Food & Drink

  • Best New Restaurant


    This is the little restaurant that could.Amid a sour economy — and even in the middle of the summer slowdown — this is the place that had locals buzzing on Twitter, Facebook, and good old-fashioned word of mouth in 2010.The excitement started with a trifecta: rustic, comforting American eats by chef-owner Charleen Badman; cozy, bustling atmosphere; and rock star treatment… More >>
  • Best Old Arizona Charm

    The Stockyards Restaurant

    It's hard to imagine that the area near this stretch of East Phoenix used to be the country's biggest cattle feedlot, but a visit to The Stockyards — situated in what was once the Tovrea Land and Cattle Company's administrative offices — can take you back in time to an era when ranching was still a big part of the… More >>
  • Best Competitive Eating Splurge


    Sometimes, you just need a little steak. Other times, you just need a lot of steak. When heaps of beef are what you're after — and you've got the cash — there's no better meal than Durant's 48-ounce porterhouse. Plain on the outside, fancy-pants on the inside, Durant's is a Phoenix institution that's hosted powerful politicos, celebrities, and mobsters alike.… More >>
  • Best Competitive Eating Bargain

    San Felipe's Cantina

    San Felipe's Cantina is known for many things: decent guacamole, dangerously cheap shots of liquor and draft beer, obnoxious clientele. What it should be known for, however, is the El Gordito Burrito. Also known as "the Fat One," the El Gordito is a big-ass taco de harina made with chicken or steak, rice, beans, and cheese, all wrapped in a… More >>
  • Best Hot Dog

    The Main Ingredient

    When Matt and Courtney Diamond opened their bangin' little "ale house" in a Seventh Street bungalow, it wasn't enough to have a great list of regional craft beers and quaffable, affordable wines. They came up with some scrumptious eats, too, the most beer-friendly of them all being the Coronado Coney, named after the historic district where the restaurant is situated.… More >>
  • Best Wings


    You gotta love a place where the hot wings come with an "order at your own risk" warning. It's no joke, either. Teakwoods' "hot" is truly that, while the "suicide" sauce takes some culinary masochism to enjoy. (We know, this is just what wings fanatics are obsessed with.) Even done up with more mild-mannered sauces (mild, honey BBQ, etc.), these… More >>
  • Best Fish 'n' Chips

    Rúla Búla

    This laid-back, classy Irish pub is one of our favorite drinking destinations, but we've learned the hard way not to show up without an appetite. Why? Because even though a Guinness is a meal in a glass, it can't compare to a plate of Rúla Búla's fabulous fish 'n' chips. We can't watch someone else devour this pub classic without… More >>
  • Best Burger

    The Grind

    Executive chef Matthew McLinn has fine dining and an upscale steakhouse on his résumé, and now he's doing burgers that are just as sophisticated — like steak on a bun. Recently, even Bon Appetit gave a nod to his juicy creations. What makes the difference? Using premium, hormone-free meat and organic ingredients, sizzling the burgers in a special coal-fired oven… More >>
  • Best Fries

    Metro Brasserie - CLOSED

    We didn't set out to become French fry addicts at an actual French restaurant — it happened somewhat unexpectedly. One night, we craved mussels, so we tried the moules frites, with mussels in thyme-scented white wine broth and a small bucket of pommes frites. Before long, we surprised ourselves at how quickly we gobbled up those perfectly crispy slivers of… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Phoenix Palace

    One word of advice: Go before you're ravenous.The thing about dim sum is that you have to show up when everybody else in town does if you want to get the best, freshest selection of dishes.That means weekends are prime time at Phoenix Palace, when Asian families mob the place to gather at big tables and fill their lazy Susans… More >>
  • Best Noodles

    China Magic Noodle House

    The chef here really is a magician, transforming a hunk of dough into made-to-order, hand-pulled noodles with a series of dramatic spins and stretches. Before long, his fingers are laced with fine strands that end up in any number of soups, pan-fried dishes, and other entrées. And the best part (aside from eating them)? It's watching him work his craft… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Hana Japanese Eatery

    How fresh is the sushi at Hana? Well, let's just say we've made the acquaintance of our ama-ebi before the beauties met their demise at the hands of chef Rick "Koji" Hashimoto. We've watched him carve up large sections of tuna, tail and fins still attached. And we've gotten a chance to say sayonara to whole fish that had been… More >>
  • Best Budget Sushi

    Teharu Sushi

    With its mesmerizing conveyor belt of sushi circling the counter, Teharu has a way of hypnotizing us. Somehow, we lose all self-control when plates of spicy tuna roll, salmon nigiri, and creative makizushi pass before our eyes. Before long, the plates start stacking up. Get the beer and sake flowing, and we're really in the zone. Luckily for us, they… More >>
  • Best Foie Gras


    Truffle-infused filet mignon, steamed mussels with Spanish chorizo, and seductive duck confit are just a few of the appealing creations that chef Christopher Gross and his kitchen team crank out night after night at this sleek, stylish Biltmore eatery, but there's one thing worthy of special props: the sous vide roasted foie gras. Rich, impossibly luscious "meat butter" is always… More >>
  • Best Seafood


    The place with the best seafood in town doesn't bill itself as a seafood restaurant at all, but simply as a well-rounded contemporary American fine-dining spot with touches of international flair. No matter. Nobody else in these parts serves seafood from elite purveyor Ingrid Bengis (known for supplying Maine lobster and halibut to luminaries like Thomas Keller). Hungry for a… More >>
  • Best Sandwiches

