Food & Drink

  • Compass Restaurant

    Best Merry-Go-Round with a Meal

    Compass Restaurant

    Who says kids get to have all the fun? The best merry-go-round in Phoenix just happens to be a grown-up playground, a place where you can eat an upscale dinner while watching the world go by. It's the Compass Restaurant, a revolving eatery at the top of downtown's Hyatt Regency. There are 360-degree views to go along with executive chef… More >>
  • Harold\'s Cave Creek Corral

    Best Circus Animal Tale

    Harold's Cave Creek Corral

    Harold's Cave Creek Corral has long billed itself as "the original Wild West Saloon and Restaurant," but back in the day, the proprietors took the roaring good time in a whole different direction. Harold and Ruth Gavagan, who'd bought Cave Creek Corral in 1950 and added "Harold's" to the name, held daily a cowboy show in front of the restaurant for… More >>
  • Al\'s Chicago Style

    Best Corn Dog

    Al's Chicago Style

    A carnival ain't a carnival unless your dining options include some manner of foodstuff that's been placed on a stick. In fact, on our last visit to the midway, our repast consisted of individually skewered deep-fried Twinkies, tasty egg rolls, and the undisputed king of impaled edibles, the corn dog. And outside the carnival circuit, the best place we've found… More >>
  • The Fry Bread House

    Best Fry Bread

    The Fry Bread House

    Besides corn dogs, funnel cakes, or any other foodstuff that's been cooked in an unhealthful amount of grease or lard, a longtime staple of local carnivals, fairs, or street festivals has been Indian fry bread. And much to our doctor's chagrin, we've eaten more than our fair share of this doughy, deep-fried Native American specialty, and it's usually been covered… More >>
  • House of Tricks

    Best Funhouse

    House of Tricks

    You won't find any wacky mirrors in this funhouse, although House of Tricks does have a way of skewing one's perspective — in a good way. Once you set foot into the outdoor patio, sheltered by huge leafy trees and decked out with tiny white lights, all feels right with the world. Your mood is bound to improve even more… More >>
  • Candy\'s Apples

    Best Candy Apples

    Candy's Apples

    Thanks to an overzealous dentist and a few mishaps with broken fillings, we were reluctantly forced as children to swear off candy apples, as the sticky-yet-fruity confection murdered the inside of our mouth. And our promise stuck — up until last year, that is, after we started indulging our sweet tooth with the deliciousness of Candy's Apples. More than just… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Digestif

    How do we love Digestif? We'd count the ways, but there are just too many. For starters, there's executive chef Payton Curry, who puts his heart into handmade pasta and housemade charcuterie. There's pastry chef Tracy Dempsey, who had already impressed us at Digestif's sister restaurants (Cowboy Ciao, Kazimierz, and Sea Saw) but now gives us new confections to crave.… More >>
  • Best Authentic Arizona Restaurant

    Pinnacle Peak Patio

    These days, there aren't too many reminders that Scottsdale is "The West's Most Western Town," a slogan coined by the city's first mayor, Malcolm White, back in 1951. Heck, if it weren't for the lack of an ocean nearby, the glitzy scene in downtown Scottsdale might even pass as Miami or L.A. But there are still remnants of the Old… More >>
  • Best Destination Dining

    Binkley's Restaurant

    You think it's a hike up to Cave Creek for dinner? Consider that foodies from around the country fly into town just to try chef-owner Kevin Binkley's inventive, French-influenced American cuisine, and then see how you feel about going the extra mile for a top-notch gourmet experience. Of course, it'll all make sense once you're comfortably seated in the cozy, low-key… More >>
  • Best Local Eatery We're Glad is a Chain

    Thai Basil

    What is it in the desert soil that's making Thai Basil flourish? We're not sure, but we suspect it has something to do with locals' taste for fiery food. (Surely you didn't think we limit ourselves to spicy Mexican cuisine, did you?) In just three years, Thai Basil has grown from one modest eatery (a dressed-up former sub shop near… More >>
  • Best Local Eatery We Wish Were a Chain

    Matt's Big Breakfast

    Matt and Erenia Pool, we love you guys. And, boy, we'd love to clone you — or at least your fantastic little, er, big breakfast joint. The buzz on Matt's Big Breakfast has been strong ever since it opened a few years ago, and indeed, there's always been a bit of a wait for a table. The growing popularity of… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Foodie

    Noca

    What happens when a food-obsessed restaurant fanatic teams up with an equally passionate young chef with an impressive résumé? You end up with Noca, one of the most highly anticipated restaurants of 2008. Without a doubt, Eliot Wexler is the city's most tireless gourmet, who not only became a regular at the best dining spots in town but worked a… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Slow Foodie

    Rancho Pinot Grill

    These days, it's not too hard to come by restaurants that feature some kind of local, seasonal produce, but Slow Food isn't just about an approach to cooking — it's a full-on worldview. So if you're looking for a place to show your favorite Slow Food fanatic a good time, head to Rancho Pinot Grill, where you'll be in like-minded… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Wine Geek

