Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to happy hour, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we want to zero in on Old Towne Glendale.
Old Towne Glendale, often referred to as historic downtown Glendale is one of those ultra-concentrated city centers with all the historic downtown charms. There are antique shops, comic book and music stores, a little library, and the best part — food and drink spots. You can find coffee shops, lunch spots, happy hour digs, and fine dining options perfect for dinner.
Early coffee to as-seen-on-TV restaurants, here’s an all-day dining guide to downtown Glendale.
A Shot of Java7003 North 58th Avenue, Glendale
Tucked back in the alleyway off the main drag, A Shot of Java is going to be the most authentic coffee shop you’ll find in downtown Glendale. Inside the tiny coffee house — and it does feel like a living room — you'll find a few tables, local art, and the order counter. Offerings include pour-over coffee, cold brew, lattes and mochas, Vietnamese-style coffee, and additional options like tea, Italian sodas, smoothies, and hot cocoa. The alley is heavily shaded by trees (or lit by twinkle lights) and adorned with bistro-style tables and chairs, artwork, and a little bit of traffic hum from Glendale Avenue.
Namaste Cafe5731 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
Inside the red-brick corner store Tangled Root Botanicals, the Namaste Café spans the back wall and offers a “high-vibe tea lounge.” It offers a number of vegan options, as well as caffeine-free varieties, but there will definitely be something there to perk you up. Operated by the ever-friendly Merihelen Nunez, Namaste Café features the Vegan My Thai, Third Eye Chai, and the Spunky Monkey to get you going.
Bitz-ee Mama's7023 North 58th Avenue, Glendale
This family-owned Mexican eatery has been around since 1972, and it shows it the best possible way. Bitz-ee Mama's is still marked by the classic awning off the sidewalk, still filled with colorful decor and roomy booths. Breakfast specials rotate daily and can include the chorizo skillet with homemade beef chorizo, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, green chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions served with a tortilla. There’s also menudo or pozole served with tortilla or bolillo, green or red chile omelets, and country fried steak and eggs. It’s open early, 6 a.m. year-round, for those in need of a hearty Mexican breakfast.
Desert Rose Steakhouse6729 North 57th Drive, Glendale
There’s a lot going on at Desert Rose Steakhouse. It’s a little ways off the main drag, but you’ll easily spot the sandwich sign reading, “All You Can Eat Brunch” with a big that-a-way arrow. Desert Rose Steakhouse is a campus of a restaurant, spanning several rooms and featuring an outdoor patio with jumbo chess and more. The Sunday brunch is $24.95, $12.95 for kids, and as the sign promised, all you can eat. There’s salads, peel-and-eat shrimp, sausage bangers and breakfast meat, French toast, rice and beans, home-fried potatoes, omelets, croquettes, a waffle bar, and carving stations with prime rib and ham. A mimosa (or soda or coffee) is also included.
Little Saigon7016 North 57th Avenue, Glendale
The family-run Vietnamese restaurant relocated to downtown Glendale from Christown Mall a while back, but the aromatic bungalow looks like it set up shop decades ago. Little Saigon is spotted by the adorable courtyard and white-fenced entrance and remembered by the food. We’ve listed it as one of the 10 restaurants any self-respecting Phoenician should try at least once, and stand by it. Menu highlights include the shrimp-stuffed spring rolls, the banh xeo crepe, anything served in a hot pot, and the coconut-flavored shaved ice. However, classics like pho tai are easy orders here.
La Piazza Al Forno5803 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
This is the classic lunch-spot pizza joint, except surprise, the pizza is incredibly upscale, well-known, even awarded. Seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, La Piazza Al Forno is the sister restaurant to La Piazza PHX, but this Glendale location was, as we’ve said, a trailblazer in bringing wood-fired, artisanal pizza to greater Phoenix. And it’s a certified Verace Pizza Napoletana restaurant, meaning your pizza will arrive with the crispy-chewy crust and expected San Marzano tomatoes.