    Pane Bianco

    It may seem crazy that one tiny shop — which has picnic-style outdoor seating only and features just four sandwiches — could be such a heavyweight in this category. But the chef-owner is the celebrated Chris Bianco, which means this is bread from the same guy who turned Phoenix into a pizza mecca. Simple mozzarella, tomato, and basil never tasted… More >>
  • Best Jewish Deli

    Stan's Metro Deli - CLOSED

    Talk about a blast from the past. Local institution Stan's Metro Deli — which closed its doors in 1998 — made a comeback this year in a spot that's not far from where Stan Stone opened his original Tempe location. Now, his son Keith and business partner Sharon Fenderson continue the legacy with this friendly hangout that serves such classic… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Maui Dog - CLOSED

    Crazy, island-style hot dogs and bratwurst served out of a funky surfer shack on Indian School Road have become our latest obsession. And although Maui Dog is just a humble little indie eatery, we wish we could find this on every street corner in town. What makes it so darn tasty? It's hard to explain how savory, juicy wieners go… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    Caffe Boa

    What's not to love about a chef with skills and a sense of humor? Payton Curry has become Caffe Boa's biggest asset, a guy with the courage to take a classic, all-American favorite — fried chicken — and make it better. That he did, all right, and he even dubbed it Payt-N-Bake Fried Chicken, just so nobody forgets who came… More >>
  • Best Pulled Pork

    Joe's Real BBQ

    It's not the primo location on Gilbert Road that keeps us coming back to Joe's Real BBQ. It's not the old-fashioned charm of this 1929 building, decorated with '40s-era Arizona ephemera, or even the dapper style of hat-loving founder Joe Johnston, who's become a local foodie icon. As much as we'd like to say there's something unfair about the appeal… More >>
  • Best Pig Roast

    McReynolds Farms Inc.

    This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed at home. This little piggy went "wee, wee, wee" as he roasted on a spit. Pig roasts aren't just for luaus — we've spotted swine smoking on the grill at fancy hotel restaurants and catered holiday events. But the best place to score the whole hog year-round is McReynolds Farms.… More >>
  • Best Brisket

    Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue

    It's been open barely a year, but Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue already has an excellent reputation among aficionados of smoked meat. Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Bryan Dooley left the swank Scottsdale restaurant he'd been working at to barbecue full time, and his training is evident across the just-a-tiny-bit-upscale-for-a-BBQ-joint menu. Witness the olive slaw and vegetarian-friendly pulled squash. Still, it's… More >>
  • Best BBQ Sauce

    Honey Bear's

    We don't go to barbecue restaurants for sauce. Nope, it's the meat we want — juicy, smoky, tender meat. Still, if we were to select a local barbecue joint's sauce for bottling, we'd have no trouble picking. We're not exactly sure what the secret ingredient in Honey Bear's thin but sticky sauce might be, but whatever it is, it's mighty… More >>
  • Best Soul Food Restaurant

    Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe

    What's up with the quirky name of this restaurant? It's all about eating on your honor. You see, the folks at Mrs. White's aren't keeping tabs on your order, at least in the form of a check. Nor are they even handing you a menu when you sit down to eat. The list of scrumptious options is scribbled all over… More >>
  • Best Contemporary American Restaurant


    You never know what chef Greg LaPrad is going to cook up at Quiessence. This tiny, romantic spot — nestled in a surprisingly lush part of town, at the back of the Farm at South Mountain — is all about eating seasonally, with a menu that changes from day to day based on what local produce LaPrad has sourced. (The… More >>
  • Best Upscale Italian Restaurant

    Marcellino Ristorante

    This past year has been a busy one for Sima and Marcellino Verzino. The dynamic husband-and-wife team left their longtime digs on Northern Avenue in Phoenix (a humble strip mall that made discovering Marcellino's incredible Italian cuisine all the more delightful) for a much swankier setting on Scottsdale's Stetson Drive, at SouthBridge. Finally, the atmosphere really matches the caliber of… More >>
  • Best Corner Italian Restaurant

    Andreoli Italian Grocer

    Part Italian deli and part casual Italian eatery, Andreoli Italian Grocer does double duty with panache. Owner Giovanni Scorzo has stocked the shelves and deli counter with plenty of tempting imported goods, but better yet, he's crafted an impressive selection of housemade breads, cheeses, salami, and sausage, so you know your panino is as fresh as can be. Memorable antipasti… More >>
  • Best Upscale Steakhouse

    BLT Steak

    As the stereotypical upscale steakhouse goes completely masculine, from the ambiance to the unabashedly carnivorous menu, BLT Steak seduces in a different way, with a luxurious, varied, and French-inspired menu, as well as a surprisingly urban atmosphere (given the restaurant's location at the serenely gorgeous desert resort Camelback Inn). It makes perfect sense, though, when you learn that award-winning French… More >>
  • Best Old-School Steak House


    The past few years have seen a serious proliferation of steak houses across the Valley, each one with a different take on enjoying a good hunk of animal flesh. It's certainly fun to try them out as if we were trying on different outfits, but when a perfect New York strip and a martini are what suit us, we head… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Zinc Bistro

    Seems there's always a European vacation gnawing at the back of our mind, but the reality of hopping the pond is usually a pipe dream. Good thing we can indulge in our Francophile fantasies at Zinc Bistro anytime we want. It's like a tiny patch of Paris planted in our own backyard, complete with a chic dining room, a see-and-be-seen… More >>
  • Best Puerto Rican

