Best Brunch 2022 | Rita's Cantina & Bar | Food & Drink | Phoenix

If you're brunching in metro Phoenix, you might as well brunch in paradise. A visit to Rita's Cantina & Bar on the premises of the JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa can feel like a staycation in and of itself. Sea salt and caramel pancakes followed by a sea salt scrub at the spa? There are worse ways to cure a hangover. Brunch at Rita's entails endless Mexican- and American-inspired breakfast and lunch creations; an all-you-can-eat option that features made-to-order omelets, French toast, and plenty more; plus a full bar. Try the brunchery's signature cocktails, the Camelback Sunrise and Rita's Margarita with espolon blanco, triple sec, agave, and lime.

It's a truth universally acknowledged that late-night dining options are few and far between in metro Phoenix. Most of the options are diners and drive-thrus, which will do in a pinch, but rarely satisfy. Enter Society by EVO, which opened this year and serves fantastic food until 1:30 a.m. Like the original EVO restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale, Society by EVO is heavy on the pasta options: Think bucatini with bolognese sauce, or the Margarita Pasta with tequila crema, pepperjack cheese, red pepper, onion, green pepper, linguini, and jalapeño. But there's plenty else to explore on the menu, including bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, scallops with risotto, and much more. The dates are a favorite, as is the whipped feta dip with a spicy honey drizzle. Whether you take it to go or eat it in Society by EVO's stylish dining room space filled with mood lighting and hanging vines, it's your best bet for late-night eats.

Isabella's Kitchen

When you walk into Isabella's Kitchen, your eyes will immediately gravitate toward the patio. It's the best place to enjoy bruschetta and a glass of wine — there are plenty of people to watch, and if that isn't your thing, you can gaze at the McDowell Mountains. You've also got a front seat for the Talon Golf Course, and you'll have a chance to have a resort-style happy hour or lunch without the fuss of a hotel day fee. The patio dining experience is perfect for a couple on a romantic date, girls' night, or a family-friendly gathering for lunch on a Sunday. The "Screw It" menu is offered on the weekdays from 3 to 5:30 p.m. when diiscounted margaritas, glasses of wine, and well drinks are for the taking, as well as Isabella's charcuterie board and hand-stretched, made-to-order pizza.

Best Place for a Little Bit of Everything

WTF Express

Typically, you'd expect to go to one restaurant for Middle Eastern food, but another for cheesesteaks. And another for poke. And another for salads. Not so at WTF Express in south Phoenix, a bizarre and delicious amalgamation of food genres. The restaurant, which is popular with the lunch crowd, serves everything from falafel sandwiches to shrimp po'boys to chicken wings to loaded fries to ... well, you get the idea. Everything on the menu is serviceable, if not a guaranteed home run, but the Middle Eastern dishes really shine. We love WTF Express's poke bar, where we can build our own bowl with generous helpings of fish. At lunchtime, when we don't know what we want to eat, we stop by WTF Express. Whatever we decide on, they'll have it.

When it comes to eating out, we love fine cuisine, global fare, inventive menus — all of it. But we also appreciate a good onion ring. A warm pretzel dipped in cheese. Bar food may not get a ton of respect, but it's a staple of menus around metro Phoenix. And local chain Zipps Sports Grill does it incredibly well. That pretzel we mentioned? Zipps serves little pretzel bites served with a house-made beer cheese. The mozzarella sticks are wrapped in a light, crispy spring roll for extra crunch. The golden wings are just the right blend of tangy, sweet, and spicy. Paired with a cold drink and maybe some football on one of Zipps' many big-screen TVs, the bar fare here hits the sweet spot between comfort food and great flavor.

Jackie Mercandetti

Quiet, intimate, and private, dining at Lon's at the Hermosa offers couples a chance to enjoy a romantic evening. Upon arrival, you immediately know you're somewhere special; the grounds of the Hermosa Inn offer large mesquite trees, a view of the mountains, and a candlelit garden. Dinner can happen near a fireplace outdoors or a tucked-away spot indoors. Some highlights on the menu include the Hermosa salad, the day boat scallops, and the halibut. There are also a healthy set of options for vegans and vegetarians. The sommelier can recommend special wine pairings from a selection of international choices. Dining at Lon's is more than just a date night, but an opportunity to have a magical, memorable, and of course, romantic evening. Just don't try to book last minute; make your reservation well in advance to make sure your night to remember goes smoothly.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

In school, we learned about the five Cs of Arizona, the industries that drove our state's economy back in the day: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate. For a glimpse of what it was like when metro Phoenix was filled with livestock, not people, dine at The Stockyards. The steakhouse has been open since 1947 and sits on land that was once the world's largest feedlot (hence the name). Inside, you'll find the kind of dining experience you don't see much anymore: a subdued dining room with Western decor elements, formal and attentive service, and a menu with quality beef cuts that actually come with side dishes included (a steakhouse rarity in this day and age). In a city that keeps moving farther away from its rustic roots, a dinner at The Stockyards is memorable not just for the food, but for the connection to Arizona's past.

This no-frills diner connected to a Motel 6 has held its unassuming location at Camelback and Scottsdale roads since 1988. Slide into a booth or take a seat at the counter to watch the magic in the kitchen. The Original Pancake House is one of many locations throughout the country, though the locally owned Scottsdale eatery is the only one in Arizona. Specialties here include the Dutch baby, an oven-baked concoction that puffs up like a souffle, then falls before it's topped with powdered sugar and inevitably devoured. The apple pancake is another favorite, made with fresh Granny Smiths and a cinnamon glaze. If you want to keep it extra classic with some savoriness, go for the ham and eggs with hickory-smoked ham and two eggs, plus three buttermilk pancakes.

Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Imagine that a classic diner met a hipster foodie and had a baby. That's Welcome Diner at Ninth and Pierce streets in the Garfield neighborhood. A pink and blue neon sign greets you on your way in, giving way to a disco ball above the host stand and blue booths with wooden tables in between them. (The patio is also nice when the weather isn't hot enough to cook an egg on the pavement.) Breakfast is served all day here, even on Fridays and Saturdays when the diner is open until midnight. Try various combinations of chicken and fresh biscuits, including the Koko with beefsteak tomatoes, arugula, and chipotle ranch. Sandwiches and burgers are also available; go for the peanut butter bacon burger if you're especially hungry. It's packed high with a Niman Ranch patty, cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, peanut butter, pickles, and applewood smoked bacon on a Noble Bread bun. Coffee is on the menu, but so are cocktails such as the Industry Sour with Frenet Branca, green chartreuse, and lime, and the Welcome Mule with vodka, lemon, and ginger beer.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Calling a restaurant an "institution" is a bold statement. But there's really no other word for Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, the downtown Phoenix eatery that's been serving incredible soul food since 1964. Generations of Phoenicians have dug into Elizabeth White's original recipes. The venerated fried chicken is perfectly seasoned and crispy, and the pork chops are tender and juicy. We could write odes to the ooey-gooey mac and cheese, and Mrs. White's is pretty much the only place where we order a glass of Kool-Aid to accompany our meal. We've lost count of how many times we've tucked into a meal in the bustling dining room, thanking our lucky stars that we've got restaurants like this in Phoenix. Actually, we've got one more word for Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe: treasure.

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