At Miu's Cuisine, you'll find familiar and not-so-familiar dishes of Sichuan cuisine in abundance  but not in the goopy, generic way you may have had in the past.
Jackie Mercandetti
At Miu's Cuisine, you'll find familiar and not-so-familiar dishes of Sichuan cuisine in abundance but not in the goopy, generic way you may have had in the past.

Tongue-numbing. Tingling. Fizzy. To the uninitiated, the taste of Sichuan peppercorns might be likened to a trip to the dentist more than the dinner table. But for fans of the Asian spice, there's not a more unique and complex taste to be found. We like to get our hua jiao fix at Miu's Cuisine, Tempe's youthful gem of Sichuan cooking hidden away in a former Eagles Hall. Here, dishes like cold slices of beef tripe, water-boiled fish, and a cauldron-like Chongqing-style hot pot are smacked with enough Sichuan peppercorns to immobilize our tongues for the rest of the day — or a least until we're ready to come back for more of the Sichuan sensation.

Chop & Wok

After it suffered a fire in 2011, fans of this cheeky rock 'n' roll-themed Chinese restaurant in North Scottsdale thought they'd never see the day they could be sucking down a cold one with a plate of crab puffs again. But this year, the decades-old "gourmet Oriental wok star bar" resurrected itself just steps away from its former location. And the bigger space, decked out in rock 'n' roll and punk rock memorabilia, means more room to enjoy the live music, Americanized Chinese grub, and a selection from Chop and Wok's "31 flavors" of beer.

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When Hanna Gabrielsson set up her quirky Swedish, Polish, and Canadian restaurant with the giggle-inducing name in Tempe three years ago, she hardly could have imagined that by 2013, folks would be lining up outside the door for a taste of "The Beaver." Needing a bigger home for her adoring fans, Gabrielsson and her family closed up shop in February and opened a new Beaver Choice in Mesa three months later. Now with a sleek dining room three times the size of the original, a patio, and (bonus) a bar stocked with wine as well as Swedish, Polish, and Canadian beers, Beaver Choice is bigger and Beav-ier than ever — and its loaded plates of schnitzels, cured fish, and desserts with names like Beaver Supreme just as wonderful.

Talavera
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Valley restaurants have long been setting tables next to backdrops of star-dappled dessert skies and rough-edged mountains kissed with the glow of a sunset, but more times than not, the scene's more breathtaking than the cuisine. Talavera, the upscale spot of contemporary American cuisine inside the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, is not that kind of place. Sourcing a host of ingredients from local purveyors, chef Mel Mecinas creates seasonal three-course menus as well as mainstay dishes like chilled cauliflower soup, thick and succulent pork chops, and Mexican jumbo prawns as vibrant in flavor as the dazzling landscape outside — and just as meticulous as your very good server.

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Best Neighborhood Breakfast, Central Phoenix

Vovomeena

Vovomeena

Locally crafted coffee and fresh-made breakfast and brunch items might seem out of place on the fast food and chain-ridden intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell, but thanks to owner DJ Fernandes (Tuck Shop, Astor House), they're a breath of fresh air that we hope stays in the neighborhood. From crunchy-coated Portuguese doughnuts to New Orleans-style French toast drizzled with whiskey caramel sauce to a Mexican Benedict, Vovomeena's menu reads like a culinary travelogue — one whose dishes you'll enjoy consuming in a lively space and over a cup of Japanese cold-brewed iced coffee.

Best Neighborhood Breakfast, Downtown Phoenix

Matt's Big Breakfast

Matt's Big Breakfast
Matt's Big Breakfast

Last fall, chef-owner Matt Pool moved his killer homemade breakfast dishes to a new home just up the street. Naturally, we followed. Thanks to its being twice the size of the old place (from 25 to 50 seats), there's more elbow room to hunker down with Pool's plates of fluffy, from-scratch griddlecakes, eggs and off-the-bone ham, and luscious cheese- and veggie-stuffed omelets. And although the new Matt's still features its famous long lines, at least it's got its own restrooms.

Best Neighborhood Breakfast, South Phoenix

Morning Glory Café

Morning Glory Cafe

Can breakfast get any more farm-to-table than when you're eating it at the very place that, well, farmed it? Unlikely. Right next door to Maya's Farm, this charming outdoor eatery at The Farm at South Mountain adds lush lawns, stunning gardens, and stately pecan trees to plates of homestyle breakfasts that are just about as fresh as they come. Wake up with dishes like rustic, egg-topped chili made with local beef and native tepary beans, seasonal omelets, or a farm-style Monte Cristo bulked out with eggs, melted Swiss cheese, and ham between chunky slices of French toast drenched in bacon-infused syrup. On the weekends, look for chicken enchiladas and eggs in a pool of heady salsa verde.

Best Neighborhood Breakfast, West Valley

New York Flavor

New York Flavor

The breakfast sandwich might be one of life's most simple yet satisfying creations. And ex-Gothamite Bill Olear makes a fine one — in the form of the classic New York egg sandwich — at his cozy New York-style eatery in Surprise. He packs it into a pillowy Kaiser roll, and you'll want to add bacon and a slice of American cheese (that's how Olear likes 'em). And for those who want to wake up on the sweet side, thick, golden slices of challah bread French toast, kissed with cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla, may have you setting your alarm clock early.

Best Neighborhood Breakfast, North Valley

Perk Eatery

Perk Eatery

Perk's classic pancakes — hot, fluffy, and sweetly kissed with vanilla — are a breakfast treat good enough to keep you thinking about them the rest of the day. Of course, there also are caramelized banana nut pancakes, crispy potato pancakes, and the lemon ricotta pancake special that sells out on a regular basis. And just when you think you might have your breakfast pick down pat, consider the homemade corned beef country-style hash, Fancy Pants Scramble, and rotating specials like the Porky Pig breakfast sandwich and biscuits and gravy. It's a morning conundrum of the comfort food kind.

Best Neighborhood Breakfast, Scottsdale

ZuZu

ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
Courtesy of ZuZu

If you're the morning sort who imagines plates of thick French toast stuffed with lemon cream cheese and tender short rib hash with sweet potatoes and caramelized onions served up in a scene of mid-century swank, then ZuZu might be the breakfast place of your fantasies. Inside the Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale's onetime Hollywood hideaway built in 1956, ZuZu's updated American breakfast eats can be had in a sprawling, stylish room of Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired columns, floor-to-ceiling windows, and secluded circular booths — which, by the way, prove perfect when packing away an extra complimentary fresh-baked scone.

Best Of Phoenix®

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