Best News We've Heard All Year

It was a quiet Monday morning, right up until the news that broke the internet: White Castle is coming to Scottsdale. The venerable slider joint announced on August 24 that the first Arizona location, and only the third west of the Rockies, would go in at Via de Ventura and the 101 Pima Freeway in late 2019. It seemed like everyone had an opinion, and reactions seemed to be split into three camps: unbridled joy bordering on hysteria, personal anecdotes about that one time someone got a stomachache from eating there, and "In-N-Out is better." But despite the naysayers, we're psyched that we no longer have to go to Las Vegas (or God forbid, New Jersey) to experience those perfectly square burgers with the tiny grilled onions.

Durant's

Best Restroom

With its old-fashioned pay phone, rose-covered wallpaper, and basket full of peppermints, the women's restroom at Durant's is a hyper-feminine antidote to the rest of the steakhouse's 1950s mob-boss vibe. But the best part of the restroom, besides its vintage charm, is the millennial-pink vinyl couch. When you've had enough of men for the night, or you just want to gossip in private, grab your martini and settle in. The only downside? Durant's predates the age of catering to digital influencers, and the restroom's tight corners and strange lighting mean that we've never been able to get the perfect Instagram.

The Breadfruit

Come for the Jamaican fare and the enormous menu of creative rum drinks; stay for the cozy enclosed outdoor lounge where you can eavesdrop on the cigar-smoking crowd. At this downtown restaurant, you can leave responsibilities behind and pretend you're on a tropical island vacation. As the name suggests, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar has a huge number of rums on offer. The kitchen also serves up sustainably sourced seafood, earning the restaurant a Smart Catch label from the James Beard Foundation. Drinking your way through the dozens of rums, cocktails, and flights on the menu could take a year, so let the staff recommend a drink and a cigar to pair with it. Or just pick a random rum beverage that looks appealing, let the worries of the day fade away, and imagine you're somewhere far from a landlocked desert state.

Best Western Dining Inside the City Limits

T-Bone Steak House

T-Bone Steak House
Timur Guseynov

Ever get a hankerin' to saddle up and ride off into the sunset to hunt for a hunk of red meat? You still can — and you don't have to leave the Phoenix city limits. The T-Bone Steak House has been serving Western grub and spectacular views of the sunset for more than 40 years. And it's only about seven miles from downtown, located among the saguaro cactuses in the foothills of South Mountain, a mile and a half south of Baseline Road. The rustic restaurant, built with adobe and river rock, was once a private residence. It was turned into a restaurant for ranchers and cowhands in the 1940s, then became the T-Bone in 1973. Locals still tie up their horses on a hitching post out back, but if you're a tinhorn, you can sign up for an evening trail ride. Huge mesquite-grilled steaks with a side of cowboy beans are the main feature, of course, at the T-Bone. When we ordered a porterhouse during a recent visit, the waitress asked, "Do you want the small one or the big one, honey?" We went small, a mere 24 ounces. The big one is 40. We will warn you, though, that the accompanying salad bar is a mite skimpy. Then again, after you've chowed down on a couple of pounds of beef and a bowl of baked beans, who has room for salad? Maybe it's for the horses.

Kai
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

As a AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Kai at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass Resort is one of the most highly praised restaurants in Arizona. What really makes Kai uniquely Arizonan, though, is its singular menu of Native American-influenced fare. Chef de cuisine Ryan Swanson's menu weaves elements of Pima and Maricopa culture and tradition into an uncommon menu that you won't find anywhere else in the country. Many of the dishes feature heirloom Arizona ingredients, game, and vegetables that have been sourced locally from the Gila River Indian Community. The menu changes seasonally, but don't miss staples like the grilled tenderloin of buffalo, a gorgeously cooked, lean steak paired with a saguaro blossom syrup.

FnB Restaurant
Debby Wolvos

If you get up early and hit a farmers market, you just might see Charleen Badman, chef at Old Town Scottsdale's FnB, eyeing Sphinx dates or Romanesco cauliflower and considering how she can elevate that night's dishes. Badman is uncannily attuned to what is happening on the Valley's farms, dairies, and ranches. She understands and harnesses the delicate spirit of each local ingredient she uses, plating dishes that exceed their parts and delight with rigorous composition, intellectual charm, and inspiring flavors. Cauliflower with labneh. Hen eggs and chanterelles. Smoked trout and melons. You never quite know what's going to be on FnB's menu, but you always know you'll never go wrong.

PNPK in north Scottsdale is a relative newcomer to the metro Phoenix food scene, but we're already taken with its happy hour for several reasons. First, the food: PNPK has a wide range of specials at fantastic prices; the bruschetta (we love the smoked salmon with goat cheese, red onion, and capers), deviled eggs, signature craft sliders (try the Crispy Hot Fried Chicken), and other shareables are discounted. Second, the drinks — think super-affordable wine, sparkling wine, and craft beer flights in addition to other specials. Third, PNPK's definition of "happy hour" starts when the place opens and runs until 6:30 p.m. every day, meaning that almost any time is a good time to head up there.

Butters Pancakes & Cafe
Constance Mariena

Don't be put off by the wait that you'll inevitably find at Butters Pancakes & Cafe on a weekend morning. Think of it as more time to study the comprehensive menu. You could go for the restaurant's namesake: soft, fluffy pancakes in that come in varieties like Wildberry Bliss, Oreo cookie s'mores, cinnamon roll, and banana cream. Or if you're feeling more savory than sweet, there are plenty of omelets and scramblers along with specialties like the Eggs Verde, which features two eggs on a corn tortilla with black beans, cheese, and green New Mexico chile sauce. Waffles, Benedicts, French toast — almost everything you can think of for breakfast is on the menu, and we haven't found a bad choice yet.

Fame Caffe
Lauren Cusimano

Ah, brunch — the most important meal of the weekend. When we're in the mood for not-quite-breakfast, not-quite-lunch, we stop by Fàme Caffe in central Phoenix. It's usually busy, but the line to order moves quickly, so don't delay in choosing what to eat. We love the veggie scramble — eggs, goat cheese, mushrooms, cauliflower, and broccoli — with house potatoes, or if we're more in the mood for something sweet, the French toast crafted from sturdy country bread is also a wise choice. The lunch menu has plenty of delights as well, from the avocado grilled cheese to the garden kale salad. Also, Fàme has a standout selection of that most important brunch component: cocktails. There are plenty of a.m. favorites to choose from, including carajillos, greyhounds, palomas, and our favorite, the raspberry peach Bellini.

The Dressing Room
Lauren Cusimano

You won't find run-of-the-mill sandwiches or lackluster salads at this Roosevelt Row micro-restaurant, which specializes in playful, globally inspired street food with a gourmet twist. On the menu, you'll see everything from Korean-inspired yakitori, salads, burgers, and tacos. Skipped breakfast? Try the kitchen's All Day Burrito, which bulges with cheesy scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, bacon, hash browns, and avocado. Another highlight is the light and refreshing cold soba salad featuring glassy noodles buried under a colorful mosaic of dried seaweed and diced veggies. Service is quick and friendly, and there's a daily happy hour that runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — the perfect excuse to indulge in a lunch hour cocktail.

Best Of Phoenix®

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