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Food & Drink

  • Best New Restaurant

    Posh

    To the uninitiated, chef Joshua Hebert's contemporary American restaurant concept may take some getting used to. He calls it "improvisational cuisine," and in the same way that a jazz musician gets in a groove and spins off an impromptu melody, Hebert plays around with ingredients in unexpected, unpredictable ways. And while some of the Valley's top chefs are constantly tweaking… More >>
  • Best New Eatery Along the Light Rail

    Maizie's Café & Bistro

    Now this is what we call progress. After years of light-rail construction — when the streets were torn up, local businesses took a hit, and most of us avoided the area altogether — the Central Corridor has bounced back in a big way. Our favorite sign is the emergence of new restaurants along the rail path, exemplified by a charming… More >>
  • Best Hot Spot

    The Parlor Pizzeria

    In the midst of a gloomy summer that saw the demise of too many favorite Valley restaurants, the debut of The Parlor was undoubtedly a bright spot. To stop by on a weeknight in July (when many places in town were scraping by) you would've been fooled into thinking you were here on a weekend during tourist season, in a… More >>
  • Best Hidden Gem

    Tuck Shop

    The historic Coronado District's restaurant row, stretching along Seventh Street between McDowell and Thomas, is full of great restaurants, but to get to one of our favorite spots in the area, you'll have to take a small detour. Nestled in the residential heart of the neighborhood, Tuck Shop does have an unlikely location (before its opening, some locals pitched a… More >>
  • Best Old-Fashioned Charm

    Joe's Real BBQ

    To walk into Joe's Real BBQ, right in the middle of downtown Gilbert, you'd think you'd stepped right back in time to the 1940s. The building itself, all gorgeous red brick, was constructed in 1929 as a Safeway Pay'n'Takit (ah, they just don't make 'em like they used to), while the restored John Deere tractor in the middle of the… More >>
  • Best BYOB

    Atlas Bistro

    If you like creative, contemporary American cuisine in a relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere, you gotta get yourself to Atlas, stat. It's a wine lover's dream come true, a cozy nook that's actually connected to AZ Wine Co. That's right, you have to walk past aisles of wine to get there. Of course, you can feel free to bring your best bottles… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Mastro's Ocean Club

    From sushi to ceviche, we'll devour most any seafood dish that lands in front of us. And it doesn't always have to be exotic. There's a certain old-school charm to a traditional seafood restaurant like Mastro's Ocean Club, where fish is simply prepared — perhaps pan-fried, perhaps mesquite-grilled — to emphasize its freshness. Give it just a squeeze of lemon… More >>
  • Best Old-School Steakhouse

    Durant's

    A whole lot of upscale, contemporary steakhouses have opened up in town over the past couple of years — especially from celebrity chefs looking to make an imprint on the Valley's dining scene — and we're not entirely sure that the trend has subsided. People love their meat, and they're always looking for new ways to enjoy it. But even… More >>
  • Best Upscale Steakhouse

    J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician

    Honestly, we figured we'd get tired of the upscale steakhouse trend, but then J&G Steakhouse came along and completely seduced us with outrageously good prime steaks and a sexy, inviting atmosphere. No wonder Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the celebrity chef behind the J&G concept, helms a lineup of Michelin-starred eateries around the world. When The Phoenician resort teamed up with Vongerichten to… More >>
  • Best Contemporary American Cuisine

    NOCA

    Some restaurants take years to refine their food and service, but NOCA came sprinting out of the gates and hasn't looked back. In February, it was named one of the best new restaurants in the country by the James Beard Foundation. Now barely over a year old, it's still got strong buzz, thanks to the efforts of restaurateur Eliot Wexler… More >>
  • Best Corner Italian Restaurant

    La Piazza al Forno

    When we imagine the ideal neighborhood Italian joint, we picture a casual, convivial spot on a charming street, a place where locals gobble up great pizza, knock back a few glasses of wine over steaming bowls of pasta, and are generally treated like family by doting owners. And guess what? It's not just a figment of our imagination. We just… More >>
  • Best Upscale Italian Restaurant

    Marcellino Ristorante

    You've heard of a "feel-good" movie? Marcellino is a feel-good restaurant — dining here never fails to put a big grin on our face. The atmosphere is cozily elegant, a real jaw-dropper if you're here for the first time (alas, it's in a strip mall, so you really can't tell how cool this place is from the outside). Gracious staffers… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Greekfest

    In the middle of this parched desert metropolis, Greekfest is as refreshing as a balmy Mediterranean breeze gently wafting through a seaside taverna. With its pristine white walls and wood-beamed ceilings that remind us of the rustic charm of the Old Country, this friendly Greek eatery is where we go when we want to unwind with family and friends over… More >>
  • Best German Restaurant

    Haus Murphy's

    There's something about settling in at a good little German restaurant that always lifts our spirits. Maybe it's the oom-pah-pah music, the European tchotchkes here and there, or the friendly, old-fashioned hospitality. At Haus Murphy's, located right on downtown Glendale's main drag, it's all of the above. And, of course, it's the comfort food. This is the kind of hearty… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Christopher's & Crush Lounge

    We've long been fans of award-winning chef Christopher Gross, but we think he's outdone himself with his latest restaurant, a sleek, chic, and surprisingly fun spot that brings the French bistro into the 21st century. There's a lot to take in here — a vibrant, contemporary dining room packed with Phoenix movers and shakers, a glass-enclosed chef's table in the… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern/Mediterranean Restaurant

