Best Fish Shop 2023 | Nelson's Meat + Fish | Food & Drink | Phoenix

Nelson's Meat + Fish just gets better and better over time. Chris Nelson will sell you a slab of salmon, sure, but where else in town are you going to find razor clams, fresh sardines, footlong tiger prawns and live Nantucket Bay scallops in the shell? Nelson's Instagram account routinely heralds fresh shipments of highly prized specialties, and the shelves are stocked with plenty of sauces, supplements and tinned fish to boot. Meanwhile, the meat locker is no slouch, filled with steaks and chops from local producers plus premium sausages and charcuterie from across the country. And though it isn't a formal dining establishment, the menu boasts the city's best lobster roll, a sparkling chilled seafood tower, outstanding creative crudo specials and more, all plated for you to walk over to the taproom next door.

Stoop Kid

Stoop Kid blew up for a hot minute when it entered the scene back in 2020, as much for its bagels as for its burgers. But while a tsunami of smashburger pop-ups rose and receded, Stoop Kid kept doing its thing over at The Churchill, slinging a couple of basic burgers along with the occasional special. Now that the dust has settled, circling back to Stoop Kid has been a pleasure. The thing about those "basic burgers" is that they're done awfully well. Flavorful brisket patties are seared to a startling crisp, layered and tucked into a pillowy brioche bun that's substantial without being too bready. A slab of quality cheese, deeply caramelized onions, some thick pickle chips and a swipe of bright house sauce are a tried-and-true formula, but here they're a sterling take on the total package, juicy and dripping and messy in all the best ways. Bonus: The house-made potato chips kick ass.

Noble Eatery

There's no shortage of excellent places to find bread baked fresh locally. Noble has been at it for over a decade, and while you can sample their breads at farmers markets and restaurants around the Valley, Noble Eatery showcases how that bread serves as an excellent foundation for a sandwich. The wood-fired deli and bakery is only open for lunch on weekdays, but you'll understand the midday rush once you sink your teeth into a soft pide (a Turkish bread) stuffed with tuna, beans, potatoes and farro and punched up with a Cabernet vinegar. The menu of sandwiches is small but hits all the right notes, ranging from turkey to an Italian, with breads that can withstand whatever is piled atop them. Be sure not to miss the rotating chef's specials, which have included Cubanos, meatball subs and roast beef.

We often think of the humble hot dog as a utilitarian food, only to be considered when faced with one at a sporting event or Fourth of July barbecue. But that's not the case at Der Wurst inside uptown Phoenix's Linger Longer Lounge. There, hot dogs are the star of the menu. They start with goods from local purveyor Schreiner's Fine Sausages, and from there, the sky's the limit. Favorites include the Blow-Me, topped with tomatoes, pickles, onions, sport peppers, mustard and celery salt; and the Dirty Sanchez, a gut-busting choice topped with spicy beef chorizo, melted cheddar cheese and jalapenos. (Did we mention that many of the menu items have NSFW names?) If you've happened to bring a vegetarian or hot-dog hater on your wiener quest, they've got options, too: The schnitzel chicken fingers are a popular choice and the Strap-On is a chipotle vegetarian sausage dog that comes with tomatoes, avocado mayo and cotija cheese.

With all due respect to the tremendous strides our local businesses have made in precision-crafted frozen spud technology, there's something about a fresh-cut potato chucked in lard that can't be replicated on a greasy, gut level. Dazzo's is a solid joint for hot dogs and burgers, but the real star here is the french fries — thick-cut with the skins on, fried to a deep golden color, just a little creamy on the inside while the craggy and erratically cut edges take on a shattering crisp. They're served blistering hot with way too much salt (i.e., just the right amount), and you will neither get nor should you desire anything more than perhaps a dab of ketchup. Mostly? They actually taste like potatoes. Which is as it should be.