    Fine's Cellar

    We'd call this the best wine bar in town, except that Fine's Cellar is so much more than that — it's a casual breakfast and lunch spot, a laid-back espresso and gelato bar, a wine boutique, and a hip bistro all rolled into one. You don't need a single sip of syrah to appreciate chef Cullen Campbell's cooking, but it… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a New Yorker

    Kai

    Sometimes you just have to turn the tables. Got a New Yorker pal who's hard to impress? Yeah, we feel ya. It's not always easy coming up with something that outshines the allure of the Big Apple, but after years of racking our brains, we've come up with a bunch of ways to show off the joys of living in… More >>
  • Best Place to Take an Adventurous Eater

    Roka Akor

    Don't be scared off by our brazen Best Of category name here; Roka Akor has plenty of options for folks who're just looking for accessible Japanese food, like edamame, California rolls, and skewers of grilled chicken. For us, that's all fine and good, but that's not really the true allure of Roka Akor. We're here for the more adventurous gourmet… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Eddie V's

    For being the best seafood spot in town, it's a little bit surprising that Eddie V's doesn't really scream "ocean." Yeah, there's a giant fish sculpture over near the kitchen, but besides that, the place is pretty quiet about its top-rung status. Instead, this classy restaurant lets the seafood speak for itself: sweet, briny oysters on the half-shell, crab cakes… More >>
  • Best Upscale Steakhouse

    Bourbon Steak

    Since it opened earlier this year, celebrity chef Michael Mina's Scottsdale outpost has certainly raised the bar on luxury dining in the Valley. Located at the posh Fairmont Scottsdale resort, Bourbon Steak takes premium ingredients and serves them up in the most decadent way possible, whether it's crisp French fries sizzled in duck fat, Colorado rack of lamb poached in… More >>
  • Best Upscale Italian Restaurant

    Sassi

    Just glancing at Sassi's dramatic entranceway, with its gurgling fountains, elegant lighting, and rustic courtyard leading to a heavy wooden door, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was an over-the-top private estate or, perhaps, even a resort. Indeed, this restaurant takes "destination dining" quite literally, not only because it's located in the most scenic northern stretch of Scottsdale, with lovely views… More >>
  • Best Corner Italian Restaurant

    Pizza A Metro

    This category doesn't literally have to mean an Italian restaurant that's on a corner, but in the case of Pizza A Metro, it's exactly that: nestled alongside a Circle K in a tiny corner strip. Really, it's an unlikely location for such a cool restaurant; walking through the door into this 20-seat spot is a revelation. One whole wall is… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Sophie's Bistro - CLOSED

    We're completely aware of the stuffy reputation that French restaurants have, and we're certain that the folks at Sophie's are, too. In fact, it seems like they're trying to completely defy that snooty stereotype. The service is warm and welcoming, and the setting — with wood floors, rustic wooden ceiling beams, colorful abstract art, and a little piano jazz in… More >>
  • Best German Restaurant

    Black Forest Mill - CLOSED

    There aren't too many restaurants that put us into party mode, but we have to smile whenever we think of Black Forest Mill. No matter what month it is, it feels like Oktoberfest as soon as we set foot in this place. Crisp, golden wiener schnitzel, potato pancakes, grilled beer-soaked bratwurst, gulasch made with braised beef and veal, and toothsome… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    GreekTown Restaurant

    It's remarkable that the folks behind GreekTown Restaurant have managed to capture the pleasurable atmosphere of a Greek taverna, but they've really pulled it off. The music is distinctively Greek, and the service — as welcoming as if you were a member of the family — is true to the way they treat you back in the old country. Decorated… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Sabuddy

    Wow, do they serve anything at Sabuddy that isn't completely scrumptious? Not that we can tell. It seems hard to go wrong at this friendly, casual north Scottsdale spot, where the menu is chock-full of made-from-scratch Middle Eastern treats. Smooth hummus, drizzled with tahini, is lightly garlicky, while grilled eggplant salad mingles smoky and lemony flavors. Sabuddy's falafel is top-notch,… More >>
  • Best Afghan Restaurant

    Kabab Palace

    Just because Kabab Palace happens to be the only Afghan restaurant in town doesn't mean it's any less worthy of "Best Afghan Restaurant." For one thing, after such a long dry spell with no Afghan cuisine to speak of in these parts (Chopandaz, the first and last Afghan restaurant in this area, closed in the early '90s), the food at… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    The Dhaba

    What is it that makes Indian food so craveable? We're not sure whether it's the fragrance of raisin-studded biryani, the tenderness of marinated meats, the complex, exotic seasonings, or the mouthwatering yin-yang of spicy heat and creamy coolness. Whatever it is, it's something that no other cuisine can match — how else to explain our shameless pigging out whenever we… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Asian Café Express