    El Coquito - CLOSED

    We're probably not fooling anyone — our pick for "Best Puerto Rican" is, as of press time, also the only place for Puerto Rican. Yet it's no less deserving of the honor. Owner Jaime Acevedo brings his Puerto Rican heritage to the Valley via New York City, which is evident from the Yankees jerseys and memorabilia on the walls at… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Guru Palace

    We've been in love with Guru Palace since we first set eyes on a luscious bowl of chicken tikka masala here, with moist chunks of meat soaked in buttery, tomato-ginger gravy. Even after we'd eaten the chicken, we couldn't resist spooning more of that tasty sauce over a steaming scoop of basmati rice. Turns out, everything at Guru Palace is… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Al-Hana Restaurant

    So what if this restaurant is really just a lunch counter and a handful of tables sectioned off from a Middle Eastern grocery store? That doesn't make Al-Hana — located inside of Baiz Market, next to the cash registers — any less delightful. Consider the open kitchen, where you can see white-clad cooks slice your succulent chicken shawarma right off… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Restaurant Takamatsu

    Our favorite Korean restaurant distinguishes itself in more ways than one. The food's amazing, of course, and the service is downright jovial — we always feel welcome at this homey spot. Just as appealing is the atmosphere, which draws groups of Korean families and hungry businessmen alike. We're hooked on the wonderful smell of sizzling meat here, which gets our… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Sushi Ken

    When all our Japanese friends started telling us Sushi Ken was their favorite place in town, we wasted no time in heading down to Ahwatukee for a sushi fix. Sure enough, the sushi here is great, but there's so much more to the menu that makes us happy. From savory ramen noodle soup that satisfies with its complex broth to… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Da Vang

    It can feel overwhelming to peruse Da Vang's menu for the first time — so many choices, so little time. (Thank goodness it's numbered!) But don't worry, because everything at this humble hole-in-the-wall is just what you're craving if you love authentic Vietnamese eats. Sip on a refreshing da chanh (limeade) or a jolt-inducing ca phe sua da (iced coffee… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Asian Cafe Express

    The Valley's best place to fill up on authentic Chinese cuisine also happens to be a very modest storefront with a no-frills little dining room. Although you won't find lavish furnishings fit for an emperor at Asian Cafe Express, you will find a very glorious feast. Chef-owner Michael Leung's excellent sauces are the highlight of many dishes, and his pan-fried… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Thai E-San

    First things first: How do they define their "Thai hot"? Here, at Thai E-San — which opened in CenPho earlier this year — even the medium is pretty tongue-searing. These folks mean business, from the taste of their curries. Sausage stuffed with ground pork and pork skin is an intriguing and uncommon dish, while the coconut soup takes a Thai… More >>
  • Best Vegan Restaurant

    Chakra 4 Herb & Tea House

    Why in the world did we ever think veganism was kind of gloomy? At Chakra 4, the healthful vegan menu is the most vibrant rainbow of food we've ever seen. Chopped salads with orange carrot, purple cabbage, green cilantro, yellow pepper, and ruby tomato, sandwiches stuffed with flavorful housemade hummus and an array of vegetables, and soups and stews brimming… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian Restaurant

    Cafe Krishna - CLOSED

    More than 100 items, packed into a colorful menu supplemented with photos, facts, and descriptions, make choosing dishes a delightful challenge at this tasteful Southern Indian restaurant in Chandler. You won't miss meat one bit when faced with such an array of savory chaat snacks, naan and other breads, deep-fried chickpea patties, fragrantly spiced vegetable stews, and jaw-dropping dosai, crispy,… More >>
  • Best Gourmet Pizza

    Pizzeria Bianco

    Things took a strange turn this past year for Phoenix's most famous chef, Chris Bianco. Seemingly an eternal fixture at the wood-burning oven that's the centerpiece of his Heritage Square eatery — where locals line up along with pizza pilgrims from across the country — he had to stop making pizzas when his asthma worsened and his doctor told him… More >>
  • Best Slice of Pizza

    Jimmy & Joe's

    At most pizza joints, a slice usually adds up to a snack — we'll take two or three to make a meal. But Jimmy & Joe's lives up to its "serious slices" tagline with jaw-dropping pieces of New York-style pizza so big that each one is served on its own individual pan, with its own pizza cutter to boot. The… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizzeria, Central Phoenix


    Just outside the downtown orbit, Cibo is truly tucked into a residential neighborhood, bringing energy to a beautifully restored historic 1913 bungalow at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fillmore Street. Outside, the lush front yard is filled with umbrella tables and twinkling lights, while the interior is packed with cozy tables, cheerful artwork, and a fabulous bar area where… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizzeria, South Phoenix

    Amano Bistro

    The first time we found Amano Pizza Bistro, we had to do a double take. Is this really what we think it is — a bustling, hip hangout — located near nothing in particular on a quiet stretch of Baseline Road? It's strange, but whenever we walk inside this family-owned spot, we're pleased to see it so busy. Here, the… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizzeria, West Valley

    La Piazza al Forno

    Yeah, yeah, Guy Fieri made his mark here (literally, with a stencil on the wall), but we didn't need the extroverted Food Network personality to tell us how good La Piazza is. The proof is simply in the pies, hand-tossed Neapolitan beauties that chef-owner Justin Piazza bakes in his roaring wood-fired oven. From the meat-laden Italian Stallion (covered in pepperoni,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizzeria, Southeast Valley


