Luncha Libre
Jackie Mercandetti

Considering that Luncha Libre is one of the Valley's longest-running food trucks, we wondered why owners Tim and Kim Cobb hadn't opened a regular restaurant. After all, their Lucha Libre-themed Mexican food truck has been featured on Food Network's Eat Street show and serves some of the best mobile food in town. Well, this year, they did open a brick-and-mortar spot, called the Taco and Dilla Parlor. But the truck is still where you'll find the newest Luncha Libre specials. The ever-changing menu draws inspiration from Thai, Mexican, and American cuisines, and you can always count on the signature bebidas (freshly made juices) and teas served in quart-size Mason jars.

602-399-4024
www.lunchadorsunite.com

Readers Choice: Short Leash

Noble Eatery
Noble Eatery

Claudio Urciuoli has been one of the most popular Italian chefs in town for years, but at Noble Eatery, he's offering rustic and unforgettable food that's unlike anything he's done before. Simplicity is the name of the game, and Urciuoli has dedicated himself to sourcing the very best ingredients and letting them shine. Of course, housemade Noble Bread serves as the foundation for most of the food, but there's also pristine produce, locally grown grains, and imported meats on the restaurant's ever-changing menu. We've enjoyed everything from a seasonal salad featuring grapefruit and marinated celery to a bowl of creamy wheat berries, farro, tomato, and corn in the cozy dining room of this lunch-only spot. Food lovers will appreciate the level of authenticity on every plate — and won't mind braving the extremely undersize parking lot in order to experience the cuisine.

DeSoto Central Market
Evie Carpenter

Though it opened only in April, DeSoto Central Market already has become one of the best places to bump into those who care as much about eating good food as they do about who sees them eating good food. And it's easy to understand why. The market's collection of food stalls (though still incomplete) serves a nice selection of mostly excellent food, and the space, well, is simply stunning. The unfinished concrete walls make a perfect backdrop for your next profile pic, and the abundance of window light means your Instagram is going to look totally professional. From morning to night, you'll find chic students lounging upstairs with a Tea-spresso latte in hand and hardcore food lovers dissecting the latest specials on Stephen Jones' Yard Bird + The Larder menu downstairs. It's see and be seen — and eat some good food while you're at it.

Quiessence Restaurant
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Between the picturesque venue, pristine food, and, let's be honest, high prices, it's easy to understand why Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain is a go-to spot for impressing out-of-town visitors. The lush acreage surrounding the restaurant begs diners to admire the beauty of the farm before settling in for dinner. And once they do, it's all about chef Dustin Christofolo's delicate treatment of local ingredients — including many that come from the farm and gardens that are just steps from the dining room door. From handmade pastas accompanied by a medley of seasonal produce to a fromage board loaded with Arizona-made cheese and freshly baked bread, Quiessence delivers a refined interpretation of desert cuisine that's sure to impress even the most well-traveled food aficionados.

Rancho Pinot
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Dining trends have come and gone over the past two decades, but through it all, Rancho Pinot has remained. So what gives this Scottsdale restaurant its lasting power? Well, there's the restaurant's always-polished American comfort fare, as well as owner Chrysa Robertson's enduring dedication to using local produce and ingredients. As a founder of the local chapter of the international Slow Food organization, Robertson's been showcasing Arizona-inspired cuisine since long before "local" became a foodie buzzword. But it's more than that. Rancho Pinot also gives diners a memorable experience untethered to fads or trends. Friendly service and honest hospitality are the name of this restaurant's game, and that's one characteristic that never goes out of style.

J&G Steakhouse
Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse

Located on the fifth floor of the Phoenician resort, J&G Steakhouse offers breathtaking views of the Valley from its patio and a modern menu of seasonal steakhouse fare in the sleek dining room. Overseen by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and run by executive chef Jacques Qualin, this restaurant appeals to classic steak house fans with dishes such as a six-peppercorn prime New York steak and 12-ounce bone-in filet. But there's plenty for those who don't live for these steak house staples. Take, as an example, the restaurant's list of appetizers, salads, and soups. The menu includes options such as a chilled roasted melon tomato soup for summer and rich black cheese truffles and roasted mushrooms with herbs and chile for cooler weather in the fall.

George & Dragon Pub

Phoenix's favorite English pub, George and Dragon, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and though 1995 might have been the height of the Britpop craze, George and Dragon has maintained its appeal for two whole decades. Modeled after classic British pubs, the walls are decked with Union Jacks, and the George offers generous pours of ale, occasional live rock 'n' roll, and authentic-tasting fare like shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, and, of course, fish and chips. The G&D also hosts poker nights on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. And make sure to check out the Sunday night special, when the kitchen cranks out delicious roasts, including roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, New Zealand lamb, and roasted chicken.

Rula Bula

Located in the former saddle shop of Tempe pioneer R.G. Andre, Rúla Búla's name might translate from Gaelic to "uproar and commotion," but to us, it's always seemed more like an oasis from the sorority and frat-driven din of Mill Avenue in general, a homey respite where it's possible to swill your Guinness and dig into some corned beef and cabbage in relative peace. Which isn't to say that the Búla can't get rowdy during a spirited pub quiz or during a set by Keltic Cowboys (sample song title: "Kiss My Irish Ass"), but we've always enjoyed it most on a lazy afternoon, surrounded by traditional Irish brickwork and accompanied by a nip of Jameson.

Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge
Lauren Saria

Every year, the number of white-tablecloth, fine-dining restaurants in town dwindles as more casual New American restaurants spring up. But that only makes Christopher's Restaurant and Crush Lounge all the more precious. Located at Biltmore Fashion Park, this sleek French eatery continues to offer upscale fare including foie gras, veal sweetbreads, and pied de cochon in a setting that's anything but stuffy. You'll still find Valley legend and James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross in the kitchen, putting out pristine plates and photo-worthy desserts such as Chocolate Mousse Towers and Gateau Marjolaine. The restaurant even makes fresh bread in-house in a wood-fired oven, and boasts an excellent wine selection curated by sommelier Paola Embry. C'est magnifique.

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.

With a spacious outdoor beer garden and 28 beers on tap, Brat Haus in Scottsdale makes every day seem like Oktoberfest. All you have to do to join in is fill a pint, a stein, or a giant glass boot with the beer of your choice and head outside for a game of giant Jenga, bags, or darts. Eventually, of course, you're bound to get hungry, and the restaurant serves a sizable menu of European-style fare. The housemade pretzels are a go-to snack and come with your choice of several housemade mustards. There's also the dangerously addicting Belgian-style fries (get them with the truffle aioli), grilled housemade sausages (try the spicy brat to punch things up), and classic German dishes, including a nice rendition of pork schnitzel.

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