    What's in a name? Well, not always what you might think. To the uninitiated, Asian Café Express might seem like a nondescript fast-food joint serving a mishmash of Asian food, but in truth, this unassuming eatery is pure Hong Kong, baby. Like so many good Chinese restaurants, Asian Café Express is efficient and no-frills, with specials written in Chinese and… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Sala Thai

    Looks aren't everything, but here's a place that's as humbly adorable as it is delicious. Tucked into a narrow space that seems like it was intended for a bare-bones diner, Sala Thai serves up affordable, authentic Thai cuisine in a friendly, casual atmosphere. Thai wall hangings and elaborate wooden carvings provide simple decoration, but the real eye candy is what's… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Restaurant Takamatsu - CLOSED

    There's something so nice about finding a great restaurant and sharing the news with your friends. And there's no better place to go with a hungry gang of your nearest and dearest than Takamatsu. Trust us: You'll need a lot of mouths to feed when you see how much food comes with a Korean barbecue feast at Takamatsu. From marinated… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Yasu Sushi Bistro

    Casual but stylish, with sleek furnishings and moody lighting, Yasu Sushi Bistro reminds us of modern izakaya in Japan, where top-notch eats and premium sake are served with an extra helping of hipness. We love to snag a seat at the tiny sushi bar and let chef-owner Yasu Hashino guide us through plate after plate of delicacies, from plump, briny… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Pho Avina

    Consider us impressed. For such a tiny restaurant, Pho Avina sure has managed to bulk up its menu with a wide variety of Vietnamese specialties. There are more than a hundred items in all, from simple classics like bun (rice vermicelli noodles) and piping hot pho (noodle soup with a characteristically fragrant broth and fresh herbs), to more elaborate combinations… More >>
  • Best Ethiopian Restaurant

    Café Lalibela

    Mom always got after us when we ditched the knife and fork to eat with our fingers, but we got our comeuppance when we discovered Ethiopian cuisine, traditionally scooped up by hand with moist, spongy bread called injera. At Café Lalibela, the food's so tasty that we'd like to call it finger-lickin' good, but as it turns out, taking the expression… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Green

    Technically, Green serves vegan food — that is, it contains no milk, eggs, cheese, or any other animal product. That may sound intimidating, but trust us: It's the tastiest meatless cuisine in town. The beauty of this place is how even full-blown carnivores can appreciate it. While vegetarians get a bad rap for liking flavorless, healthful stuff, Green shows the… More >>
  • Best Asian Vegetarian Restaurant

    Fresh Mint

    It's no secret that Asian restaurants are a vegetarian's best friend. When in doubt, you can always go for a veggie stir-fry with rice, or anything with tofu. That's fine with us, but we always did find it kind of strange that so few Asian joints actually cater to the veggie crowd. At Fresh Mint, though, there's no meat on… More >>
  • Best Jewish Deli

    Scott's Generations

    If you think New York has a monopoly on good Jewish delis, then you clearly haven't been to Scott's Generations yet. This casual, family-run joint is just like the best neighborhood spots in the Big Apple, from the walls covered in framed family photos to the big comfy booths, where you can nosh on outstanding knishes, bagels and lox, huge… More >>
  • Best Italian Deli

    Andreoli Italian Grocer

    Consider our world rocked. All these years, we thought we knew what an Italian deli was, but it turns out we were eating tortellini salad and meatball subs in vain. What about a panino with homemade sausage, peppers, and onions or, perhaps, bresaola with arugula and shaved Parmesan? When Giovanni Scorzo opened Andreoli Italian Grocer last year, it was a… More >>
  • Best Soul Food

    Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles - CLOSED

    Whenever we need a little bit o' soul to put us right, we head straight to a little place called Lo-Lo's, where the star dish is (no surprise) the best fried chicken and waffles we've ever tasted. Owner Larry "Lo-Lo" White is the grandson of the legendary Mrs. White (of Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café), so he grew up eating… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Restaurant

    Stacy's Smokehouse

    How nice to see a familiar face back on the local dining scene. Stacy Phipps, who owned the now-defunct Stacy's soul food restaurant on Jefferson, opened his new barbecue place earlier this year, and we were there just as soon as we could smell that mouthwatering almond and hickory smoke wafting from the meat smokers out back. The atmosphere is… More >>
  • Best Cajun Restaurant

    Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen - CLOSED

    Cajun restaurants are few and far between in these parts, but thankfully there's one place we can count on when we're ready to let the good times roll: Baby Kay's Cajun Kitchen. It's the kind of place you have to seek out, since it's planted in the middle of the Town & Country Shopping Center, but trust us — once… More >>
  • Best Chicken-Fried Steak

    Ranch House Grille

    It seemed there was a revolving door for restaurants at this vintage strip mall until Ranch House Grille came on the scene, tempting locals with cheap, old-fashioned eats at bargain prices. From huevos rancheros to Philly cheesesteaks, there are plenty of things to splurge on, but the hands-down star of this show is the chicken-fried steak. They call it "country… More >>
  • Best Fry Bread with a Twist

