Duza's Kitchen

Duza's Kitchen is the kind of quiet neighborhood cafe whose reputation is built mostly by word of mouth. Tucked into the historic Coronado neighborhood, the breakfast-and lunch-only restaurant offers a refined, globally inspired menu that seems to offer something for everyone. The brunch menu, designed by chef-owner Mensur Duzic, runs the gamut from apple-spiced hot cereal to French crepes to Mexican breakfast tortas. With a dining room replete with local art and tables dressed in fresh flowers, and a spacious outdoor patio with tables tucked into the shade of mature cottonwoods, the setting is ideal for a cozy weekend brunch.

Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Jackie Mercandetti

Phoenix Public Market Cafe has become an essential downtown lunch spot, and it's not hard to see why. The location, just outside the fray of the business district, where parking is plentiful, is ideal. The menu is diverse enough to accommodate everyone from your vegan roommate to your pork belly-loving co-workers. True, the dining room can get pretty loud at the height of the lunch rush, and there always seems to be at least one Macbook-wielding hipster taking up an entire table. But the counter-service setup is efficient, and the well-designed menu offers light offerings (salads and rice bowls) and heartier fare (sandwiches, burgers, and rotisserie chicken). Whether your downtown Phoenix lunch means a solo salad on the go, a business meeting over burgers, or a coffee and pastry date, Phoenix Public Market Cafe is the place.

Crudo
Crudo

Dear cocktail lovers: You've heard it before and you'll hear it again — Crudo, the modern Italian eatery in the heart of Arcadia, has one of the best happy hours around. A list of classics rings in 14 deep, from the Bee's Knees to the Negroni, the margarita to the Sazerac. You can even swing by with friends who prefer wine (nine options, from Loire Valley bubbly to Chilean syrah) or beer (a double barrel ale from Firestone Walker, in Paso Robles, for $3? Yeah, your friends are gonna dig this place). Introduce them to timeless bar snacks like the Fresno chile vinaigrette-drenched crispy pig ears, or the salty truffled bacon popcorn, which feeds the appetite and drives thirst. Believe us that damage can be done in two hours. And we always come back for more.

If you mashed up your favorite neighborhood bar with your favorite food truck, the results might look something like The Bar and Neatly's. The Bar is a laid-back neighborhood spot where Motown music plays on full blast, and a portrait of The Dude (that would be Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski from The Big Lebowski) hangs behind the bar. Neatly's, which is operated by the same folks behind The Stand in Arcadia, is tucked in the rear of the room, adjacent to the bar. The food stall's menu plays on the theme of an old-school laundromat; many of the menu items are "pressed" and "folded." Highlights include the Ironing Board Sliders, three excellent sliders served on buttery, crispy sourdough bread. Pressed sandwiches like the Italiano, served with an apricot mostarda on the side, are indulgent and well-executed. Best of all, the food is designed to be enjoyed from the comfort of your bar stool.

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.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of