MORE

20 Best New Restaurants of 2013 in Greater Phoenix

20 Best New Restaurants of 2013 in Greater Phoenix
Kirsty Hall, Flickr

The good news is that, in 2013, as most of the country was transfixed by the shenanigans of the now-infamous Amy's Baking Company, we eye-rollers in the Valley were being treated to a crop of new restaurants more focused on well-prepared food than overcooked reality.

From big-name chefs and restaurateurs to family-owned eateries, the 20 best new restaurants of the year offer an array of cuisines that take inspiration from across the globe as well as focus on using as many locally procured ingredients as possible.

And that, dear Amy and Samy, is truly what makes us hungry.

See also: 10 Best Things I Ate in November

"Mission Chinese" Kung Pao Pastrami
"Mission Chinese" Kung Pao Pastrami
Laura Hahnefeld

Clever Koi

The sleek new midtown restaurant from former Parlor Pizzeria chefs Jared Porter and Joseph Absolor along with co-owners Joshua James and Nicholas Campisano (who also did time at the pizzeria), the Clever Koi is more or less a Chinese-American comfort food head trip. Porter and Absolor's tight selection of reinvented street snacks, rice and noodle dishes, and steamed buns and dumplings are deliciously inauthentic, the two chefs both paying tribute to -- and taking wild liberties with -- each Asian dish. See Also: 20 Best New Metro Phoenix Restaurants of 2013 (Complete Slideshow)

Tocino con Rajas
Tocino con Rajas
Jackie Mercandetti

Otro Cafe

This contemporary, easygoing spot in north Central Phoenix from Mexican-born chef Doug Robson both complements Gallo Blanco, Robson's first restaurant, in the way of outstanding Mexican while managing to find a more elevated niche of its own. Not that anything gets too lofty here -- there are excellent tacos, tortas, and street snacks. And if you're in the mood for something a bit more unique -- say, a Spanish-style appetizer, an intricate Inca salad, or a sublime pollo en mole negro -- Otro's got those, too.

Pig Wings
Pig Wings
Jackie Mercandetti

The Blind Pig

Scottsdale's newest meat-intensive venture comes courtesy of restaurateurs Bob and Sally Ann Molinari and Bret Pont, owner of Hobe Meats, the over-50-year-old custom butcher shop in Phoenix. Which begs the question: Does The Blind Pig's freshly butchered offerings of custom meats to take home as well as meaty Mexican-inspired street foods to enjoy on the spot make it a butcher shop with a restaurant or a restaurant with a butcher shop? Either way, it's all about the meat.

Mole Negro
Mole Negro
Jackie Mercandetti

La 15 y Salsas

This cheery restaurant in Sunnyslope from Oaxacan-born owner Elizabeth Hernandez not only features some of the best moles in the Valley, it serves excellent tlayudas, enfrijoladas (chicken enchiladas smothered in an anise-laced black bean sauce), and a spicy homestyle soup called amarillo. The restaurant doubles as a Oaxacan marketplace, boasting deli cases and shelves filled with ingredients, foods, and cooking items from Hernandez's homeland.

 

Panazella
Panazella
Quiessence at The Farm

Quiessence

In November, after being closed for five months, this longtime dining destination at the Farm at South Mountain reopened under new management, a new chef, and a new motto: You don't need a special occasion to eat here. Chef Dustin Christofolo, who still operates The House at Secret Garden in South Phoenix, has put together a seasonal menu that still focuses on farm-to-table food, but in a more approachable way -- and with larger portion sizes. Christofolo's mother, Pat, owns the Farm.

Grilled asparagus with egg, feta, bacon candy, foie gras Hollandaise, and truffle oil.
Grilled asparagus with egg, feta, bacon candy, foie gras Hollandaise, and truffle oil.
Laura Hahnefeld

Virtu Honest Craft

Chef-owner Gio Osso's menu at this tiny, wonderful downtown Scottsdale cafe is a kind of white board of elegant, ever-changing, Mediterranean-inspired dishes revolving around farmers market vegetables, naturally raised meats, and pristine seafood. On one evening, there may be scallops with a heavenly white chocolate beurre blanc; on another, grilled octopus with lemony chickpeas and streaks of spicy chile butte. Pop in for happy hour and you can try Osso's dishes on a smaller and wallet-friendly scale.

Porco e Funghi
Porco e Funghi
Laura Hahnefeld

Nook

Nook is something of a trattoria speakeasy, which is to say it's a nice spot for a glass of wine and Italian eats but still inconspicuous enough to stay off East Phoenix's who's-who restaurant radar. From the former owners of Amaro Pizzeria & Vino Lounge in North Scottsdale and with chef Nick LaRosa (who used to cook with Gio Osso, who now runs Virtu Honest Craft) helming the kitchen, Nook's cozy space features a menu of very good pizzas, desserts by Tracy Dempsey, and a top-notch staff as neighborly as the scene.

