Luci's at The Orchard
Jacob Tyler Dunn

There are plenty of brunch spots around the Valley where you can take your youngsters, but how many of them have a splash pad? Luci's at The Orchard can make that boast. Here, you can grab a protein-packed power bowl or catch up with friends over mimosas without worrying about where to stick your kids. If you want to lean into family time, swing by the gourmet market, pick up a book from the Little Free Library, or grab some tasty gelato over at Splurge, the restaurant's in-house sweet shop. By then, though, your kiddos might be tuckered out from all the outdoor water play (you're welcome). 

Maple & Ash

What makes a steakhouse? One, good steak. Old Town Scottsdale's Maple & Ash has just that. You can polish off an affordable steak frites at the opulent bar, or steadily demolish an exorbitantly priced dry-aged tomahawk ribeye, which meets your teeth as a near-cloud of funk and umami. Two, the sides. Here, they are thoughtful, from silky egg agnolotti in decadent truffle butter sauce to a coal-oven crisped octopus. Three, drinks. You get a complimentary tipple when you sit down here. Cocktails are thoughtful for a steakhouse, and Japanese whisky bottles flash hiragana from behind the bar. Finally, the vibe. The juju here is all swank and chandeliers and high ceilings and mirrors. Having satisfied all the criteria, we declare Maple & Ash a complete, notable addition to our steakhouse scene.

Greasy spoon. Hash joint. Whatever you want to call it, Roosevelt Diner in the Garfield District is a gem. This petite eatery has gone by several names over the years, starting with the Hi-Way Diner, which is what it was called back in 1982, when a man named Robert Young had the building moved from Winslow and plopped onto a corner lot in Phoenix. (It's been under new management since earlier this year.) On the menu are the usual diner items — hot coffee, breakfast dishes — but also eight styles of gourmet hot dogs. Arturo's wasn't built for pandemic times — it's a nine-seater inside, and quarters are close — but there's an airy, lawn-like patio out front with picnic tables where you can spread out a bit and enjoy this tiny slice of Arizona history.

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Jacob Tyler Dunn

It's almost like time doesn't exist outside Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café, which has changed very little since Elizabeth White opened the place in 1964. Over the last half-century, this family-owned eatery has served Southern comfort and soul food to notable people like the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Phoenix Suns legend Charles Barkley, former heavyweight boxer Earnie Shavers, and the Godfather of Soul himself, the late James Brown. Substantial portions of meals like meatloaf, pork chops, and fried chicken with steaming sides of collard greens, buttery corn on the cob, and rich mac and cheese are filling crowd-pleasers, and the cornbread is so deliciously sticky and studded with whole kernels of sweet corn that the cafe sometimes runs out. Desserts like peach cobbler, sweet potato pies, and banana pudding can push people over the gastric edge — but are well worth feeling stuffed.

Cornish Pasty Co.
Shelby Moore

Cornish Pasty, the beloved local chain, has everything we want in an English pub: a cozy atmosphere, a great selection of booze, and hearty food options. The interiors are warm and welcoming; the downtown Phoenix location in particular has a vintage public house vibe. The beer list is full of local, national, and international options, and if beer isn't your thing, wine and cocktails are also represented on the menu. The cornerstone of the food lineup is of course the pasties (we think of them as British calzones) stuffed with a variety of fillings ranging from the traditional Oggie with steak, potato, onion, and rutabaga, to vegan Guinness stew and veggie tikka masala. Also on the menu are English favorites like the Scotch egg and the Ploughman's Plate (kind of a British charcuterie board). Cornish Pasty has expanded to five metro Phoenix locations, plus outposts in Flagstaff and Las Vegas, so we're clearly not the only ones who love to grab a pint here.

We were psyched to celebrate St. Patrick's Day at Rosie McCaffrey's this year, as we do every year. Then, the pandemic hit, and — cruelly — March 17 happened to be the day Governor Doug Ducey told the bars they had to shut down by 8 p.m. Since then, there haven't been many days we've been able to visit the best Irish pub in town. We miss the quaint interior of Rosie's, with its dark wood and Ireland-themed decor. We miss the beer lineup, which includes local favorites, European classics, and more. And we miss the food, both the Irish-leaning items like the potato boxty and Harp-battered fish and chips, and the more standard bar fare like chicken wings and hamburgers. We're crossing our fingers that next St. Paddy's Day, we'll be back celebrating at Rosie's.

Haus Murphy's
Jennifer Goldberg

Despite its mixed moniker, Haus Murphy's restaurant in downtown Glendale is pure, authentic German. Dirndls and lederhosen are part of the aesthetic, and not just during Oktoberfest. Chef Brett Hoffmann's traditional Bavarian dishes have been praised by Guy Fieri on the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and include seven kinds of sausage, from German bratwurst to Hungarian sausages, five variations of schnitzel, and house specialties like beef roulade, stuffed cabbage roll, and Eisbein (beechwood-smoked pork shank). Yes, giant Bavarian pretzels are available, too, along with a selection of authentic Deutsch beers on draft and in bottles. Bonus: On Friday and Saturday nights, the Haus Oompah Band performs in the biergarten on the outside patio.

Vincent on Camelback

Most large cities have a great French restaurant. What makes Vincent on Camelback particularly special is the eatery's Southwestern twist — a distinctly Phoenix touch. A dining institution in the Valley, this no-jacket-required restaurant, operated by Chef Vincent Guerithault since its establishment in 1986, has an ever-changing menu. But you can usually rely on soups and salads, starters like the duck tamale, and mains like rack of lamb with spicy bell pepper jelly and beef tenderloin with green peppercorn sauce. Like the true white-tablecloth joint it is, Vincent on Camelback boasts a wine list with more than 500 individual selections. There's a few other branches of this operation, too, including the more casual Vincent Market Bistro — our favorites there include a smoked salmon quesadilla, duck confit, and steak frites with a bit of wine — as well as Catering by Vincent and the Camelback Market. À ta santé, Vincent!

Tratto
Jacob Tyler Dunn

With Cassie Shortino as chef and Blaise Faber as beverage director and GM, Chris Bianco's trattoria remains the best Italian restaurant in town by a wide margin. You can count Tratto's superiority in so many ways: drinks, including obscure amari, cocktails made with house-steeped liqueurs, and hard-to-find deeply regional wine vintages from the boot. Pasta, from wheaty tagliatelle shaped from freshly ground grains to a simple off-menu cacio e pepe that is hands-down the best pasta in town. Or even a simple starter: the bread, olive oil, and olive plate that opens your meal is nirvana, a harbinger of all the nirvana to come. And yet, there are still so many other facets to this jewel of a restaurant. Eating here is an escape to a better world. (Note: The address for Tratto will change soon; it's moving to what is currently the Pane Bianco space at 1505 East Van Buren Street later this autumn.)

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The menu at Puerto Rico Latin Grill bursts with the flavors of the Caribbean — especially the carnivorous ones. Owner Wesley Andujar's kitchen staff works magic with meat, and pork in particular. To wit: the pernil, slow-roasted shredded pork that melts like manna on the tongue, and chuletas fritas (fried pork chops) crisped to perfection in piquant adobo seasoning. Chicken dishes like pechuga del pollo with sauteed onions linger pleasantly on the palate. Fish get a Puerto Rican twist with bacalaitos (salt cod pancake-like fritters) and whole red snapper. Plantains, a staple of Puerto Rican cuisine, shine in the mofongo (fried plantains mashed with spices) and jibarito de pernil (a sandwich combining savory pulled pork with mashed green plantains). Another prominent Puerto Rican dietary staple, rice, is available in both white and traditional yellow (arroz con gondules) versions.

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