Chow Bella

Does Phoenix Have a Signature Dish? 15 Metro Phoenix Chefs Weigh In

Philadelphia has cheesesteak. Chicago has deep-dish pizza. New York has cheesecake, pizza, and steak. And Phoenix has, well ... what does Phoenix have? Plenty of restaurants serve up noteworthy cuisine, but does this city really have a single, signature dish?

We looked to chefs to tell us what they think. From fry bread to Sonoran dogs, discover what Phoenix chefs think is Phoenix's signature dish.  

Does Phoenix have a signature dish? If so, what is it? 

Michael Rusconi, owner/chef of Rusconi’s American Kitchen

I would have to say [that] pork chile verde or green chili pork seems to have popped on an awful lot of menus. 

Garrison Whiting, executive chef of Counter Intuitive and sous chef of Cowboy Ciao

I don’t know if Phoenix has a signature dish that’s been unanimously agreed upon. I would say the Sonoran dog is definitely in the running, along with the Stetson chopped salad at Cowboy Ciao. My brother and I tried with the Phoenix cheese steak, but it never got a fair chance to have its day in the sun. Who doesn’t want a cornmeal waffle stuffed with roasted peppers, sliced ribeye, and Oaxaca cheese?

Tracy Dempsey, owner of Tracy Dempsey Originals

Machaca. Red beef. Rosita’s on Hardy and University.

Christopher Gross, chef of Christopher's and The Crush Lounge 

You can't say my majestic Parnassienne au chocolate, aka chocolate-mousse tower, hasn't stood the test of time. I came up with the idea more than 30 years ago, and it got so much buzz that I made it for Julia Child on her television show. Inspired by a dessert I saw in a Paris pastry shop window, it starts with a cylinder of white chocolate supported by a scaffolding of latticework dark chocolate. Stuffed inside is creamy chocolate mousse, finished with a drizzle of espresso sauce.

Now that’s signature. 

Gio Osso, chef of Virtu 

I'm not so sure if Phoenix has a signature dish, but there are many chefs out there that have put Phoenix on the map with their signature dishes. Chris Bianco's pizza and Bernie Kantak's chopped salad are just a couple of many.

Silvana Salcido Esparaza, chef of Barrio Cafe

If I had to pick one thing that would classify as a signature dish for Phoenix, then I would have to say Sonoran-style hot dogs. Not a Mexican hot dog, that is different, but a Sonoran-style hot dog, unique to Phoenix. Sonora has given us the flour tortilla (tortilla sobaqueras) that later was used in the burrito that we all identify as Mexican food in the United States today, so it’s only right that they give us our signature Phoenix dish. 

Dushyant Singh, director of culinary experiences at The Camby Hotel

Tortilla soup. You can pretty much find it in every other restaurant. 

Jake Stucky, chef of Topgolf Gilbert

Not necessarily a Phoenix signature, but an Arizona signature dish would have to be the Sonoran dog. It is one of our most unique dishes, and probably best showcases the cultural mashup of border food in Arizona. It is fun, funky, delicious, and very Arizona. A close second for me would be fry bread. I fell in love with it while working on the Gila River Indian Community, and whenever I see it around, I try and stop for some.
Rick Phillips, owner/menu development at Bootlegger's

For a while, I thought it was Hillstone’s Spinach Dip or PF Chang’s Orange Chicken. Seriously, IF I HAD TO pick, I would probably say tacos. They are everywhere. The success of the Arizona Taco Festival is a testament to that fact.

Becca Carlson, executive chef of Federal Pizza 

I would have to say it doesn’t. I think Phoenix is a huge melting pot of culture, cuisine, and flavors. It would be hard to identify what a signature dish for here would be.

Aaron Pool, owner of Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soups

Come on guys … it’s the chimichanga. I’m a fan of mini-chimis. Mainly because I like saying it. Now, I don’t believe in the tale of the burrito accidentally falling into a fryer and then proceed to let it sit in there for a minute to turn golden. People like to fry things, and the burrito being fried was intentional long before the tale. Phoenix was the first city to actively brand it.

Jacques Qualin, chef of J&G Steakhouse 

To me it’s the humble Sonoran hot dog. So much flavor packed into a small, affordable package.

Marlene Portillo, executive chef of Half Moon Windy City Sports Grill

I would say tortilla soup. It's different everywhere you go, and most places add their own special twist to it.

Akos Szabo, executive chef of MATCH Cuisine & Cocktails at the FOUND:RE Hotel 

The battered cauliflower dish at DeSoto Market, The Larder + The Delta, is a dish I keep going back to time and time again. Especially since it's made with all Arizona ingredients!

Jason Alford, chef of Roka Akor

Those hot dogs they serve at Chase Field.
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Teresa is a writer, editor, traveler, and food enthusiast. She loves chocolate, espresso, and Chihuahuas.
Contact: Teresa Traverse