La Tiendita Cafe
Lauren Saria

Sure, La Tiendita Colombian Restaurant is a destination for excellent Colombian fare in metro Phoenix. But the Mesa restaurant is more than just a place to eat. It's a gathering place for the Valley's Colombian community, often hosting a packed house of jersey-clad fans for soccer — er, futbol — matches and other sporting events. So it makes sense, then, that this is where you'll find some of the most authentic Colombian food in town, including excellent arepas, empanadas, and desayunos, or breakfast platters featuring chorizo, eggs, and coffee, for under $10. The go-to order is the bandeja paisa, a filling plate of chicharrón, ground beef, and chorizo sausage, as well as rice, beans, avocado, plantain, a mini-arepa, and a fried egg.

Stop by LaBella Pizzeria for lunch or dinner, and you're getting two things: a great Italian meal and the best kosher food in town. You may not care so much about the latter, but to the Orthodox Jews in the Valley, LaBella is one of only a handful of eateries where they can order a meal that abides by the set of religious dietary restrictions known as kashrut. For everyone else, LaBella is a casual neighborhood eatery where the absence of meat on the menu (there are plenty of fish dishes, though) doesn't at all detract from the quality of the food. Try the Louis pizza (with spinach, mushrooms, garlic, feta, Parmesan, and mozzarella), the can't-eat-just-one garlic knots, or the best eggplant Parmigiana we've ever tasted. Where's the beef? Who cares?

Goldman's Deli

Comfort food comes in many forms, but when you're craving classic dishes of the Jewish variety, it's time to schlep over to Goldman's Deli. Inside the humble strip-mall location, you'll find all the greatest hits of Eastern European Jewish cuisine, and all of them done well. A steaming bowl of chicken soup comes with a matzah ball as big as your fist, and the potato knish, a savory treat wrapped in tender dough, is a carb-laden delight. At breakfast, you can feast on bagels with cream cheese and lox, potato latkes, and blueberry- or cheese-filled blintzes. Goldman's has a full menu of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it's the Jewish specialties that make it a must-try dining destination.

Ollie Vaughn's
Lauren Saria

Breakfast at Ollie Vaughn's might just be one of the most underrated ways to start your day in metro Phoenix. This quaint, sun-soaked eatery located on McDowell Road just west of 16th Street offers a small but worthwhile lineup of breakfast options, all priced under $10. For a morning on the go, there's the breakfast sandwich, a fully customizable affair that can be served on your choice of a doughy house-made biscuit or a flaky, fresh croissant. For a heartier start, we love the pork chile verde, which, for just $9, includes a heaping portion of chile-kissed meat and a fried egg, all served over a buttermilk biscuit. Ricotta pancakes, French toast, and bagel and lox round out the options with a little bit of starch. The bakery and cafe even offers online ordering, so you can swing by and pick up your food without having to wait.

Windsor

There's something for every kind of brunch-er on Saturday and Sunday mornings at Windsor. The chic neighborhood eatery offers hearty morning fare, including biscuits and gravy and eggs Benedict, as well as healthier options such as quinoa oatmeal and The Simple Life, which includes eggs, an English muffin, bacon, and fruit — all delicious. Our favorite indulgence, however, is the homemade donut holes — a baker's dozen of warm, cinnamon-coated orbs served with vanilla mascarpone and strawberry jam. And then there's the booze. Choose from $5 Bloody Marys, which you can trick out with spices, salts, pickles, and garnishes from Windsor's cart; $5 cocktails; and even $5 pitchers of beer. Throw in a few good friends and some pleasant weather, and there's no better way to spend the morning.

Clever Koi
Heather Hoch

The Clever Koi has already earned our esteem as a spot for a one-of-a-kind dinner and affordable happy hour, but the restaurant's lunch menu also deserves a nod for being infinitely customizable, excellent, and fast. The idea is simple: Sit down, grab a pencil, and start filling out your order on the forms provided. Bowls start at just $5 a piece, and diners have their choice of noodles — everything from udon and ramen to chilled green-tea soba, stir-fried chow mein, or rice. Then you pick a protein from elevated options including pork belly, succulent duck, tofu, or steak, and throw on any vegetables you'd like. Best of all are the final add-ins, which include a fried egg, house-made kimchi, and pickled ginger. All said and done, you get a gourmet lunch that rarely costs more than a 10 spot. What more do you want?

Lon's at the Hermosa
Jackie Mercandetti

You don't have to go far to escape the hustle and bustle of central Phoenix — in fact, you really don't need to look any farther than Lon's at The Hermosa Inn, an upscale resort in a particularly quiet patch of Paradise Valley. The property, with its well-maintained landscape and bubbling fountains, is a true oasis, and Lon's, the resort's fine-dining restaurant, sits front and center. The restaurant's spacious patio offers cozy fireplaces, trees hung with glowing lanterns, and stunning views of Camelback Mountain, all of which makes a perfect backdrop for a leisurely meal of chef Jeremy Pacheco's Southwestern cuisine. Look for dishes including Scottish salmon with summer squash, tomatoes, onions, and corn broth, and garden gazpacho with a pickled green tomato salad and micro greens.

Hana Japanese Eatery
Lauren Saria

There's no bad seat in the house at Hana Japanese Eatery, but if you want to go big, then make sure to grab a seat at the restaurant's sushi bar. From there, you'll have a front row view of the action behind the counter — where brother-and-sister team Rick and Lori Hashimoto, along with their stepfather, Kazuto Kishino, can often be seen turning whole fish into pristine pieces of sushi. It's a real show, watching the chefs slice through rosy-pink fatty tuna belly like a stick of butter and draping bright, orange slices of sake over a perfectly shaped ball of rice.

Different Pointe of View
Patricia Escarcega

There's a good reason why Different Pointe of View has been the site of many memorable marriage proposals and wedding ceremonies: The views from the restaurant's patio lounge, especially at sunset, are absolutely stunning. This fine-dining restaurant, situated atop a scenic outlook on North Mountain at the Pointe Tapatio Cliff Hilton Resort, isn't simply a scenic lookout point, though. This is also a destination for anyone looking for a memorable meal. The menu features updated Continental classics and Mediterranean-inspired dishes like filet mignon served with white bean truffle, butter-poached lobster, and seared duck breast served with jalapeño-bacon griddle cakes. The wine and cocktail menu is also top-notch, and service is uniformly good — your server will probably offer to take you and your date's photograph against the scenic city backdrop. You can try to resist the stirrings of romance, but there's really no use.

St. Francis
Evie Carpenter

Listen up, parents. St. Francis doesn't just have one kids' menu. No, Aaron Chamberlin's hip central Phoenix eatery has two: lunch and dinner and brunch. The offerings are smart — healthy (simple fruit salad) and a little naughty (iron skillet chocolate-chip pancake). Chicken breast, cheese pizza, a "big" hamburger with fries — it's hard to imagine that junior won't be pleased. And, get this: Kids 12 and under eat for free. So order an extra Dark and Stormy cocktail, because gray skies are gonna clear up around the dinner table. And if not, ask to be seated upstairs, where it's a little noisier than the rest of the restaurant. (You're welcome.)

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