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 and local dining options. But if you’ve got terminal fever, or just need some immediate sustenance after picking up the rental, here are some nearby coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants that'll offer quick relief.
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 where you're also free to browse the retail 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.
Ladybug Café1295 West Washington Street, #102, Tempe
For an ultra-quick stop, Ladybug Café offers fast-service breakfast, lunch, and drink options on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. But if you need help navigating the multitude of options, Ladybug specialties include apple crumb muffins, breakfast burritos, and a croissant sandwich. Consider treating yourself to a vanilla latte, too.
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.
Little Miss BBQ (temporarily closed)4301 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.
The Dirty Drummer2303 North 44th Street
The Dirty Drummer's 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.
The Stockyards Steakhouse5009 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.
Tratto1505 East Van Buren Street
The former Pane Bianco Van Buren is now Tratto, which has relocated from the Town and Country Shopping Center in east Phoenix. The 103-year-old, 4,000-square-foot building (a big upgrade from the former 1,100 square feet Bianco, Chef Cassie Shortino, and the Tratto team were working with) is the perfect setting to enjoy top-tier pasta dishes and cocktails.w
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 6 p.m. and features specialty drinks like the Tempe Cape Cod.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 31, 2020 It was updated on December 22, 2020. See what Valley restaurants are offering takeout, delivery, and dine-in services with our Phoenix Restaurant Directory.
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