingly delicious — tender, mild white flesh that's as juicy as chicken after a good dunk in the… More >>
  • BEST USE OF A ROCK

    Taneko Japanese Tavern

    Leave it to the Japanese to come up with yet another clever, interactive way to cook your own food with friends: Ishiyaki, which uses a smooth, superheated black river stone for sizzling up delicate slices of raw meat. The folks behind Taneko aren't Japanese — no doubt you're already familiar with their other restaurants, P.F. Chang's and Pei Wei —… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL EATERY WE WISH WERE A CHAIN

    La Grande Orange Grocery

    We're convinced that Arcadia's premium real estate values have something to do with the cachet of La Grande Orange. After all, who wouldn't want to live near this place? It's that perfect corner cafe we've always dreamed of, where we can settle in with the New York Times and a latte at a table in front, or bring along a… More >>
  • BEST INDEPENDENT RESTAURANT WE'RE GLAD IS A CHAIN

    Wildflower Bread Company

    It's always weird when a favorite local spot suddenly goes global. We like to support independent businesses. Does that mean that now that Wildflower has locations all over town, we should stop going? No way, we say! It just means we can find one most anywhere we happen to be. We love the variety of fresh bread at this little… More >>
  • BEST PATIO DINING

    Lon's at the Hermosa

    Do you ever wonder what the Valley used to be like before it was a sprawling web of highways and strip malls? Head to Lon's, the fine-dining establishment at the Hermosa Inn, to get a taste of tranquility in the great outdoors. The elegant adobe dining room, part of the historic hacienda that once belonged to artist Lon Megargee, is… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR HOMESICK CHICAGOANS

    Luke's of Chicago

    Let's face it: You won't be fooled into thinking you're back in Chicago just from the looks of Luke's. Sure, there's plenty of nostalgia in the place, from the panorama photo of the downtown skyline on the back wall to the old bus stop signs and pictures of Windy City sports heroes hung behind the counter. But just outside the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BELLY UP TO THE BAR

    Tarbell's

    There are plenty of fine tables around the dining room at Tarbell's, but we come here just for the fun of eating rock shrimp ceviche or Scotch beef sliders at the bar. It's a long, lovely swoop of glossy blond wood, the perfect vantage point for the bustling, open kitchen. Service at Tarbell's is friendly and attentive (our wine glass… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME

    Palatte

    We're not exactly sure when it started, but cute eateries setting up shop in old homes is a full-on phenomenon in central Phoenix. Coronado Café, Lisa G Wine Bar, Fate, Cibo, The Roosevelt Tavern — they're all unique spots made even more appealing by the charming structures that house them. The latest to join in on this downtown trend is… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE A FOODIE

    Kai

    For über-foodies turned on by menus with highly unusual combinations of exotic ingredients, Kai is a gourmet mecca. Executive chef Michael O'Dowd and chef de cuisine Jack Strong masterfully combine familiar haute cuisine elements like foie gras, fennel pollen, and lobster tail with things you've probably never eaten, or even heard of — cholla buds, huitlacoche mojo, toasted saguaro seeds,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE A SLOW FOODIE

    Quiessence

    These days, hardly a restaurant opens up without some fanfare about its local organic produce or seasonal dishes. That's great and all — the more the merrier, when it comes to sourcing great ingredients — but still, we know a trend when we see it.At Quiessence, though, they don't just talk the talk. They walk the walk every single day,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE YOUR MOM

    Skye - CLOSED

    Wanna score major brownie points with Mom? Don't bother tattooing her name on your arm. Instead, take her out for dinner and dancing at Skye. This high-end, high-profile addition to the West Side dining scene — a cross between swanky supper club and disco inferno — attracts hungry patrons of all ages. But take one look around and it's pretty… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE YOUR GRANDMA

    Voltaire - CLOSED

    Grandma won't dig the edgy places young whipper-snappers like you usually frequent, and she probably won't be into the boomer-centric spots where you take Mom for a night out. Nope, she wants to dine on her terms — someplace elegant, someplace old school (your words, not hers), and preferably someplace French. Good thing there's Voltaire, a classic French restaurant that… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO KISS MA GRITS

    Mel's Diner

    Small-town transplants and big-city East Coasters with a jones for a basic, cheap eatery serving heaping plates of food should hightail it down to Mel's Diner. The old-school establishment, located along an industrial strip of Grand Avenue, serves super-tasty breakfast all day and choice burgers and chicken-fried cuisine in the afternoons.And a healthy dose of nostalgia, if the '70s and… More >>
  • BEST THANKSGIVING DAY ESCAPE

    Thanksgiving Day Buffet at Wrigley Mansion

    Unless you're John-Boy Walton or Martha Stewart — or a glutton for emotional punishment — you're probably ambivalent about Thanksgiving. There's that enforced familial interaction (blah) and the infernal "dead turkey clock" that keeps ticking off the passing years. For example, if you've only eaten 10 birds, you're probably safe for a while longer — yet there's that yawning eternity… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE THE SMOKING BAN

    Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico

    Now that you can't smoke in bars anymore, you can actually taste the food at Richardson's. Honestly, we're pretty sure it was always kick-ass, but up until this smoking ban thing kicked in, the closer you got to the bar, the more your enchiladas had to compete with the smell of ashtray. Richardson's drew a hard-smokin', hard-partyin' crowd whose heyday… More >>
  • BEST KID-FRIENDLY FINE DINING

