We've had a solid run of openings here in metro Phoenix as summer has shaded into fall. Here, our writers dish on a few of the best, ranging from fast casual to home style, Italian to Chinese. These new places have also plugged the Valley further into national dining trends, such as wood-oven roasting and Israeli cuisine.
If you want to taste new flavors this weekend, look no further than these five spots.
The Covenant in Paradise Valley
Finding a neighborhood restaurant with fine dining airs in the vicinity of Tatum and Shea can prove challenging. Here to fill the void is The Covenant, a swanky restaurant and bar from local restaurateur Carri Gardner. The restaurant's kitchen, which is framed by a striking black-and-white mural, is entirely open, which means some diners sit in the full flicker of the restaurant's 900-degree, wood-fired oven.
The menu, described as eclectic New American, brings together upscale happy hour fare, wood-fired entrees, cocktails, and a pretty deep wine list. Entrés includes several wood-fired mains, including seasonal fish cooked en papillote, and a half-roasted chicken served with roasted veggies and smashed fingerling potatoes.
MidiCi in Phoenix
MidiCi, a California-based pizza chain with a location newly opened in Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, may have perfected fast casual food. A MidiCi pizza is akin to that of a traditional sit-down Neapolitan pizza restaurant. Its pies are the new-age, light-crusted, fancy-ovened pizzas that have vaulted in popularity this decade. The pizza makers bake the stripped-down classics, like margherita. They also crisp wilder pies for the adventurous among us, including a shrimp scampi pizza, another with ricotta-stuffed crust, and everybody’s favorite to love or hate: Hawaiian.
Lucky Star Asian Dining in Tempe
Tempe’s newest (and perhaps only) Chinese restaurant and karaoke lounge is flanked by a loan agency and a hair salon. But don’t let the location or humble exterior of Lucky Star Asian Dining fool you: This is the spot for serious Eastern-style parties. Along with standards like Mongolian beef and orange chicken, Lucky Star offers a variety of Szechuan and Cantonese foods. Dishes on the English-language menu include bean curd with sliced egg and chives, Singapore noodles, and black pepper chicken on hot iron. Lucky Star is a solid option for both a casual Tuesday dinner and a poppin' Saturday night.
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Glai Baan in Phoenix
Glai Baan, a new midtown Phoenix restaurant, specializes in Thai street food and the regional cooking of northeastern Thailand. You'll detect an obsession with big, bold flavors across the menu, with ingredients like garlic, basil, kafir lime, and Thai chiles skillfully deployed to achieve compelling and refined seasonings, sauces, and curries. It's an exciting menu, one that evokes memories of Bangkok street stalls, or maybe late-night snacking at famed West Coast Thai spots like Pok Pok in Portland, or Night + Market in Los Angeles.
Zabari Mediterranean Grill in North Phoenix
Ever since London-based, Israeli-born chef Yotam Ottolenghi published his cookbook Jerusalem in 2012, Israeli food has been steadily taking hold in American cities. At Zabari Mediterranean Grill in north Phoenix, the eater quickly realizes that this is a good thing. You will find many of your Middle Eastern classics that exist beyond Israel's borders, but also a few dishes that are specific to the country. Whether Israeli or more broadly regional, the food at Zabari often reaches unexpectedly bright, fresh heights.