The Stand
Evie Carpenter

Whether you like yours with cheese or without, the Standard at The Stand in Arcadia is the kind of burger you can always count on. It's just about as basic as they come, but thanks to high-quality ingredients — including beef that's ground daily in-house — this burger is a good reminder that basic doesn't have to be boring. On top of your thin but tightly packed beef patties (the Standard already comes with two) you'll get a leaf of crisp romaine lettuce along with a slice of tomato, onions, and a few dill pickles. The restaurant's signature Stand sauce really seals the deal: it's a Thousand Island-like topping spread on the inside of the burger's toasted bun. Here's a pro tip: Order an extra side of sauce for your fries.

Readers Choice: Rehab Burger Therapy

Pig’s Meow Beer & Wine Bar
Lauren Saria

So maybe it's because grilled cheese is the only item on the Pig's Meow's food menu, but the bar sure does know how to make them. We ask you what possibly could go better with beer and video games than melty cheese and other toppings housed between two toasty pieces of bread? Even with one menu item, there's variety. Maybe you'd like spicy pepperoni and capicola in your sandwich. Or perhaps you're more of a fig and goat cheese kind of person. For $5 each, you might as well order a few and do a grilled cheese sampling along with your beer flights.

Wimpy's Paradise
Lauren Saria

Pittsburgh Willy's started as a simple hot dog cart. But over the past nine years, the name has become synonymous with serious gourmet hot dogs all over the East Valley. It's been two years since owner Randy Walters closed up shop inside a Chandler antique mall, but these days you can find all your Pittsburgh Willy favorites at Wimpy's Paradise, Walter's second restaurant in downtown Chandler. In addition to hot dogs and Twinkies, Wimpy's serves burgers, sandwiches, ice cream, and more. But our go-to meal is still the Pittsburgher, formerly known as the Wild Willy. It's a quarter-pound all-beef wiener topped with butter-soaked chipped ham (a Pennsylvania favorite) and cheddar cheese.

Ollie Vaughn's
Lauren Saria

It's hard to choose just one sandwich from Ollie Vaughn's to name as the best sandwich in the Valley. The small breakfast and lunch spot has a variety of worthy choices, including the ham sandwich, with Gruyère, apple butter, and Dijon or the egg salad sandwich, with capers, currants, and dill. But the one we simply can't deny the number one spot to is the meatloaf sandwich. One moist slab of homemade meatloaf sits between two soft pieces of bread with crunchy and pickled carrots and radishes. The contrast of the sweet hoisin glaze on the meatloaf and the sour pickled toppings makes our mouth water just thinking about it.

Pizzeria Bianco

Everyone from the New York Times and Bon Appetít to Oprah and Martha has shown mad love for the pizza at Chris Bianco's Pizzeria Bianco. And in addition to Bianco's winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2003, the restaurant's been nominated for the foundation's Outstanding Restaurant award several times. It might seem like a lot of fuss for a simple pizza spot. But with one visit, it's easy to understand the buzz. The restaurant's concise menu showcases six pizzas, each of which features Bianco's heavenly crust. Blistered and bubbled and a true thing of beauty, it's tinged with smoke and just the right amount of char. From the simple Marinara pizza to the bright and peppery Biancoverde, made with ricotta and arugula, Pizzeria Bianco continues to live up to its reputation as a don't-miss destination for pizza enthusiasts.

Readers Choice: Pizzeria Bianco

Grand Avenue Pizza Company
Lauren Cusimano

Grand Avenue Pizza's tiny dining room is jammed full of excellent and affordable by-the-slice Italian lunches. Owner and pizza chef Carson Wheeler, a native of Virginia, opened his pie shop about a year and a half ago in a long-vacant corner store at Grand and Fillmore, and set about pushing a menu designed after an old-school East Coast neighborhood slice shop, like the ones he knew from every corner of every borough in New York. Wheeler blasts his pies in a pair of standard gas pizza ovens, and his crusts are made using an old family recipe and topped with locally grown ingredients. What he does with flour and tomatoes and olive oil is worth checking out. Grand Avenue pies are wonderful straight from the oven and still tasty 20 minutes later — slices we've dragged home even passed the next-day, cold-slice-for-breakfast, eaten-over-the-sink-while-standing test: The refrigerated cheese and zippy red sauce hadn't soaked the crust, which retained the pliancy and flavor of bread, not cardboard. Another slice, please!

Jobot Coffee
Heather Hoch

Jobot has come a long way from its humble beginnings. The coffee shop is still as cozy as ever, but these days, the space has been opened up to create a brightly lit room full of tables, couches, and a comfortable chairs. You'll often find downtown residents hanging out and letting their creative juices flow, and when it comes time for a bite, they turn to Jobot's menu of classic, sweet, and savory crepes. Made in-house from scratch, these crepes can satisfy just about any craving. A simple one with fresh-squeezed lemon pairs excellently with coffee, while heartier options such as the Number 6 — made with garlic roasted turkey, mozzarella, spinach, and pesto — makes a filling lunch or dinner.

Noble Eatery
Noble Eatery

Look closely at the menu the next time you're offered bread service at a high-end restaurant in town. You're likely to notice that the bread comes from Noble Bread — that is, unless the restaurant's making it in-house. There's a good reason Valley chefs and restaurant owners are so fond of the bakery's product. Bakers Jason Raducha and Claudio Urciuoli use old-school techniques to produce consistently excellent loaves of bread. The Country Loaf is the bakery's signature offering, and it's great. But if you're a real fan, then you also hunt down specialty creations like the sesame loaf, which Raducha bakes just once a week. With subtle nutty flavors and a slightly denser crumb, this bread tastes just as excellent alone as when smothered with Nutella or butter. This year, Noble began milling its own grain in-house (locally grown heritage varieties, of course), bringing it one step closer to the true traditions of Old World baking.

Nocawich
Lauren Saria

Phoenix may not be a bagel town, but New York City sure is. That's why Nocawich owner Eliot Wexler isn't even bothering to make his own bagels at the newly opened Nocawich in Tempe. Instead, he went straight to New York's H&H Midtown Bagels and convinced the Big Apple bagel bakery to ship frozen, half-baked beauties nearly all the way across the country. For those who know a real East Coast bagel when they taste one, there's simply no comparison. Crunchy on the outside and dense and chewy on the inside, these bagels only get better when topped with lox from another New York City favorite tapped by Wexler, Russ & Daughters.

Welcome Chicken + Donuts head baker Casey Hopkins-Johnson works hard while we're still sleeping to make sure the restaurant's pastry case is stocked with more than a dozen kinds of doughnuts every single day. That's quite a feat considering it requires making at least three to five kinds of dough and who knows how much ingredient prep for flavors such as maple bacon and rose pistachio. At Welcome, the proof is in the doughnut.

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