10 Phoenix Chefs Tell Us What the City's Dining and Drink Scene Is Missing

Maybe 2016 will be the year that Phoenix finally gets plenty of late-night dining spots.
Maybe 2016 will be the year that Phoenix finally gets plenty of late-night dining spots.
Flickr/garyjwood

No city can give you everything. We asked our chefs to sound off on what the Valley's dining and drink scene is missing.

From diversity to speakeasies and even a steakhouse strip club, here's what chefs say the Vally needs more of. 

What is Phoenix’s dining/drink scene missing?

Pauline Martinez of Perk EateryEXPAND
Pauline Martinez of Perk Eatery
Courtesy of Pauline Martinez

Pauline Martinez, Owner of Perk Eatery

We need more/better Middle Eastern food — please, someone make a decent shawarma! More Mediterranean food. More Greek food. And for the love of God, please, can we get some better Mexican food? For the exception of a select few spots, most of the Mexican food in this city is awful. With the huge Latino population here, we should be just as good as L.A. in that department. 

Jacob Cutino of Homeboy'sEXPAND
Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's
Courtesy of Nicky Hedayatzadeh - Mint Photography

Jacob Cutino, Owner of Homeboy's Hot Sauce

Agility in trends. I feel we miss a lot because the market will not allow shift until the masses are ready. Catering more to the ABCs of operating and less throwing caution to the wind in fear of not being received well.

Jacques Qualin of J&G SteakhouseEXPAND
Jacques Qualin of J&G Steakhouse
Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse

Jacques Qualin, Chef of J&G Steakhouse

A good bistro restaurant. Nothing fancy or overly complicated, just good classic dishes that have served the test of time, simply prepared and served in a causal atmosphere. That’s my version of fast food.

Brady Cohen of Salty SowEXPAND
Brady Cohen of Salty Sow
Salty Sow

Brady Cohen, Chef of Salty Sow

Late-night quality food. For such a big city, we don't really have many restaurants serving good food past 10 or 11.

Gio Osso of Virtu
Gio Osso of Virtu

Gio Osso, Chef of Virtu Honest Craft

Diversity. We are getting to a point of everyone doing the same thing again. Who's leading the pack? Setting the trend? Pushing the limit? We need some new talent in the scene to stir things up again. Either one of our young gun chefs here in Arizona or someone from another city wanting to come here and show us a thing or two. We've grown tremendously in recent years, but it hit a plateau, and we need someone to keep it rising.

Lucia Schnitzer of Luci’s Healthy MarketplaceEXPAND
Lucia Schnitzer of Luci’s Healthy Marketplace
Courtesy of Lucia Schnitzer

Lucia Schnitzer, Co-owner of Luci’s Healthy Marketplace

A sense of intimacy without all the loud music in the background. We go to dine to enjoy conversation, not to yell across the table inches away from each other to be heard.

Santiago Estrada, Executive Chef of Roaring ForkEXPAND
Santiago Estrada, Executive Chef of Roaring Fork
Courtesy of Roaring Fork

Santiago Estrada, Executive Chef of Roaring Fork

More owner/operators, fewer chains. 

Silvana Esparza of Barrio UrbanoEXPAND
Silvana Esparza of Barrio Urbano
Jill Richards Photography

Silvana Esparza, Chef/Owner or Barrio Cafe and Barrio Urbano 

In the 20 years I have lived in Phoenix, I have watched it grow and along with that has come a nice growth in the restaurant industry. The Valley has the fastest-growing restaurant scene in the country. However, I feel that we still are missing a larger selection of ethnic foods that reflect the recent influx of ethnic groups to the Valley. 

Cullen Campbell of Okra/CrudoEXPAND
Cullen Campbell of Okra/Crudo
Courtesy of Okra/Crudo

Cullen Campbell, Chef and Co-owner of Crudo and Okra 

I think that the Phoenix dining scene is missing restaurants with the whole package. Don’t get me wrong, we have improved by light years in the past five years, but we need more places that do everything well, from the drinks to food to dessert to ambiance. We’ve all been to that place that looks like a million bucks, but you can tell they had to skimp a little on the food, wine, and cocktails. Most important, we need to nurture our growing dining scene by promoting our great local chefs and #BringBeardBackToAZ.

Aaron Pool of GadzooksEXPAND
Aaron Pool of Gadzooks
Courtesy of Gadzooks

Aaron Pool, Chef and Owner of Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soups

A fine steakhouse strip club.


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