    Tasty Kabob

    The Persian Empire may be ancient history, but Persian cuisine still rules. And what better place to sample its seductive array of flavors than Tasty Kabob? There's a reason why this spot has been a favorite for more than 20 years, serving up exotic specialties in a cozy, casual atmosphere that attracts ASU students, folks from the neighborhood, and ethnic… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    The Dhaba

    Biggest clue that The Dhaba's gonna serve up a tasty Punjabi feast? Just look around — this stylish place is almost always packed with young Indian families, who order so many dishes that there's barely room on the tables for their dinner plates. Don't be surprised if you find yourself doing the same thing, especially once you experience the craveworthy… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Sala Thai

    Thai food is all the rage in Phoenix — seems new spots are cropping up in every neighborhood these days. From fancy to no-frills, there's something to suit just about any taste and budget, but truth be told, we're fans of a humble hole in the wall called Sala Thai. It's laid-back and affordable, and better yet, the menu is… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Asian Café Express

    Don't be fooled by the nondescript name — Asian Café Express is all about authentic Hong Kong cuisine, masterfully created by chef-owner Michael Leung. The atmosphere feels a lot like Chinatown, too, from handwritten signs listing specials in English and Chinese to tables full of Chinese customers who make the restaurant bustle at dinner. They're here for chilled five-spice beef,… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Yasu Sushi Bistro

    Yasu Sushi Bistro may look like a humble neighborhood spot, but fans come from across the Valley for a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine. Exquisite ingredients are chef Yasu Hashino's forte, from pristine seafood to buttery wagyu beef. As the restaurant name suggests, sushi is a big deal at this bistro, and if you snag a seat at the counter,… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Restaurant Takamatsu - CLOSED

    The Korean formula for a good time suits us perfectly: a group of friends gathered around a tabletop grill, heaping plates of marinated meat to sizzle up as you like it, and plenty of ice-cold beer to go with it. That's living! And that's why we're crazy about Takamatsu, where Korean barbecue is the house specialty. Splurge on intensely flavorful… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Da Vang

    The menu at Da Vang, our favorite low-key hole in the wall for a cheap, filling meal, is so sprawling that it means only one thing to us: indecision. Should we slurp up a big, steaming bowl of the fabulous pho Da Vang, with thinly sliced beef, brisket, tripe, tendon, onions, and chewy rice noodles in heady beef broth? We… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Restaurant

    The Breadfruit

    The Valley is a really good place to reinvent yourself, and we know plenty of people here who've found success in a whole new field — especially in the restaurant industry. Take entrepreneur Dwayne Allen, for instance. Last year, the Jamaican native and longtime Phoenix resident decided to shelve his career in IT and open The Breadfruit on a sleepy… More >>
  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Green

    We always feel sorry for our vegetarian friends when the only things they can order off the menu are skimpy salads, side dishes, or the ubiquitous veggie burger. It's a shame more places don't cater to them. And it's far worse for a vegan. Thankfully, there's Green, where nothing on the menu bears a trace of animal products. And lest… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Chakra 4 Herb & Tea House

    We knew we were in for something good the first time we stopped by Chakra 4 Herb & Tea House and smelled the wonderful aroma of dried herbs and freshly chopped vegetables that hit us on our way in the door. Part herb shop and part cafe, this cheerful, tucked-away spot serves scrumptious, organic vegetarian food that always gives us… More >>
  • Best Veggie-Friendly Fine Dining

    Mosaic Restaurant - CLOSED

    We've covered the waterfront in the Phoenix fine-dining scene, and not once have we spotted a menu with the kinds of creative vegetarian dishes that Mosaic chef-owner Deborah Knight creates. To start, try the luscious 12-mushroom risotto, scented with garlic, or the remarkably flavorful broiled tofu with cured black olive tapenade and savory hijiki seaweed. And along with meat-centric entrees… More >>
  • Best Falafel

    Spices Mediterranean Kitchen

    We've been huge fans of falafel since way back in our student days, when the neighborhood falafel joint kept us well fed on a budget. What's not to love about a hot, crispy, fried chickpea ball? Our first taste of the fantastic falafel at Spices, though, took the obsession to a whole new level. Here, the falafel is formed into… More >>
  • Best Veggie Burger

    Fez

    We won't lie — we're huge fans of the half-pound Angus burgers at Fez. They routinely satisfy our carnivorous urges. But sometimes a veggie burger is just what we crave and, sadly, even some of the best burger joints in town can't deliver a truly delicious, meatless patty. At most places, veggie burgers are a lame token dish. What makes… More >>
  • Best Burger

    Metro Brasserie - CLOSED

    It was l'amour at first bite. Leave it to a French restaurant to figure out that the best way to seduce our palates is simply to feed us a really delicious, unforgettable hamburger. The signature Brasserie Burger at Metro Brasserie has just the right balance of comfort and novelty, a thick, perfectly cooked beef patty inside a fragrant, deep golden… More >>
  • Best Fries

    Café Bink

    Award-winning chef Kevin Binkley has built his reputation on cutting-edge cuisine at his Carefree fine-dining spot, Binkley's, but for most of us, the place is a special-occasion splurge. Thankfully, though, he's also branched out into affordable, accessible eats at nearby Café Bink. From French onion soup to flat iron steak, Binkley does comfort food with as much finesse as his… More >>
  • Best Shake