Stuffed Pita
Stuffed Pita
Jackie Mercandetti

Hummus Xpress

For Mediterranean eats served up Subway style, this fast-casual eatery in Tempe from chef-owner Ahmad (Eddie) Hantas is just about as good as it gets. A kind of chef-driven street food stand by way of Lebanon, Hantas offers a colorful, rotating array of homemade salads and hummus, boldly flavored sauces, hot vegetables, fresh toppings, and slow-cooked meats that can be packed as-you-please into pitas, bowls, or plates -- and all for around 10 bucks. Don't miss the outstanding falafels seasoned with Mexican chili powder for a bit of Southwest flair.

 

Empanadas with house green salsa.
Empanadas with house green salsa.
Jackie Mercandetti

Republica Empanada

With more than 20 savory and sweet creations ranging from the straightforward to the more unusual, this family-owned South American-style empanaderia, housed in a sleek mid-century building in downtown Mesa, offers the largest selection in Arizona. Priced around $3 each and with a very good casing of golden and flaky fried wheat flour dough, consider the Puerto Rican-style Boricua, the addictive cheeseburger, and dessert empanadas like the decadent Nutella and banana.

O'Dowd's re-imagined version of panzanella.
O'Dowd's re-imagined version of panzanella.
Evie Carpenter

Renegade by MOD (R.I.P.)

The year, the Valley's most risk-taking restaurant was also its shortest-lived one. From chef and co-owner Michael O'Dowd (Kai), Renegade by MOD, which opened in May, took diners on an exotic ride with an electrifying menu of re-invented foods from around the globe. But just six months later, O'Dowd and business partner Ed Leclere called it quits. And although (for now) the restaurant, now simply called Renegade, still offers the same playfully bold yet sophisticated dishes, sadly, the man behind them is gone.

Bacon Board
Bacon Board
Facebook

Bootleggers

From Rick Phillips, co-writer of the food blog EaterAZ and the man behind the Arizona Taco and Arizona BBQ festivals, and competition-circuit pit-master Kevin Slade, this barbecue pit gone the way of a gastropub now has a location in Scottsdale as well as North Phoenix. Excellent dishes like hickory-smoked beef brisket, a pork belly sandwich lit up with a spiced aioli, and the salty and smoky Bacon Board go down easily with well-crafted cocktails like a dangerously smooth house made apple pie moonshine.

Stir-fry squid with Chinese vegetables.
Stir-fry squid with Chinese vegetables.
Jackie Mercandetti

Henry's Taiwan

Accessible, affordable, and instantly enjoyable, this tiny eatery in Tempe comes courtesy of Henry Ku, the chef and restaurateur who has been credited with putting Taiwanese food on the map in Seattle. Blending the memories of his homeland with the French cooking techniques he learned in the States, Ku creates a menu of street snacks (think Taiwanese sausage, sticky rice rolls, and the notorious stinky tofu) with main dishes that, thanks to their portion sizes, mean leftovers for the next day.

 

Mussels in white wine with herbs, tomato, and crème fraiche.
Mussels in white wine with herbs, tomato, and crème fraiche.
Jackie Mercandetti

Pig & Pickle

Comfort food meets chef finesse at this easygoing Scottsdale restaurant from Keenan Bosworth and Joshua Riesner (formerly of Atlas Bistro). The culinary duo's affordable, mostly meaty menu of well-crafted dishes with global touches and an emphasis on seasonal fare includes noteworthy eats like pork shoulder tostadas with kimchi, house made charcuterie, and a meltingly tender braised duck leg. Sweet tooths shouldn't leave without dessert. And for night owls, there are late-night eats served until 1 a.m.

South Indian dishes from Karaikudi Palace
South Indian dishes from Karaikudi Palace
Jackie Mercandetti

Karaikudi Palace

What's better than one chef well-versed in the food of his or her homeland? Three of them. Thanks to a trio of Indian-born friends who attended culinary school together, this pleasant restaurant in Scottsdale features some of the Valley's most vibrant examples of South Indian cuisine. Boldly flavored, expertly prepared, and packed with handfuls of ingredients like chiles, tamarind, and cumin, dishes include curries nearly falling over themselves with flavor, thin and crispy stuffed dosas, and a parade of richly layered selections from the sea.

BBQ Octopus
BBQ Octopus
Laura Hahnefeld

Bink's Midtown

Carefree's Cafe Bink may be more French-inspired, and Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek may draw a more affluent clientele, but Bink's Midtown, from James Beard Award finalist Kevin Binkley, is the hands-down headquarters of the three for reimagined local produce in Phoenix. Specializing in small plates put together with things like sangria granité, quince preserves, and truffle ketchup, Bink's is the place where pristine meats and produce meet the future in a cozy remodeled bungalow. Bonus: A second branch of Bink's Midtown is planned to open in Scottsdale in the coming weeks.

