Best Place to Take a Scenester 2016 | Crepe Bar | Food & Drink | Phoenix

It isn't a hidden gem, per se — after all, chef Jeff Kraus' south Tempe breakfast and lunch spot has won awards from just about everyone in town, and it's right there in plain sight in the middle of a strip mall — but for some reason, Crepe Bar does seem to fly below the radar. Except, that is, with the Valley's food and drink devotees, who pack the restaurant's dining room each and every chance they get. And it's easy to understand why. The menu at Crepe Bar features sweet and savory crepes that show the chef's knack for creating food that's as fun as it is delicious. Kraus also offers a new expanded selection of sides that includes dishes ranging from tiny salads of local tomatoes, purslane, and tahini, to house-made "Rolos" for dessert. And it's not just the food. Crepe Bar is also one of the Valley's top spots for inventive coffee drinks. Always made with top-quality ingredients, Crepe Bar's caffeinated creations range from coffee brulee (as in, coffee covered in a layer of burnt sugar) to the singular Moroccan latte, which combines espresso, spices, and honey for a truly inspired pick-me-up.

Lauren Cusimano

A staple of the country and western spots along Cave Creek Road, the Buffalo Chip Saloon & Steakhouse is known for its live music and dance hall, authentic barbecue, allegiance to Wisconsin sports teams, and of course, its backyard rodeo arena. Whether it is in fact your first rodeo, or you've been part of bull-riding audiences since your boots were snug, the Chip offers live bull-riding sessions on Wednesday and Friday nights. Starting as an 800-square-foot feed and bait shop for anglers on their way to Bartlett and Horseshoe lakes, the Chip has grown to cover more than five acres — and has been overseen by proprietor Larry Wendt since 1999. Though a fire took down the previous saloon on Thanksgiving 2015, the rodeo arena and backyard patio area went virtually undamaged. The new 5,000-square-foot saloon is open during construction, and will be completed later this fall.

Best Place to Take an Out-of-Towner


Jackie Mercandetti Photo

There's no better to place to impress your guests than at this fine-dining restaurant located at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North. The service is always excellent, and chef Mel Mecinas puts out a menu that blends classic steakhouse fare with Southwestern flavors. Expect plates of top-quality Kurobuta pork served with achiote glaze, goat cheese, and tangerines, or a classic, corn-fed beef filet served with horseradish crust and marsala mushrooms. With more than 450 selections and over 30 options by the glass, the restaurant's wine list should satisfy even the most fussy oenophiles, but the thing that truly seals the deal are the restaurant's excellent views. From the Talavera dining room, you'll enjoy stunning views of the Valley and desert landscapes that look straight off a postcard. Catching a sunset on the restaurant's patio is easily one of the best ways to start an evening out on the town.

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.

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