    Four Peaks Brewery

    Was it serendipity or just an act of pure, calculated genius? We have no idea who invented the beer shake or how they came up with such a cleverly yummy concoction, but we'd sure love to give them a high five. Four Peaks Brewery serves the perfect dessert for beer lovers like us: the Oatmeal Stout Shake. It's pretty much… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    Two Hippies Magic Mushroom Burgers

    Without a doubt, Two Hippies' namesake mushroom burgers are delicious. But they're not the only reason to stop by this kitschy, '60s-themed eatery, where blacklight posters, vintage toys, and lunchboxes serve as psychedelic décor. Owners Andy and Jan Goldstein have also come up with a really great hot dog, a huge, hand-packed beauty that's all beef. Charbroiled until it's bursting… More >>
  • Best Wings

    Half Moon Sports Grill

    The folks at Half Moon are pretty cheeky — just get a look at all the plumber's cracks pictured on the restaurant's Web site. We love that. But there's one thing that Half Moon definitely takes seriously: wings. Nope, they don't joke around with these juicy little snacks, because they know how desperately we crave 'em. Plump and crispy, these… More >>
  • Best Fish and Chips

    Rúla Búla

    It's not just luck of the Irish — it takes skills to make fish and chips this good. So despite all the other tempting things on the menu at Rúla Búla, from shepherd's pie to hot corned beef on rye, we can never seem to pass up this mighty fine version of a classic. Ultra-fresh fish and a light, crispy… More >>
  • Best Pasties

    Cornish Pasty Co.

    There's probably some stripper-friendly boutique in town that's worthy of a Best Of for its sequined nipple covers, but we're actually talking about "pass-tees," the centuries-old snack created for tin miners in Cornwall, England. They're a full meat-and-potatoes meal baked inside a hot, flaky pastry, and at Cornish Pasty Co., they come in dozens of variations, from traditional (stuffed with… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    Lola Tapas

    The atmosphere inside Lola Tapas is so effortlessly urban that after a few glasses of wine, you might momentarily forget you're in the desert and think you're in a bustling boite on some Barcelona back street. It's dark, cozy, and convivial, with communal seating that fills up fast, gracious servers who keep the sangria flowing (bring it on!), and a… More >>
  • Best Slice of Pizza

    Mamma Mia

    Seems there are plenty of restaurants where you can sit down and leisurely have a pizza all to yourself, but where to go when you need a pizza fix now? When all you really want are a couple of killer slices to fuel you through your day, without any fuss? At times like those, we head straight to Mamma Mia,… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Pizza

    Pizzeria Bianco

    The legend continues. Just when we thought that Chris Bianco's pizza-guru aura couldn't shine any more brightly, along comes Martha Stewart and Gourmet and Food + Wine to shed a little more light on Phoenix's celebrated pizzaiolo. This past spring, Bianco got props from all three, starting with a six-page spread in Martha's mag. The whole media blitz only reinforced… More >>
  • Best Soul Food

    Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles - CLOSED

    Catch Larry "Lo-Lo" White at a rare moment when his restaurant isn't packed and maybe he'll regale you with stories of all the sports stars who insist on a detour to Lo-Lo's when they're in town for a game. Or just look at all the framed, autographed photos on the walls to get an idea of who's been here —… More >>
  • Best Barbecue Restaurant

    Stacy's Smokehouse

    Even before we lay our eyes on a plateful of Stacy's badass barbecue, we know just what we're in for. We can smell it as soon as we pull into the parking lot — that mouthwatering aroma of sizzling meat and savory almond and hickory wood fueling the outdoor smoker. It's a smell that haunts us in our dreams and… More >>
  • Best Ribs

    Don & Charlie's

    We're in carnivore heaven every time we do dinner at Don & Charlie's, an old-school steakhouse where the smell of sizzling meat makes us feel like we're floating on a cloud from the front door all the way to the table. What also makes us smile are Don & Charlie's tasty chopped liver plate (always compliments of the house, with… More >>
  • Best Lemonade

    Middle Eastern Deli & Bakery

    Bet you've never tasted anything remotely like Middle Eastern Deli & Bakery's homemade lemonade, which this place sells gallons of every day. Middle Eastern's owner was kind enough to share the secret to its exotic, citrus-based concoction. First, lemon juice, water, and honey are boiled together. The brew is then spiked with rosewater, a flower-infused flavoring that's been used extensively… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    T. Cook's

    We're not sure what Heaven is like, but we imagine it to be something like T. Cook's lavish, all-you-can-eat "Mediterranean market buffet" brunch. Like the romantic Royal Palms Resort itself, brunch here is beautiful beyond belief, as mouthwatering as the glossy pages of food porn in Gourmet magazine. Everything is exquisitely displayed, from delicate pink slices of prosciutto and moist… More >>
  • Best Seasonal Cuisine

    Quiessence

    There are actually two ways to experience the seasons at Quiessence. The first is simply to appreciate the setting itself — situated at the far end of the Farm at South Mountain, the restaurant is surrounded by lush trees and vegetation that provide so much of the relaxing ambiance here, no matter what time of year it is. And if… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Hooky

    Zinc Bistro

    Depending on the time of day, Zinc Bistro takes on different guises — it's a bright, bustling place to see and be seen at lunchtime, and a romantic, candlelit hotspot at night. We'll take any excuse to stop by for chef Matt Carter's tasty French cooking (like ratatouille, braised lamb shank, or prime flat iron steak), but for some reason we especially… More >>
  • Best Place for Cookies and Milk

