20 Best Ethnic Restaurants in Phoenix: Best of Phoenix 2012
Aloha Kitchen: Best Hawaiian Restaurant
Photo by Nicole Hoffman
We've spent the last year in the laboratory putting Phoenix under the microscope to reveal hundreds of specimens of the best culture, outdoor adventures, shopping, dining, and nightlife the city has to offer. And we're finally ready to publish our results. Nerd alert! Now presenting Scientific Phoenix.
If you're looking for ethnic dining options around Phoenix, you have plenty of places to choose from. We've narrowed them down for you in our annual Best of Phoenix 2012 issue. Read on to see which restaurants made our list.
Best Latin American Restaurant: Villa Peru
Whether it was by slim chance or sheer accident that chef Walter Salazar came to Tempe from Tucson last year to take over ownership of Villa Peru just as the world's obsession with Peruvian cuisine was peaking, the Valley's lucky to have him. Along with members of his family, all originally from Lima, Salazar serves up a menu based on traditional Peruvian cuisine in a cozy, carpeted room with the occasional travel video of Peru running on a flatscreen TV. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Villa Peru.
Best Soul Food Restaurant: Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
For more than 40 years, this unassuming stand-alone spot a few blocks east of Chase Field has remained one of downtown Phoenix's best restaurants for comfort food. And in recent years, it's caught the attention of various TV food shows, giving the humble little eatery some much-deserved props. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe.
Best Hawaiian Restaurant: Aloha Kitchen
Unlike the One Percenters, the majority of us can't jet-set off to Hawaii for a swanky luau when we're having a case of the Mondays. For our money, and there's not a lot of it, we get our tropical taste on at this little gem in Mesa that's been serving up fast-casual Hawaiian eats for over 25 years. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Aloha Kitchen.
Best Chinese Restaurant: Chou's Kitchen
When it comes to Dongbei cai, the food of northeastern China, this humble eatery in Chandler may be the only one of its kind in the Valley. Originally from the province of Liaoning, owners Tong Rizzo and Ping Chou serve a menu of unique and comforting dishes from a selection-packed, near-descriptionless menu. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Chou's Kitchen.
Nobuo: Best Japanese Restaurant
Photo by Jackie Mercandetti
Best Japanese Restaurant: Nobuo at Teeter House
The accolades heaped upon chef-owner Nobuo Fukuda -- a James Beard Award and "Best New Chef" from Food + Wine -- really are all you need to know about the man running this transformed turn-of-the-century bungalow in downtown Phoenix's Heritage Square. He truly is one of the best things going in the Valley's culinary scene. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Nobuo at Teeter House.
Best Korean Restaurant: Café Ga Hyang (Reader's Choice)
It's late and you're hungry. Do you really want another gut bomb like pizza and burgers at 11 p.m.? No, you want something a tad more healthful, like, say the Korean food at this late-night gem in the West Vally. By day, the restaurant is a quiet nook -- complete with three enclosed privacy-friendly booths -- serving fresh, delicious, and affordable traditional Korean cuisine (and a few Chinese-based dishes with a Korean twist). Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Café Ga Hyang.
Best Thai Restaurant: Yupha's Thai Kitchen
What's better than dinner and a movie? Thai food at Yupha's and a cheap flick at Pollack Tempe Cinemas. Thanks to owner and Bangkok native Yupha Dequenne, we can score tasty Thai dishes pre- or post-show time at her easygoing restaurant right next door to the cinema. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Yupha's.
Best Vietnamese Restaurant: Hue Gourmet (reader's choice)
Like its moniker, this little gem of unique Vietnamese fare hidden in the food court of Mesa's Mekong Plaza focuses on the distinctive cuisine of Hue, the capital city of Thua Thien, in the Hue province of Vietnam. Translation: This humble food court stall is serving up dishes that even the most pho-faithful in the Valley most likely haven't seen on a Vietnamese menu before. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Hue Gourmet.
Best Indian Restaurant: Curry Corner (reader's choice)
Situated a couple of blocks west of the fire station at Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard in Tempe, this family-owned eatery recently expanded and serves up bursting-with-flavor Indian and Pakistani food courtesy of chef and matriarch Farah Khalid. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Curry Corner.
