the larder + the delta
Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Chef Stephen Jones puts the "South" in "Southwestern," taking Southern food to gustatory and intellectual places we haven't seen in Phoenix. He is deservedly famous for the cauliflower he gives a Buffalo treatment, replete with smoked blue cheese and pickled celery. You see final dishes like these — hoppin' John, Nashville-style hot chicken, radish-jeweled hoe cakes — and they impress. But what you might not expect from afar is the microscopic detail and thoughtfulness that go into their components. Jones artfully pickles corn when in season. He hoards vegetable scraps and burns them into an ash used for seasoning or garnish. He has baked parsley roots in hay. Together, these small, skillful maneuvers and Jones' calculated creative style make his cooking some of the most interesting in town.

Cornish Pasty Co.
Shelby Moore

You can grab a pint at any number of English-themed bars in town, but maybe it's because owner Dean Thomas grew up in Cornwall, England, that Cornish Pasty Company feels more authentic. You can make a new friend as you sit on one of the communal benches while drinking from the selection of beers on tap, including offerings from local microbreweries to the finest stouts from abroad. On some nights, you can even catch a great local band playing at one of the locations. Oh yeah, did we mention the pasties? We recommend the hearty Oggie, but there's plenty on the menu to suit your palate.

Any bar can pour you a pint of Guinness. This Mill Avenue pub will make you wait two whole minutes for your stout. The bartenders don't mind seeing you anxiously wait for that beer, either. They know that's the way it's supposed to be done, setting this bar apart from the other themed bars and eateries that serve you fast rather than right. There are a variety of sandwiches, fish and chips, and an authentic boxty with braised beef on the menu for you to enjoy while drinking your brew on the outdoor patio. Afterward, sip a warm Irish coffee and sample the restaurant's delectable bread pudding as a Celtic band plays live for you.

Haus Murphy's
Jennifer Goldberg

Every fall, German food and drinks are thrust into the spotlight during Oktoberfest, the Bavarian festival that is now celebrated all over the world by people who enjoy beer and lederhosen. But Valley residents don't have to wait for October to enjoy hearty German fare; they just need to make the trip to Historic Downtown Glendale and grab a table at Haus Murphy's. You might hear a server speaking German to customers when you sit down inside the wood-paneled dining room. Start with the restaurant's famous giant Bavarian pretzel if it's available, then pick an entree — maybe the sauerbraten with spaetzle and red cabbage, or a hearty schnitzel platter. Desserts options include an apple strudel and a chocolate sauerkraut torte. Naturally, there's a great lineup of German beers and wines to choose from as well. So no matter what month it is, there's a fantastic German meal awaiting you at Haus Murphy's.

Tratto
Jacob Tyler Dunn

A saying that many attribute to Leonardo da Vinci captures the essence of Tratto: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." The understanding of Italian food — which from north to south is all about simple food simply prepared — as well as just how far Chef Cassie Shortino can take you into the mountains and open fields of Italy, all seen through a Sonoran lens, is unmatched in Phoenix. Tratto shapes whole-wheat cavatelli. Cuts spaghetti alla chittara. Coats boxed pasta shells in pomodoro sauce. Foods as simple as roasted chicken or chickpea crepes seem to pulse with vibrant life, especially in your memory, at the close of a meal, when taking down arcane amari. In the Chris Bianco spirit, Tratto thrives on a low-key philosophy of sourcing the freshest ingredients possible and using craftsmanship to, by the time the cooking starts, have the guts to step aside and let them shine. The result is simple, sophisticated food alive with the seasons and true to the way things are done in the old country, even if being in Arizona makes it all fresh and new.

Geordie's at Wrigley Mansion
Jackie Mercandetti

Try to think of a Phoenix restaurant where Frasier and Niles might dine. What would be their chez away from chez? Cue Geordie's. The historic Wrigley Mansion's gourmet eatery, Geordie's Restaurant, offers kitchen space to the James Beard Award-winning Chef Christopher Gross. He and his experienced culinary team plate many European dishes, including French cooking in the form of caviar, duck confit, foie gras, and the chocolate tower loved 'round the city. Geordie's Restaurant offers lunch, dinner, small plates, happy hour specials, and one of the most exciting brunches in town. The extensive wine list offers more than 800 bottles, many from France, and all selected by award-winning wine director Paola Embry. Wrigley Mansion also offers verandas, patios with twinkling city views, five private dining rooms, and the elegant Jamie's Wine Bar.

Fry Bread House
Jamie Peachey

Prep trays at this longtime Phoenix staple have a set capacity: 77 balls of dough. Some are destined to become frybread served beside bowls of homestyle Tohono O'odham red chile. Others will crackle in molten oil before getting finished, right out of the fryer, with melted butter and liquid chocolate, which river down through dough valleys and onto the serving paper. Frybread is a complicated food. It was born from deep tragedy. But it has sustained indigenous people for generations. For a quarter-century, the Miller family has been serving it at Fry Bread House's shifting location. When visiting, be sure you look beyond the lacy brown disks. C'emet, the indigenous Southwestern wheat tortilla, wraps soft squash burros. Green chile, with its full-throated spice powered by Hatch chiles from late summer to fall's end, is a visceral reminder of our desert's harsh beauty.

Peruvian food is one of the original fusion cuisines. Italian and Asian influences are a part of Los Andes' menu, with a number of linguine and fried-rice plate options. But the real star of this hole-in-the wall west-side restaurant is the seafood. The ceviche, with its unique blend of Peruvian spices, tastes different from other traditional ceviche. The Pescado a lo Macho is a fried fish filet covered in a mixed seafood sauce that is, trust us, quite difficult to re-create. Los Andes is a journey through hundreds of years of Peruvian cuisine brought to metro Phoenix.

Da Vang
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Da Vang is the neighborhood spot that's regularly been selected for Best of Phoenix because it keeps its formula consistent — good food at good prices. The authentic Vietnamese menu is quite extensive, but that just means you can keep coming back for something different each time. Most of the items are under $10, but the portion sizes are anything but small. The com tam dac biet is a dish of broken steamed rice with barbecue pork, shrimp, a fried shrimp cake, a barbecue pork meatball, a crab-egg cake, shredded pork, and a fried egg. Whether you're in the mood for noodles, sandwiches, a big bowl of pho, or one of the other soups, Da Vang is there with fresh food and quick service.

Thai E-San

Visit Thai-E-San and you'll get authentic, affordable food that delivers on price and serving size, whether you dine in or out. The staff is friendly and remembers regular customers' orders. Menu highlights include the pad see ew noodles, the Royal Curry, and the coconut soup. And vegetarian or not, the fried tofu that can be added to any dish is not to be missed. If you come for lunch during the week, choose from a curry or traditional dish with your choice of protein, plus an egg roll, wonton chips, and the soup of the day. All dishes are customizable spice-wise from a mild "1" to a super-hot "5."

Best Of Phoenix®

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