    After all these years — and a mini-empire of restaurants in the Valley — Nello's still satisfies us when we want to hang out and enjoy some great pizza with a gang of friends or family. We love how there's something for everyone at this cheerful, bustling spot. There's a choice of crust (pan-style and thin crust) in the build-your-own… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizzeria, Scottsdale

    Humble Pie

    With pizza this good, they oughta be cocky. Humble Pie stays true to its name, though, quietly cranking out unique, mouthwatering pizzas for its loyal following. Basic creations such as the margherita and Sicilian sausage are as good as any you'll find, and creative pies topped with such combinations as shrimp with housemade mozzarella, lemon zest, fresh basil, herb oil,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Pizzeria, Tempe

    Classic Italian Pizza

    Buried in a strip mall so deeply that you can hardly see it even when you know where to look, Classic Italian Pizza has always had an aura of mystery. It's a bit of a pain to find, sure, but can you imagine how packed this place would be if it were any more accessible? Selfishly, we're glad about it.… More >>
  • Best Sign of Urban Renewal

    Nobuo at Teeter House

    As of press time, James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda's brand-new izakaya (Japanese-style tavern) is the hot ticket in the Phoenix culinary scene, set inside a beautifully renovated historic bungalow built in 1899. As if Fukuda's reputation as the Valley's premier Japanese chef weren't enough of a draw (his cult of devotees remains strong from his days at the now-defunct… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Foodie


    In many ways, chef Kevin Binkley's namesake restaurant turns traditional fine dining upside down. From the humble storefront on Cave Creek Road to the cozy, unpretentious atmosphere, there's nothing stuffy about this place, and there's certainly not an uptight dress code. Nope, the emphasis here is simply the beauty of heirloom produce at its peak of ripeness, luxurious ingredients like… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a Scenester

    St. Francis

    Where do all the beautiful people go? Where are the city's movers and shakers — politicians, academics, design geeks, DJs — feeding their fabulous faces, watching each other, and maybe even getting tipsy? They're hanging out at St. Francis, apparently, from the looks of the always-busy dining room. If you consider yourself even remotely connected, then be prepared to run… More >>
  • Best Place to Buy Cheese Curds

    Milk 'n' More Store

    Tempe may be worlds away from cow country, but farm-fresh cheese is closer than you'd expect. Milk from around the state is trucked to the United Dairymen of Arizona processing plant daily to be pasteurized and packaged, and the leftovers are turned into tasty cheese that's sold on site in the Milk 'n' More Store. The store's crowning glory is its cheese… More >>
  • Best Food Truck

    Truckin' Good Food

    The streets of Phoenix feel a little bit more like Paris thanks to the folks behind Truckin' Good Food, a mobile creperie that makes the rounds at local farmers markets in downtown Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Ahwatukee. (Check the website or Twitter for the lowdown on the current route.) What we love about Truckin' Good Food is the quality of… More >>
  • Best Organic Produce

    McClendon's Select

    The benefits of buying organic are plentiful, but we're often disappointed by small tomatoes or wilted greens. Thankfully, we can rely on McClendon's Select to offer up something ripe and gorgeous, whether it's crisp arugula or the plump, fragrant pink grapefruit we bought during this year's citrus season. Everything grown on the 25-acre family farm is now organic, a switch… More >>
  • Best Food Co-Op

    Bountiful Baskets

    Since Tempe's Gentle Strength Co-op bit the dust a few years ago, we've had to get creative to find cheap produce. Good thing we stumbled upon Bountiful Baskets, a volunteer-run service that offers produce at less than dollar-store prices. It's quick and easy — just pre-order a basket online for $15 ($25 for organic) and pick up your fruits and… More >>
  • Best New Farmers Market, West Valley

    Momma's Organic Market at Park West

    Once a month on Saturdays from September through April, the open-air outdoor area of the Park West shopping center is transformed into a fresh produce and local artisan heaven. Located west of Loop 101 on Northern, the west-side market stocks all sorts of beautiful fruits and veggies from Pinnacle Gardens and Crooked Sky Farms, a book exchange table, and live… More >>
  • Best New Farmers Market, East Valley

    Thursday Night Market at Hayden Station Plaza - CLOSED

    February 18 was a red-letter day for many folks in Tempe. On that day, the Thursday Night Market on Mill officially launched its weekly open-air market featuring locally made food and artsy products. Since then, the shindig has showcased a constant rotation of interesting vendors and products, such as Cortez Coffee, Udder Delights, pet treats by Sisters 3 Biscuits, and… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for a Sweet Tooth

    Ahwatukee Farmers Market

    You probably thought farmers markets were only about fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Ha! Think again, at least if you're at the Ahwatukee Farmers Market. While there are healthful foods to be found here, the balance of good versus evil has shifted to the dark chocolate side. Tucked between handcrafted jewelry and produce are vendors selling cookies, brownies, toffee,… More >>
  • Best Farmers Market for Fido

    Scottsdale Old Town Farmers Market

    Short of dedicated dog parks or your own street, there aren't many public places in Scottsdale that welcome pooches larger than a Gucci purse. That's why owners with four-footed pals in tow adore the Old Town Farmers Market, where Fido can walk the streets with his furry head held high. Water bowls are placed throughout the market, and several vendors… More >>
  • Best Patio Dining

    Frank & Albert's

    Tearing down the old Biltmore Grill and starting anew with Frank & Albert's was perhaps the Biltmore Resort's smartest move to get noticed in the local dining scene. In its previous incarnation, it was never much on anyone's radar, but now it's a restaurant for more than just a captive audience at the hotel. Savvy Phoenicians are getting to know… More >>
  • Best Sunday Brunch

