Best Mediterranean Restaurant 2016 | Al-Hana | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Laura Segall

For a fast, affordable, and delicious lunch — and on top of that, an authentic Mediterranean one — there's really no better stop than Al-Hana restaurant inside Baiz Market Place. The walk-up counter is just a portioned-off corner of the international market, but there's good reason you'll often find a queue of hungry customers lined up around lunch time. For under $10, you can get a plate of marinated chicken shawarma with rice, pickles, onions, and creamy garlic sauce or a large portion of tabbouleh that makes a perfect light lunch. Our go-to order is the simple falafel sandwich, which, for just $3.99, comes stuffed with hot, fried chickpea balls, lettuce, parsley, tomatoes, pickled turnips, and rich tahini. The price point certainly can't be beat by anyone except Ronald McDonald or the Colonel — and we'd rather have some of city's best Mediterranean fare than fast food any day.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Chef Chris Bianco has been known as one of the best pizza chefs in the country for years, and at his newest restaurant, he proves he's got lots more than pizza up his sleeve. The highly anticipated Tratto restaurant opened its doors at Town & Country shopping center in central Phoenix this spring, serving a concise menu of excellent Italian fare including pasta, small plates of local vegetables, and more. A meal might start with a long piece of grilled house-made focaccia spread with buttery lardo and jelly, and star an entree of slow-braised pork shank with sweet summer corn and local peaches. From start to finish, Tratto makes a strong impression — even the cocktails surpass expectations, with craft ingredients including local honey and olive-oil-washed gin.

Romanelli's is a wonderful family-run Italian deli that has been singlehandedly funneling tasty Italian import meats, cheeses, and chocolate-chip cannoli into the west side for decades. This is the place to go for the simple pleasures of an old-fashioned cheese and liverwurst sandwich, trays overflowing with homemade cheese ravioli, and deli sandwiches stuffed with your dream configuration of mortadella, salami, capicola, and other specialty cold cuts. The bakery case is replete with everything you need to impress at your next potluck, including an assortment of homemade eclairs, cannolis, cheesecakes, and sfogiatelle stuffed with custard. And if you love the homemade sauces, the Romanelli's market pantry is stocked with jars of their homemade puttanesca, arrabbiata, and marinara, so you can bring the flavors to your own home pantry.

Jennifer Goldberg

Haus Murphy's has been a mainstay in downtown Glendale for nearly as long as the lifespan of the average millennial. The secret to the restaurant's longevity is pretty simple: good, hearty German fare served in a hospitable, group-friendly dining room. Come here for the sausage sampler, the juicy bratwursts served over the house-made sauerkraut, and a whole menu of excellent schnitzels. The sauerbraten, or sweet-and-sour marinated beef, served with a side of spätzle, is as close as you'll get to southern Germany without hopping on a plane. Of course, you'll have to order the giant Bavarian pretzel, and if the weather allows, there may not be a lovelier outdoor patio in downtown Glendale.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

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