    Sweet Cakes

    "Life's short . . . Eat cookies." These are the words that greet you when you enter this charming little cafe in downtown Mesa. And cookies it has. Cookies about the size of salad plates. Sweet Cakes has all the classics (chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodle) and such originals as white chocolate cranberry and oatmeal coconut. But the real killers… More >>
  • Best Comfort Food

    Rancho Pinot

    Is it dinnertime yet? The mouthwatering dishes at Rancho Pinot remind us of the kinds of things Mom used to make — if only Mom had been a gourmet cook. Chef Chrysa Robertson dreams up food that's rustic and soul-satisfying, putting the finest local produce to good use (not a surprise, considering her involvement with Slow Food Phoenix) in a… More >>
  • Best Picnic

    Pane Bianco

    We can't think of any takeout place that gets the kind of action that Pane Bianco does. The menu's minuscule and there's nowhere to sit inside. But there's always a lively scene under the shade sails out front, where customers congregate at rustic picnic tables to eat sandwiches and salads out of Pane's brown paper bags. What's the big deal,… More >>
  • Best View

    elements

    Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain has a real gem in elements, its signature fine-dining restaurant. Executive chef Beau MacMillan ranks among an elite group of chefs who've taken on an Iron Chef (in this case, Bobby Flay) and emerged victorious in the popular Food Network TV show. And his cooking is considered some of this city's most exquisite, meshing contemporary American… More >>
  • Best Destination Dining

    Kai

    Restaurants sometimes use the term "award-winning" pretty loosely. But not Kai. This fine-dining spot has earned its elite status in some of the country's most prestigious restaurant rankings — most notably, the AAA Five Diamond Award and five stars from Mobil Travel Guide. That puts Kai up there among the best places in the country, worthy of a special visit.… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Phoenix Palace

    You can order off the lengthy Chinese menu anytime (there are lots of seafood dishes here), but dim sum is likely the biggest reason Phoenix Palace is packed with hungry hordes from across the Valley, especially on weekends. Folks flock to this strip mall spot, located adjacent to Lee Lee's Oriental Supermarket, for a mind-boggling variety of Cantonese small plates… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    Matt's Big Breakfast

    Why is there a crowd of a few dozen people milling around on the corner of First Street and McKinley on a 100-degree day? Are they crazy? Well, yes — crazy for really delicious, all-American breakfast food, perhaps. These days, the mob outside Matt's Big Breakfast is a mix of downtown locals and longtime fans, as well as curious first-timers… More >>
  • Best Sausage

    Schreiner's Fine Sausage

    From their red and white bungalow at Seventh Street and Whitton Avenue, the Shillers, scions of sausage sultan Hugo Schreiner, have been stuffing casings and Phoenicians since 1955. They've added a flavor or two to keep up with our changing palates, and low-fat for expanding waistlines, but it's the classics that keep us coming back for more. Like their linguisa,… More >>
  • Best Bacon

    The Meat Shop

    Ah, bacon. It's hard to think of any meat more loved by carnivores or tearfully missed by vegetarians. We can't come up with a dish that can't be made better by the inclusion of the salty, smoky wonder. And we've been known to wax rhapsodic over its unctuous charms. Where for art thou, BLT? We're looking at you, baked beans!… More >>
  • Best BLT

    Chestnut Lane Café - CLOSED

    Is there another way to spell "delicious"? How about B-L-T? Chestnut Lane Café's version of the classic sandwich is the best we've ever had (next to our grandma's, of course). At this tiny Camelback eatery, they make their BLT with thinly shaved, house-roasted turkey, thick applewood-smoked bacon, ripe local tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, and mayo on fragrant slices of fresh multigrain… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Lee's Sandwiches

    Just when we thought we'd eaten every sandwich under the sun, we discovered the beauty of Lee's Sandwiches' banh mi — and now we're obsessed. What's banh mi, you ask? It's a hefty Vietnamese-style sub, with such fillings as pâté, barbecued pork, or a combination of sliced meats stuffed into a crusty French baguette, and embellished with mayo, fresh cilantro,… More >>
  • Best Small Plates

    Cork

    When restaurant industry veterans Robert and Danielle Morris teamed up with co-owner and executive chef Brian Peterson to open Cork, a stylish restaurant/wine bar in Chandler, they set out to serve food with the whimsy of a tasting menu but the ease of à la carte. And that's just what makes dining at Cork so fun — small portions make it simple… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Your Parents

    House of Tricks

    Mom and Dad don't come to town often enough, so you've got to choose wisely when it's time for them to treat you dinner. Whether you're 18 and a college freshman or 42 and a shameless middle-aged freeloader, House of Tricks is a good choice. You don't want to waste a free meal on the likes of Chili's — not… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Kids

    Pita Jungle

    Typically speaking, if you don't see a kids' menu, you don't want to bring your kids. It's like a restaurant with no highchairs. Big hint. Not so at Pita Jungle, where kids are more than welcome, and there's plenty for them on the grownups' menu. It's actually a relief to not have the choice of chicken fingers and mac 'n'… More >>
  • Best Dining as Theater

    Binkley's Restaurant

    If you really want to appreciate chef Kevin Binkley's food, be sure to bring your sense of humor to dinner. Binkley, who worked for renowned chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, is undoubtedly serving some of the most creative, sophisticated cuisine that Arizona has to offer, incorporating classical French techniques into his seasonal American menu. But for all the… More >>
  • Best Hotel Cafe

