Considering that Sunnyslope consists of only about nine square miles, this north Phoenix neighborhood features an impressive selection of restaurants. Bounded by 19th Avenue to the west, Cactus Road to the north, 16th Street to the east, and Northern Avenue to the south, Sunnyslope features dining spots that represent a wide variety of cuisines.
Whether you're looking for top-notch Mexican food, a cozy wine bar, or a place to pick up an excellent dessert, the Sunnyslope 'hood can meet your needs.
Ladera Taverna y Cocina is one of the newest efforts from Genuine Concepts, the team behind stylish neighborhood restaurants and bars like The Vig, The Womack, Linger Longer Lounge, and The Little Woody. The restaurant features a large, elegant outdoor patio, and a dimly lit dining room with big booths, talavera-inspired tabletops, and a sleek bar. If you only have the space for one appetizer, try the ultra-succulent puerco en chile verde. There is a small taco menu, with options that include al pastor, carne asada, carnitas, barbacoa, cochinita pibil, and nopalitos. The cochinita pibil is slightly sweet and full of deep, earthy garlicky notes, and the restaurant makes its own fresh-pressed corn tortillas, which greatly adds to the appeal of these tacos. The restaurant's menu of platos fuertes, or entrees, is heavy on regional seafood dishes and Mexican classics. There's a well-crafted, chocolate-colored mole dish that achieves a nice, sophisticated balance of spice, smokiness, and earthiness.
At Shabu Fondue chef Johnny Chu, also of the adjacent restaurant Red Thai, delivers the best shabu shabu dining in Phoenix. Shabu shabu, which means "swish-swish," involves cooking vegetables and thinly sliced meats in any of a number of broths. We recommend Chu's spicy lemon grass broth, or for a more basic option, the Chinese herbal, a floral soup base filled with a mild flavor. Diners also have their pick from a long list of vegetables and meats, ranging from grass-fed beef and head-on shrimp to Chinese pumpkin and straw mushrooms. Don't let the concept be intimidating; the staff here will happily guide you through the process.
Karl's Quality Bakery
For more than 20 years, Karl's Quality Bakery resided at 15820 North 35th Avenue. And luckily for Sunnyslope residents, it relocated to its current spot, less than a mile from the original location, after being forced to move in 2013. The well-loved bakery serves a wide selection of treats including breads, pastries, and some of the city's best doughnuts. So whether you're looking for something healthy — for instance, a miniature bran muffin — or a decadent dessert — try the picture-perfect eclairs — this spot can meet your needs. What's more, the bakery also offers handmade chocolates, courtesy of owner Karl Boerner's daughter, Christine.
This Sunnyslope wine bar and restaurant uses exactly one method of cooking, and it's a wood-fired oven located in plain view of the entire dining room. Timo's lounge-worthy atmosphere — achieved through grey and tan tones and complemented by a spacious patio — pairs perfectly with the menu of Italian-inspired comfort food. Understandably wine-friendly, the menu features a selection of tapas, bruschettas, sandwiches, and sharable plates such as the platter of roasted eggplant dip, tomatoes, kalamata olives, goat cheese, and warm crostini. Even the restaurant's fresh baked bread will make an impression; with a perfect golden crust and pleasing flavor, you'll want to have it as a side with everything you eat.
La 15 Y Salsas
When it comes to tamales oaxaqueño, the best in town can easily be found at La 15 Y Salsas. Here, chef and owner Elizabeth Hernandez, who grew up and learned to cook in Oaxaca, serves the southern Mexican specialty filled with a fragrant black mole sauce made with herbs and spices, some of which she grinds in a traditional mealing stone. The other memorable offerings include tlayudas, a crispy tortilla loaded with beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and meats; and quesadillas fritas, a cheese-filled tortilla that's then folded and fried. And don't skip the agua frescas. They're made daily and come in both common and unexpected flavors such as chilacayote, made with squash sweetened with honey, cinnamon, and unrefined whole cane sugar.
Originally published February 24, 2015. Updated April 11, 2017.