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The Best Restaurants in Phoenix 2021: Our Top 100 List

The Best Restaurants in Phoenix 2021: Our Top 100 List

Much has changed since March 2020, when Phoenix New Times published its inaugural list of the Top 100 Restaurants in Phoenix. Nearly all the restaurants on the list — James Beard Award winners, strip-mall taquerias, white-tablecloth classics — have struggled simply to stay open amid a pandemic that ripped through the hospitality industry like a hurricane. Dining out has become an entirely different type of activity. In some ways, going to a restaurant may never be the same again.

Our 2021 list of the Top 100 Restaurants in Phoenix reflects this new era of dining. It includes pandemic-related safety policies regarding things like social distancing, carryout and curbside, expanded outdoor seating, and more. It swaps out dearly departed gems for innovative up-and-comers. But mostly it continues to celebrate the culinary multitudes this city contains. The world has changed, but the reasons we go out to eat — to celebrate, to commune, to be excited by some strange new combination of flavors — have not.

Note: For more information on how local restaurants are serving customers during the pandemic, check out New Times’ guide to Phoenix Takeout, Delivery, and Restaurant Dining 2021.

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Walking up to Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café, you can't, for a second, tell if you're in present-day Phoenix or the first act of a decades-old film. Inside and outside, this place is a throwback, from the painted-on sign to the tight wooden booths and lunch counter. The fantasy extends to the menu; Mrs. White's (named for founder Elizabeth White) serves utterly timeless Southern food. The writing on the wall — literally — informs you this 50-year-old restaurant is where you'll find one of Phoenix's most famous Southern dishes: the golden brown Southern fried chicken (with suggested sides of cabbage and black eyed peas). You'll find other homestyle staples here that are relatively rare in Arizona, like fried catfish (tartar sauce not needed), red beans, and cobblers. No worries if you live or work nowhere near the little yellow luncheonette. Mrs. White has spinoffs everywhere, including her grandson, Larry "Lo-Lo" White's spot, Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles. New Normal: Seating is limited inside. Takeout is available, as is delivery via DoorDash.($$)

808 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 85034
602-262-9256, website

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe

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