    Café Laguna - CLOSED

    Brothers Otis and Nick Lara only opened this second branch of their father's fry bread place a few months ago, but it's already becoming a neighborhood fast-food staple. Why? Because, seriously, who wants to eat a stale burger or a taco with questionable meat sources when you can watch the Laras hand-make a fresh fry bread Laguna and fill it… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Pizza

    Pizzeria Bianco

    The menu is modest: half a dozen pizzas and a handful of starters. The ingredients are humble, and mostly local, with a few standout imports like mortadella from Modena, Italy. The atmosphere's low-key, too, with a blazing wood-fired oven as the main focal point in a rustic, brick-walled dining room. But as much as Pizzeria Bianco tries to be down… More >>
  • Best Slice of Pizza

    Jimmy & Joe's Pizzeria

    All right, we get it. Jimmy & Joe's calls its pizza slices "serious slices" for a very good reason. These things are seriously huge, and seriously delicious. Cut from what must be a three-foot pie, and served on a wide metal pizza pan, each piping hot piece is big enough to require two hands to hold it. Luckily, that's nothing… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Half Moon Sports Grill

    Considering how many TVs are tuned to sports in this place, it's probably safe to say that it's always game day at Half Moon Sports Grill. But even if it weren't, we'd still come here just for the chicken wings. We get a hankering for a good batch of wings more often than we'd like to admit, and at Half… More >>
  • Best Fries

    Welcome Diner

    Simplicity is underrated, especially in the case of potatoes. You can do just about anything to a spud — purée it, bake it, dress it up with fancy toppings — but sometimes the best thing you can do is just revel in its delicious flavor. That's why we love the French fries at Welcome Diner, where they cook them up… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Delux Burger

    Lately, we've noticed that we hardly ever order burgers anymore — unless we're at Delux. Why settle for less? The signature burger at this sleek, stylish bar and grill is the only one we truly crave when our carnivorous instincts kick in, and apparently we're in good company, seeing how busy Delux always seems to be. Dripping with juices and… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Ted's Hot Dogs

    Some people think hot dogs are meant to be eaten only at a ballgame or a backyard barbecue — but those folks obviously haven't been to Ted's Hot Dogs. Too bad they don't know what they're missing. These charcoal-broiled wienies are plump and smoky, tucked into fresh, soft buns that are just sturdy enough to hold up under whatever toppings we… More >>
  • Best Pastrami Sandwich

    Miracle Mile Deli

    We love our guilty pleasures, and sometimes there's nothing more seductive than a kickass pastrami sandwich. Diet be damned, we say! And the best place to satisfy our serious jones for pastrami is at Miracle Mile Deli, where they make 'em as sloppy-good as they come, stuffed with tender, thinly sliced meat. Along with the standard hot pastrami — always… More >>
  • Best Fish & Chips

    Rose & Crown

    It's true, a stick-to-your-ribs meal of fish and chips serves a very practical purpose: to fortify us for a long night of beer drinking, to fuel us through long-winded bar conversations, and to give us the edge in countless rounds of pool and darts. But even if we weren't up for that — even if we were, say, sticking to… More >>
  • Best Tom Kha

    Latitude Eight Thai Grill - CLOSED

    Do you have a certain dish that you can't help ordering every time you see it on a menu? We're that way with tom kha, the dreamy soup that's a menu staple at every Thai restaurant in town. Truly, we get giddy at the thought of eating this ambrosia, and we're constantly on the lookout for a tasty rendition. And… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    Four Peaks Brewing Company

    These guys really stepped it up. Four Peaks could've easily coasted on the reputation of its award-winning beer, but instead, the local brewpub serves up delectable dishes that are noteworthy in their own right. Rounding out a classic array of burgers, beer-battered fries, wings and nachos, there's a surprising assortment of internationally inspired eats, from Thai hummus to fresh-baked Bavarian… More >>
  • Best BYOB

    Atlas Bistro

    Here's a concept we wish we'd thought of: a BYOB restaurant with a wine shop right next door. The folks at Atlas Bistro really figured out a clever way to keep wine lovers happy. Who needs a wine list, anyway, when customers can browse the well-stocked aisles at AZ Wine Co.? The two businesses are actually connected by a doorway,… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat at the Bar

    Razz's Restaurant

    Chef-owner Erasmo "Razz" Kamnitzer is one of the best reasons to dine at his eponymous restaurant — that is, if you can get a coveted seat at the bar. If not, you're still in for a stellar meal, with polished service in a relaxed, classy setting. But snagging one of those bar seats, where you can get a full view… More >>
  • Best Place to Dine with the Beautiful People