La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop5932 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
A little further down the street but worth the trip, La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop offers imaginative Mexican fare. For instance, tacos include the Baja Sur Dogfish Shark Taco and Mayan Cochinita Pibil Taco. There is also gourmet handmade corn quesas in orders like the Oaxacan black mole chicken, the Azteca Tinga Burro, and the Phoenix-famous salsa bar
Don Juan’s Mexican Grill7013 North 58th Avenue, Glendale
Established in 2019 by Arizona native, Don Juan’s is a modern Mexican restaurant in a historic setting. Hook in for carne asada fries, quick bites like street tacos and enchilada-style burritos, and full entrees like pollo fundido. Daily specials include Fajita Friday, Tostada Thursday, and of course, Taco Tuesday. Beer and house margaritas are also at the ready.
La Perla Sports Cantina5723 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
Dating back to 1946, La Perla is a family-owned bar and grill with a patio in a primo spot. The sports bar offers breakfast with $1 mimosas and Mexican leaning menu items. For happy hour, which is 2 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, offers coconut shrimp, elote, and tacos. To drink, think wine, beer, specialty margaritas like the Palomita, and La Perla Signature Sangria.
The Spicery in Our 1895 Home7141 North 59th Avenue, Glendale
Make a 48-hour reservation with the staff of The Spicery, and they’ll give you a quaint, almost bygone afternoon experience in this historic home in Catlin Court Historic District. It serves lunch in the form of fresh-baked bread, quiche, salad, soup, and sandwiches as well as afternoon tea. Choose between small or large pots of tea, coming in caffeinated and decaffeinated options Think Earl Grey, orange spice, pekoe, raspberry hibiscus, and green. The house was built in 1895, but the business has been around since 1985 — which is still pretty impressive.
Haus Murphy's5739 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale
For more than two decades, this quaint restaurant has dished out authentic German cuisine — which is still prepared by chef and owner Brett Hoffmann. It's known for its Original Oktoberfest Pretzel, sausage sampler, juicy bratwursts, house-made sauerkraut, and a variety of schnitzels. And this being a German eatery, there's, of course, a bar with giant and bottled biers, and a charming patio area — which is just delightful at night. As seen on Food Network, Haus Murphy's offers you a chance to visit the Old World in the west Valley.
A Touch of European Cafe7146 North 57th Drive, Suite C, Glendale
This little European café covers the globe. A Touch of European Café is one of those welcoming restaurants serving lunch and dinner since 2003 — and it’s BYOB to boot. There are salads, gourmet sandwiches, homemade soups, and Polish fare in the form of pierogis, cabbage rolls, hunter’s stew, kielbasa, and more. For dessert, think cheese blintzes, cakes and cookies, brownies, and caramel apple cider.
Casa Terra (temporarily closed)6835 North 58th Drive, Glendale
Downtown Glendale has a new tenant — the dinner-only vegan restaurant Casa Terra has opened at 58th Drive and Glendale Avenue as the first fine-dining vegan restaurant in Arizona. Founder and executive chef Jason Wyrick has created a plant-based menu inspired by the flavors of Mexico and the Mediterranean — specifically Italy, Spain, and Morocco.
Papa Ed's Ice Cream7146 North 58th Avenue
This family-owned spot in the Catlin Court Historic District has 16 flavors of ice cream, as well as dairy- and sugar-free options, in a cute spot behind Gracie's Marketplace. Papa Ed's Ice Cream's homemade waffle cones are the perfect vessel, and cookie-bound ice cream sandwiches are considered a special treat.
Coyote Oaties Cookie Shop7005 North 58th Avenue, Glendale
Set among the antique shops, and part little shop itself, Coyote Oaties Cookie Shop has all your sugar-fix fixtures. There’s coffee, soda, a small selection of ice cream, sundaes, Italian soda, and its specialty, oatmeal cookies. But don’t let that bore you: These are monster cookie chunks packed with candy and fruit. There’s oatmeal peanut butter dark chocolate cashew, oatmeal cherry almond white chocolate, oatmeal sea salt toffee — you get it.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on April 18, 2019. It was updated on December 8, 2020. See what Valley restaurants are offering takeout, delivery, and dine-in services with our Phoenix Restaurant Directory.