    Lon's at the Hermosa

    Without a doubt, the kind of brunch that really romances us is one where the food is better than run-of-the-mill breakfast, and the setting transports us to a different time and place. Such is the charm of brunch at Lon's, located at the historic Hermosa Inn. This is pure Southwestern beauty, inside and out — beautifully manicured desert grounds, and… More >>
  • Best Breakfast, Central Phoenix

    Matt's Big Breakfast

    The name only becomes more ironic as time goes by — Matt's Big Breakfast feels smaller with every new customer who discovers the place (often courtesy of The Food Network) and makes the wait here that much longer. But what's impressive is how the quality has stayed so consistent in spite of Matt's popularity. The from-scratch pancakes are still fluffy… More >>
  • Best Breakfast, South Phoenix

    Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles - CLOSED

    Did somebody say chicken and waffles? Yeah, that'll get us right out of bed. You'll never need to twist our arm to start off the day with Lo-Lo's crispy, otherworldly fried chicken and a hot pile of waffles, but even if we weren't in the mood for that (impossible, honestly), there's still so much to love about this favorite local… More >>
  • Best Breakfast, West Valley

    Cee Cee's on the Corner

    Just as you'd expect from a restaurant set among the historic buildings of Glendale's Catlin Court — literally, on the corner of 58th Avenue and Palmaire — Cee Cee's just oozes vintage charm, with wood floors, old-timey décor, and quirky antique retail to boot. Before we set out on a shopping adventure in the neighborhood, we like to fuel up… More >>
  • Best Breakfast, Southeast Valley

    Liberty Market

    It's a good thing that breakfast service at Liberty Market starts bright and early, at 7 a.m., because our cravings usually kick in as soon as we roll out of bed. What's waiting for us at Liberty Market? To eat, there are scrambled egg dishes, granola, fresh pastries, and don't-miss griddled bread pudding with espresso syrup (for a sugary boost).… More >>
  • Best Breakfast, Tempe

    Crackers & Co. Cafe

    There's a lot of seating at Crackers & Co., and the folks here seem to fill it with ease. That's just a sign of how good this spot really is. Strong coffee with abundant refills, perfectly cooked omelets, egg skillets heaped with savory ingredients and generous gobs of cheese, and all kinds of guilty-pleasure treats — scones, giant cinnamon rolls… More >>
  • Best Breakfast, Scottsdale

    Orange Table - CLOSED

    How do the night owls of downtown Scotts­dale manage to drag themselves out of bed and recoup the day after bar hopping, wee-hours eating, and dancing like there's no tomorrow? Their secret has to be a hidden-away Civic Center eatery called Orange Table, where the made-from-scratch breakfast could revive even the most hungover (or terribly hungry) customer with killer coffee… More >>
  • Best Hidden Gem


    There's a first time for everything — even fine dining in a hair salon. Seriously, the Steven Paul Salon in Old Town Scottsdale is the unlikely venue for the creative efforts of chefs Brandon Crouser and Cullen Campbell, but we're not complaining. In fact, we think it's a laudable effort. By day, they offer a salad bar and open-face sandwiches… More >>
  • Best Bar Food

    The Roosevelt - CLOSED

    So far, we haven't been feeling the so-called "gastropubs" that have shown up on the scene this year — they all seem like a trickle-down trend, inspired by something that blew up in other major cities (but not here) years ago. But you know what? The Roosevelt has been pretty much a gastropub all along, even though owner Matt Pool… More >>
  • Best BYOB

    Atlas Bistro

    Honestly, the fact that you can bring your own wine (or buy some at the adjoining wine shop) is not the biggest reason to check out Atlas. We'd still love this place even if we were teetotalers, because chefs Joshua Riesner and Keenan Bosworth are cooking up some very impressive contemporary American cuisine here. The menu changes all the time,… More >>
  • Best BYOB

    Atlas Bistro

    Honestly, the fact that you can bring your own wine (or buy some at the adjoining wine shop) is not the biggest reason to check out Atlas. We'd still love this place even if we were teetotalers, because chefs Joshua Riesner and Keenan Bosworth are cooking up some very impressive contemporary American cuisine here. The menu changes all the time,… More >>
  • Best Dining as Theater

    Le Chalet

    Is it the bubbling bowl of molten cheese delivered to the table with soft hunks of bread, perfect for sparking conversation and a little dinnertime fun? Could it be your waiter flipping booze bottles behind the bar when he's not regaling you with drool-worthy food descriptions? Or is it perhaps the old-school performance art of a cook dousing hunks of… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat at the Counter

    Posh Improvisational Cuisine

    Sit at the long, gleaming counter at Posh, check your likes and dislikes on the unorthodox menu of ingredients, and settle in for a leisurely meal that's custom-made just for you. It sounds a heck of a lot like an omakase meal at a sushi bar, but this is something else — contemporary American cuisine with French influences (brûléed foie… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    Postino Winecafé

    What's the secret to success for this always-hoppin' winebar (which cloned itself last year, yet still has its mojo)? Somehow, the folks at Postino have found the sweet spot of style, service, and accessible food, whether you're talking a lively weekend brunch with friends, after-work vino and a bite, or a cozy, candlelit meal with a date. The selection of… More >>
  • Best Place to Take a First Date