    Canal

    At certain restaurants, sometimes the scene is just as delicious as the cuisine. That's definitely the case at über-chic Canal, one of the fine-dining establishments at the upscale SouthBridge development. Nope, we won't set foot in this place on a bad hair day — not when the rest of the crowd's so dolled-up. The dimly lit bar area attracts a… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet the Chef

    Aiello's Fine Italian Dining - CLOSED

    We've been infatuated with this classy neighborhood Italian restaurant from our very first bite of gnocchi draped in pesto cream sauce. Food like that makes us fall in love, fast. But there's something else that's endearing about Aiello's — the personal service. This is a family operation, and it shows, especially when chef-owner Joe Aiello makes his rounds in the… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet an Iron Chef

    Tarbell's

    Loyal fans of Iron Chef America can call us out on this one: Technically, chef Mark Tarbell isn't an Iron Chef. That title is reserved for the handful of regulars who do battle against a constant onslaught of culinary challengers on the popular Food Network show. Only a year ago, Tarbell himself made an appearance, going up against Iron Chef Cat… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet the Farmer

    Tapino Kitchen & Wine Bar

    Ever heard the phrase "Think Globally, Act Locally"? Turns out it applies to eating, too. Somebody even coined a word for people who consume foods that were produced close to home — say, within a 50- or 100-mile radius: locavores. The motivations behind it run the gamut from environmental friendliness (less fuel used to transport the food) to culinary superiority… More >>
  • Best Place to Make Yourself at Home

    Cibo Urban Wine Café & Pizzeria

    There's a reason Cibo feels so homey that we hardly want to leave — like so many of central Phoenix's neatest restaurants, it's situated in a renovated historic bungalow. From wood floors to a cozy layout, this place has a warmth and character that make it the perfect place to share an intimate meal with close friends. Owners Tony and… More >>
  • Best Romantic Restaurant

    elements

    If you're going to get your mojo working, it helps to have a sexy setting. At elements, the fine-dining spot at Sanctuary on Camelback, every aspect of the restaurant seems designed to conjure up romance, from sleek furnishings and an unforgettably gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains to chef Beau MacMillan's Asian-inflected, seasonal cuisine. Dishes like pan-seared wild salmon with… More >>
  • Best Mom-and-Pop Restaurant

    La Piccola Cucina - CLOSED

    There are so many different reasons that restaurants can find success, but somehow La Piccola Cucina has achieved a trifecta of good food (homestyle Mediterranean dishes), adorable ambiance (it's in a beautifully restored 1924 house), and personal service. How personal, you ask? Well, chances are, you'll meet owners Andy and Debbie Pappas on your first visit, and they'll go out… More >>
  • Best Patio Dining

    The Farm at South Mountain

    There aren't too many rain days in Phoenix, and the folks who run The Farm at South Mountain take full advantage of that. Except for the hottest stretch of the summer, when they close for three months, Morning Glory Café and The Farm Kitchen are all about dining al fresco and enjoying our abundant sunny days. The former is breakfast-only,… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    T. Cook's

    Whenever we need a reminder of just how good we have it here in the Valley of the Sun, we have to head to T. Cook's spectacular Sunday brunch to put ourselves in the right frame of mind. Just setting foot on the Royal Palms property is enough to lighten our hearts — certainly one doesn't need to be a… More >>
  • Best Makeover

    Christopher's

    At Christopher's, the swanky new restaurant from James Beard award-winning chef Christopher Gross, we get the best of the old and the new. What's new is the streamlined name and chic, contemporary setting, a welcome change from Gross's previous eatery at Biltmore Fashion Park, Christopher's Fermier Brasserie. We liked the last place just fine, but the updated digs are stylish… More >>
  • Best Photo Op

    Hana Japanese Eatery

    Just how fresh is that sashimi you're about to gobble up? The quality of the seafood couldn't be more obvious than at Hana Japanese Eatery, where, if you're lucky, you just might witness sushi chef Rick "Koji" Hashimoto hauling in the catch of the day. The day we saw him hoist a giant piece of bluefin tuna onto the counter… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    Eddie's House

    Admit it: You missed Eddie Matney. It's okay to 'fess up, because you're definitely not alone. And somehow we sense that the celebrated chef knew we were jonesing for his creative, Mediterranean-inspired cooking. After all, it had been awhile since he'd given us a taste of it. After closing his eponymous restaurant at 24th Street and Camelback a few years… More >>
  • Best First Date

    Coup des Tartes

    It's nerve-wracking enough, trying to figure out what to talk about on a first date — who needs to worry about where to go, too? Pick a chill destination like Coup des Tartes, where the candlelit vibe is cozy, the food is classy, and there's enough subtle romance about the place to help along whatever spontaneous chemistry you might have… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Kids

    Kabuki

    We've gotta tell you, if we have to go to another American-themed restaurant simply because we've got the kids in tow, we're going to start looking for a flag to burn. Why does parenthood have to mean hot dogs, fries, and limp iceberg lettuce? It doesn't, not since we've found Kabuki. This perfectly acceptable Japanese restaurant zooms over the top when… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Nosh