Cajun Shrimp
Cajun Shrimp
Laura Hahnefeld

Little Cleo's

The best thing about Sam Fox's new seafood restaurant in Phoenix is that it doesn't act like a Sam Fox restaurant -- that is to say, its eclectic array of seafood dishes are more inventive than anything you might find at one of the restaurateur's more mainstream haunts in the Valley. There are Thai-style frog legs, Cajun shrimp, and house-smoked sturgeon with crème fraiche and a fried egg atop toasted ciabatta -- Little Cleo's version of bacon and eggs. Tucked inside The Yard, Fox's mammoth dining and hangout space, you'll be glad to know it's also a more easygoing scene.

 

Vegan Rosemary Apple Pie
Vegan Rosemary Apple Pie
Laura Hahnefeld

Bragg's Factory Diner

At this cheery spot in the retail space of Bragg's Pie Factory, the former pie factory turned art gallery in Central Phoenix, diner-style vegan and vegetarian eats come by way of tasty dishes like fragrant coconut curry waffles; sandwiches such as the "E.L.T." made with eggplant "bacon"; vegan chili, and a spinning carousel of glorious pies that may include rosemary apple, banana cream, and chai-spiced pear. And if co-owner Dana Stern's vegan doughnuts happen to be on the menu, consider it your lucky day.

Ingo Bürger
Ingo Bürger
Laura Hahnefeld

Ingo's Tasty Food

A kind of hamburger stand by way of The Jetson's, Ingo's, the cylindrical structure of gleaming metal and brick in Arcadia, is the latest project from the folks at La Grande Orange, the popular grocery and pizza spot across the street. With just a handful of snacks, burgers, and sandwiches on the menu made with things like Strauss Free Raised Grass Fed Beef, scratch-made sauces, and a house sauerkraut that's pretty much perfect, Ingo's may be the snack shop of your fantasies -- or the future. Ponder the question over your choice of equally tasty libations, such as blush sangria or a bottle of sublime housemade cold-brewed ice tea.

Water-boiled Fish Fillet
Water-boiled Fish Fillet
Jackie Mercandetti

Miu's Cuisine

Tingling, numbing, spicy -- your new favorite Chinese restaurant in Tempe also serves as the fiery inner core of the Valley's Sichuan dining community. Smacked with Sichuan peppercorns -- their taste oftentimes likened to a trip to the dentist more than the dinner table -- the boldly flavored scarlet sauces and stinging meats of this youthful, hidden gem in a former Eagles Hall come by way of three twenty-somethings from China. For curiosity seekers as well as fans of the Asian spice, Miu's is Sichuan-sensational.

Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich
Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich
Laura Hahnefeld

Welcome Diner

The latest iteration of the Welcome Diner, the tiny, iconic eatery at 10th and Roosevelt streets, is the kind of road-food-rich rest stop you might expect to find along a stretch of Southern highway. Here, former Old Dixie food truck owners Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson have put together a small, ever-changing menu of scrumptious New Orleans- and Southern-inspired eats, many of which include luscious biscuits, Gulf Coast shrimp, and smoky Andouille sausage. The fried chicken buttermilk biscuit sandwich is the place to start. And if you fancy a boozy and fruity housemade hurricane to wash it down with, they've got that, too.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.

bestof.jpg
Want access to our Best Of picks from your smartphone? Download our free Best Of app for the iPhone or Android phone from the App Store or Google Play. Don't forget to check out the full Best of Phoenix® online at bestof.voiceplaces.com.

Use Current Location

Related Locations

miles
Clever Koi

4236 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012

602-222-3474

www.thecleverkoi.com

miles
Otro Cafe

6035 N. 7th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85014

602-266-0831

www.otrocafe.com

miles
The Blind Pig

3370 N. Hayden Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-994-1055

miles
La 15 Y Salsas Mexican Grill

1507 W. Hatcher Road
Phoenix, AZ 85021

602-870-2056

miles
Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar
miles
Virtu Honest Craft

3701 N. Marshall Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-946-3477

www.virtuscottsdale.com

miles
Hummus Xpress

930 W. Broadway Road
Tempe, AZ 85282

480-968-2311

www.hummusxpress.com

miles
Republica Empanada
miles
Nook

3623 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018

602--651-1390

www.nookkitchen.com

miles
Renegade - Closed

9343 E. Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

480-614-9400

www.renegadecanteen.com

miles
Bootleggers

3375 E. Shea Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85028

602-996-4228

www.bootleggersaz.com

miles
Henry's Taiwan

119 E. Southern Ave.
Tempe, AZ 85282

480-968-2281

miles
Pig & Pickle

2922 N. Hayden Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

480-990-1407

www.pigandpickle.com

miles
Karaikudi Palace

8752 E. Shea Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

480-998-6006

www.karaikudipalaceaz.com

miles
Bink's Midtown

2320 E. Osborn Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-388-4874

www.binksmidtown.com

miles
Little Cleo's Seafood Legend

5632 N. 7th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85014

602-680-4044

miles
Bragg's Factory Diner

1301 Grand Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

602-733-8076

www.braggsdiner.com

miles
Ingo's Tasty Food

4502 N. 40th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85018

602-795-2884

www.ingostastyfood.com

miles
Miu's Cuisine

2314 E. Apache Blvd.
Tempe, AZ 85281

480-966-3098

miles
Welcome Diner

Sponsor Content