Thanks to a little spot called Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix became a pizza mecca. Try Pomo, home to outstanding pies with super-thin crusts, including the Regina Margherita. This restaurant's new downtown location is almost as perfect as its certified authentic Neapolitan pizza. Another good bet is Cibo, where an outdoor patio and wood-fired pies can be counted on to lift your spirits. Pino's is a bustling little bistro from Pino and Lucia Martnino that serves Italian- and New York-style pies (and slices) made with homemade sausage and a signature marinara. And if soft-centered, real-deal Neopolitan pizza is your thing, then La Piazza Locale from chef-owner Justin Piazza (of Glendale's La Piazza Al Forno) is your place.
Pomo: 705 N. 1st St., 602-795-2555, www.pomopizzeria.com
Cibo Urban Pizzeria: 603 N. 5th Ave., 602-441-2697, www.cibophoenix.com
Pino's Pizza al Centro: 139 W. Thomas Road, 602-279-3237, www.facebook.com/pages/Pinos-Pizza-Al-Centro
La Piazza Locale: 1 N. 1st St., 623-847-3301 www.lapiazzalocale.com
Pizzeria Bianco: 623 E. Adams St., 602-258-8300, www.pizzeriabianco.com
Got time to stand in line? Try Matt's Big Breakfast. Scratch cooking and fresh ingredients make chef Matt Pool's plates of fluffy griddlecakes, eggs and off-the-bone ham, and luscious veggie-stuffed omelets worth waking up to. For breakfast all day and into the night, head to Jobot for crepes and scrambles; Squash Blossom serves traditional, well-prepared a.m. dishes like pumpkin pie pancakes and tender corned beef hash. For the veg, Bragg's Factory Diner serves up vegan and vegetarian breakfast items like coconut curry waffles, homemade biscuits with poblano gravy, and even vegan pie. And with a menu that reads like a culinary travelogue (Portuguese doughnuts, New Orleans-style French toast), breakfast at Vovomeena even includes a cup of Japanese cold-brewed iced coffee.
Matt's Big Breakfast: 825 N. 1st St., 602-254-1074, www.mattsbigbreakfast.com< br /> Jobot: 918 N. 5th St., 602-501-9076, www.jobotcoffee.com
Squash Blossom: 705 N. 1st St., 602-253-4606, www.squashblossomaz.com
Bragg's Factory Diner: 1301 Grand Ave. 602-733-8076, www.braggsdiner.com
Vovomeena: 1515 N. 7th Ave., 602-252-2541, www.vovomeena.com
Hong Kong-born chef Johnny Chu mixes top-notch Asian fusion fare with sake-based martinis and a house-party vibe at his see-and-be-seen restaurant, Sochu House. New on the scene, Clever Koi features deliciously inauthentic Asian dishes and cocktails like the Koi Reviver. In the mood for sushi? Head to Squid Ink, a CityScape spot that even has a walk-up window for sushi to go. Reathrey Sekong, Arizona's only Cambodian restaurant, highlights chef Lakhana In's remarkably redolent soups, vibrant salads, and dishes like baiynchaiv, the crispy rice-flour crepe. And at his cozy Heritage Square bungalow, James Beard Award winner Nobuo Fukuda offers the closest thing to a real izakaya (a casual Japanese eating and drinking establishment) this side of the Land of Rising Sun.
Sochu House: 2801 N. Central Ave. 602-340-9777, www.sochuhouse.com
The Clever Koi: 4236 N. Central Ave. 602-222-3474, www.thecleverkoi.com
Squid Ink Sushi: 2 E. Jefferson St. 602-258-0510, www.squidinksushi.com
Reathrey Sekong: 1312 E. Indian School Road, 480-238-0238, www.reathreysekong.com
Nobuo at Teeter House: 622 E. Adams St., 602-254-0600, www.nobuofukuda.com
Asian shaved ice treats (bao bings), put together with things like mochi balls, mango, and even Oreos, make Snoh Ice Shavery incredibly cool. For ice cream, try Melt, a funky shop featuring flavors like tamarind and cucumber, Chinese take-out boxes as bowls, and a "frozen flower bouquet," or head north to Churn for homemade cookies, pretzel cones, and scratch-made ice creams with flavors like peaches and honey and Almond Joy. Pink Spot has seasonal ice cream flavors like candy corn and hot chocolate, and for the lactose-intolerant and/or vegan, there's a Tsoynami — a Blizzard-like creation — at Nami, Damon Brasch's all-vegan sweet shop.
Snoh Ice Shavery: 914 E. Camelback Road 888-488-1693, www.snoh-ice.com
Melt: 910 N. 5th St., 602-472-3246
Churn: 5223 N. Central Ave., 602-279-8024, www.churnaz.com
Pink Spot: 49 W. Thomas Road, 602-265-3889, www.pinkspoticecream.com
Nami: 2014 N. 7th St., 602-258-6264, www.tsoynami.com
Doug Robson's easygoing Otro focuses on very good, familiar Mexican dishes (think tacos, tortas, and street snacks) as well as a few elevated ones. Or head to Tortas el Güero, where you can choose from around 20 varieties of the popular, monster-size Mexican sandwich, each for about five or six bucks. Experience chicken burro nirvana, as well as smoking grills of excellent parrillada and whole grilled chicken, at Asadero Norte de Sonora, a no-frills gem of Sonoran-style eats. Don't miss Así Es la Vida, where Acapulco-style shrimp cocktail, thinly sliced top sirloin, and Veracruz-style fish celebrate the regions of Mexico at this over 20-year-old casual-upscale restaurant.
Otro: 6035 N. 7th St., 602-266-0831, www.otrocafe.com
Tortas el Güero: 2518 N. 16th St., 602-252-9228, www.facebook.com/pages/Tortas-El-Guero
Asadero Norte de Sonora: 122 N. 16th St., 602-253-4010
Así es la Vida: 3602 N. 24th St., 602-955-2926, www.asieslavidarestaurant.com
EL CHULLO PERUVIAN
RESTAURANT AND BAR
Peruvian food comes to Phoenix at this modest new spot featuring dishes such as refreshing ceviche, spicy shrimp chowder, and cilantro beef stew. 2605 N. 7th St., 602-279-8425, www.elchulloperu.com
MRS. WHITE'S GOLDEN RULE CAFE
Elizabeth's White's 50-year-old restaurant is still the best place in town for soul food like smothered pork chops, pond-raised catfish, and her one-of-a-kind Southern fried chicken.
808 E. Jefferson St., 602-262-9256, www.mrswhitesgoldenrulecafe.com
Score stacked sandwiches on just-made bread, fresh salads, and homemade treats like apple pie and lemon bars at this charming new breakfast and lunch cafe.
1526 E. McDowell Road, 602-625-3664, www.ollievaughns.com
LITTLE CLEO'S SEAFOOD LEGEND
Tucked inside The Yard, restaurateur Sam Fox's massive dining complex, this East Coast-inspired eatery boasts an oyster bar and an eclectic array of seafood dishes.
5632 N. 7th St., 602-680-4044, www.foxrc.com
This nine-seat diner is packed with seriously good, Southern-inspired dishes like fried chicken biscuit sandwiches, stuffed po' boys, and hamburgers stacked to the ceiling.
924 E. Roosevelt St., 602-495-1111, www.marthaandmary.net/welcomediner