    The Parlor

    Hitting the town with somebody new? Tasty eats like grilled asparagus with preserved lemon, delicious handmade pastas (we love the tagliatelle with speck, grilled radicchio, and pecorino crema), juicy burgers, and, of course, pizzas make this parlor a favorite for both lunch and dinner. Craft cocktails, beer, and wine keep conversation well lubricated, so to speak, and if it turns… More >>
  • Best View

    J&G Steakhouse

    It doesn't matter whether it's a clear, starry night, a hazy pink sunset, or the middle of an electrical storm, there's no better place to dine and get an eyeful of the Valley than from J&G Steakhouse. Perched up at The Phoenician, facing south, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's stylish steakhouse has vast city views that compete with the excellent steakhouse… More >>
  • Best Hot Spot

    Modern Steak - CLOSED

    Steaks here are delicious, but there's more than meats, er, meets the eye at Modern Steak. We also adore the lovely, fresh salads, quirky eats like the foot-long Kobe beef hotdog, appealing seafood dishes such as miso-glazed Chilean sea bass with crispy oyster mushrooms, and desserts that aren't just an afterthought (a sampler of moist cupcakes, crowned with creamy frosting,… More >>
  • Best Hummus

    Dr. Hummus

    Sick of typical dips? Scoop up something with a little snap from Sabeur Ruin, a.k.a. Dr. Hummus. A native of North Africa, Ruin regularly prescribes his chickpea concoctions as the cure-all for dull party fare. A secret family recipe handed down from his grandmother, the hummus comes in four flavors, including Original, Artichoke, Garlic, and as a nod to Ruin's… More >>
  • Best Sausage

    Schreiner's Fine Sausages

    Describe a flavor with adjectives like smoky, spicy, and multi-layered, and you might expect to be sampling a fine wine, not noshing on the culinary handiwork of the folks at Schreiner's Fine Sausages. After having purchased the business from its original owners, Gary Schiller has been handcrafting quality meat products for almost 30 years. His experience and love for the… More >>
  • Best Kimchee

    Paldo Market - CLOSED

    When it comes to food, simple is usually best. Why mess up something yummy with unnecessary complication? So when we're hungry for kimchee, we simply head for Paldo Market. Paldo has freshly made containers of the Korean staple ready to go in multiple varieties. If Napa cabbage is your favorite flavor, rest assured it's so delicious that the temptation to… More >>
  • Best Use of Bacon

    Bacon Brownies

    We shouldn't be telling you about this. But on Friday mornings, Royal at the Market gives birth to the most decadent of breakfast treats. It's got chocolate. It's got bacon. It's available for only a few nanoseconds. We're talking about bacon brownies. If you're at the Royal at 8 a.m. (if you can't make it that early, you don't deserve… More >>
  • Best Use of Veal

    House of Tricks' Veal Bacon

    Chef Kelly Fletcher may not be the first to make a VLT, but he'd argue that his is absolutely the best. And we wouldn't disagree. He's no stranger to using controversial ingredients — not that he thinks veal should even be in that category. But he loves telling the story about the time he shot a segment with a local… More >>
  • Best Use of Prunes

    Prune Danish - CLOSED

    There's plenty to love about this super-authentic bakery/cafe, which specializes in Polish and Eastern European delicacies, baked fresh every day and displayed in vintage-looking, glass-fronted cases. We're crazy about their fruit-filled doughnuts, the pierogi, and the hot, black, chicory-flavored coffee they serve here. We're nuts about the little grocery section stocked with non-perishables like we've only ever seen in little… More >>
  • Best Kalamata Olive Bread

    Jonathan Robins Bakery

    What's soft, inviting, and vaguely exotic? Get your head out of the gutter and into an oven. We're talking about bread — the most wonderful bread we've laid teeth on. Jonathan Robins' kalamata olive bread came into our life via the Tempe Farmers Market, the only place in town to purchase it. It's packed full of olives, making it so… More >>
  • Best Pork Chili Verde

    Ranch House Grille

    When Glenda Looney, a cook for the original Ranch House Grille in Page, brought a recipe for homemade pork chili verde to the restaurant nine years ago, owners Phil and Maryjane Kline knew they had struck green gold — passing on the spicy sauce made with tender chunks of pork shoulder to son Leland when he opened the Phoenix location… More >>
  • Best Salad Topping

    Yulu Seeds

    Exotic. Tough to find. Fun to say. What better way to turn salads, pasta, beans and rice, even ice cream, into far-out fare than with the addition of yulu seeds? From the bonete, a wild tree native to Mexico, yulus are tiny, crunchy, fiber-packed orbs with a taste that's similar to sunflower seeds. To find yulus, you'll need to chance… More >>
  • Best Butter

    Creative Butters

    It is hard to imagine making butter any better, but Jennifer VanInwengen has managed to whip up several flavored varieties that raise the bar on the decadent creamy goodness our grandmothers swore by. Her compound butters aren't just for your morning toast (though we love the honey cinnamon butter on a crispy waffle); they can also be your secret shortcut… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Karl's Quality Bakery

    Karl, who hails from Switzerland, loves his customers. If you're lucky enough to visit the ever-expanding and increasingly upscale counter when the baker himself is surveying his goods, he's sure to offer you one of his famous bran mini-muffins. He'll force it on you, really. And God forbid his baker elves under-fill an éclair. "Would you want to pay for… More >>
  • Best Cupcake

