Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what it has to offer. Breakfast to happy hour, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we want to zero in on downtown Mesa.
Mesa’s Main Street has seen some growth in the past few years. The Nile Theater came back, the antique shops never left, and the dining options exploded. Now there’s enough on this iconic strip to make a full day of it — from a quick coffee and cookies to beers at local breweries, now-famous sandwich shops, and some of the most sought-after pizza in town.
Lost Dutchman Coffee Roasters
12 North Center Street, Mesa
Do you have a day of antique shopping ahead of you? Or do you work in downtown Mesa? Either way, stopping in to the Lost Dutchman coffee shop will get you set up. Yes there are options like Americano, cappuccino, and cold press, but there are hyper-local orders like the Gold Rush, and the decaffeinated Flying Dutchman steamers. In addition to a cup of coffee, you can grab green coffee beans for home roasting, or a quick treat from the in-house Lombardo's Gelato Company. The setup is perfect for a laptop day or small group of friends.
Jarrod's Coffee, Tea, & Gallery
154 West Main Street, Mesa
Find coffee, tea, smoothies, and Italian soda at Jarrod's — plus blended, ice cream-based, Italian “Espresso-Yo-Self” beverage options like Caramel Kick, Mocha My Day, and Green Tea D’Lish. There’s also a small gallery in the coffee shop, some local jewelry and gifts for sale, and weekly events like poetry nights and live music.
The Nile Coffee Shop
105 West Main Street, Mesa
This coffee shop and vegan eatery is connected to the Nile Theater, which originally opened as a cinema in 1924 — then turned restaurant, night club, church, different retail businesses, and finally a three-room music venue. The theater’s most recent addition is The Nile Coffee Shop, which opened in 2015. Their menu is new-and-improved American fare, including toasted bagels with coconut cream cheese, almonds, berries, and agave, or topped with vegan ham, green chiles, chipotle mayo, potatoes, and cheddar. Wash it down with a cold brew, or give the lavender latte a chance. Either way, when you've settled in at this coffee shop, you’re also soaking in the Valley's history.
20 East Main Street, Mesa
For a quick weekday breakfast, the Fitch family-run Downtown Rendezvous is a go-to for classic American breakfast options. Put the word “breakfast” in front of burrito, sandwich, and even taco for a morning version of your favorite hands-on foods. It also offers crepe omelets, pancake platters, French toast, bacon and eggs, and a la carte items like a bagel, croissant, toast, and country-fried potatoes. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Thursday, for the early starters.
218 West Main Street, Mesa
Spot Worth Takeaway along downtown Mesa’s quaint Main Street, but be prepared for an ultra-modern, incredible experience. This sleek restaurant offers coffee and craft sandwiches, including the Crispy Chicken. This sandwich includes battered chicken strips soaking with a Sriracha honey spread, mayonnaise, and juice from the house-made sweet-and-spicy pickles. Those pickles and Bibb lettuce top the protein, and it all comes between two slices of ciabatta or upon a bed of Steadfast Farms organic greens. There are also veggie, Reuben, French dip, grilled cheese, Cuban, and turkey options.
204 East First Avenue, Mesa
This hip Latin restaurant is set a block east from Mesa Arts Center and specializes, obviously, in empanadas. The recommended dish is the Boricua, a Puerto Rico-inspired empanada packed with ham hock and arroz con gandules. The Cubana is also a winner, stuffed with slow-roasted pork and ham, mozzarella, and dill pickle. And for dessert, we’ve always suggested the Dizzy Fig, a dessert-style empanada stuffed with Mesa-grown figs wrapped in mozzarella cheese and touched up with dulce de leche.
Mango’s Mexican Café
44 West Main Street, Mesa
This no-frills Mexican food spot is a stalwart of the downtown Mesa lunch scene, and for good reason. Spot it by the colorful outdoor seating and the small Lupita Medina Villa mural. At Mango's, order the tostada voladora topped with a blend of shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, and sour cream over a small pile of roasted pork chile verde and a crispy white flour tortilla. We also recommend the shrimp tacos, containing lightly grilled shrimp and enhanced with some Tapatio-based salsa. It also offers homemade tamales, just so you know.