    Gallo Blanco Café

    Seems like most hotel eateries fall into one of two categories — the generic, functional spot aimed at people staying there or the fancy fine-dining place geared toward big spenders of any stripe. Gallo Blanco Café, however, is remarkable in that it doesn't feel like it's in a hotel in the first place. In some other city, perhaps, you'd probably… More >>
  • Best Patio Dining

    Local Breeze - CLOSED

    Local Breeze owner Sid Campbell pays homage to the now-defunct Pischke's (where he was a longtime cook) by bringing a laid-back touch of the tropics to the middle of this desert metropolis. Situated in the historic Cavness House, just beyond the heart of downtown, Local Breeze is the perfect antidote to a stressful day, especially if you sit on the… More >>
  • Best Calamari

    Andreoli Italian Grocer

    When did fried calamari become so ubiquitous? They're everywhere, practically threatening the dominance of the mighty French fry it seems, served at neighborhood grills and fancy restaurants alike. We're fans, of course, but only when they're done right — and that's the catch. Really fresh squid, gently fried in a delicate batter, is a sublime treat that few kitchens have… More >>
  • Best Cocktail Nibbles

    Trader Vic's - CLOSED

    Classic throwback cocktails like the rum-drenched Mai Tai — invented by Trader Vic's founder Vic Bergeron in the 1940s — deserve to be teamed with retro snacks that are just as stylishly tasty. The Cosmo Tidbits appetizer platter for two is the way to go (unless you're flying solo), with wonton-wrapped crab Rangoon, barbecued pork spareribs, butterflied prawns in a… More >>
  • Best Nosh Before Nightclubbing

    Pure Sushi

    When the night's just getting started, we like to fuel up at the new south Scottsdale outpost of Pure Sushi (the original location's up north, at Grayhawk), located in the Scottsdale Civic Plaza. From here, it's an easy walking distance to our favorite nightclubs and watering holes, and Pure's upbeat, ultra-sleek atmosphere gets us ready to get our groove on.… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    The Roosevelt - CLOSED

    Wait, we know what you're thinking: bar food? Who goes out for that? Um, we do — at least when that bar is The Roosevelt. Since they serve only stellar craft brews, imports, and interesting wines here, it makes sense that the eats would be equally top-notch. And considering the impeccable taste of the owners (Matt and Erenia Pool, of… More >>
  • Best Hangover Breakfast

    Daily Dose

    We knew Daily Dose was our kind of restaurant as soon as we saw something called the "Hangover Sandwich" on the menu. Because, honestly, we're usually too busy to indulge in a full breakfast during the workweek. But on our days off, we're all about the most important meal of the day, since it's the only thing that revives us… More >>
  • Best Encore

    Postino Central

    It's no wonder that the new Postino Central seems to be doing bang-up business every time we stop by. Just as the original Postino transformed the former Arcadia Post Office into a high-style wine bar, Postino Central breathes new life into the cool mid-century building that used to house Katz's Deli. The setting may be completely different, but the spirit… More >>
  • Best Splurge

    BLT Steak

    Take our word for it, you won't want to rein yourself in at BLT Steak — nor should you. Glorious excess feels oh-so-right at this contemporary steakhouse, where the allure of sizzling prime beef and expertly prepared seafood is bolstered by French bistro touches, including chicken liver pâté and mouthwatering Gruyère popovers served gratis. It's the brainchild of acclaimed chef… More >>
  • Best Splurge on a Shoestring Budget

    TeHaru Sushi

    Most of the time, being impulsive at restaurants — especially sushi restaurants — can have pricey consequences. But not at TeHaru Sushi. You can throw caution to the wind and eat yourself silly at this south Tempe spot, and when the bill comes, we promise your jaw will drop at how affordable it is. The setup at TeHaru is kaitenzushi… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a First Date

    Cibo

    It's easy to fall in love with the charms of Cibo. And who knows? Maybe some of that magic will rub off on your date, too. The building itself is a lovingly restored historic bungalow, with wood floors, a brick fireplace, pretty windows throughout, and an inviting front patio, which twinkles with white lights after sundown. Proprietors Tony and Karen… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Wine Geek

    Caffe Boa

    Caffe Boa is an unexpected delight amid the college-town bustle of Mill Avenue. It's a stylish bistro with a grown-up atmosphere, a Mediterranean-inspired menu that celebrates seasonal, organic ingredients, and a serious attitude about wine. Owners Jay and Christine Wisniewski, both certified sommeliers, have created a Wine Spectator Award-winning program that features a few dozen wines by the glass, intriguing… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet the Chef

    Café Monarch

    When you visit Café Monarch, you're entering Christopher Van Arsdale's domain. He's the chef-owner of this super-stylish, tucked-away spot, and he's often a one-man show, waiting on tables, chatting up customers, and cooking up a storm in the 558-square-foot space that he single-handedly designed. After spending years as a personal chef, Van Arsdale realized his dream of opening his own… More >>
  • Best Place to Go When You're Feeling Sad

    Organ Stop Pizza

    It's impossible to feel sorry for yourself in the presence of Organ Stop Pizza's Mighty Wurlitzer. The food at the two-story pizza parlor is an afterthought because the main draw is the 6,000-pipe theater organ, with its orchestra pit of instruments, bells, and whistles. Organists like Charlie Balogh dazzle the crowds with boisterous renditions of cheesy but happy songs like… More >>
  • Best Psychic Night