    Black and White Cupcake at Copper Star Coffee

    We started going to Copper Star because the iced coffee is second to none — and that's because owner Bill Sandweg is a connoisseur and, therefore, knows his way around a nice tidy glass of black java on the rocks. But we ended up addicted to Copper Star's Black and White Cupcakes, baked in-house by the cafe's manager and resident… More >>
  • Best Cheesecake

    Bertha's Café

    Talk about unassuming. The cheesecakes at Bertha's Café may not make an appearance on the in-house menu, but their taste is anything but bashful. After years of supplying the delicious indulgence to family and friends, owner and chef Beth Goldwater ran with her reputation for cheesecakes and opened Bertha's Café as a breakfast, lunch, and dessert destination in 2005. From… More >>
  • Best Cookies

    Sid's Viciously Good Cookies

    The name alone makes Sid's Viciously Good Cookies worthy of one of our annual awards, though the Sid in question is actually a former corporate executive named Sidney Miller who turned her back on the rat race in favor of the cookie press when she became a mom. We discovered Sid's cookies at a local AJ's Fine Foods and were… More >>
  • Best Marshmallows

    Tracy Dempsey Originals

    We loved her for years as pastry chef at Cowboy Ciao, and since she's been on her own, we've only gotten sweeter on Tracy Dempsey, whose confections seem to pop up everywhere. We're fans of her homemade marshmallows, which you'll find at the Scottsdale Old Town Farmers Market in rotating flavors that include hot chocolate, vanilla bean, and rosebud. Who… More >>
  • Best Toffee

    Goody Twos - CLOSED

    Remember Adam Ant's catchy lyrics, "don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do?" Apparently, make toffee good enough to replace a morning quickie. Mother-daughter team Donna Gabrilson and Stacey Barnes of Scottsdale's Goody Twos Toffee Company wield a double-edge sword of deliciousness. Their handmade confections come in traditional flavors, including peanut brittle, chocolate peppermint, and the crunchy Double-Crossed (almonds and… More >>
  • Best Chocolate

    ib2 Chocolates - CLOSED

    When eaten, chocolate causes the brain to amp up endorphin secretions similar to those released when you have sex. That's the fancy, scientific way of saying it makes you tingle all over. Engineer turned chocolatier Sam Filicetti, a.k.a. Sam the Chocolate Guy, definitely makes us tingle with his ib2 chocolates, featuring sensual spices in the tradition of the ancient Mayans.… More >>
  • Best Pie

    Pie Snob

    When your name is Pie Snob (right down to your personalized license plate), you'd better deliver. Not a problem for Traci Wilbur. At the urging of her pie-lovin' pals, Wilbur started Pie Snob a year ago in a small building behind her Arcadia home. With her recipes and a motto ("Life's too short to eat bad pie!") Wilbur whips up… More >>
  • Best Chocolate Egg Cream

    Scott's Generations

    We don't know whether candy storeowner Louis Auster, the inventor of the chocolate egg cream, ever visited the Valley. But if he did — that is, if he also lived in the early 21st century, rather than the late 19th century — it's likely he'd head straight for Scott's Generations to find out what this ultra-Bronx deli has done with… More >>
  • Best Banana Shake

    Chicago Hamburger Company

    The long-neck spoon? Yeah, you're gonna need that. Featuring creamy scoopfuls of vanilla ice cream, milk, and chunks of fresh banana (most barely making the journey through the straw), the banana shake at the Chicago Hamburger Company is a tackle-worthy treat. Hungry dessert monkeys can order it with extra bananas or they can go combo, mixing homemade banana bliss with… More >>
  • Best Frozen Yogurt

    Oatmeal Cookie at Yogurtology

    Over the past year, self-serve frozen yogurt has eclipsed gelato as the cold treat of choice here in Phoenix. We love the tart varieties. We adore the abundance of toppings. But there's one yogurt in town that's like crack to our heat-addled brains, and that's Yogurtology's oatmeal cookie flavor. Sure, the cheesecake and red velvet varieties are tasty, but the… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream

    Sweet Republic

    If you still have not tasted Sweet Republic ice cream, we instruct you to put this issue of "Best of Phoenix" down and proceed immediately to 91st Street and Shea in Scottsdale, or to a Whole Foods, and shove some of this stuff down your gullet. Your butt might grow, but you will thank us, because — screw our Valley… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream with a Kick

    Lee's Cream Liqueur - CLOSED

    Why didn't we think of this? Ice cream and alcohol, together at last — and served out of a super-sweet Neopolitan-hued little shop on Stetson Drive in what's become the heart of good eating in Scottsdale. The friendly woman who waited on us said the late-night crowd at Lee's is kickin', which isn't surprising, but she cautioned that you can't… More >>
  • Best Room Service at Home

    Delicious Deliveries

    We all know those nights. Is it worth it to get showered, dressed, deal with the 110-degree heat, traffic, and parking to go out and get the favorite appetizer we're craving, or do we stay in our PJs and settle for the Ritz crackers and string cheese we've already got?Delicious Deliveries solves the conundrum. Simply sign on to their site,… More >>
  • Best Bite at the Mall

    The Greene House

    After an intense day of power shopping, we need a nice glass of wine. We need to be well fed. And most of the time, that's an experience we can find only if we plunk our shopping bags in the trunk of the car and go far, far away from the mall. But not at Kierland Commons, where The Greene… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Kids

    Mining Camp Restaurant

    Tucked at the base of the Superstition Mountains, the Mining Camp Restaurant has been around since 1961. It really looks like a shack where miners would go for lunch; even the interior is modeled after an old mining camp cook's shanty. The place serves food that will please the youngest of the group right along with the old-timers, including slabs… More >>
  • Best Afternoon Tea