    Fate

    No matter where you are in the Valley, late-night dining options are pretty slim pickings. The choices are even fewer downtown, where so many places are lunch-only (for the commuter crowd) or else they end their "dinner" service before some of us are even off work. It's a little bit of poetic justice, though, that Fate, our favorite place to… More >>
  • Best Hangover Breakfast

    Over Easy

    There's certainly something to be said for the hair of the dog, but the morning after a chug-a-thon, our favorite fix is a hearty breakfast. We're convinced that's the real reason breakfast is called the most important meal of the day — because if it weren't for the redeeming qualities of butter, starch, and strong coffee, we probably wouldn't make… More >>
  • Best Downtown Breakfast

    Palatte

    Whether it's light rail, the new ASU developments, or just business as usual, there's a lot going on in downtown Phoenix. We're glad to see so much happening, but sometimes we just need a break from it — a few moments of peace and quiet to recharge. Palatte is perfect for that, an oasis of leisure in the midst of… More >>
  • Best Downtown Lunch

    CityBakery - CLOSED

    You can grab a bite to eat and get a taste of local culture, thanks to CityBakery tucked inside the Arizona Science Center. You're sure to fuel your way through a busy afternoon thanks to huge, fresh salads (curry chicken and Mediterranean tuna are a couple of our faves), mouthwatering sandwiches (pressed chicken with applewood-smoked bacon, Brie, and caramelized onions… More >>
  • Best Afternoon Tea

    Ritz-Carlton

    From the fragrant Summer Provence tea blend to the delicate chocolate cups holding the lemon curd and fresh whipped cream, it's all about attention to detail when it comes to afternoon tea at the Phoenix Ritz. And all that attention is bestowed by none other than Jeffrey Hattrick, the Ritz's resident tea sommelier. There's more than a bit of showmanship to… More >>
  • Best Bruschetta

    Postino Wine Café

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the most flattered place in town is Postino Wine Café, an action-packed neighborhood wine bar that's all about effortless cool. There's no attitude here, just a stylish vibe and craveable wine-friendly nibbles. The bruschetta, in particular, is outstanding, something many local wine bars have attempted to re-create (right down to the… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Pane Bianco

    Chris Bianco and Susan Pool's downtown pizzeria gets all the glory, but it also gets all the crowds. Meanwhile, their midtown sandwich shop is still all about the locals, a casual spot where the lines are never too long for a quick lunchtime pit stop. It's counter service only, with everything wrapped to-go, although you're welcome to chill at picnic-style… More >>
  • Best Salads

    Lisa G Café Wine Bar

    It's really sad how often we go a little hungry when we're just not in the mood for a sandwich or a meat-and-potatoes entrée. Who says salads can't have substance? Thankfully, there's a restaurant where we can actually fill up when we're craving a good salad: Lisa G. This place is the bomb, whether for an uplifting workday lunch, a mellow… More >>
  • Best Caesar Salad

    radioMILANO - CLOSED

    From fine-dining spots all the way down to budget sandwich joints, the caesar salad is one menu item that spans cooking styles and price points. Obviously, the caesar has a devoted following. But why, then, do so many restaurants treat it like a token dish? Seriously, the caesar could be so simple and delicious, but the way most restaurants serve… More >>
  • Best Banana Cream Pie

    Cork - CLOSED

    A lot of dishes are award-worthy at Cork, the south Chandler eatery opened by co-owners Robert Morris (sommelier), his wife Danielle Morris (pastry chef), and Brian Peterson (executive chef) earlier this year. But we think the banana cream pie says it all. What you might visualize when you order it is nothing like what you actually get. Instead of a… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    China King

    It's a pretty easy rule of thumb: Eat ethnic food at places frequented by people of that ethnicity. That's usually a good sign, no matter what kind of restaurant you're checking out. On weekends, Chandler's China King transforms into a culinary mecca for homesick Chinese, who show up in groups with three generations in tow. Squint hard enough, and you… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Lola Tapas

    A little sangria, a few plates of goodies to share with friends, and a dark, cozy nook to enjoy it all — ah, those Spanish really know how to live, don't they? We stressed-out Americans could definitely learn a thing or two from our laid-back European friends. Who knows, maybe a little more wine and a little more olive oil… More >>
  • Best Tasting Menu

    Sea Saw

    Order off the à la carte menu if you like, but if you really want to understand why chef Nobuo Fukuda earned his James Beard Award, give in to Sea Saw's seasonal omakase. That's the premium tasting menu at this jewel box of a restaurant, a series of exquisite creations that Fukuda and his team of chefs assemble right before… More >>
  • Best Seasonal Cuisine

    Quiessence

    Want to know why we just stifled a yawn? Well, the menus hardly change at some of the Valley's top fine-dining spots, while other places might tweak their offerings every few months. If it weren't for that, we might visit some of them more often. But there's no getting bored at delightful Quiessence, where chef Gregory LaPrad and sous chef… More >>
  • Best Use of a Chickpea

