Best of Phoenix

12 Classic Mom-and-Pop Restaurants in Greater Phoenix

Jacob Tyler Dunn
Joel LaTondress and Lara Mulchay have craft beer and wine at Arcadia Premium, but also some damn good cheese.
Mom-and-pop restaurants — whose ownership, it must be said, is well past an era of being defined by an actual man/woman couple — play a huge role in the particular flavor of a city. That's very much true in the Phoenix area, where the personal touches of independently owned eateries add depth and a sense of place to the restaurant landscape. Here are 12 of the classics.

Arcadia Premium

Lara Mulchay and Joel LaTondress
5618 East Thomas Road, #100

If you need a delivery of some craft beer, an affordable but exceptional fine wine, some tangy salami, or any combo of those things, Arcadia Premium has you covered. If you’ve got transportation, a trip to this moderately sized, homey retail shop for grown-up drinks is worth it. The owners know all about their products and love to help steer customers toward new treasures.

click to enlarge Welfy Youkhana has been serving Philly cheesesteaks in central Phoenix for over two decades. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Welfy Youkhana has been serving Philly cheesesteaks in central Phoenix for over two decades.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Best of Philly

Welfy and Awriana Youkhana
2818 North Central Avenue

This couple has been providing central Phoenix with juicy, gooey Philly cheesesteaks since the ’90s, giving hungry eaters a reason to stop in. You’ll rarely find a time when Welfy isn’t manning the grill himself, or when Awriana isn’t taking orders. Best of Philly also has other sandwiches, from burgers to vegetarian handhelds, as well as wings and crispy sides like onion rings and fries.

click to enlarge Anibal and Salem Bayene own Cafe Lalibela in Tempe. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Anibal and Salem Bayene own Cafe Lalibela in Tempe.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Café Lalibela

Anibal and Salem Bayene
849 West University, Tempe

Café Lalibela is the Valley’s best-known Ethiopian restaurant, going for nearly 20 years. It recently expanded its Tempe restaurant to include a next-door market with to-go meals and products. Owners Anibal and Salem Bayene are also selling some of those items in health-based retail stores like Natural Grocers and Whole Foods.


click to enlarge Carly's Bistro recently celebrated 15 years on Roosevelt Row. - NEW TIMES ARCHIVES
Carly's Bistro recently celebrated 15 years on Roosevelt Row.
New Times Archives

Carly’s Bistro

Carla Wade Logan and John Logan
128 East Roosevelt Street
For more than 15 years, this restaurant and bar has been a staple of Roosevelt Row. Offering an array of sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as refreshing adult beverages, this neighborhood place is great for a quick lunch or a lounge-y dinner. Carly’s also features changing art exhibitions and offers live entertainment.

click to enlarge Brad and Laurita Carr of Ezekiel’s give the east side an extra sprinkle of soul. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Brad and Laurita Carr of Ezekiel’s give the east side an extra sprinkle of soul.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Ezekiel’s Restaurant

Brad and Laurita Carr
4825-6 East Warner Road, Chandler

This couple from Pennsylvania serves up homestyle soul food along the lines of fried chicken and fish or barbecued ribs. There’s side dishes aplenty: cornbread, collard greens, and sweet potatoes, to name a few. Ezekiel’s dining area is also heavily decorated with bright colors and multiple framed photos of family.

click to enlarge Ernie and Matt Pool prove that long lines are worth the wait at Matt’s Big Breakfast. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Ernie and Matt Pool prove that long lines are worth the wait at Matt’s Big Breakfast.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Matt’s Big Breakfast

Matt and Ernie Pool
Multiple Locations

Owned and operated by the Pool family, Matt’s is still one of Phoenix’s most popular places for breakfast. There’s lunch as well, but those super-crispy hash browns and creative egg scrambles make it hard to get past the morning options.

Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli is run by Isam Saed. - NEW TIMES ARCHIVES
Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli is run by Isam Saed.
New Times Archives

Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli

Isam Saed
3052 North 16th Street

This central-Phoenix restaurant is a go-to for Middle Eastern dishes. Hummus, grape leaves, and spinach pies will get you started at Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli. Gyros and shawarma are some of the heartier options, along with kabobs that let different chunks of meat be the star, from chicken to lamb. If you can leave without grabbing a fresh-baked baklava, you are one tough cookie.


click to enlarge Working the register at My Mother's. - PABLO ROBLES
Working the register at My Mother's.
Pablo Robles

My Mother’s Restaurant

Manuel Guillen
4130 North 19th Avenue

Slow-roasted meat makes for a tasty open-face hot roast beef sandwich at My Mother's Restaurant. Hearty pasta dishes, soups, and salads are some of the other good eats offered here. This family business has been going for more than 30 years and has the feel of dining in a good friend’s kitchen. A daily mix of homemade pies makes a trip to My Mother’s even more enticing.

click to enlarge Country and Sergio Velador own Super Chunk and New Wave Market in Old Town Scottsdale. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Country and Sergio Velador own Super Chunk and New Wave Market in Old Town Scottsdale.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

New Wave Market and Super Chunk

Country and Sergio Velador
7120 East Sixth Avenue, #20, Scottsdale

This airy and colorful spot in Scottsdale’s Old Town is great for thoughtfully crafted sweet treats, delectable savory eats (New Yorkers will approve of these chewy bagels), and highly craveable egg sandwiches. Bonus: as the name suggests, music is a passion for the owners of New Wave Market and Super Chunk, and you're likely to hear some great tunes as you peruse the curated selection of goods.

click to enlarge Jeanette and Edmundo Meraz serve sweet and savory hand pies at Republic Empanada. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Jeanette and Edmundo Meraz serve sweet and savory hand pies at Republic Empanada.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Republica Empanada

Jinette and Edmundo Meraz
204 East First Avenue, Mesa

Downtown Mesa got considerably tastier about seven years ago when Republica Empanada opened, selling South American-style empanadas featuring Latin American flavors. These doughy delights are stuffed with a variety of fillings and come in both savory and sweet varietals. Of the former, try the Cubano, featuring slow roasted pork, ham, and cheese. A tasty choice for the latter is the Republica Chicken, with seasoned meat and veggies. The Dizzy Fig is a heady sweet choice, loaded with local figs, dulce de leche, and mozzarella cheese.

click to enlarge Steve Friedkin, owner of Texaz Grill. - PABLO ROBLES
Steve Friedkin, owner of Texaz Grill.
Pablo Robles

Texaz Grill

Steve Freidkin
6003 North 16th Street

This homey place in Uptown Phoenix serves chicken fried steak plates on the daily — crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and buried in a thick country gravy. Ribs, pork chops, and chicken are also on the meat-heavy menu at Texaz Grill, overseen by "pop" Steve Freidkin. You can get that chicken-fried steak for breakfast, too, if you are so bold.

A Touch of European Café is located in the Catlin Court Historic District in Glendale. - A TOUCH OF EUROPEAN CAFE
A Touch of European Café is located in the Catlin Court Historic District in Glendale.
A Touch of European Cafe

A Touch of European Café

Waldemar and Margaret Okula
7146 North 57th Drive, Glendale

This west Valley destination for Eastern European dishes was opened in the early 2000s by this husband-and-wife team from Poland. He handles the cooking, and she tends to the customers. Pierogis and stuffed cabbage rolls are menu favorites at A Touch of European Café, alongside hearty dishes like Hungarian pork goulash.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on March 28, 2016. It was updated on August 22, 2020. See what Valley restaurants are offering takeout, delivery, and dine-in services in our Phoenix Restaurant Directory.