The Stand
Evie Carpenter

Sometimes simpler is better, and if you're looking for proof, look no further than The Standard at The Stand Burger & Tacos in central Phoenix. This small restaurant keeps things about as simple as they can be with patties made from beef that's ground in-house, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and Stand sauce. Sure, you could add cheese, but why complicate something that's already perfect?

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour
Lauren Saria

Fans of Asian food have likely heard of sheng jian bao, the oversized Shanghainese dumplings that come stuffed with seasoned pork and wrapped in a thick, doughy casing. These hard-to-find treats have been on trend with Asian food aficionados for at least the last year, so chef Bob Tam, known for serving fun contemporary takes on Asian classics, has merged the dumpling with a good, old-fashioned cheeseburger. To make the dish, he blends ground pork and beef with spices before wrapping the patty in American cheese, sauteed red onions, and scallions. To imitate the dumpling wrapper, Tam uses an English muffin, and the result is a burger that's one part Asian delicacy and 100 percent all-American.

Cheese 'n Stuff
Patricia Escarcega

These days, there are sub shops that specialize in just about everything. One for toasted subs, one for subs with hand-carved meats, and another that brags about its fresh baked bread — even one that's inspired by cannabis.

Well, that's all fine, but if you ask us, none can beat Cheese 'n Stuff, where for more than 60 years metro Phoenix diners have been able to find top-quality sandwiches made with the best ingredients. Our go-to order is the Doughboy, a straightforward combo of turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, and avocado. Served on mayo-slathered pieces of sourdough bread, this toasted sandwich is the kind of meal that's good for any and all occasions. Like the deli itself, which opened its doors in 1949, not a day goes by that we're not grateful it exists.

New Hong Kong Restaurant
Lauren Saria

Don't get us wrong; we love a good pile of saucy, hot buffalo wings. But sometimes when we crave wings, we crave something a little bit different, and for that, we head to New Hong Kong Restaurant in central Phoenix. Beyond its worn vintage exterior, this Chinese restaurant offers some of the Valley's best Cantonese food, specifically dishes of the deep-fried variety. The restaurant's salt-and-pepper chicken wings are particularly memorable. Each wing features moist chicken meat encased in a shell of crispy golden batter, which alone would be delicious, but with the addition of diced garlic, onions, and Thai chili peppers become wings worthy of great praise.

Sure, there are only three different types of fried chicken served at Welcome Chicken + Donuts in central Phoenix. But when all three are so different and so good, it's always a struggle to pick just one. After all, you've got to be pretty confident in your recipe to open a spot that serves pretty much just deep-fried pieces of bone-in chicken and house-made donuts, which is why it's really not that surprising that Welcome's fried chicken is our favorite in town. Each piece comes coated in a golden, crispy batter before being hand tossed in one of the restaurant's Asian-inspired sauces. The Vietnamese Herb combines garlic, fish sauce, and cilantro for a pungent flavor that's hard to forget, while the sweet and spicy Korean Chili makes a less aggressive meal. Then there's always the mild Japanese BBQ, coated in sesame seeds for a little added depth. No matter which way you go, or if you opt out of sauce altogether, it's hard to deny that no one in town does fried chicken quite like this.

Grand Avenue Pizza Company
Lauren Cusimano

Metro Phoenix has no shortage of great pizza, but it can still be hard to find a spot where you can grab a single slice to go — especially late at night. Thank goodness for Grand Avenue Pizza Company, where the creative, gourmet pies are forever baking into the wee hours of the morn. Four types of slices are regularly available for a quick infusion of carbs and cheese — the options include cheese, pepperoni, vegetarian, and a revolving daily special — and they are all reliably delicious. The dough leans toward being thin-crust, the toppings are fresh and ample, and you'll detect an infusion of high-quality olive oil throughout. It's a lovely bit of easy nourishment designed for those hunger pangs that only pizza can cure.

Base Pizzeria
Lily Altavena

Nestled up against the Phoenix mountains, Base Pizzeria is a neighborhood pizza spot that's well worth a drive from anywhere in the Valley. The restaurant specializes specifically in organic pizzas — almost everything on the menu comes certified organic — and if you don't believe it, just quiz one of the restaurant's three Australian owners on any ingredient's origins. All three can usually answer anything you can think to ask, and in an adorable Aussie accent to boot. But the "organic pizzeria" thing isn't just a gimmick. This place's pies are seriously good, and feature quality toppings like organic crushed tomatoes, fior de latte cheese, and caramelized organic onions. Our favorites include the basic Base, topped with crushed tomatoes, basil, and cheese, or the Prawn, a spicy little number featuring shrimp, red onion, and organic chile.

Little Miss BBQ
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Scott and Bekke Holmes may have gotten into barbecue recreationally, but with one bite of the brisket at the couple's restaurant, Little Miss BBQ, it's clear they've made the leap from amateur to pro. Located in a largely industrial area south of the airport, Little Miss BBQ manages to be a charming barbecue destination in metro Phoenix, thanks in large part to the ever-friendly service and excellent smoked meat. You'll almost always find a line of customers queued up outside the small building, waiting to come face to face with glistening, pepper-crusted brisket that's sliced right before your eyes and heaped onto a plate with sides such as jalapeno cheddar grits and coleslaw. But brisket isn't the only option. There's also snappy house-made sausages, ribs, pulled pork, and smoked turkey from which to choose. Avoid some of the struggle of selecting just one with a two-meat plate that includes two sides.

Mekong Palace

There are plenty of reasons to check out Mekong Plaza, the giant Asian supermarket and food court in Mesa where you can find everything from top-notch Vietnamese cuisine to boba tea and some of the best Taiwanese food in town. But don't let the absurd number of dining options cause you to overlook the Mekong Palace Restaurant, a large sit-down eatery located within the food court that also offers some the Valley's best dim sum seven days a week. The best selection of plates, however, will be found on the weekends, during which time you can count on seeing everything from translucent, shrimp-filled pouches to braised greens and golden-yellow egg tarts with perfect, flaky crusts. In both quality and quantity of options, Mekong delivers, and the price point makes this a favorite place for trying a little of everything.

Angry Crab Shack
Jackie Mercandetti

Thanks to a slew of new locations that popped up all over the Valley last year, you can get your Angry Crab Shack fix at six eateries around metro Phoenix these days. But the truth is, we're still partial to the original location, where longstanding customers have scrawled all over the walls in Sharpie and you can count on finding a crowd of diners waiting to nab a seat just outside the door. Why the wait? Because Angry Crab serves fresh Cajun-style seafood, including crawfish, shrimp, mussels, and several types of crab. The go-to order has to be king crab covered in the restaurant's Trifecta sauce, a blend of Cajun spices, lemon pepper, and garlic that's addictingly good and packs just enough heat when ordered with medium spice. You can always throw in some corn and potatoes to balance out the meal, but no matter what you do, don't forget a side of "bread for soppin'."

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