    Bombay Spice - CLOSED

    Although the juicy, perfectly grilled lamb chops come in a close second, our first pick for favorite dish at Bombay Spice is the unforgettable chickpea ceviche, a dish that turns a humble ingredient into a dazzling one. This heap of tender chickpeas is tossed with diced tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers, with a tangy-sweet sauce of yogurt, tamarind, and mint. Served… More >>
  • Best Use of Grape-Nuts

    The Breadfruit

    You know, we're not sure we've ever seen Grape-Nuts on a menu anywhere, and we're definitely certain we've never eaten them past breakfast time. Who'd have guessed they'd make such a splendid dessert? At The Breadfruit, a bright, cheery Jamaican restaurant that opened downtown earlier this year, a dessert called "Gret's Grapenut Ice Cream and Jell-O" sparked our curiosity, if… More >>
  • Best Sticky Buns

    El Chorro Lodge

    El Chorro Lodge is a bastion of old-school cool, the kind of place where you can rely on stiff cocktails, a leisurely Arizona-glam atmosphere, and classic dishes like shrimp Louie, sautéed chicken livers with bacon, tableside chateaubriand, or a glorious mesquite-broiled prime steak. But there's something else worth going for, and it's not on the menu. It's El Chorro's homemade… More >>
  • Best Croissants

    Au Petit Four

    We love everything about Au Petit Four, from the strong coffee and the case full of colorful pastries to the outstanding omelets. Indeed, there are plenty of reasons to come to this tiny cafe, but even if there were just one — that is, their amazing croissants — we'd still make a special trip across town just to eat here.… More >>
  • Best Pastries

    Scratch Pastries - CLOSED

    Ooh-la-la, we can't tell you how delighted we were when we discovered this honest-to-goodness French patisserie. Open since January, Scratch Pastries is a labor of love run by two Parisian transplants, Duc and Noelle Liao, who left behind glamorous careers (fashion photographer and model, respectively) in the City of Light to raise their family here. And we're so glad they… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    Wicked Bakery

    Leave it to Oprah Winfrey's pal Gayle to spill the beans on what we thought was a well-kept secret: the dreamy cupcakes at Wicked Bakery. The delicate crumb is moist but not too heavy, and the frosting is ultra-creamy, so fluffy we could eat it with a spoon. Wicked's flavors are wickedly delicious, too. The offerings vary from day to… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Barb's Bakery

    It would be easy enough to celebrate about Barb's Bakery just for the beautiful wedding cakes, done up in the same kind of elegant designs that Martha Stewart would approve of, in flavors from devil's food to pink champagne. After all, hearing your guests rave about how good the thing looks and tastes is a definite victory for even the… More >>
  • Best Jewish Bakery

    Karsh's Bakery - CLOSED

    These days, you can find bagels and challah and maybe even a decent rye bread at plenty of neighborhood grocery stores, but Karsh's Bakery still makes the best, using all kosher ingredients, the way they've been doing since the '60s. This bakery's almost like a time capsule, an old school, no-bells-and-whistles storefront where the display cases are packed with mouthwatering… More >>
  • Best Bread

    Simply Bread - CLOSED

    It would be easy enough to say that Simply Bread is the best in town because it's featured at some of Phoenix's finest eateries. After all, top local chefs are proud to feature it on their menus, and if it's good enough for them, well, it's good enough for us. The endorsements are nice, to be sure, but have you… More >>
  • Best Pretzels

    Tammie Coe Cakes

    Tammie Coe's the frontwoman with the famous zebra-striped wonderland cakes, but her hubby Michael, of MJ Bread, is the guy in the back, making bread. And his bread is fantastic — we've long loved his crispy loaves. Recently, we discovered MJ's pretzel — a pretzel made the way God (or, at least, the Germans) intended it to be: over-sized and… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    NY Bagels 'N Bialys

    A really good bagel is no mere alternative to toast — it's a meal unto itself. We're especially fond of NY Bagels 'N Bialys' hefty bad boys, whose thick crust and moist, dense crumb are just as satisfying (and filling!) as what you'd find in the best Big Apple bagel joints. That's because they make the dough from scratch, daily,… More >>
  • Best Spelt Bread

    Bread Basket Bakery

    Spelt doesn't sound tasty. Not at all. Doesn't even sound like food, let alone an ancient substance that lost out to wheat and barley in history's great grain race. Say you've got a kid who's allergic to wheat (there are worse things). Make your PB&J on two slices of good old-fashioned spelt, and he'll never know the difference. For the… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    Chatham's Fine Chocolates - CLOSED

    Proprietors Chatham and Jennie Kitz truly have taken chocolate connoisseurship to the next level with their cacao-centric boutique, which celebrates world-class chocolatiers like Chocolat Moderne, Ghyslain, and Lillie Belle Farms. Beside a wall full of chocolate bars from around the world, there are hundreds of exotic truffles available here, each one with its own tiny display shelf. Intrigued by the… More >>
  • Best Treat Boxes

