Looking for something a little different to eat? Well, Chow Bella is here to help. We spent the past year scouring the Valley to find the best ethnic restaurants.
Here's a list worth saving for when you're looking for some great ethnic cuisine, no matter where you are in metro Phoenix.
Best French Restaurant: Amuse Bouche Gourmet Bistro & Catering
For those enjoying a bit of culinary torment, you could do worse (depending on where you live) than driving 45 minutes or more to Surprise for some of the best French food in the Valley. Courtesy of French-trained chefs Snir and Kiersten Mor, Amuse Bouche, the tiny BYOB country-French bistro features top-notch, seasonal lunch and dinner fare as well as an outstanding Sunday breakfast. Read more here.
Best Ethiopian Restaurant: Ethiopian Famous Restaurant & Coffee
Like any good Ethiopian chef, Abebech Ejersa's doro wot, made with onions, boiled egg, and peppery berbere, is pretty much perfect. But then, the same could be said for nearly all her traditional Ethiopian favorites, most of which are prepared from recipes Ejersa has used for years, at home and in her former restaurant in Ethiopia. Read more here.
Best Chinese Restaurant: New Hong Kong Restaurant
Get past its weathered appearance and you'll find first-rate Cantonese cuisine hiding in plain sight at this passed-it-a-million-times Chinese restaurant in Central Phoenix. Courtesy of Jian Yu, a chef in Kaiping, China, for over 32 years, and his family, come tangled nests of expertly prepared stir-fried noodles, trembling clay pots nearly blowing off their lids to expose steaming, flavor-packed broths, and moist, marinated meats. Read more here.
Best German Restaurant: Brat Haus
A welcome new addition to the Valley's woefully short list of German-minded restaurants, this lively gastropub in Old Town even sports its own sprawling biergarten that usually fills up before the two indoor spaces do. With nearly 30 beers on tap and almost 40 in bottles and cans, a strong German or Belgian craft brew is just a "Danke!" away. Read more here.
Best Hawaiian Restaurant: Leo's Island BBQ
There may not be a more divine, island-inspired indulgence than the Hawaiian plate lunch. Piled into a styrofoam container, the aloha-infused carb load features two scoops of rice, a side of macaroni salad, and (usually) a pan-Asian protein of your choice. You'll find excellent plate lunches at this cheery little eatery in Peoria. Read more here.
Best Indian Restaurant: Karaikudi Palace
What's better than an exceptional Indian restaurant with one chef? An exceptional Indian restaurant with three of them. Thanks to a trio of culinary school chums from India, this pleasant little spot in Scottsdale serves up vibrant, South Indian dishes like a smoky and spicy curry of baby eggplants stuffed with onions and spices; fish cooked in coconut sauce with red onions and green chilies; and thin and crispy stuffed dosas, the crispy-hot Indian-style crepes. Read more here.
Best Japanese Restaurant: Nobuo at Teeter House
James Beard Award winner Nobuo Fukuda offers the closest thing to a real izakaya (a casual Japanese eating and drinking establishment) this side of the Land of Rising Sun. Sourcing prime ingredients and combining them in simple yet inventive ways, his dishes are no less than exemplary works of culinary art. During the day, there may be offerings of warm duck salad or a luscious panko-fried soft shell club sandwich. Read more here.
Best Korean Restaurant: Café Ga Hyang
Before the summer of 2011, the only place to score late-night Korean food in the Valley was out of it -- specifically, 360 miles away in L.A.'s Koreatown. But thanks to this welcoming west side restaurant, top-notch Korean cuisine can be had until 2 a.m. every day but Sunday. Post bites of banchan (the little dishes of marinated vegetables, kimchi, and other delights that accompany meals), you'll find dishes like fiery duk boki, Korean fried chicken, spicy seafood stew, and the refreshingly cold noodle dish naeng myun. Read more here.
Best Thai Restaurant: Chanpen Thai Cuisine
If Chanpen seems like the only Thai restaurant in South Phoenix, it's probably because it is. But that's okay with owner and chef Chanpen Ramonaitis (whose Thai name is Tuk). She's happy to serve her expertly prepared classic Thai dishes and signature creations to anyone who happens upon her tiny, unassuming home. Read more here.
Best Vietnamese Restaurant: Pho Thanh Restaurant
Pho Thanh, it should be noted, does not care about your Westernized dining needs of English-speaking servers, short menus of seasonal, farm-to-table fare, or dimly lit, cozy interiors. Its priorities lie in a massive listing of crazy-cheap, top-notch Vietnamese dishes (most made with more fresh herbs and stinky fish sauce than you'll know what to do with) served up under a sea of fluorescent lights by a Vietnamese man who isn't into chitty-chat. Read more here.
Best Latin American Restaurant: Tumi Fine Peruvian Cuisine
Like any good Peruvian chef worth his sea salt, Oscar Graham makes very good ceviche. And at this tiny no-frills spot in Chandler, his ceviche de pescado -- a mound of chopped tilapia in a sharp and spicy juice of lime and Peruvian chile peppers topped with slivers of red onion and served with a hunk of sweet potato and pearly, large-kernel Peruvian corn -- is just about perfect. Read more here.
Best Mediterranean Restaurant: Hummus Xpress
Mediterranean eats served up Subway style is the tasty idea behind this excellent, fast-casual, and wallet-friendly spot in Tempe. Helmed by Lebanese-born chef-owner Ahmed "Eddie" Hantas, Hummus Xpress lets Med fans pick their food vehicle (pita, bowl, or plate) before moving on to top-notch choices of signature sauces such as the Yemeni hot sauce called shug, seasoned grilled meats, and veggie delights like sauteéd broccoli with the wild thyme called za'atar. Read more here.
Best Cuban Restaurant: Cuban Foods & Bakery
For lovers of the Cuban sandwich -- the divine creation of ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard stuffed into crunchy, buttered bread -- this small, tidy spot of homestyle Cuban eats on the city's west side is your place. But there are other good dishes, too: garlicky and meltingly tender lechon asado, classic ropa vieja, and golden orbs of fried and meat-filled potatoes called papas rellenas. Read more here.
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