Cibo Urban Pizzeria
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Cibo has all the hallmarks of a romantic restaurant and then some. It's situated inside a historic downtown bungalow with a lovely outdoor patio, where shade trees and flowering plants set the scene for romance. The restaurant's menu is populated by delicious, shareable dishes, including antipasti and wood-fired pizza. The wine list is carefully curated to be deep but not overwhelming. Service is uniformly cheerful yet not too intrusive. If there is one word that summarizes the Cibo experience, though, it's "intimate." Whether you're seated indoors or on the shady patio (which is lit up by twinkly lights in the evening), the intimacy of the restaurant is conducive to every kind of romantic gesture, whether that means "accidentally" brushing up against your date's arm, or ordering a Nutella-stuffed crepe dessert that begs to be shared. It's not an accident that Cibo has been the site of more than one marriage proposal, and no doubt its romantic legacy will continue to build with time.

Ocotillo

In a city where patio dining is as ubiquitous as desert sunshine, Ocotillo in central Phoenix manages to take the concept of eating and drinking in the great outdoors to an impressive new level. The restaurant and bar, situated on a sprawling compound, was clearly designed with outdoor dining in mind. The well-manicured courtyard is nicely landscaped with desert flora and seems to offer comfortable patio seating in every direction. The restaurant's main covered patio is equipped with its own standalone bar, resulting in a space that can easily turn into a cheery beer garden. There is also more intimate seating overlooking a fire pit, and a standalone coffee bar with bike parking. There is lots of room to drink, eat, and stretch out at Ocotillo, where the generous patio space is particularly kind to groups and bigger parties.

32 Shea
Jackie Mercandetti

Around since 2011, the pocket-size 32 Shea was originally a drive-thru photo lab, and you can tell right away. Now, the place is a cafe and coffee shop with lunch and light cocktails, which all turns into a dark-yet-cozy lounge and restaurant by 4 p.m. The drive-thru is still in use, but there's also a dog-friendly patio. The area is enclosed with trees, plants, cactuses, and an industrial steel fence, and comes equipped with misters and heaters depending on the time of year. Shea 32 also offers Yappy Hour every Saturday during their eight-month season, and often hosts events with local pet, groomer, and adoption businesses. Water dishes and dog toys are also available to four-legged guests. Thanks to drinks and dogs, this spot is definitely a point of pride in the Sheaborhood.

Hotel restaurants — even the coffee shops — are pricey, so we were thrilled to learn during a recent staycation at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa that the on-site restaurant Stonegrill offers a $10 buffet for kids 4 to 12 at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We don't know about you, but our little ones can really pack it away, making this an incredible deal. Best of all, the waitstaff kindly looked the other way when we raided the kids' french fry pile. And maybe their chicken strips, too.

You can take us out to the ballgame, but you better buy us something tastier than peanuts and Cracker Jack. Fortunately, the fine folks at Chase Field come up with new and interesting menu items at the start of each new Diamondbacks season. This year, we're loving the unabashedly indulgent Chipotle Chorizo Dog, a wonder of a meal that starts with a footlong hot dog and piles on jack cheese sauce, chorizo, pico de gallo, and a chipotle aioli. It's enough for one very hungry person or two who just want to try it. All the elements work here — the dog is a sturdy base for the chorizo, which is just spicy enough; the fresh veggies of the pico; and the creamy chipotle sauce. It's glorious trash food, and we mean that in a good way. The ballpark tries to be helpful by putting nutritional information on its menu items; we maybe didn't need to know that our game-day treat packs in 1,270 calories, but it's a small price to pay for something so delicious.

Two hours might seem like a long way to drive for breakfast, but we'd travel for days to get to Coppa Café. This sweet café on Flagstaff's main drag (not Route 66 — the other main drag — the useful one with the Target) is mismatched in all the right ways with vintage tables and chairs, flowers on the table, and if you're lucky, a guy in the corner playing classical guitar. Match that with amazing food — we tried the prosciutto and egg tarte flambé, a.k.a. breakfast pizza. Call it anything you want: It was delicious, and the house-made bacon is a must-try, even if you're stuffed. Coppa Café is open for brunch and dinner, as well as happy hour. We'll be back.

Grand Avenue Pizza Company
Lauren Cusimano

There are new spots in Phoenix that keep turning out the grub until 1 or 2 a.m., but for the real late-nighters, the show-closers, the after-party drinkers, there is only one place in town that can offer the comfort and grease we all inevitably crave after closing time. Grand Avenue Pizza Company slings slices of pepperoni, cheese, veggie, and a nightly "special slice" until 4 a.m. every night they are open (they are closed Monday and Tuesday). These slices are large, classic New York-sized triangles that come with just the right amount of grease and just the right amount of crispness to fill your stomach and put you to sleep when it's finally time to call it a night, or in this case, a morning.

The Stockyards Restaurant and 1889 Saloon
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Modern steakhouses tend to follow a template: dark wood, dim lighting, slick luxury, and a menu where practically everything is a la carte. Nothing wrong with that, we suppose, but for our special-occasion meals, we want an experience that you can't find all over metro Phoenix. What sets the Stockyards apart isn't just its history, which is long and fascinating (the restaurant, which has been around since 1947, stands on what used to be the world's largest cattle feedlot). The service is outstanding; listen to a waiter discuss where cuts of beef fall on the spectrum of flavor and tenderness, and you can tell that the staff really know their stuff when it comes to steak, and perhaps just as important, care deeply about the diners' satisfaction. The interior is classy without being pretentious, and the food is just what you want from a steakhouse meal, from the basket of biscuits and cornbread that come out first; top-quality, expertly prepared steaks in a variety of cuts that come with a first course and a side (try the Parmesan potato stack); and a satisfying dessert menu. And to top off the experience, go to the 1889 Saloon on the far side of the restaurant for a nightcap in the lap of Gilded Age-style luxury.

Diner 50
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Diner 50 is a funky breakfast and lunch spot situated amid the drab, sun-bleached junkyards and industrial work yards of 19th Avenue and Buckeye Road. If you can look past the somewhat gritty location, you'll be rewarded with one of the most elaborate '50s-themed dining rooms in the city. But you're here for the food, and Diner 50 delivers on that as well. You'll find all the breakfast classics here, from thick, fluffy, Frisbee-size buttermilk pancakes soaked in butter and maple syrup to a hearty rib-eye steak platter, which comes with a well-cooked steak, a couple of eggs, and your choice of home fries or hash browns. Lunch is good too, particularly the house meatloaf. And here's a pro tip: Ask about the semisecret Mexican breakfast menu.

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe is not merely the oldest soul food restaurant in town, it happens to be the most satisfying. The longtime Jefferson Street staple is a touchstone of Southern cooking and hospitality, delivering favorites like piping hot, extra-juicy fried chicken; smothered pork chops; fried catfish; and a smothered chicken-fried steak that will make you ditch whatever diet you're on in a hurry. If you're lucky, there will be meaty, flavorful oxtails during your visit, which are regularly featured on the menu. Traditional sides like sweet potatoes, fried okra, and macaroni and cheese are first-rate, too. Part of the appeal of Mrs. White's is that so much about it has remained blissfully unchanged over the decades. The best seat in the house is at the counter, where the scent of freshly fried chicken is most pronounced, and where patrons still gather to discuss the day's events, just as they have for years.

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