Best Vietnamese Restaurant 2022 | Pho Thanh | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Lauren Cusimano

The first indication that Pho Thanh is the place to be is the packed parking lot. Wedge your car in wherever you can, and head inside. Through the doors, you'll be welcomed by a bustling room filled with tables of families sharing plates, friends slurping noodles from rich broth, and servers packaging food to go. Start your meal with an order of banh hoi chao tom, or ground shrimp skewered with a stick of sugarcane, served as deconstructed spring rolls. Soak rice paper shells in water until pliable enough to wrap around the shrimp, fresh veggies, and aromatic mint leaves. The best way to tackle the rest of the menu is by sharing. Bring a group and dig in to the best Vietnamese food you'll find in Phoenix.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

If we were on death row and had to pick a local dish to be our last meal, Glai Baan's sumptuous and creamy panang curry would be near the top of our list. A rich and flavorful medley of beef, peppers, basil, and bamboo shoots, it tastes as good as it smells (and it smells like a dream). It's a dish that the restaurant has run out of on more than one occasion, and for good reason. It's a testament to Glai Baan's deep bench of delicacies that their curry is just the tip of their flavor iceberg. This little shop on Osborn has a bevy of soups, side dishes, finger foods, and street-style noodles to fill your appetite. Just don't ask the staff what a son-in-law egg is. Be an adult and Google it so they don't have to explain it for the 6,000th time.

Stone Korean Tofu House is the type of place that both pleases tofu lovers and convinces tofu skeptics. It may look like an average chain restaurant in a shopping center parking lot, but this spot specializes in bubbling, bright red soups that stain your mouth and satisfy your soul. Servers bring black clay pots of the boiling stuff to the table, and deliver a little bowl of raw eggs. Crack an egg directly into the soup, and stir until it cooks. The soups come filled with house-made tofu along with dumplings, veggies, and assorted seafood and meats. Other essential dishes include beef bulgogi, a dish of marinated ribeye, and four different kinds of bibimbap. Sit inside or on the small patio, where you can watch the light rail sail by while you dig into a steamy soup.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

There's more to Japanese food than just sushi, but Hana Japanese Eatery does that, too, and does it with style and flair. Hana has been creating authentic Japanese dishes for 15 years, led by Lori Hashimoto and her family. The chicken tatsuta-age and ika kara-age are battered in potato starch and fried, a technique used by Japanese cooks for lighter, crispier breading — and the taste makes all the difference. The uni (sea urchin), a Japanese delicacy, with quail egg will provide an out-of-this-world experience with a creaminess that will blow your mind. If you love sushi, don't skip the restaurant's signature Hana Pride roll, a cucumber-wrapped creation incorporating six varieties of seafood with pickled burdock root, avocado, asparagus and sprouts.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Tucked into a plaza on Apache Boulevard and Dorsey Lane, and conveniently located right across the street from a light rail stop, Chou's Kitchen is nestled in the heart of Tempe and is the go-to place for northeastern Chinese food. Since 2011, Sunny and Lulu Zhao have been bringing traditional flavors from the Dongbei region to those seeking tastes of the far East. ASU students and anyone else seeking hearty portions are happy to chow down on Chou's large lineup of stir-fried noodles, hot pot in clay pots, and orange chicken dishes. We love the eggplant with potatoes and jalapeños, and the pan-fried beef pies are not to be missed, but we love Chou's most of all because they're one of the few places in town to get soup dumplings (traditionally known as xiao long bao). They're on the menu as Steam Juicy Pork Dumplings, and we can't get enough of them.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

The menu at Shaanxi Garden, a restaurant in the corner spot of a Dobson Road strip mall in Mesa, offers an overwhelming amount of dishes. But the noodles are the star. Plump, inch-thick ribbons that seem to go on forever fill bowls packed with rich savory soups, crispy stir-fried meats, and all the fixings. For meat eaters, the spicy cumin lamb noodles might be the perfect way to warm up on a cold day. Regardless of the weather, Shaanxi's noodles hit all the right chewy, bready, satisfying notes of the perfect carb. Slide into a booth, grab a bowl of noodles, and on Friday and Saturday nights, listen to a guzheng or Chinese harp performance throughout your meal.

The Dhaba

The Dhaba is the Valley's go-to place for Indian cuisine, a Tempe mainstay where you can find a wide range of delicious, family-style dishes. The name comes from traditional, modest roadside cafes on the subcontinent. But The Dhaba elevates it to something memorable. Even the basics are stylish. There are seven varieties of basmati and biryani rice dishes. The nine kinds of naan bread are amazing, especially the Kashmiri version, which incorporates pistachios and cashews. The rest of the menu is extensive, with lots of different curry dishes, paneers, saags, and appetizers. Upshot: You can live a long time and not get through the full menu. There's something for everyone and every dish is delicious. If you have a sensitive palate, and smoke comes out of your ears at the mere thought of a chili pepper, The Dhaba will let you pick your spice levels on a scale of one to 10. It's the kind of place to break naan with good friends or to load up on takeout for special events and savor the leftovers for days.

Patricia Escarcega

In Arabic, haji baba refers to a person with an adventurous spirit, and we'd like to think that such individuals would eat at the popular Tempe joint. Haji-Baba is an unpretentious eatery with a walk-up counter for grabbing kabob pitas and hummus to go, and a dining room if you prefer that the delicious food come straight to your table. Chicken shawarma is sliced right off the spit and served alongside long-grain, fragrant basmati rice, and chicken, beef, and lamb kabobs are cooked over an open flame. Plus, you can fill up for not much money, since the menu is priced well and portions are generous. Grab some baklava at the end of the meal or take a stroll around the market for European chocolates and Middle Eastern goods for the pantry. Bonus points if you take home some French feta cheese for later.

Chris Malloy

It's impossible not to feel a festive vibe when you walk into Authentic EthioAfrican. Opened by husband and wife Anduale Hassan and Elsabet Tiruneh a decade ago on McDowell Road and 18th Street, fans have always come for the affordable Ethiopian food: slow-cooked doro wat, beef tips singing with spice, freshly fried sambusas stuffed with lentils, fragrant kitfo made with minced raw meat, and celebratory vegan platters circled with spicy stews. After a six-month renovation, the bigger, jazzier space is a draw, too. Filled with wood carvings and art work straight from Ethiopia, the space offers wood-lined walls and tables topped with colorful mesob baskets. They also offer an Ethiopian coffee ceremony and live music on holidays, plus have added a full bar and bar seating, so you can wash down massive rounds of injera with a draft beer or colorful cocktail.

Molly Smith

Chompie's may technically be a Jewish deli, but everyone with an appetite is welcome. The longtime local chain has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner for decades, and the traditional Jewish foods haven't changed. The matzah ball soup is still warm and satisfying, full of chunky carrots and pieces of chicken. The bagels still hit the spot in the morning, especially topped with a schmear of cream cheese and some lox. Chompie's is known for their mile-high sandwiches, piles of pastrami or roast beef so large we can barely grab them. The new location on Cactus Road is its most beautiful storefront yet, a huge dining room/market combination where anyone for an appreciation for good food can come and be fed.

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