Food PHX

We're suckers for Durant's swanky, old-school vibe, from the kitchen entrance in the back (which makes us feel like members of a secret club) to the polished service to that lipstick-red velvet wallpaper. And there's something about a juicy steak and a perfectly mixed martini that always sounds good. 2611 N. Central Ave., 602-264-5967,

Phoenix has the heat — and 16th Street is the place to find it. Creative modern Mexican cuisine makes Barrio Café a foodie destination, while Tradiciones serves up classic Sonoran food in a family-friendly atmosphere. And for something cheap, filling, and damn tasty, try the Mexican-style sandwiches at Tortas El Güero.Barrio Café: 2814 N. 16th St., 602-636-0240,; Tradiciones: 1602 E. Roosevelt St., 602-254-1719; Tortas El Güero: 2518 N. 16th St., 602-252-9228

Hey, we never thought he needed Oprah's stamp of approval, but since Chris Bianco got the big O, his pizzas are more in-demand than ever. Pizzeria Bianco is worth the three-hour wait, but we go for instant gratification at Pane Bianco, to indulge in homemade mozzarella and bread fresh from the wood-fired oven. Pizzeria Bianco: 623 E. Adams St., 602-258-8300, • Pane Bianco: 4404 N. Central Ave., 602-234-2100

Lisa Giungo tucked good food and wine into an airy bungalow, and called it Lisa G Café Bar. "I wanted it to feel like back home, like back East," says the Philly native. Customers think it's pretty cozy, too. 2337 N. 7th St., 602-253-9201,

One of the most romantic restaurants in the Valley — and coolest BYOB spots — just happens to be tucked into a darling 1930s house, where coved ceilings and wood floors are only part of Coup des Tartes' vintage charm. The menu offers French-inspired fare and a luscious selection of the namesake tarts. No surprise, reservations are a must. 4626 N. 16th St., 602-212-1082,

Downtown's hot year-round — Thai hot, that is, thanks to the debut of Thai Elephant, where the curry's as spicy as you can take it. Chef Johnny Chu's hip eatery Fate caters to a young, artsy crowd with contemporary pan-Asian cuisine. And the low-key Cherryblossom Noodle Café serves home-style Japanese food, from tonkotsu ramen to yakisoba.; Thai Elephant: 20 W. Adams St., 602-252-3873; Fate: 905 N. 4th St., 602-254-6424,; Cherryblossom Noodle Café: 914 E. Camelback Rd., 602-248-9090,

Cibo Urban Pizzeria Café, Tony and Karen Martingiglio's carefully restored historic bungalow, has become every bit the beloved neighborhood institution they intended it to be, not only because of its handsome rooms and relaxed patio, but also thanks to chef Guido Saccone's authentic Italian antipasti and awesome hand-tossed pies. 603 N. 5th Ave., 602-441-2697,

For a taste of local culture, indie coffee joints steam the chains. Take a break from 7th Avenue antiquing at Copper Star Coffee, or soak up the scene at Lux Coffeebar. At Drip Coffee Lounge the mod vibe is laid-back, not high-strung. And Royal Coffee Bar is one of downtown's best secrets. Copper Star Coffee: 4220 N. 7th Ave., 602-266-2136, • Lux coffeebar: 4404 N. Central Ave., 602-696-9976, • Drip Coffee Lounge: 2325 N. 7th St., 602-795-9905, • Royal Coffee Bar: 209 W. Jackson St., 602-374-8044,

By day, we're hooked on Matt Pool's perfect pancakes and fresh-squeezed OJ at Matt's Big Breakfast. By night, The Honeymooner (grilled bologna and cheddar) goes great with a pint of beer at The Roosevelt, his tavern two blocks away. Come morning, we're back at Big Breakfast to nurse our hangovers. Dare we say, Pool's a genius. Matt's Big Breakfast: 801 N. 1st St., 602-254-1074,; The Roosevelt: 816 N. 3rd St., 602-254-2561

Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli
1001 N. 3rd Ave.

Carly's Bistro
128 E. Roosevelt St.

Cheuvront Wine & Cheese Café
1326 N. Central Ave.

China Chili
302 E. Flower St.

City Bakery
215 E. Grant St. (at Bentley Projects)

Coronado Café
2201 N. 7th St.

3815 N. Central Ave.

La Tolteca
1205 E. Van Buren St.

Lo Lo's Chicken & Waffles
10 W. Yuma St.

Lola Tapas
800 E. Camelback Rd.

Los Dos Molinos
1010 E. Washington St.

MacAlpine's Soda Fountain
2303 N. 7th St.

Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli
3052 N. 16th St.

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café
808 E. Jefferson St.

Padre's Modern Mexican
1044 E. Camelback Rd.

Paisley Violin
1028 Grand Ave.

606 N. 4th Ave.

Portland's Restaurant & Wine Bar
105 W. Portland St.

Sonora Brewhouse
322 E. Camelback Rd.

Thai Hut
101 E. McDowell Rd.

Trente-Cinq 35
2333 N. 7th St.

Welcome Diner
924 E. Roosevelt St.

The Wild Thaiger
2631 N. Central Ave.

4117 N. 16th­­­ St.

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