The 10 Best Restaurants Near ASU Downtown Phoenix

It's back to school week for ASU Downtown students, and whether you're new to the whole college thing, new to ASU, or coming back to Phoenix after a summer away, you'll find that the culinary landscape of our urban playground is brimming anew with old favorites and exciting new haunts. There are a ton of dining options to explore in Phoenix, but these 10 are our favorite student-friendly spots within walking distance of the Arizona State University downtown campus.

Bowl of Greens
555 North Central Avenue
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Saturday and Sunday
Distance Walking from ASU: 0 minutes
Price Range: $5-$10

Located in the bottom floor of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, this restaurant is hands-down the most convenient on our list. As with most highly convenient things, however, it comes at a price. During the lunch rush you might face some long lines, since students and faculty alike take advantage of Bowl of Greens' affordable lunch options. The menu is eclectic. You can order a signature salad or choose to create your own, and there are also a handful of Mediterranean dishes such as falafel, baba ganaouj, and chicken and beef kebabs. Think that's weird? Well, things get even more international with the selection of pastas and other Italian-inspired fare including chicken and eggplant Parmesan. Oh, and did we mention they serve smoothies?

Cornish Pasty Co.
7 West Monroe Street
Hours: Daily, 10:30 a.m. until 2 a.m
Distance Walking from ASU: 6 minutes
Price Range: $10-$15

The long-awaited downtown Phoenix location of Cornish Pasty Co. finally opened this year. The small spot is located in the heart of ASU-land, on Monroe Street, just west of Central Avenue along the light rail line. The signature pasties are made-to-order; a prep station behind the bar has room for roughly three dozen pasties. The flaky, meat- and veggie-stuffed pastries hail from founder Dean Thomas’ native Cornwall, England, and have made a huge impression in the Valley ever since the first Cornish Pasty opened in Tempe back in 2005. Their signature is the Oggie, which features steak, potatoes, onion, and rutabaga with a side of red wine gravy or ketchup, but their offerings run the gamut from chicken tikka masala pasties to pesto chicken and artichoke, along with a few sides and salads. The best part? They keep serving hot meals until 2 in the morning, every day.

Short Leash Hot Dogs
110 East Roosevelt Street
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 10 minutes
Price Range: $10 to $15

What started as a popular food truck specializing in gourmet hot dogs (and veggie dogs) served on naan bread has evolved into a favorite downtown dining destination. Short Leash Hot Dogs is located in the heart of Roosevelt Row, walking distance to campus (provided, of course, that it's not too hot), and, in addition to their locally sourced sausages, you'll also find snacks like loaded fries, salads, and corn dog bites, as well as beer and wine.

The Dressing Room
220 East Roosevelt Street
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 11 minutes
Price Range: $10-$30

The Dressing Room is a tiny new gastropub in the heart of Roosevelt Row. The dining room has only a few tables. The petite bar overlooks an open kitchen. Most of the action takes place outside, on a concise patio partially hidden from the street. The Dressing Room is wedged between a high-rise apartment building and the sizable monOrchid Gallery, making it look even smaller than it is. They serve "elevated shack food," and it's great. The menu is brief, but every item we tried was playful and addicting: The veggie tacos consist of beer-battered Oaxaca queso, which translates as "deep-fried cheese." The cold soba salad incorporates Japanese noodles and a miso vinaigrette. The All-Day Burrito basically wraps every bad-for-you breakfast ingredient into a single tortilla. As for the Korean yakitori, two hunks of tender barbecued beef on skewers are coupled with a miso slaw, for an entree that exceeds expectations for a $10 lunch.

Welcome Diner 

924 East Roosevelt Street
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., closed Monday
Distance Walking from ASU: 21 minutes
Price Range: $15 and under

Just over a mile from campus in a mostly residential part of downtown, you'll find the tiny (and we mean really tiny) Welcome Diner. The 200-square-foot eatery has been serves comfort foods like their giant peanut butter and bacon burger, fried chicken sandwiches, and New Orleans-style red beans and rice. If you're lucky, you might get a seat inside at the counter, but more likely than not, you'll be sitting outside. It's all part of the charm. At night, it becomes a lively gathering place for locals, many of whom bring their dogs.

Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe

808 East Jefferson Street
Hours: Daily, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 20 minutes
Price Range: $15 and under

You'll get a good meal and a taste of Phoenix history at Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, a soul food eatery that has been open since 1964. Serving classics like Southern fried chicken, pork chops, and catfish in a no-frills fashion, this unassuming restaurant remains one of the most beloved in the Valley. It doesn't hurt that all the cobblers, cakes, and pies are also made from scratch. 

Matt's Big Breakfast
825 North First Street
Hours: Daily, 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 6 minutes
Price Range: $10 and under

If you choose to park in some of the metered parking around campus, there's a good chance you'll be walking up McKinley Street toward campus. That means you'll be passing one of the city's best-known breakfast joints, Matt's Big Breakfast. Since the restaurant moved to bigger digs just up the street from its original location, the waits haven't been quite as long, but they never stopped hungry students from making this a popular weekend morning spot. Matt's serves breakfasts of scrambled eggs, fluffy pancakes, and thick-cut bacon all day long, and, starting at 11 a.m., some mean sandwiches, too.

Phoenix Public Market Cafe
14 East Pierce Street
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 4 minutes
Price Range: $10-$20 
Housed in a historic building next to the lot that hosts a weekly farmer's market, this vintage-chic downtown café comes courtesy of chef Aaron Chamberlin. Here, you’ll find fresh, locally grown, and locally produced ingredients in casual, simple dishes like sandwiches, salads, and bowls (many of which are vegetarian-, vegan-, and dairy-free-friendly). A pastry case of homemade baked goods, a coffee counter, strong Wi-Fi, and an indoor-outdoor bar provide the perfect space for doing some studying over a latte or a trendy cocktail.

Pizzeria Bianco
623 East  Adams Street
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 15 minutes
Price Range: $15-$20 

Pizzeria Bianco has become a Phoenix institution after being named one of the best places to get pizza in the entire country. Lucky for downtown Phoenix campus students, it's located less than a mile from campus. The handcrafted pizzas will cost you more than Domino's, but considering the quality and the fact that they are made by a James Beard Award-winning chef, they are well worth a few extra bucks. Try the classic Margherita made with fresh mozzarella and basil, the Wiseguy, topped with wood-roasted onion, house-smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage, or go for the most famous and unique of chef Chris Bianco's pies, The Rosa. The Rosa is missing most of the usual things that make the average pizza pie so alluring — the dense layer of soft cheese melded onto tomato sauce, and the salty punch of cured meats. This is a different kind of pizza, topped with an ingenious combo of red onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary, and Arizona-grown pistachios. Every ingredient pulls its weight, earning its spot on the pie: the clean, herbal astringency of the rosemary, the sweetness of the pistachios, the assertiveness of the red onion. 

El Norteño
1002 North Seventh Avenue
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Distance Walking from ASU: 20 minutes
Price Range: $4-$10

So much grease slides off the flautas here that you could probably start a fire with it if you were so inclined. So is that a bad thing? Hell, no. Particularly when it comes to Mexican fast food. El Norteño might not look like much from the outside, but it delivers on solid machaca, chorizo, Sonoran enchiladas, and one of the best breakfast burritos in the entire city. You can't beat the homestyle daily specials, like $3.99 breakfasts, which include the likes of huevos rancheros, lunch plates for $4.99, and dinners for $5.50. The joint is takeout only, unless you want to eat alfresco on the little, weathered patio.

This article originally appeared in August 2013, and has been updated.

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