J&G Steakhouse
Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse

The Valley dining scene is increasingly diverse, with restaurants representing countless regional and national cuisines available for the sampling. But sometimes, we just want a really good steak. J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician resort recently celebrated its 10th anniversary by undergoing a redesign that included a desert-inspired color scheme and improvements to the patio area. Fortunately, the stunning views, outstanding food, and impeccable service haven't changed. Beef is the restaurant's raison d'etre, but it's by no means the only good choice on the menu — there's fresh seafood, craveable sides, and a beverage menu that ranges from domestic beers to bottles of wine that cost more than a mortgage payment.

One of our favorite parts of the Las Vegas experience is the buffets: For a moderate fee, we get to gorge like we're living in the last days of the Roman Empire. We get the same thrill when we visit the Wandering Horse Buffet at Talking Stick Resort & Casino. Variety is the keyword here. There's a full salad bar. There are sections for Mexican, Italian, and Asian food. Antipasto, sushi, carving stations, desserts including a gelato bar (the blood orange gelato is our favorite) — it's all here. Talking Stick had a rough summer; monsoon storms caused damage to the resort's power systems, and it was closed for about six weeks for repairs. We're glad it's back open — it's been far too long since we put "all you can eat" to the test.

This shoebox-size, family-run diner serves up classic, mouth-watering greasy spoon eats. Open six days a week for breakfast and lunch, Art's specializes in unpretentious and delicious homestyle comfort food. For breakfast, don't miss the scratch-made biscuits and gravy, served with your choice of home fries or hash browns (both are exceptional). For lunch, the ABC (avocado, bacon, and cheese) burger is terrific, as is the French dip sandwich. Squeeze into the tiny dining room and make yourself at home — the service is as friendly as the food is delicious.

Rhema Soul Cuisine

Rhema Soul Cuisine isn't your average neighborhood soul-food restaurant. True, you'll find familiar dishes on the menu, including chicken and waffles. But at Rhema, this staple dish is prepared with a playful twist — the fluffy, oversize waffle is prepared with a red velvet batter, drizzled with sugary icing, and served with juicy boneless chicken. The friendly Childs clan, who own and operate Rhema, have fashioned a one-of-a-kind menu that creatively draws culinary inspiration from Southern and Caribbean cooking, with the occasional nod to Southwestern cuisine. Try, for instance, the Brorito, a soul-food take on a burrito. It's essentially a Southern meat-and-three meal wrapped up in a flour tortilla. It's gargantuan, hearty, and oh so good.

Avanti Restaurant of Distinction

Avanti has been doing it for more than four decades now, and we're glad. Its dependable service, delicious entrees, and sincere retro vibe are part of the Phoenix experience. Founded by Benito Mellino of Sorrento, and Tuscan restaurateur Angelo Livi, Avanti (Italian for "forward") began tempting us with perfect pasta and superb sauces in 1974, and its black-and-white and chrome decor has barely budged since. Blood-red walls and zebra-stripe fabrics add a little something extra to tasty entrees like linguine carbonara, rich with spaghetti, eggs, and cheese, and a hearty lasagna like Mama might make. If this, one of Phoenix's favorite old dinnertime haunts, ever leaves us, we'll have to move to Sorrento.

George & Dragon Pub

There's so much we envy about our friends across the pond. They've got great accents, Harry and Meghan, and they've got classic English pubs, dimly lit bastions of beer and conversation. Until we can get back to Jolly Olde England, we indulge our Anglophilia at George & Dragon, a central Phoenix mainstay for more than two decades. The G&D is the place to have a pint (or several), enjoy some traditional English dishes (there are several types of pasties and curries, bangers and mash, shepherd's pie, and more), and watch some football — meaning soccer. You can grab a booth inside, or sit on the patio and watch the city traffic go by; either way, you're in for a good time.

Seamus McCaffrey's Irish Pub & Restaurant
Jacob Tyler Dunn

This pub is authentically Irish, from the Guinness on tap to the Emerald Isle memorabilia scattered around the bar. Founder Seamus McCaffrey is also tied to sibling Irish pubs in Phoenix: Rosie McCaffrey's on Camelback Road and The Dubliner on Thunderbird Road in north Phoenix. But the atmosphere at Seamus McCaffrey's is second to none. Founded in 1991 and next door to the Hotel San Carlos, you might think you're in Ireland after knocking back a few pints in the dark wood booths. The live bands might not be for everyone: They're authentically Irish and, as a result, occasionally ear-splitting. The menu includes corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, shepherd's pie, and potato skins. Sláinte.

Haus Murphy's
Jennifer Goldberg

Isn't it wonderful how many of the cities that make up the Valley of the Sun come with their own little historic downtown area? Glendale is no exception, and a big part of its draw is Haus Murphy's. For over two decades, the quaint restaurant has dished out authentic German cuisine — which is still prepared by chef and owner Brett Hoffmann. It's known for its Original Oktoberfest Pretzel, sausage sampler, juicy bratwursts, house-made sauerkraut, and a variety of schnitzels. And this being a German eatery, there's of course a bar with giant and bottled biers, and a charming patio area — which is just delightful at night. As seen on Food Network, Haus Murphy's offers you a chance to visit the Old World in the west Valley.

Marcellino Ristorante
Molly Smith

Marcellino Ristorante is the best of both worlds: a long-beloved destination for fans of classic Italian fare and discerning foodies alike. Everything is done with care and artistry here, from the food to the service. We like to start with an appetizer like scallops with pesto, then move on to something more substantial, perhaps the strozzaprete with broccoli di rape in olive oil, white wine, and garlic. If we save room for dessert (it's hard, but worth it), we love the warm apple galetta served with gelato. We're also fans of Marcellino's happy hour, which features light bites like bruschetta and caprese salad, along with wine selections, at reasonable prices.

Le Sans Souci

Traditional French cuisine is in short supply in metro Phoenix, but you'll find classic Continental cooking at this longtime Cave Creek restaurant. The menu remains mostly unchanged from the days when original owner Louis Germain was at the helm. Today, longtime head chef Jose Rivera continues the restaurant's legacy of decadent and traditional French cooking. Highlights include the trout sauteed in lemon butter; the coq au vin (chicken cooked in a Burgundy sauce); and the beef tenderloin en brochette, served with mushrooms and dressed in a red wine sauce. This is probably not the spot to skip dessert. Try the sugary, extra-creamy crème caramel.

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