Edens Grill: Best Mediterranean Restaurant
Photo by Diana Martinez
Best Mediterranean Restaurant: Eden's Grill
This friendly, family-owned strip-mall eatery near Paradise Valley just may have some of the best baba ganoush in the Valley -- hellooo, grilled eggplant -- and that includes the stuff our Syrian uncle used to make for us whenever we'd visit him. Made from family recipes, the flavorful Middle Eastern fare is served in portions aplenty and includes several vegetarian selections as well as perfectly prepared meats including juicy beef, tender lamb, and high-quality chicken, featured in numerous kebab platters. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Eden's Grill.
Best Ethiopian Restaurant: Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee (reader's choice)
Phoenix's only Ethiopian restaurant was a speakeasy of sorts, located behind a curtain in the back of a strip-mall convenience store. But now it's got its own digs, and the food still is just as flavorful, thanks to Abebech Ejersa, an Ethiopian immigrant who arrived in the Valley a few years ago. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee.
Best Greek Restaurant: Greektown (reader's choice)
In business for more than four decades, this longtime favorite of the Phoenix dining scene knows a thing or two about boldly flavored Greek cuisine. Thanks to its affable owner George Vassilou, the fine-tuned menu, along with a host of daily specials, is based on recipes from his grandmother, who originally ran the restaurant, and they stand up to this day. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Greektown.
Best French Restaurant: Christopher's and Crush Lounge
Valley tastemaker, James Beard Award winner, and foie gras fanatic chef Christopher Gross continues to bring top-notch French fare to his comfortable yet chic bistro inside Biltmore Fashion Park. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Christopher's and Crush Lounge.
Best Scandinavian Restaurant: Beaver Choice (reader's choice)
This quirky little eatery in Tempe -- a little Polish, a little Canadian, and a whole lot Swedish -- may have a funny name, but the food is seriously delicious. Featuring hearty dishes that, chances are, you've never heard of, let alone tasted, owner and chef Hanna Gabrielsson uses no more than five fresh ingredients and around three pounds of fresh dill each day to create a menu of (mostly) Swedish fare, featuring fish, chicken, hamburgers, and a category simply called "Meat." Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Beaver Choice.
Rosie McCaffrey's: Best Irish Pub
Photo by Jamie Peachey
Best Irish Pub: Rosie McCaffrey's (reader's choice)
A wall of whiskey, Harp-soaked wings, beer-battered fish, a river of Guinness, and Irish music spilling out of the speakers -- yep, you're at Rosie's. Since the day owner Seamus opened this fine establishment on Camelback Road more than decade ago, Phoenix folks have been packing the dark booths and well-worn bar to get their fill of properly poured Guinness, smooth shots of whiskey, and expertly made boxty, filled with stout-soaked beef and boiled potatoes. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Rosie McCaffrey's.
Best German Restaurant: Zur Kate (reader's choice)
For a restaurant that's been around since 1983, this cozy little spot of authentic German cuisine must have something up its schnitzel. Re-creating the gasthaus (small inn) atmosphere of the country, German-born Horst Schlembach and wife Elena serve up all manner of sausages, schnitzels, signature items, and daily and weekend specials alongside a solid selection of German beer, wine, and spirits -- and at prices that won't break the cuckoo clock. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Beaver Choice.
Best Italian Restaurant: Italian Restaurant (reader's choice)
Legendary pizza master Chris Bianco opened this tiny neighborhood trattoria serving approachable yet stellar Italian fare in Central Phoenix in the same shopping center that, in 1994, served as the original home of his award-winning Pizzeria Bianco. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Italian Restaurant.
Best Jewish Deli: Goldman's Deli (reader's choice)
The true delicatessen is an endangered species. We're talking about the old-school deli, where bagel-making is a science, smoked meat is an art, and there's not a whiff of "chain mentality" on the menu or in the establishment. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on Goldman's Deli.
Best English Pub: The Rose & Crown Pub (reader's choice)
God save the queen -- and God save our livers after a night of tying one on English-style at this downtown Phoenix hangout. The historic house turned English pub serves up a nice selection of draft brews including Strongbow Cider, Fullers London Pride, and Boddingtons with generous portions of traditional fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie. Read the full Best of Phoenix 2012 story on The Rose & Crown Pub.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Phoenix dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.