    Lisa G Café and Wine Bar

    What are you hungry for? Where should we go to dinner tonight? If it's a Wednesday, the answers should be pizza and Lisa G Café and Wine Bar. Beyond that, we're pretty fuzzy about the future, but that's the best reason to come here for Wednesday Psychic Night, a fun weekly event that's all about peering into the great unknown.… More >>
  • Best Stoner Ambiance

    Cheba Hut

    When you're in a restaurant that serves subs in various sizes called "nugs," "pinners," and "blunts," it only makes sense to be surrounded by cannabis-inspired art. While ordering at the counter, customers can eyeball the plethora of pot-themed stickers and photos taped across the length of the counter, proclaiming things like "Friends don't let friends eat shwag." There's also a… More >>
  • Best Nostalgia

    Sugar Bowl

    We've been hanging around Scottsdale so long that we remember when Fashion Square was an open-air mall. We shopped at the Wigwam, ate at China Lil's, endured countless Parada del Sol parades. So imagine our dismay when two Scottsdale old-timers — Pink Pony and Quilted Bear — bit the dust this year. We knew just what to do. We dusted… More >>
  • Best Makeover

    Liberty Market

    Gilbert's Liberty Market is the talk of the town. A complete renovation of the circa-1935 market and its 1959 addition has resulted in a buzz-worthy hangout that combines contemporary cool with vintage Americana. It's part cafeteria, part coffee bar, and part gourmet boutique, the kind of place where you could theoretically eat three times a day. Chef David Traina's tasty… More >>
  • Best Import

    Roka Akor

    Need proof that Scottsdale is on the international jet-setter map? Consider Roka Akor, an offshoot of London's chic Roka restaurant, which also has outposts in Macau and Hong Kong. Exotic company, don't you think? The "Akor" in the name here is actually "Roka" backwards, since it's supposed to be a reflection of the original eatery — both have high-style dining… More >>
  • Best Japanese Tea

    Japanese Friendship Garden

    At the Japanese Friendship Garden, as you pass through a gate on your way toward an authentic Japanese teahouse, you are supposed to shed a little more of your worldly cares in favor of a more serene, calm self. The ancient art of Chanoyu, or Japanese tea ceremony, is performed on the second Saturday of each month at the Japanese Friendship… More >>
  • Best Afternoon Tea

    The Ritz-Carlton

    We've had tea all over town, but no place spoils us like the Ritz. From the sweet valets to the tart lemon curd, every detail of the experience is spot-on, which is what you'd expect when you're paying big bucks for a sip of English Breakfast. It's worth every penny, as far as we're concerned, to perch on the edges… More >>
  • Best Bite Before (or After) Visiting SMoCA

    The Orange Table

    Even if the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art weren't right next door, The Orange Table would still be Old Town Scottsdale's best neighborhood cafe. But the proximity to SMoCA creates a great synergy — you can fuel up before checking out the latest exhibition, or swing by afterward to discuss the art over a meal. Earlier in the day, the… More >>
  • Best Chocolate Milkshake

    Udder Delights

    Step through the door of this Gilbert ice cream shop and you know you are in for a treat. We are here to recommend the chocolate milkshake, but frankly, the shop's case of homemade ice cream is so wowing that you may fill your stomach just by tasting samples. Save some room for a milkshake, which hits every mark —… More >>
  • Best Chocolates

    Chocolate Surprise

    Last year saw the closing of not a few chocolate shops in Phoenix, which meant we had to cast the net a bit wider for this year's winner. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we might not otherwise have made the trek to the Northwest Valley and found Chocolate Surprise, a delightful gem on Bell Road.… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Avalon - CLOSED

    Sometimes we don't mind skipping the sweet stuff at the end of the meal, because plenty of restaurants treat dessert like a sugary afterthought. But not Avalon. After a lavish feast of executive chef Travis Watson's "contemporary coastal cuisine" — California-meets-Mediterranean fare with an emphasis on seafood — we'll always make room for a little extra somethin' somethin'. That's because… More >>
  • Best Politically Incorrect Dessert

    The Michael Jackson Cupcake

    When we heard there was a bakery in town serving up a cupcake dedicated to Michael Jackson, we knew we had to check it out. When we heard that the cupcake in question was made of vanilla cake with a fudge center, we were on our way in a matter of minutes (with much snickering and several inappropriate jokes). But… More >>
  • Best Use of Fondant

    Tammie Coe Cakes

    We owe Tammie Coe an apology. For years, we've admired the beauty of her cakes — striped Mad Hatter-esque creations with impossibly smooth icing in vibrant colors. Our favorite is a recent creation — plain white covered perfectly with rainbow sprinkles, with a candy candle on top. Adorable. But we've long refused to eat Coe's fancy cakes; the icing is beautiful,… More >>
  • Best Snow Cone

    New Orleans Sno Ball

    The snow cone is perfect in its simplicity — ice, bathed in a sweet, flavored syrup. No finer snow cone is found in our hot metropolis than New Orleans Sno Ball. This isn't your ballpark or state fair snow cone, no sirree. Instead of rock-hard chunks of ice, the Sno Ball shaves ice into soft flakes, piled into a cup,… More >>
  • Best Gelato

    The Gelato Maker - CLOSED

    Gelato Maker owner Yaron Cohen dispenses samples of gelato like a benevolent judge dispenses justice. He stands behind the counter, confidently presiding over the rainbow of flavors, and sizes up his customers' tastes. Ask to try the coconut gelato and he'll also suggest you taste his favorite, mojito. Interested in Nutella? You should also sample the hazelnut gelato, called nocilla.… More >>
  • Best Pastries