    Madelyn's Restaurant & Wine Bar

    Consider us impressed. We always thought that kids and a nice meal were like water and oil, but somehow Madelyn's has managed to pull off a classy restaurant where kids are graciously accommodated, but where grown-ups can still enjoy a sophisticated night out, feasting on chef-owner Brian Ford's contemporary American cuisine, including Zinfandel-braised beef short ribs and herbed pappardelle pasta.… More >>
  • BEST DOWNTOWN BREAKFAST

    Matt's Big Breakfast

    Truth be told, we don't always take the time for the most important meal of the day. But when we need to gear up for a busy day at work, fortify ourselves for a road trip, or just cheer ourselves up with a sweet stack of griddlecakes, we head straight to Matt's Big Breakfast.This tiny, sunny diner's a downtown icon,… More >>
  • BEST DOWNTOWN LUNCH

    Cibo

    Fabulous rustic pizzas may be Cibo's biggest claim to fame, but don't expect to order a pie at lunch. Instead, stop by for colorful salads — like organic greens with pine nuts, tomatoes, roasted potatoes, pesto dressing, and shaved Parmesan — or one of the big sandwiches made on warm, crusty saltimbocca loaves fresh out of the wood-fired oven. The… More >>
  • BEST LUNCHTIME ESCAPE

    The Farm Kitchen, at The Farm at South Mountain

    Dorothy, we're not in Phoenix anymore. Or are we? Eating lunch at The Farm Kitchen sure feels like a foodie field trip to the countryside, but really, it isn't that far from downtown. Step through the rustic wooden gate, onto a flower-filled cobblestone patio, and you'll soon forget about highways and high-rises and the frantic city pace. Inside the little… More >>
  • BEST HIDDEN RESTAURANT

    Fuego Bistro

    Who wouldn't like to be in the know about a charming hideaway for a great meal? Fuego Bistro is just the kind of spot that'll make you seem so savvy to your friends — but first, you have to find it. We're not saying it's far away or anything. It's actually quite centrally located, just a little bit south of… More >>
  • BEST TAKE-OUT FOR LAZY GOURMETS

    Dish

    Finally, a place that indulges our inner foodie and lets us slack in the kitchen on those days when it's just too damn hot to cook. (You know, about six months out of the year.) Thanks to the sprawling grab-and-go area at Dish — an over-the-top new Scottsdale eatery that's like a deli on steroids — the à la carte… More >>
  • BEST HEALTHFUL TAKE-OUT

    Pita Jungle

    This longtime Tempe outpost of healthful and hip has exploded recently, with locations all over the East Valley. Now, you don't need to be a grungy ASU skateboarder to appreciate a combo chicken platter or a side of hummus. The grilled vegetable salad at Pita Jungle is a wonder to behold, and about as healthful as a decadent meal can… More >>
  • BEST MAKEOVER

    Wright's at the Biltmore

    We never gave much thought to the fine-dining restaurant at the Arizona Biltmore, but a year ago, after it was renovated and reopened as "Wright's at the Biltmore," we took notice. Along with the fresh new digs — moody lighting and Art Deco-inspired décor create visual drama in the elegant dining room — the menu got an overhaul as well.… More >>
  • BEST ALTERNATIVE TO MALL FOOD

    Olive & Ivy

    The food court at Fashion Square is good for a quick, cheap bite when our blood sugar plummets from too much power shopping. But sometimes, we'd much rather walk a little farther (just beyond the Nordstrom parking garage) and spend a little (or a lot) more for a chi-chi meal at the stylish Olive & Ivy. The bustling, see-and-be-seen atmosphere… More >>
  • BEST GIRLS' NIGHT OUT DINNER

    Furio

    Looking for a place to hang with your girlfriends besides the local bar? The sweetest deal in town for gettin' your drink on and making your fingertips look fabulous happens every Monday, at Furio's Martinis and Manicures night. It's only ten bucks for a cocktail and a fresh coat of polish. But let's face it — you'll probably want more… More >>
  • BEST FIRST DATE

    The Rokerij

    Call us alcoholics, but we're rarely ready to get to know someone new without a little liquid courage. On the other hand, when we're bothering to go on a first date, we want it to feel romantic and fraught with possibility. The Rokerij, Richardson Browne's snazzy restaurant just off Bethany Home Road, takes care of both problems. The upstairs is… More >>
  • BEST DINNER AND DANCING

    Efes Turkish Cuisine

    Our idea of a good night on the town does involve dinner and dancing, but we'd rather do the eating and leave the grooving to someone else. That's why we love to grab a table at Efes Turkish Cuisine on a Saturday night and enjoy the music while several of the best belly dancers in town shake it all. The… More >>
  • BEST NOSH BEFORE THE SHOW

    Posh Nosh

    Maybe it's the case of gelato, or the soft blue and brown-hued décor, or the wall of computers in front of bar stools available for free Internet access. Or maybe it's just because we were so happy to see a new dining establishment open near the Mesa Arts Center. Whatever it was, let us tell you, this place offers one… More >>
  • BEST NOSH AFTER THE SHOW

    Union Wine Bar & Grill

    It's tricky enough to get the gang together for a night on the town, but it's even harder to get everyone to agree on somewhere to go for a bite after taking in a performance or an art opening. Luckily, Union Wine Bar & Grill is about as versatile a place as you'll find. Your foodie friends will dig tasty… More >>
  • BEST LATE-NIGHT BITE

    delux

    Of course, everyone knows the PHX as the city that never sleeps. Er, at least 9-to-5, Monday through Friday. But, not unlike someone pulling the hair off an old hippie, we're improving our nighthawkishness, albeit one friggin' strand at a time. And the man you can thank for that is restaurateur Lenny Rosenberg, the guy who made sushi-'til-midnight the motto… More >>
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