Gilbert has come a long way from its agricultural roots. These days, it's one of the fastest-growing cities in the Valley, which means that there's an ever-increasing number of reasons to head east for lunch or dinner. From affordable Asian eats to solid neighborhood restaurants serving unexpectedly elevated cuisine, we're always happy for an excuse to get out and dine in Gilbert.
2401 East Baseline Road #118, Gilbert
For first-time visitors, the dark windows and straightforward signage of Simi's Cafe can be a bit scary, but step inside the strip mall restaurant and you'll find a neat, dark dining room filled with patrons. Simi's Cafe serves a somewhat comprehensive menu of Vietnamese and Asian-American dishes, including pho and spring rolls, as well as pad thai and kung pao beef. Expect the service to be friendly and prompt, and know that the prices won't leave your wallet empty. Start with an order of summer spring rolls, and end with a glass of sweetened Vietnamese coffee.
Joe's Farm Grill
3000 Ray Road, Gilbert
Located steps from The Farm at Agritopia, this retro-futuristic diner serves "common food done uncommonly well." The menu of salads, burgers, sandwiches, and hot dogs gives Joe's Farm Grill mass appeal, and the high-quality ingredients mean you'll often be surprised by the attention to detail in each dish. Some favorites include the Fontina Burger, topped with pecan pesto, and the Carolina Dog, decked out with pulled pork, coleslaw, and barbecue sauce. Whatever you do, don't skip the onion rings; rosemary-dill panko makes the batter something special. Still hungry? Wander over to the adjacent Barnone complex.
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610 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
In Jeff Flancer's homestyle menu of neighborhood restaurant staples — think sandwiches, burgers, and pizzas — he delivers some unexpected surprises. They include dishes such as Chile Verde Birdie Turkey sandwich, loaded with off-the-bone turkey breast and housemade New Mexican green chile mayonnaise. They include the Walk on the Wild Side pizza, which combines wild roasted mushrooms and local fennel sausage. For dessert, think cookies, cobblers, and ice cream.
Romeo's Euro Cafe
207 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
Whether you're looking for baked feta cheese or a stuffed gyro, Romeo's Euro Cafe can satisfy your Mediterranean craving like few other places in town. The restaurant's lengthy menu covers everything from an array of appetizers such as sauteed hearts of artichokes and open-faced focaccia bread to entrees ranging from burgers and subs to pastas and seafood platters. If the sheer number of appetizing options has you overwhelmed, go with a fan favorite like the Chicken Omega, which features strips of grilled chicken with spinach, pine nuts, garlic, and feta in a white-wine cream sauce.
Nico Heirloom Kitchen
366 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert
With the opening of Nico Heirloom Kitchen, chef Gio Osso of Scottsdale's much-lauded Virtu Honest Craft has brought some serious culinary pedigree to downtown Gilbert's Heritage District. You'll find flashes of Virtu on the Nico menu — the chef's famously tender octopus dish with Calabrese chile butter is here. But for the most part, Nico stands on its own. Described as "West Coast-inspired seasonal Italian," the well-executed menu treads the line easily between high-end Italian and Sunday dinner at Nonna's. Highlights include grilled asparagus with bacon candy; beef and pork meatballs; and a decadent, béchamel-charged house lasagna.