    Essence Bakery Café

    One Friday morning, after a few hellacious days of office drama, a dear co-worker showed up bearing tiny cardboard boxes adorned with Essence Bakery stickers. Passing one to us, she said, "I thought we all needed to end the work week on a sweet note." We peeked inside and could barely contain our glee at the sight of five freshly baked… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Sweet Republic

    If Phoenix in the summertime is hell, then Sweet Republic is pure heaven. So don't be surprised to find us at this cool, tangerine-colored ice cream shop, blissfully Web surfing (hey, we can't pass up the free Wi-Fi!) and nibbling at fresh, made-from-scratch artisanal ice creams. Owners Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung opened their doors this summer — not a… More >>
  • Best Gelato

    Arlecchino Gelateria

    Why is there often a line out the door of this pint-size gelato shop? Well, if you have to ask the question, you probably haven't stopped by yet. That's okay, though — it usually only takes a bite of this creamy, heavenly stuff to join the initiated. Owners Moreno and Marina Spangaro are natives of Trieste, Italy, and their homemade… More >>
  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Ice Tango

    Who cares if the über-popular Pinkberry — a trend-setting frozen yogurt empire in Southern California and beyond — still hasn't opened a shop in these parts? Certainly not us, now that Ice Tango's on the scene. This homegrown enterprise is hip in its own right, a brightly colored, retro-modern hangout hawking the fro-yo that makes our toes curl. They call… More >>
  • Best Popcorn

    Poppa Maize Gourmet Popcorn

    The ghost of Orville Redenbacher may haunt us the rest of our days for admitting this, but for a while, we got pretty damn bored with popcorn. Don't get us wrong, we've definitely eaten our fair share of freshly popped kernels over the years, whether relaxing at the cinema, hanging out at the state fair, or scarfing down a bag… More >>
  • Best Potato Chips

    Poore Brothers

    TastyKake reps their Philly 'hood in baked goods. Utz is the salty-snack beast of the Northeast. Where do you turn if you want to throw your A'z up and want local munchies to rise up? Enter Poore Brothers. Since '86, the Goodyear-based company has kettle-cooked their potato chips full of crunchiness and amazing flavors. Their dill pickle and guacamole varieties… More >>
  • Best Veggies

    Carl Seacat, Seacat Gardens

    Carl's designer vegetables are pure art. Heirloom seed stock, some near extinction, groomed and grown to produce some of the most tender and tasty tomatoes, greens, and herbs with an attention to detail that rivals Italian designer goods. With varietal names like Black Russian, Cherokee Purple, and Snowbell, these are no ordinary tomatoes, which show in a palette of colors… More >>
  • Best Olive Oil

    Queen Creek Olive Mill

    Perry Rea and his family planted a bunch of olive trees about a decade ago in what still passes for the sticks. They had a dream — make that a goal — of starting Arizona's first working olive farm and mill. And talk about hitting the jackpot. These days, some people taste the olive oil as if they're sipping a… More >>
  • Best Homegrown Goat Cheese

    Black Mesa Ranch

    Though Snowflake, the northern Arizona town nestled in the White Mountains, is outside our coverage area, we make an exception for this fabulous cheese that is available for purchase at boutique food stores around the Valley (Whole Foods is one) and at fine restaurants such as Quiessence. If you consider goat cheese to be an overpowering, overly pungent experience, think… More >>
  • Best Cheese Selection

    Whole Foods

    Quel fromage! We had to do a double-take the first time we stumbled into Whole Foods' cheese department, where the variety of fine artisanal cheeses — cow's milk, goat's milk, sheep's milk, you name it — just boggles the mind. From soft, tiny rounds of fresh chèvre and wedges of aged Gouda to slabs of creamy, pungent Époisses de Bourgogne,… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

    You know an ethnic market's good when it becomes a destination for an entire community. In the case of Lee Lee, we're talking several communities, including Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Folks from all over drive here. It's no wonder. Where else can you stock up on so many kinds of exotic vegetables and hard-to-find greens, or peruse aisles full… More >>
  • Best British Import

    fresh & easy

    When we heard that one of our favorite bars, the legendary Chez Nous, was being knocked down to make room for a British grocery store, we were horrified. We loved Chez Nous! And who needs another market, particularly one from the culinarily challenged Brits? Well, we stand corrected. This tidily stripped-down chain now has five Phoenix locations and 14 in… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Grocery Store

    Baiz Market

    We'd always thought that enough aimless driving would lead us to the best shopping finds in Phoenix, but it took a good friend to clue us in to the city's finest destination for Middle Eastern food. Baiz Market is one spot we never would've stumbled upon, because it's tucked in a quiet neighborhood north of Van Buren Street. Now that… More >>
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