The battle for wing supremacy is fierce, and personal taste may rule the day, but for our money, no establishment consistently sticks the landing quite like Valley Wings. Take "boneless wings" out of the equation. (The category is Best Chicken Wings, not Best Chicken Nuggets.) Valley Wings' superlative traditional wings deftly walk the line between juicy and crisp, fried enough to give their lightly dusted surface a lively, sizzling crackle, but not so much that the tender meat within dries out and turns into chicken jerky. There's Buffalo-style for the purists and a cavalcade of flavors — both wet and dry — for those who like a little variety. Most are solid choices, and they'll sauce heavy or light, per your preference. And while the ranch and blue cheese aren't top-notch, they're better than most, and good enough not to get in the way of the beautiful meat.

Chris Malloy

Folks tend to be territorial about their favorite pupusa joints, but if there's one Salvadoran restaurant capable of winning over converts, it's Seydi's. The menu at this North Phoenix mainstay looks the same as the rest — pick a pile of pupusas stuffed with cheese-laced fillings like chicken, chicharron, calabaza and the like. But these pupusas are charmingly quirky, erratically shaped in contrast to the others' clinically perfect discs, lending them a pleasant, rustic texture. The dough is unusually light and tender, griddled to a robust golden color, deeply flavorful and scalding hot on your fingertips. The cheese oozes and pulls, and a little always escapes during cooking, adding crispy griddled cheese bits to the edge. And they're paired with a bright and zippy curtido that needs just a little squirt of house salsa to contrast the earthy fillings within.

Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Little Miss BBQ is the strongest argument that Best of Phoenix should start retiring jersey numbers. This is a much tougher call than it was when Scott and Bekke Holmes opened the OG location on University in 2014. But the fact remains that nobody does as much as well and as consistently as Little Miss BBQ. The Texas-style fatty brisket with its slippery, oozing layers of smoky fat still reigns supreme, but both varieties of sausage are top-notch, specials like the beef rib and the pastrami are heart-stoppers (literally, if you aren't careful), and even the second- and third-string meats are better than most joints around town. Plus, just when you think everybody else is starting to catch up, Scott starts playing around with Mexi-Q and threatening to leave everybody in the dust all over again. His smoked green chile burrito with barbecue meat and ranch beans smothered with green mole is not only some of the best barbecue in town, it's also one of the best burritos in town. Some people make it look easy.

Chris Malloy

Smoked turkey may not be at the top of everyone's list when visiting a Texas-style barbecue restaurant, but at Eric's Family Barbecue, the supple meat is a reason on its own for a trip to Avondale. The talented barbecue masters inject the turkey with sweet tea while it's cooking, keeping it moist and soft awhile it is steamed by the tea. A crust of salt, pepper and garlic forms on the outside, providing a savory contrast to the slight sweetness. The turkey is smoked and then wrapped in foil to bathe in au jus. Enjoy it on a sandwich with pickles, onions and mustard sauce or by weight on barbecue platters best paired with creamy baked macaroni and cheese, pinto beans stewed with barbecued meats and tangy coleslaw.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Chris Bianco and his pizzeria are synonymous with wood-fired pie-fection. Indeed, even as the list of well-made pizzas available around the Valley and the state grows, Pizzeria Bianco continues to stand out because of its dogged commitment to craftsmanship and by letting simple, high-quality local ingredients shine. Several things have happened over the past year that have put Bianco and the pizzeria on the radar of out-of-state foodies and pizza fiends. First, Bianco was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as Outstanding Restaurateur for 2022, applauding the culinary trio of Bianco joints — the pizzeria and sister restaurants Tratto and Pane Bianco. Bianco then stretched his legs, taking the pizzeria and deli to Los Angeles. That was followed up with a feature in Netflix's "Chef's Table: Pizza," which showcased not only Pizzeria Bianco's rise to culinary fame but also Bianco's near-obsession with how every element, from the grain that becomes the flour used in the dough to the amount of time in the oven, affects the final product. All this added focus solidifies what so many in the Valley already know: The best pizza comes from Pizzeria Bianco.

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