    Scratch - CLOSED

    Scratch is a bright and airy French cafe — in a strip mall. We promise you'll forget your proximity to Subway as soon as you're in the door. The menu is populated with croque madames and savory crèpes oozing Comte, goat, and Brie cheeses. But the pièce de resistance (sorry, we did mention it's a French cafe, right?) is the… More >>
  • Best Whoopie Pies

    District American Kitchen & Wine Bar

    Because District is situated inside the new downtown Sheraton, it's expected that hotel guests would eat here. But interestingly enough, the restaurant seems to be going after locals, too, with a comfort-food menu that name-drops plenty of local purveyors and gives creative twists to American standards. One such classic is something we just don't see on restaurant menus in the… More >>
  • Best Tiramisu

    Amarone Ristorante Italiano - CLOSED

    It takes true discipline to behave ourselves at Amarone Ristorante Italiano, a north Scottsdale eatery where everything from the grilled calamari to the homemade gnocchi in vodka sauce is clean-your-plate good. Needless to say, we usually indulge ourselves here. Charming owner Maurizio Benforte (who also runs Pizza A Metro, in Phoenix) has a way of putting us in a festive… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    Bertha's Café

    In a sea of trendy cupcake shops, Bertha's Café rises modestly to the top. This casual and unassuming spot serves breakfast, lunch, and a variety of pastries, but the true-blue reason to go to Bertha's is to sample the adorable mini red velvet cupcakes. At 75 cents apiece, they're highly addictive; they're moist, with white frosting and red sprinkles —… More >>
  • Best Bread

    MJ Bread

    We'll forgive you if you didn't know MJ Bread exists. It's like a cute toy hidden inside a cereal box, but in this case, the cereal box is Tammie Coe Cakes. You may walk into Tammie Coe's looking for a swirly cake, but you're just as likely to walk out with a crunchy baguette, some ciabatta bread, or a warm olive… More >>
  • Best Bread for Dessert

    Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Bread

    Master baker Ben Hershberger has created a monster. His chocolate cherry sourdough bread is a one-pound marvel that has a cult following. Found at The Phoenician and the Scottsdale Farmers Market, it's worth getting up early just to guarantee you'll be able to grab some. Did we mention getting up early? This sweet treat sells out every week faster than… More >>
  • Best Bagels

    Back East Bagels

    We've gotta tell you, we've endured sub-par bagels all over the world, including our own East Coast. So the name alone wasn't enough to sell us on this place. But as soon as we bit into Back East's "everything" bagel — toasted, with tomato slices and cream cheese (the way God intended a bagel to be eaten — what's with… More >>
  • Best Jewish Deli

    Scott's Generations

    Scott's Generations is a New York deli that keeps the classics coming, from bagels and lox to chopped liver. Scott's knishes are the size of softballs, and the corned beef hash is tender and, best of all, only delicately salted. They also serve fantastically juicy and lean beef brisket. The "James Cagney" sandwich is a favorite, served with crunchy, sweet… More >>
  • Best Italian Deli

    DeFalco's Italian Grocery

    We grew up going to Italian-American delis with our Sicilian grandmother, so we recognize an authentic place like DeFalco's when we see it. The deli counter serves up delicious sausage sandwiches with heaps of pepper and onions. They also offer meatball subs and combo sandwiches stuffed with mortadella, salami, pepperoni, and provolone. Cold side dishes like marinated artichokes and penne… More >>
  • Best Asian Market

    Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket

    We just can't sing Lee Lee's praises highly enough. It's not simply the best Asian market in the Valley; it's one of the Phoenix area's best grocery stores — bar none. The produce department is bountiful, with towering stacks of jackfruit, Korean daikon, bitter melon, lemongrass, and six different kinds of choy. The bakery offers puffy pineapple cream buns and… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Grocery Store

    Baiz Market

    Need to stock up on charcoal squares and apple-flavored tobacco for your hookah? Head to Baiz Market, on 20th Street in Phoenix. The mid-size grocer is your connection for all things Middle Eastern and then some. They sell rose water, fig jam, and halawa. There's a halal meat counter that meets Islamic dietary standards, and a sweets display showing off… More >>
  • Best Indian Market

    India Plaza

    It's hard not to love India Plaza. Its charming façade is built to resemble the kind of old-fashioned storefront you might find at a railroad station. These days, it's even a bit authentic, since the light rail stops right in front. India Plaza stocks all the goods you'll need for a great east Indian meal. From candy-coated fennel seeds to mustard… More >>
  • Best Russian Market

    Yasha from Russia

    We're in love with Yasha from Russia and his lovely wife, Tanya. Who wouldn't be? These charming hosts have stocked their store with wares to satisfy a growing — and hungry — community of Eastern European transplants for several years now. In the process, they've made believers, and fans, of just about every visitor. Like caviar? We do, too. With an… More >>
  • Best Market We Wish Would Come to Our Neighborhood

    La Grande Orange

    There's not a thing we can say we really need La Grande Orange, yet there's a lot we want — a fine selection of wine, homemade English muffins, fresh salads, a coffee bar, cute gifts, baked goods. So we couldn't help but be jealous when we heard that our favorite gourmet grocery had opened another location — in Los Angeles.… More >>
  • Best New Farmers Market

    Old Town Farmers Market, Scottsdale

    In less than a year, the Old Town Farmers Market has emerged as a major player in the "eat local" scene. Where once you'd expect to find tourists, Western memorabilia, and the occasional wrought-iron howling coyote, you'll now find organic vegetables, local crafts, and ready-made noshes for home (assuming you don't devour them during the car ride, that is). It's… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for Gourmets