31 South Robson, #103, Mesa
Myke's Pizza makes one of metro Phoenix's absolute best pizzas, as we wrote earlier this year. This was always incredible given that Myke Olsen, leader of the pop-up, had no pizzeria. He baked pies in portable ovens on a Mesa sidewalk, persevering through elements and Sonoran heat that made the process of handling dough much more difficult. Not anymore, though. In a move that adds a stellar one-two combo to Mesa’s Main Street, he is getting a pizzeria inside of Cider Corps — which will be expanding to accommodate him and to broaden its operations. Either way, cider and pizza make a good pairing, or so you’ll discover.
10 West Main Street, Mesa
Head here for combo platters of enchiladas, burritos, rellenos, tacos, and fajitas, served with the restaurant’s frijoles borrachos, as well as margaritas (if you didn’t guess). Off the Margaritas Grill menu, we recommend the chile verde burrito and the house shredded tacos in either well-marinated beef or chicken. The restaurant's specialty, the shrimp enchiladas, is a plate of grilled shrimp in a tangy homemade tomatillo sauce that’s easily one of the best orders in the house.
Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine
17 West Main Street, Mesa
While Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine may look pretty basic, fresh and simple is the name of the game at this downtown Mesa spot. Rather than relying on thick and overly sweet premade sauces, like some Thai places do, Nunthaporn's flavor comes from fresh, authentic ingredients prepared on the spot. The pad khing shows off bright, acidic flavors with ginger, garlic and onion and contrasts them with a more umami palate by using soybean and black fungus. The attention to balanced flavors really shines through in each dish, creating a completely unique-to-the-Valley Thai dining experience.
Oro Brewery Co.
210 West Main Street, Mesa
A taproom and nano-brewery, Oro Brewing Company has its own craft brews at the ready. Its flavors of fresh beer include Inside the Park Blonde, the Red Fury Irish Red, and Singularity — made with El Dorado Hops. Happy hour happens every weekday from open to 6 p.m., and the neighboring Worth Takeaway is more than happy to bring a sandwich your way.
270 West Main Street
The Mediterranean-influenced il Vinaio is the ideal spot for a quick drink or happy hour thanks to a lengthy drink menu and old-school settings. There are a handful of Mesa-based craft beers from the neighboring Desert Eagle, specialty drinks like a wine margarita, sangria available in 64-ounce pitchers, and over a dozen options each for red and white wines. And it has a happy hour running daily from 2 to 6 p.m. with $6 plates of bruschetta, croquettes, and shrimp cocktail shooters.
Desert Eagle Brewing Company
150 West Main Street, Mesa
Opened in October 2012, Desert Eagle Brewing Company was one of the first places to grab a beer if you were heading to a show at the Nile Theater. Its hand-crafted beer comes in Main Street Blonde, Black Cherry Blonde Ale, Imperial Adler IPA, and the rate Das Dunkel. There are also upscale sandwiches, wings, and starters like spicy battered pickles and sweet potato fries on the menu. And happy hour is daily from 3 to 6 p.m.
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124 West Main Street, Mesa
This is the vintage-inspired handmade cookie shop you expect to find in quaint downtown Mesa. It’s known for custom-decorated sugar cookies, which are baked daily. Think special occasion cookies, like heart shapes for Valentine’s Day, icing spelling out a special thank-you note, pink and blue baby shower cookies, desert-themed treats for all occasions, and so on. It also hosts baking classes and workshops.
21 West Main Street, Mesa
This place is known for cookies. Big cookies. Featured years ago on TLC’s Best Food Ever as one of the Top 10 Most Bodacious Bakeries, Sweet Cakes has all the classics like chocolate chip, peanut butter, and snickerdoodle) and such originals as oatmeal butterscotch. But the real killers are the cookie bars. Our favorites include the Scotcharoos (think Reese's peanut butter cup meets Rice Krispies treat), and cinnamon rolls. Have mercy.
142 West Main Street, Mesa
The Mesa location of Slickables has more to offer than the other locations — i.e. smoothies and sundaes. The My Childhood sundae is a classic, with two scoops of ice cream topped with strawberry preserves, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream in a waffle bowl with a cherry on top. And the Jade smoothie is a blended sight of kale, spinach, and pineapple. But Slickables is known for serving custom-built ice cream sandwiches, where you pick two cookies and the ice cream between.