Best Authentic Arizona Restaurant 2016 | FnB | Food & Drink | Phoenix

Best Authentic Arizona Restaurant


Debby Wolvos

Lots of chefs talk about farm-to-table dining, but few do it as well as chef Charleen Badman at Scottsdale's award-winning FnB restaurant. At the cozy Old Town eatery, Badman continually creates new menus of seasonal fare, showcasing locally grown produce while taking inspiration from an array of global cuisines. Deceivingly simple plates like sumac-roasted tomatoes with i'itoi onion quark and dukka are both rooted in the Valley and capable of transporting diners far beyond the Southwest — all while retaining a sense of rustic familiarity that's helped make the restaurant one of metro Phoenix's top dining destinations. The wine list also exposes Arizona's terroir with dozens of locally made options by the bottle and a well-curated list of choices by the glass. Not familiar with the state's winemakers? Just leave the decision-making to FnB front of house manager and beverage director Pavle Milic, who's as least as charming as he is knowledgeable about the selections.

If you don't happen to live on the east side, a visit to Rhema Soul Cuisine in Queen Creek will no doubt represent something of a gastronomical field trip. But rest assured that the long drive will be worth it, because nobody is making soul food quite like the twisty, creative dishes you'll find at Rhema. House specialties include cheesy dishes like Symphony Fries, a delicious muddle of Parmesan and sweet potato fries glued together with four different cheeses and lavished with chopped barbecued pork. But you'll come for the barbecue, a top-notch selection that includes gorgeous, smoked-on-site St. Louis-style ribs, brisket, and chicken, all deliciously sauced up with the homemade "magic" sauce (a blend of the kitchen's sweet and spicy barbecue sauce). Of course, you'll also have to sample the kitchen's wonderful chicken and waffle dish, which is made with a fluffy red velvet waffle served with juicy, boneless chicken thighs.

Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse

There are steakhouses, and then there are steakhouses. And J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician resort definitely falls into the latter category. Tucked away on the fifth floor of the resort, this sleek restaurant brings the talents of celebrity and Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten to the Valley, meaning you can expect modern takes on chophouse classics. You'll find the usual array of steak options — from a 12-ounce filet to a 24-ounce porterhouse — as well as options for the non-meat lovers, including Maine lobster and slow-cooked salmon. The restaurant's views also make it a splurge-worthy destination; from the patio, you can look out over the resort's pool to the nearby Papago peaks.

Benjamin Leatherman

Thanks to an appearance on Spike TV's Bar Rescue, central Phoenix's George & Dragon got a fancy new makeover this year. But the fresh coats of paint and shiny new tabletops haven't affected the attributes about this pub that we love most — namely, the affordable beers and ever-friendly crowds. Yes, you can also still count of a menu of British classics, including fish and chips (now battered and fried to order — thanks, Jon Taffer), pasties, and a remarkably good plate of Indian curry, and the jukebox still offers plenty of options for any musical taste. And if there's soccer — er, football on, you can bet you'll find it on the televisions here, along with crowds of jersey-sporting fans with whom you can cheer along.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

For a couple of decades and counting, Seamus McCaffrey's has helped anchor the downtown Phoenix nightlife scene as an unpretentious spot for friendly carousing and a late-night nightcap. It's also the best place to go in metro Phoenix to experience the virtues of the classic Irish pub. Come here for a cold Guinness, of course, but also a good whiskey flight — the pub has one of the biggest selections of Scotch and Irish whiskey in metro Phoenix — along with standard bar fare mixed with traditional Irish dishes. Corned beef and cabbage and the menu of boxty pancakes are reliably good, but the real attraction is the friendly service and lively, music-filled bar.

David Holden

Chef Matt Carter's Zinc Bistro may not serve strictly classic French fare — we're pretty sure, at least, that the French don't specialize in scallops with chorizo risotto — but when it comes to finding a bona fide French dining experience in metro Phoenix, this Scottsdale brasserie simply can't be beat. From the pressed metal ceiling tiles to the white tablecloths, everything about Zinc harkens back to a cozy Parisian sidewalk cafe, except here you can dig into a Plateaux de Fruits de Mer with oysters, lobster, mussels, and more, followed by a cup of the Valley's best French onion soup. For the main entree, Carter offers up short ribs so tender they collapse at the lightest touch of a fork and perfectly prepared steak served, of course, with a side of excellent frites.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

There aren't many places where you can fill up on a hot meal for less than $7 these days, but at Da Vang in Phoenix, you'll find dozens of options priced well under $10. This no-frills Vietnamese restaurant isn't just a bargain, though, it's also one of the best places in town for real-deal Vietnamese cuisine — we're talking about everything from steaming bowls of pho to plates of springy vermicelli noodles topped with shredded pork, vegetables, crushed peanuts, and fermented fish sauce. Not familiar with intricacies of the Southeast Asian cuisine? No problem. Just keep these numbers in mind: 48 for an order of fresh spring rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, and vegetables; 76 for a $2.25 bahn mi loaded with liver spread, ham, and pork sausage; and 1 for the restaurant's signature bowl of pho, which includes sliced beef, brisket, tendon, and tripe.

Chon Thai Food is an unassuming, family-owned Thai restaurant situated in a sleepy east side strip mall, but don't be fooled by the somewhat drab exterior. Service is very friendly and attentive, and the food is ultra-fresh, lively, and consistently delicious. The sprawling menu offers all your favorite Thai dishes like pad Thai and pad see-ew, along with excellent harder-to-find regional dishes, including a fiery and rustic larb. Garlicky stir-fried chicken is as good as it gets at Chon Thai, and a house specialty like the chicken pumpkin curry is not to be missed. Impeccable dishes, coupled with reliably friendly service, makes Chon Thai a first-rate destination for Thai in the Valley.

Korean cooking is finally beginning to flourish in metro Phoenix, but if you're craving a first-rate bulgogi dinner, the place to go is still Café Ga Hyang. This small, quirky west side restaurant makes very good bulgogi indeed, the thinly sliced beef marinated and grilled to a delicious garlicky crisp. The selection of banchan, the small dishes of kimichi, the marinated vegetables, and other delights that appear at the beginning of a Korean meal are excellent, and you probably shouldn't leave without trying the red-chili-laced chewy fish cakes and rice cake tubes. The bibimbap, however, is the thing to get when you only have room for one thing; the popular entree is served in a large bowl heaped with sauteed vegetables and slices of beef that you can customize with mixed-in rice and hot sauce. And when you're craving something beyond these ultra-popular and stalwart Korean dishes, the menu is deep enough to hold your interest for many late-night meals to come.

Don't let the uninspiring name fool you. House of Eggroll isn't just another run-of-the-mill neighborhood Chinese restaurant slinging greasy chow mein and sticky sesame chicken. This unassuming east Valley spot is a true gem, specializing in northwestern Chinese fare, a hard-to-find regional cuisine known for blending spice and pungent vinegar to excellent effect. Specialties include hot and sour soup filled with hearty lamb dumplings, and biang biang noodles, a bowl full of gangly handmade noodles topped with bean sprouts, green beans, and succulent shredded pork. The restaurant's tiny dining room can get crowded with large parties of diners who, smartly, opt to share several of House of Eggroll's super-sized entrees. But with one taste of the not-to-be-missed braised chicken with potato and pepper, you'll be happy to have endured the wait.

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