Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Jacob Tyler Dunn

In 1964, Mrs. Elizabeth White turned her name, her down-home soul food, and her observance of the golden rule into not only one of Arizona's longest operating African American-owned businesses, but a legendary Valley restaurant as well. Fifty years later, the modest little building on Jefferson Street is still the best place in town for heaping platefuls of smothered pork chops, pond-raised catfish, and Mrs. White's one-of-a-kind Southern fried chicken. And for dessert? Peach cobbler (of course), which Mrs. White still prepares regularly — along with her pies — at her soul food restaurant so many have called home for nearly half a century.

Bragg's Factory Diner
Heather Hoch

Diner-style vegan and vegetarian eats may be just about the best idea since the Vitamix — and at this cheery spot in the retail space of Bragg's Pie Factory, the former pie factory turned art gallery in Central Phoenix, you can get them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — and pie. You could start and stop at the golden and fragrant coconut curry waffles, but then there's beet burgers topped with a zesty corn relish; an "E.L.T." made with eggplant "bacon"; vegan pie in flavors like rosemary apple, banana cream, and chai-spiced pear; and, sometimes, even vegan doughnuts.

Pomegranate Cafe
Katie Johnson

This cheery, mother-daughter eatery in Ahwatukee serves up big, bursting-with-color dishes of fresh vegetables and grains, fruit-packed smoothies and veggie juices, and an ever-changing array of homemade sweet treats. There are very good lunch and dinner items here — like bulky "Rainbow" wraps, a lively, Southwestern-inspired blue corn taco salad, and a nutty and spicy stir-fry called the Dragon. Brunch, featuring dishes like a light but hearty Lumberjack sandwich and egg or tofu scrambles with veggies, is worth noting as well. And (bonus) in addition to the all-vegetarian — and very often vegan — menu, there are gluten-free and raw options as well.

True Food Kitchen

We must begin with a caveat: True Food Kitchen's menu is not 100 percent gluten-free.

And that's just fine with us, because this way we might actually be able to convince a friend or two to dine with us. Gluten-free living can get awfully lonely, but not at TFK — where Dr. Andrew Weil is (virtually) right by our side, instilling his anti-inflammatory diet into a Fox Restaurant Concept menu. The setting is lovely and kale never sounded so good. What more could you ask for?

The Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Most folks in these parts know the name Tovrea because of the castle or the murder (or both) but did you know about the Tovrea Stockyards? Operated in the shadow of the hill that holds the castle, Edward Tovrea's feedlot was once the largest in the country. Not far away, the family later opened a restaurant, named, naturally the Stockyards. Despite decorating upgrades over the years, The Stockyards still has an authentic Arizona feel, from the black and white photos to the leather booths to the menu, Today the steaks may not be quite as fresh — they have to go farther for the meat, of course — but you can still get a damn good piece of beef here.

The Rose & Crown Pub

Aching for some Wee Britain in old Phoenix town? Rose & Crown is the pub to satiate all of your Anglo-Saxon cravings. Located in a renovated historic home right across from Pizzeria Bianco in Heritage Square, the bar specializes in craft beer, billiards and grease-a-licious eats. It's best to stop in Mondays for half-priced pub burgers, but the English bar also specializes in one of our favorite Canadian food forms every day — poutines [sic]. The thick, crisp English-style chips are perfectly seasoned and then smothered with cheddar cheese, brown gravy, and scallions. Though it isn't a classic take on poutine, it's definitely delicious enough to hold us over until our next stop over the northern border. Beyond all of that, Rose & Crown has a great porch and patio for soaking in the downtown scenery with some superb people-watching.

Rosie McCaffrey's Irish Pub
Lauren Cusimano

If you're looking for a cozy Irish pub in which to grab a pint, Rosie McCaffrey's is your best bet. Guinness is always on tap, and there's plenty of bar seating and even a patio where you can take a beer and enjoy a cigar. Rosie's is the kind of place you could easily make your "local" go-to spot. The food is solid Irish pub fare. Of course, there's fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and boxty. But we're fond of grabbing a plate of potato skins topped with corned beef and Irish cheddar, and splitting one of the sandwiches. If you can avert your eyes from the traffic whirling by on Camelback, you might just think you've landed in Ireland for an afternoon.

Amuse Bouche Gourmet Bistro & Catering
Courtesy of Amuse

For those enjoying a bit of culinary torment, you could do worse (depending on where you live) than driving 45 minutes or more to Surprise for some of the best French food in the Valley. Courtesy of French-trained chefs Snir and Kiersten Mor, the tiny BYOB country-French bistro features top-notch, seasonal lunch and dinner fare as well as an outstanding Sunday breakfast. Be on the lookout for exquisite quiche Lorraine, a mouthwateringly moist Berkshire pork chop, and notable desserts like a shareable hunk of spongy bread pudding drizzled in homemade caramel sauce. Vive la road trip!

At Brat Has, beer may be king, but there are enough good dishes here to keep the taps in good company.
Jackie Mercandetti
At Brat Has, beer may be king, but there are enough good dishes here to keep the taps in good company.

A welcome new addition to the Valley's woefully short list of German-minded restaurants, this lively gastropub in Old Town even sports its own sprawling biergarten that usually fills up before the two indoor spaces do. With nearly 30 beers on tap and almost 40 in bottles and cans, a strong German or Belgian craft brew is just a "Danke!" away. And thanks to its locally focused menu of homemade sausages, German specialties, and house-pickled fare, dishes like juicy currywurst, German potato salad, and soft and chewy handmade pretzels keep the suds in good company.

Chef Oscar Graham's ceviche de pescado features a mound of chopped pieces of tilapia in a thin, bracingly sharp juice of lime and Peruvian chile peppers.
Evie Carpenter
Chef Oscar Graham's ceviche de pescado features a mound of chopped pieces of tilapia in a thin, bracingly sharp juice of lime and Peruvian chile peppers.

Like any good Peruvian chef worth his sea salt, Oscar Graham makes very good ceviche. And at this tiny no-frills spot in Chandler, his ceviche de pescado — a mound of chopped tilapia in a sharp and spicy juice of lime and Peruvian chile peppers topped with slivers of red onion and served with a hunk of sweet potato and pearly, large-kernel Peruvian corn — is just about perfect. There are other good dishes as well: papa a la Huancaina (a kind of Peruvian-style potato salad), well-herbed grilled chicken, and spicy seafood paella. A glass of dark, sweet, cinnamon-tinged chicha morada (Peruvian purple corn juice) helps wash down the tongue-tingling flavors.

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