Imagine eating a Twinkie, only one that tastes good and is gluten-free. That's the Winkie. And the Winkie, along with large cookies and moist cupcakes in a wide variety of flavors (from double chocolate to carrot) are just some of the sweets available at Gluten Free Creations. In addition to sweets and bread, the wizards in the kitchen have mastered fluffy biscuits served with gravy or by the bag, chewy Everything bagels, pancakes, and fresh doughnuts. Yes, we said fresh doughnuts. With retail bakery locations in North Phoenix and midtown, the South Scottsdale location includes a cafette that serves breakfast and lunch. Cases and freezers are stocked with everything you would hope to find in a bakery — dinner rolls, baguettes, hamburger and hot dog buns, scones, muffins (English or otherwise), loaves of bread, and pizza crust. And if that's not enough, you also can order a custom cake. There also is a variety of gluten-free baking mixes available. Whether you are gluten-free or gluten-friendly, Gluten Free Creations will not disappoint.

Readers Choice: Nami

Matt's Big Breakfast
Matt's Big Breakfast

When we're in the mood for a simple breakfast done exceptionally well, only one place will satisfy — and that's Matt's Big Breakfast. Along with griddle cakes and oatmeal on the menu, you can find the city's best waffle, perfectly cooked hash browns, and thick-cut peppered bacon that's simply unparalleled. The options are limited but all will satisfy, and for first-timers, we recommend the basic Hog and Chick. The meal includes two eggs (cooked your way, of course) and either thick-cut bacon or country sausage (pick the bacon), as well as toast and either hash browns or home fries (pick hash browns). Another favorite option is Matt's version of a breakfast sandwich. Called the Five Spot, it comes with two eggs, two slices of bacon, American cheese, and grilled onions.

Readers Choice: Matt's Big Breakfast

The Gladly
The Gladly

Chef Bernie Kantak's grits, served during brunch with a thick slice of buckboard bacon and a side of toast, are totally worth getting out of bed for on a Sunday morning. Gussied up with truffle oil and shaved Pecorino Romano, they're creamy and light. In fact, the Grits and Eggs is one of our favorite dishes on The Gladly's concise Sunday menu — though with options ranging from the restaurant's famous Chopped Salad to smoked chicken wings or chilaquiles, we'd like to think this is a menu with something for everyone. The Gladly's brunch cocktails also are worthwhile. You can have your mimosa upgraded to include a scoop of seasonally flavored sorbet, and the restaurant's Bloody Marys come spiked with locally made Homeboy's Hot Sauce.  

Readers Choice: Snooze

Nobuo at Teeter House
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Downtown diners looking for an elegant lunch that won't break the bank need look no further than Nobuo at Teeter House. Located at Heritage Square in a converted historic bungalow, this restaurant is home to James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda, who crafts refined Japanese cuisine that's at once impressive and approachable. Dinner is worth every penny, but at lunch you'll be able to enjoy more budget-friendly dishes such as a $10 soft shell crab sandwich served on homemade focaccia or $14 warm duck salad with warm greens and yuzu vinaigrette. Between the lower price points and beautiful digs, Nobuo at Teeter House might just be the most underrated lunch spot in town.

Readers Choice: Mother Bunch Brewery

Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa

When the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton went kaput a few months ago, ladies all over town shed a delicate tear for the death of high tea, long celebrated with flair and a song by Jeffrey Hattrick, the hotel's tea sommelier. But we soldiered on knowing we'd found an even better tea just up the street at the Arizona Biltmore. True, there's no live music (not on the day we were there, anyway) but the service is impeccable, the china lovely, the tea selection varied. And, as at any proper tea, the lemon curd, clotted cream, and scones are divine. Pinkies up!

FEZ

Fez has relocated, moving into the former Portland's space just off Central Avenue. Friendly, easy service (most of it from young, bearded guys), an open indoor dining room, and a hopping after-hours scene (check out the shifting bar specials) are all pluses. But lately, restaurants and diners are opening all over town with high-end tasting menus, crafted cocktails, and gimmickry based on locally grown everything. But few of them have such a nice wide patio for dining al fresco. Comfy, bright orange chairs and four-top tables surround the rounded façade of this swell building. Fez's outdoor dining patio fronts on First Avenue and offers views of an ever-better downtown, with the Westward Ho tower in the immediate distance, and just across from the public are of a big-city light rail stop. As those trains whiz past, you can't help but think two things: 1) What city am I in? and 2) I'll have another Manhattan!

Linger Longer Lounge
Lauren Cusimano

The food at Linger Longer Lounge isn't just good lounge food. It isn't even just good bar food. The food at Linger Longer Lounge transcends all places within the Venn diagram of establishments that serve both food and alcohol — it's just plain ol' good food. With appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas that could stand next to any of the other hot spots around town, we'd venture to Linger Longer Lounge any hour of the day — not just after the sun goes down — for good eats and drinks. Plus, it has some of the best fried pickles we've ever had. Seriously, ever.

Dick's Hideaway
Patricia Escarcega

It is not easy to find Dick's Hideaway on 16th Street. Even when you do know what you're looking for, don't be embarrassed if you walk by it a couple of times before you realize that those doors with the iron bars on them are actually the entrance to a tiny restaurant where it's best to sit at the bar. Once you're inside, don't even bother with the small side room or the hightops. Just pull up a bar stool and prepare to be treated like family by the bartenders. Whether it's for brunch, lunch, happy hour, or dinner, the bar is where it's at in Dick's Hideaway. You'll feel like a regular in no time.

Beckett's Table
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

It isn't that the kids' menu at Beckett's Table is leagues above anyone else's — it isn't. With well-executed basics like grilled cheese, hot dogs, and sliders, it's predictable fare. But what differentiates Beckett's Table from others is how successfully it executes on its motto: "Come together." From top to bottom, the staff really does treat the dining room like someone's home. Family isn't just welcome; it's encouraged.

Until restaurants start offering kids half-portions of adult food instead of lowest-common-denominator basics, Justin Beckett's flagship is the place where kids and their parents can enjoy a meal together. Skip the kids' menu altogether and have your little ones order the Original Grilled Cheese with pancetta and roasted red pepper tomato soup. Even the short rib is tender enough that baby teeth won't flinch. And if all else fails and a meltdown ensues, there's an affordable wine list to appease Mom and Dad.

The House Brasserie

Braving the crowds and craziness of Old Town Scottsdale on a Friday night may not sound like the recipe for the most romantic evening with your loved one, but just beyond the hustle and bustle you'll find one of the most romantic spots in the Valley: the House Brasserie. Trees block the candlelit patio from the street, and white tablecloths wait to present Chef Matt Carter's comforting yet original fare. Inside you'll feel like you're sitting in someone's home, with the service and hospitality to match. Grab a glass of wine or a cocktail and settle in with your honey for a lovely evening.

Readers Choice: Elements

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