    Vincent's Saturday Market

    While some folks may be surprised that they have a choice of farmers markets in the Valley, we're sure no one is surprised that the best farmers market for the gourmet comes with a French accent. From October to May, this market, now in its 19th year, isn't your typical farmers market. Sure, you'll find swoon-worthy produce from Duncan Family… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for Grazing

    Ahwatukee Farmers Market

    Frankly, if you drag yourself out at the crack of 8 or 9 on a Sunday morning to scope out what's in season from local produce growers, you deserve all the snacks you can find. Ahwatukee Farmers Market is a low-key place where you'll find a little bit of everything you need, from rare veggies to fine art, and while… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for Produce

    Roadrunner Park Farmers Market

    The Valley's many, many farmers markets employ a canny scheduling strategy to attract scarce growers and busy customers: They're not all held at the same day and time. Saturday mornings are particularly competitive, all the same, and the Paradise Valley area is blessed with a venerable institution that presents a plethora of produce from fertile fields scattered all around town. Roadrunner… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for Petting Baby Goats

    Mesa Community Farmers Market

    Among the motley crowd at a farmers market, you'll find organic locavores, indie craft fanatics, and people who just want to get out of the house. Then there are those whose mission is to fondle underage livestock, and Kathryn Marshall is their go-to gal. When the high temp for the day is predicted under 100 degrees, Marshall brings a portable… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for Dog Flirting

    Downtown Phoenix Community Market

    If you're a big old dog slut — sorry, a dog aficionado — you're familiar with the challenges. First, you need the canine equivalent of a pick-up bar. Downtown Phoenix Community Market fills that bill, 'cause everybody who's anybody is there with their person on a leash. Then you want to make sure that your type of dog hangs out… More >>
  • Best Thing to Ever Happen to Gilbert

    Joe Johnston

    Maybe it's the affordable housing prices or the constant sunshine that attracts transplants from all over the globe, but whatever the reason, Phoenix has become the melting pot of the Southwest. It's rare to find a native Phoenician and even rarer to find one like restaurateur Joe Johnston, who manages to make even the newest desert dweller feel at home… More >>
  • Best Sign of Urban Renewal

    Hanny's

    We think Hanny's deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as ASU's downtown campus, Janet Echelman's mesmerizing mesh sculpture floating above the civic park, and the CityScape development. This restaurant really is a point of pride for the downtown renaissance, for multiple reasons. First off, owner Karl Kopp, known for his Scottsdale watering hole AZ88, invested millions to transform… More >>
  • Best Renaissance Man

    Martin Antonelli

    For the past eight years, Martin Antonelli has combined his advertising background, passion for family, and love of poetry into a charming French restaurant, Voltaire, in Scottsdale. It's his homage to family and food, instead of a typically trendy faux-French bistro. After an extensive career in New York, Antonelli sought a change and an outlet for his creativity. When his son… More >>
  • Best Chip

    Poore Brothers

    Brothers Jay and Don Poore, of Arizona-based snack brand Poore Brothers Potato Chips, are the main characters in one of America's great corporate fairy tales. Once upon a time, the pair worked as engineers for snack food companies, installing and repairing machines in their plants. There they were introduced to the wonderful world of potato chips — not just the… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Sweet Republic

    Talk about a cool idea. When number crunching started to wear thin, globetrotters Helen Yung and Jan Wichayanuparp left the world of finance for the world of ice cream — and the Valley's better for it. Their adorable, citrus-hued ice cream shop, Sweet Republic, opened last year with a distinctive point of view and a uniquely tasty product that attracted the attention… More >>
  • Best Brand

    Vincent Guerithault

    In the more than 20 years since French chef Vincent Guerithault established himself in Phoenix, the city's been good to him — he's become one of the most respected, well-known chefs in the region. But he's also been good to us in return, keeping customers well fed with his distinctive, deeply personal dishes. Guerithault's menus are a reflection of his love… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet a Stranger

    Welcome Diner

    Phoenix is not a serendipitous city. We're stuck in our cars most of the time, deliberately driving from point A to point B in our strip-malled, paved-over landscape. How in the world does anyone make a new acquaintance here? You just have to be more proactive, and places like Welcome Diner go a long way in creating an intimate, neighborhood… More >>
  • Best Macarons

    Essence Bakery Café

    When it comes to the latest fad, too often Phoenix is the last to arrive on the scene. So we were pleased this summer when, on a visit to New York City, we noticed that French macarons were all the rage. Ha! Essence has been doing that for years. And doing it oh so well. We bet you'd be hard-pressed… More >>
  • Best Hippies

    Andy and Jan Goldstein

    Leave it to the hippies to come up with some of Phoenix's cheekiest eateries. We're not talking about just any peace-and-love throwbacks, though. We mean Jan and Andy Goldstein, the dynamic husband-and-wife duo behind the burgeoning Two Hippies empire. It started a few years ago, when they opened a kitschy, pint-size burger and hot dog joint on Indian School called Two… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Nosh

    Sens - CLOSED

    Downtown Phoenix's nightlife is picking up momentum. Want proof? Check out Sens, chef Johnny Chu's hip, modern Asian tapas spot, where you can stop by for a snack or a full meal until midnight — and until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Chu's small-plates menu is a celebration of pan-Asian flavors, from Japanese-style grilled shrimp and red Thai curry… More >>

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