Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on what the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area have to offer. From breakfast to drinks, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite spots in each neighborhood. Today: zeroing in on restaurants near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has come a long way, food-wise. Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 are now bursting with solid dining options, including locations of beloved local eateries. But sometimes a rental car needs to be picked up, or family members need to be met, or you’ve just spent too much time in the airport — and you want out.
In that case, here are some coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. All are within five miles, and all offer quick relief from your hunger and/or terminal fever.
A T Oasis Coffee & Tea Shop4613 East Thomas Road
Located just east of 46th Street and Thomas Road, A T Oasis Coffee & Tea Shop serves coffee imported directly from Ethiopian farmers. The A.T. Chai Tea is not to be overlooked, nor is the caramel latte, Cold Brew Toddy, or A.T. Ginger Coffee. This is a friendly, husband-and-wife-owned neighborhood coffee shop, so feel free to plug in a laptop or browse the sales shelves for African art, gifts, and, of course, plenty of coffee.
Cafe Cultivate5025 East Washington Street
Neighboring Ability360, Cafe Cultivate offers quick liquid options (light and dark roast drip, Americanos and lattes, house-made chai tea) made with locally roasted beans on weekdays till 4 p.m. The menu also features breakfast and lunch items like parfaits, breakfast burritos, sandwiches, salads, and more.
Cafe Roma Pizzeria1158 West Washington Street, Tempe
Cafe Roma Pizzeria is a breakfast-and-lunch spot a few miles from the airport. Show up early for a breakfast sandwich, western omelet, or French toast special. For lunch, offerings include wraps, salads, sandwiches, and daily specials like spaghetti and meatballs and pepperoni calzone. Pizza, lasagna, and chicken Parmesan are also happening on the daily. And if you just need some quick calories, grab some garlic bread or a piece of cheesecake.
Ladybug Café1295 West Washington Street, Tempe
For an ultra-quick stop, Ladybug Café offers fast-service breakfast, lunch, and drink options weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. But if you need help navigating the multitude of options, Ladybug specialties include the chicken Caesar wrap, Ladybug Club, and the turkey and cranberry sandwich. Consider treating yourself to a mango fruit smoothie, too.
Pane Bianco Van Buren1505 East Van Buren Street
Yes, that Bianco. Pane Bianco Van Buren is the latest location of chef Chris Bianco's sandwich and lunch concept. The menu includes a Ridgeview Farms chicken salad sandwich with house-made, hand-pulled mozzarella, plus newer items like a chicken Parmesan sandwich, a smashed pizza burger with Parmesan fries, and pasta e fagioli soup. But no worries if you can't separate the name Bianco from pizza: A New York-style pie, slightly heftier than Phoenix’s famous Neapolitan pizza, has recently been added to the mix.
Little Miss BBQ4301 East University Drive
Tired of sitting? Air travel will do that to you. If you want to stretch those legs, try standing in line at the nearby Little Miss BBQ. The original location of the famous, central Texas-style barbecue joint definitely takes its time getting orders just right. We like the sliced brisket plate, the pastrami brisket, and the pulled pork with jalapeno cheddar grits. All in on vacation mode? Try Bekke's Smoked Pecan Pie.
Deez Buns1158 West Washington Street, #105, Tempe
The owners of Mesa’s late-night Korean restaurant Drunken Tiger and the Filipino food pop-up Good Fortune Kitchen teamed up last fall bring us Deez Buns. The northern Tempe restaurant — just a hop and a skip from Sky Harbor — offers pho, Korean fried chicken, bulgogi, bao, and more in the form of burger-like handhelds with soft, steamed buns.
Tacos Culichi3004 East McDowell Road
Tacos Culichi is a casual Mexican eatery next to a used-car lot at 30th Street and McDowell Road. The menu lists Mexican dishes with a Culiacán accent, including tacos, quesadillas, burritos, mulas, vampiros, Sinaloan dogs, and birria. However, we recommend the ceviche tostada.
The Dirty Drummer2303 North 44th Street
The Dirty Drummer had been around for 40 years until it closed in late 2018. The famed Phoenix bar has now reopened, thanks to the efforts of Dana Armstrong, Andrew Smith, and Tom Bernard. The vibe is classic — wooden walls and bar top, amber glass lamps, a jukebox full of country and classic rock — and there's a hot grill right behind the bar. The house beer is Miller Light, but there are also 10 taps, cocktails, and a terrific house margarita.
Walter Station Brewery4056 East Washington Street
Those seeking food and maybe a beer will find that Walter Station Brewery is a straightforward spot for both. Pizza options include a barbecue chicken, Super Greeky, and classic pepperoni, or try the sandwiches and nachos. Beer? You'll just have to visit the fire-station-turned-brewery to see what's currently on draft.
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The Stockyards5009 East Washington Street, #115
If you’re taking the Valley Metro Rail, you can zip right over to The Stockyards Steakhouse entrance from the parking lot. Established in 1947, this Arizona eatery sticks to the “cattle” aspect of our state’s five Cs. The menu lists corn-fed, aged steaks and prime rib, as well as appetizers like Paloma Ranch Calf Fries, the Oak Creek Pear Salad, and the pecan-dusted walleyed pike. There’s also an impressive wine list, plus weekday happy hour specials in the 1889 Saloon.
Avanti2728 East Thomas Road
Founded by Benito Mellino of Sorrento and Tuscan restaurateur Angelo Livi, Avanti has a retro atmosphere that recalls the Italian restaurant from Moonstruck. Avanti (Italian for "forward”) opened in 1974 with pasta and sauces, entrees like linguine carbonara and a hearty lasagna, and wine a-plenty. But the decor — black-and-white with chrome accents, zebra stripes, and dark red walls — is what captivates:
Top of the Rock2000 Westcourt Way, Tempe
Set at the Marriott Phoenix Resort Tempe at The Buttes, Top of the Rock lives up to its name. Here, you’ll enjoy amazing views of nearby Papago Park and the outline of Camelback Mountain, as well as all of Tempe and a little bit of Scottsdale below. The scenery complements menu items like chicken and doughnuts, wagyu short rib, the Gem Caesar with Noble bread, and the Buttes Mac & Cheese. It’s dinner only at Top of the Rock, but happy hour runs from 5 to 7 p.m. and features specialty drinks like the Tempe Cape Cod.