Though it may seem like the far reaches of the city, south Phoenix really isn't such a leap from CenPho, Tempe, and even Scottsdale. Which only makes it all the more shameful that many diners don't often take advantage of the neighborhood's excellent dining options.
The very best of South Phoenix's offerings include some of our favorite spots in town, including a place that's become the gold standard of barbecue in Phoenix, and one of the best places in the Valley for real farm to table cuisine. There are also a few well-loved neighborhood favorites on our list, and a Mexican restaurant that's known for really turning up the heat.
Not only does this South Phoenix restaurant win big points for atmosphere thanks to its location at the Farm at South Mountain, it also scores for serving genuine farm-to-table cuisine that's both beautiful and delicious. Chef Dustin Christofolo (formerly of The House at Secret Garden) runs the Quiessence kitchen and does an excellent job maintaining the restaurant's reputation as one of the best spots in town. From delicate edible flowers plucked from the restaurant's own garden, to the ever-changing lineup of produce grown nearby at Maya's Farm, this restaurant takes no shortcuts when it comes to sourcing the freshest ingredients. And it shows. The farm-inspired menu includes dishes like bright green sugar snap pea soup and chicken served with lentils, frisee, and braised greens.
Los Dos Molinos
There are other locations of this well-loved Mexican restaurant around town, but true fans know that the South Phoenix iteration is, hands down, the best. The spicy eats at Los Dos Molinos are nothing short of legendary — made with New Mexican red chiles and Hatch Valley green chiles, the food packs a serious punch. Some of the favorite dishes include the carne adovada, or tender hunks of pork marinated in red chile, and machaca platter, which features a beef-filled burrito smothered in sauce and melted cheese. The restaurant itself is also worth a visit. Housed in a white cantina building, it boasts bright neon signage, and an outdoor patio that's decked out with lots of kitsch (including a a miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty).
Little Miss BBQ
Ask anyone in the know about where to get barbecue in Phoenix, and you can bet they're going to mention this south Phoenix restaurant. Owners Scott and Bekke Holmes got started as a competition barbecue team, and opened up the brick-and-mortar restaurant Little Miss BBQ in 2014. It's been an almost immediate hit, serving pounds of brisket and pork to lines of customers who wait in the restaurant's parking lot for their turn to squeeze into the tiny spot and place their order at the counter. Everything at Little Miss BBQ is good, and it all comes meat market style — as in, ordered by the pound, served on butcher paper, and accompanied by white bread and pickles. We recommend trying the Two Meat Plate, giving you the chance to explore more of the menu.
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Located on 16th Street south of Broadway Road, Hola Cabrito isn't for everyone. To start, there's the no-frills decor and the less-than-impressive surroundings, and if that's not enough to make you think twice, there's the fact that the restaurant really only serves one thing: birria. So, while not everyone will want to drive to this locale for a plate of spicy goat meat, those who do will find everything they need in this single spot. You can order your excellent bírria
Though everything on the menu at Pomegranate Cafe is vegan or vegetarian, there's plenty for omnivores to enjoy at the Ahwatukee restaurant. Mother and daughter team Marlene and Cassie Tolman ensure that everything on the menu is a good to eat as it is good for you, meaning the breakfast and lunch options have wide appeal. To start the day the restaurant serves everything from French toast to tofu scrambles, with granola, parfaits, and porridge mixed in for good measure. Lunch options include a selection of salads, sandwiches, bowls, and more, all of which feature seasonal and local produce. On the drinks side try one of Pomegranate Cafe's smoothies, a wheatgrass shot, or a latte topped with housemade coconut whip.
Originally published April 1, 2015. Updated March 22, 2016.