    The Ritz-Carlton

    We used to think that afternoon tea was strictly for blue-haired old ladies and British expats pining for their homeland — that is, until we partook of tea service at the Ritz. It has all the relaxation benefits of a spa treatment, without the creepy touchy-feely stuff. For $35 (plus tax and gratuity), you get tea sandwiches, an assortment of… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet a Celebrity Chef


    Executive Chef Beau MacMillan is a longtime luminary in the Valley culinary scene, but nowadays he's also a bona fide celebrity chef, thanks to his role as co-host of The Food Network's Worst Cooks in America. Stop in for a lavish dinner and an eyeful of Paradise Valley from elements' swanky dining room, and don't be surprised if MacMillan shows… More >>
  • Best New Eatery Along the Light Rail

    Mid City Kitchen

    Chef-owner Michael DeMaria's latest culinary concept isn't the kind of upscale fare you'll find at his North Scottsdale spot Heirloom, but it's nevertheless a welcome addition to the dining mix along the light rail. Situated on Central Avenue at Thomas Road — at the heart of the midtown business district — this is a convenient place to grab a morning… More >>
  • Best Romantic Dinner

    T. Cook's

    In the game of love, you never want to look like you're trying too hard. So T. Cook's is always the ace up our sleeve, because dinner here makes romance seem effortless. The dining room alone feels elegant and special, and when there's a guitar player on hand, the live musical serenades put plenty of hearts and stars in our… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Nosh

    Petite Maison

    There are certainly places that serve food much later than Petite Maison, but how many of them do more than tacos or burgers? This comfy Old Town nook does rustic French cuisine, which sounds pretty darn good to us — why go for pub grub when you can dig into steak frites, mussels in white wine broth, or an ever-changing… More >>
  • Best Destination Dining


    What makes Kai such a standout? Let us count the ways. First, there's the beautiful resort setting, with dining-room views overlooking both the pool and a vast stretch of desert. Servers address you by name, bring you chilled or warmed flatware depending on the course, deliver dishes in unison, and are well-schooled on the finer points of sophisticated cuisine. It's… More >>
  • Best Makeover

    El Chorro Lodge

    We used to love El Chorro Lodge for the kitsch factor — old-fashioned furniture, complimentary crudites, and a genteel, gray-haired crowd that showed up for classic continental fare. But the place has gotten a serious, big-bucks makeover from its new owners, and now is an outright destination, the kind of spot that makes us want to sip a bloody Mary… More >>
  • Best Spin-Off

    Cafe Bink

    While renowned chef Kevin Binkley's fine-dining spot, Binkley's, would be considered an über-special-occasion spot for most of us, its sassy younger sibling, Cafe Bink, is so accessible that we'd be eating there every week — if only we lived in Carefree. The common thread between both restaurants is Binkley's classic French cooking techniques; here, the emphasis is contemporary American cuisine… More >>
  • Best Encore

    The Vig Uptown

    It's hard to top an original, so we'd like to give special props to the folks who made The Vig Uptown a fitting follow-up to its popular home in Arcadia. This new location of the stylish watering hole manages to offer the same appealing menu — excellent nachos with succulent pork, a potato pancake topped with carne asada, the VigAzz… More >>
  • Best Place for a Stomach of Steel

    Tacos Jalisco

    This is the place for brave and adventurous eaters. Sure, you can get a standard, wimpy bean taco at Tacos Jalisco, but you can get that anywhere. Tacos Jalisco isn't a cart on the side of the road, but you should plan on a food truck/street taco experience. When you step into Tacos Jalisco, you have entered an arena where… More >>
  • Best Gyro

    Dino's Greek and Italian

    Initially, we visited Dino's because we'd heard that the lasagna is superb, but we ended up eating half of our dining companion's gyro, because it — like the lasagna at this off-the-beaten-path diner — was so tasty. Order the Gyro Plate, which comes with sides of fingerling potatoes, rice pilaf, and fresh vegetables to accompany a mountain of gyro meat… More >>
  • Best Way to Eat Your Spinach

    California Spinach Salad, at Maizie's Café & Bistro

    For days (okay, it was really hours) a debate raged in the halls of the New Times building over whether or not Popeye is actually a superhero. "No way. He's a cartoon character!" one colleague pronounced."Are you kidding? He's the original superhero!" another cried, just as adamant. In any case, we think it wise for all of us looking to… More >>
  • Best Super-Food

    Arnie's Health Foods

    Arnie's is the place to go to stock up on vitamins and herbs that will make you super-strong, to fight off those pesky bugs that try to get your immune system down. This is also the shop to visit to buy in bulk all the healthful stuff you should be eating — like brown rice, oat bran, and flax seed.… More >>
  • Best Hero Sandwich

    Venezia's Pizzeria

    We've eaten them all over town, and we can safely say that the super hero that packs the biggest punch is served at Venezia's, where a hot sandwich can make you want to leap over a tall building in a single bound. It's that tasty. All their sandwiches are made with premium Boar's Head meats and cheeses and are served… More >>
  • Nobuo Fukuda

    Hero Worship

    Nobuo Fukuda

    See: a video interview with Nobuo Fukuda. Four years ago — fresh out of college — I left the United States and landed on a small island south of Osaka, Japan, where I spent the better part of a year teaching English to children who will grow up to be fishermen, hanging out at way too many Japanese rock shows and… More >>