What do the five best restaurants in Tempe look like at the moment?
They're a diverse lot, decidedly plain in appearance, c'mon-in casual, and just plain cozy, offering a variety of dishes that take inspiration from places across the globe. You might find ingredients such as ground turmeric, Moroccan honey, or Sichuan peppercorns. And no matter what your dining out budget may be, one (or more) are sure to satisfy.
Some you may know, a couple you may have yet to try, but all are worth popping into.
Robert and Robin Trick's cozy dining oasis/romantic historic home in the heart of Tempe has been around for 25 years -- and it's no wonder. Chef Kelly Fletcher's seasonal menu of globally inspired dishes is excellent, the happy hour top-notch, and sipping a Green Thing (a muddled creation of cucumber, Hendrick's gin, citrus, and simple syrup) on the outdoor patio the kind of thing lazy afternoons were made for.
When its second location opened last week, East Phoenix got a taste of what fans of Essence, the always-bustling, very good bakery and cafe in Tempe owned by chef Eugenia Theodosopoulous and husband Gilles Combes, have known all along: The croissants are heavenly, the macarons pretty much the ideal in the Valley, and if you want a seat to go with those thick slices of brioche French toast, get there early.
It was probably just a matter of time before word of chef-owner Farah Khalid's home-style, boldly flavored Indo-Pak dishes like seekh kebab, goat karahi, and chicken tikka found its way to spiky-haired chef Guy Fieri. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives this summer, the excellent little family-owned restaurant now can claim national recognition as well as years of local love.
Your new favorite Chinese restaurant in Tempe also serves as the fiery inner core of the Valley's Sichuan dining community. Opened in a former Eagles Hall this spring, Miu's Cuisine, owned by three twenty-somethings from China, is a youthful, hidden gem of boldly flavored and expertly prepared scarlet sauces, spicy meats, and dishes smacked with the tingling, numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns. Sensational? You bet.
Jeff Kraus' crepes are nothing short of ambrosia. Wonderfully flavorful and beautifully striking, they're arranged with primo ingredients like herbed chèvre, blood oranges, and Moroccan honey on plates that act more like canvases than serving vessels. And (bonus), it's good to know that just a little over a year since Crêpe Bar opened, Kraus is already planning another new restaurant -- one that will stay in Tempe.
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