Best of Phoenix

10 Best New Restaurants in Metro Phoenix of 2017 (So Far)

One of the Smith Cafe's breakfast offerings.
One of the Smith Cafe's breakfast offerings. Jacob Tyler Dunn

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click to enlarge You'll find Handlebar Diner over on the east side. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
You'll find Handlebar Diner over on the east side.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
Handlebar Diner
5149 South Inspirian Way, Mesa
480-389-9911
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Monday

Chef Adam Allison brings food truck ingenuity and a flair for Southern-tinged cuisine to his latest effort, the Handlebar Diner at Mesa’s Eastmark community. The candy cane-colored vintage diner is a charmer, but the main attraction is the expansive breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. House-made pastries, bagels, breakfast burritos, salads, burgers, and sandwiches are more refined and creative than what you’ll find at most neighborhood spots. Don’t miss the loaded, house-made tater tots. For dinner, the menu gets a little more Southern, with entrees like buttermilk fried chicken and smoked ribs. The Handlebar Burger, a half-pound Angus beef beauty smothered in melted white American cheese, grilled onions, and deliciously sluiced in the diner’s tangy Comeback sauce, is wholly satisfying.

click to enlarge Taste of Thai offers takeout classics and homestyle regional Thai dishes. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Taste of Thai offers takeout classics and homestyle regional Thai dishes.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
Taste of Thai
4855 East Warner Road, #16
480-753-3832
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.

Taste of Thai distinguishes itself from the glut of good-not-great Thai joints around town with a menu that encompasses both Thai standards and harder-to-find specialties. The small family-owned strip mall restaurant in Ahwatukee is a good place to sample Thai beef jerky, a flavor-packed and spicy beef appetizer that pairs great with sticky rice. There’s also sai oua, a wonderfully fragrant northern Thai pork sausage accented with turmeric and herbs. You’ll also find an excellent crispy duck salad dressed in a lovely, bright citrus dressing. Along with deep Thai cuts, Taste of Thai also delivers excellent renditions of takeout staples like pad thai, tom yum soup, and a strong selection of homemade curries.

click to enlarge Hachi Ramen's hearty ramen. - JACOB TYLER DUNN
Hachi Ramen's hearty ramen.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
Hachi Ramen
655 West Warner Road, #114, Tempe
480-781-2603
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Monday

The Valley has a solid new spot for ramen, courtesy of Hachi Ramen in Tempe. This friendly neighborhood ramen shop offers four basic bowls — tonkotsu, shoyu, miso, and a house bowl called the Hachi Special — along with delicious sides like homemade karaage chicken, which is beautifully battered, juicy, and tender. Tonkotsu broth, the baseline test for many ramen connoisseurs, is rich, creamy, and porky, without being too salty. Hachi Ramen also delivers a highly flavorful miso broth, which beautifully complements the kitchen’s wonderfully melty slices of chashu pork belly. Don’t leave without trying the sesame balls, which are kindly dispensed as a complimentary treat by the chef.


click to enlarge Campanelle with creamy salmon and asparagus at Nonna Urban Eatery. - MELISSA CAMPANA
Campanelle with creamy salmon and asparagus at Nonna Urban Eatery.
Melissa Campana
Nonna Urban Eatery
7240 East Main Street, Scottsdale
480-663-3296
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday

Nonna Urban Eatery opened this spring in a tiny, elegant space in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, bringing with it a welcome dose of artful, eclectic, globally inspired cuisine. The restaurant’s lunch and dinner menu shifts with the seasons and seems to change frequently, often incorporating local ingredients. On any given visit, you are as likely to encounter smolderingly rich chicken mole tamales as you are homemade pasta served with a Genovese pesto. But no matter what chef Gian Franco Brugaletta is cooking up in the kitchen, chances are your meal will be refined and delicious. Desserts are a highlight at Nonna Urban Eatery, so make sure to leave room for the chef’s assortment of seasonal sweets.

click to enlarge Ladera Taverna y Cocina is the latest effort from Genuine Concepts, the team behind stylish neighborhood outposts like The Vig and Linger Longer Lounge. - COURTESY OF LADERA
Ladera Taverna y Cocina is the latest effort from Genuine Concepts, the team behind stylish neighborhood outposts like The Vig and Linger Longer Lounge.
Courtesy of Ladera
Ladera Taverna y Cocina
8729 North Central Avenue
602-606-2258
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Monday

Ladera Taverna y Cocina is the latest effort from Genuine Concepts, the team behind stylish neighborhood outposts like The Vig and Linger Longer Lounge. For its first foray into Mexican food, the group has tapped executive chef Jorge Gomez, who riffs on regional Mexican cooking with considerable panache. Don’t skip over the drink menu, which has fun with traditional Mexican cocktails. The Margarita en la Casa, for instance, is paired with a full-size fruit paleta that you can suck down, or simply let melt right into your drink. Highlights include the savory green chile and cochinita pibil tacos. The pork on the latter is slightly sweet and full of deep, earthy garlic notes.

Check out more photos of these restaurants and their dishes.
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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.