The Mission
Jackie Mercandetti

Whatever brunch spot you're thinking about at the moment probably isn't quite like The Mission. With its chandeliers, ornate mirrors, and backlit wall of salt blocks, the low-lit room takes on the kind of seductiveness usually reserved for moonlit evenings. And the modern Latin temptations from chef Matt Carter — comfortably spiced red chilaquiles with meltingly tender pork; delicate corn pancakes topped with Dungeness crab and heady smoked Oaxacan pasilla crema; and spicy Peruvian chicken with pecan-kissed waffles and bacon-studded maple syrup — are as apt to get you out of bed as back into it. Not such a bad thing for a relaxing weekend, especially with a fresh mimosa to help in the decision-making.

Duck And Decanter
Jamie Peachey

Ask Phoenicians about the sandwiches at any location of the 40-year-old Duck and Decanter and they're likely to say the fresh and hearty hoagies (second lunch, anyone?) are as delectable now as the first time they had them. There are the classic customizable creations (think white albacore tuna on marble rye, seasoned roast beef with horseradish, and smoky braunschweiger with a slice of specialty cheese), as well as signature sandwiches like the Duckling, made with smoked duck and turkey breast, cream cheese, and cranberry relish on cranberry walnut bread. For a downtown "nooner" of the dependable sort, this Duck's no quack-up.

Welcome Diner
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Former food truck owners Michael Babcock and Jenn Robinson have taken over this iconic, nine-seat diner at 10th and Roosevelt streets and turned it into a kind of roadside stop by way of the South. The best dish on the menu is the fried chicken buttermilk biscuit sandwich, featuring crispy chunks of buttermilk-battered meat (with a seasoning that would make the Colonel blush), melted cheddar, bacon, and thick, white, peppery sausage gravy between moist, tinged-brown biscuits. Then there's the killer red beans and rice and the country-style poutine slathered in cheddar cheese and sausage gravy. Southern comfort never felt so compact — or so cozy.

Pomeroy's
Lauren Cusimano

This Central Phoenix drinkery has been around long enough to understand the finer points of bar cuisine: no-fuss, greasy-spoon fare that perfectly complements whatever cheap domestic draft swill is poisoning your liver on any given sitting. A well-worn griddle is key, and a bedraggled short-order cook who takes great pride in the comestibles he sets forth is essential. It's all here at this windowless saloon, where daylight is anathema to the dining experience: a neighborhood-renowned grilled cheese, a patty melt that puts gourmet burgers three times its price to shame, and a turkey green chile melt that is just pleasantly greasy enough that you'll want extra napkins on hand. Oh, and one more thing: chili cheese fries. See you there.

Citizen Public House

At Citizen Public House, tables are almost an afterthought. This place takes its cocktails as seriously as its food, and while no one's inviting you into the kitchen, you can watch head bartender Richie Moe put the craft in craft cocktail as you relax at the beautiful bar. Chef Bernie Kantak's food takes no backseat, however. From his infamous chopped salad to the to-die-for (we hope not literally!) fried chicken, Kantak knows what we want and we keep coming back.

Postino Central
Evie Carpenter

First dates can be rough — whether it's thinking of something to say or figuring out where to go. Luckily, Postino Central can help you with the latter. This popular Central Phoenix wine cafe offers an urban-chic interior with exposed brick and bright accents, and a cozy patio giving diners an atmosphere that is romantic without being intimidating. Stop by Postino on Monday or Tuesday night and you may find yourself waiting for a table. The wine bar kicks off the week with a $20 board-and-bottle special that gives patrons the option of choosing any bottled wine (and believe us, they have quite a few) from their seasonal selection and a generous board of bruschetta for only $20. Cheap date? Try clever charmer. And though Postino might not be able to help you get the conversation going, with its mellow modern vibes, simple but tasty menu and enough liquid courage to spur a first kiss, it certainly can help you make a good first impression.

House of Tricks
Timur Guseynov

Forget the long-stemmed roses and strolling violinists, Robert and Robin Trick's cozy dining oasis in the heart of Tempe gets right to the point of romantic restaurants: great food, a cozy atmosphere, and no fluff. First, there's chef Kelly Fletcher's seasonally inspired menu, which mixes French and Southwest flavors into elegant plates of fresh salads, inventive appetizers, and grilled meats and fish. Then, there's the two historic bungalows, lush patio, and tree-covered bar. Throw in the candlelit tables and vintage stone fireplace, and it isn't hard to see why House of Tricks has put us in the mood for love for 25 years.

Like many New York steakhouses of yore, Ben & Jack's is a wood-paneled house of meat, with linen-topped tables, a glassed-in wine cellar, and leather padded chairs that can take on the likes of its one-pound hamburgers and a porterhouse (for two) weighing in at 44 ounces. From two alumni of venerated Manhattan steak joint Peter Luger's, the place is nothing short of spectacular — its excellent cuts of prime beef, dry-aged for the richest flavor possible; very good starters like Maryland crab cake; and boozy, old-school cocktails handled like works of art. And then there's that New York sirloin: thick, rich, and beefy, it makes for a magnificent memory.

Casa Reynoso
Natalie Miranda

Noisy, casual, inexpensive, basic. Those are typically not words we'd use to describe a fine-dining experience — unless the kids are along. Then you'll find us at Casa Reynoso, a family-run restaurant with roots in Globe and some of the best Mexican food in metro Phoenix. There's nothing fancy on the menu, but when your kid special-orders her tacos without tomatoes, demands that her tortilla be buttered, and asks for seconds on the refried beans, the staff will be more than happy to accommodate — after catching up with your whole family on how school and life is. Casa Reynoso is like eating at home, only better, because these people cook better than you do — and they clean up.

The Main Ingredient Ale House
Evie Carpenter

If dog is man's best friend, doesn't it only make sense that he should be his drinking buddy, too? Fortunately for Fido, the Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe is as welcoming to canine companions as it is to the downtown diners who bring them. Located in the up-and-coming Coronado District, this cozy historic home turned restaurant boasts a generous front-house patio for you and your pup. Offering plenty of space between tables, some modest foliage, and a fire pit for the cooler seasons, leashed dogs can lie tableside or even engage in some light socializing with fellow four-legged customers, because unlike most restaurants, you won't feel like the only dog owner with attachment issues.

At this point, the Main Ingredient has become so accustomed to the canine company that rather than give your pet the stink eye, they'll bring the thirsty fella an à la carte bowl of water. Now that's hospitality your dog will sit for.

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