For the quickest, least invasive way to get a bag of food in the Valley, we turn to these restaurants and their most currently convenient feature — the drive-thru window. Some require you to order ahead of time and some just need you to roll up. Either way, here are 11 excuses to leave your house.
32 Shea10626 North 32nd Street
There's a whole lot going on at 32 Shea, the colorful, petite restaurant serving from a full coffee and espresso bar. The staff here will also hand over seasonal selections of loose-leaf teas and bottled Mexican Coke. But if you're hungry, breakfast is served till noon and includes breakfast sandwiches and/or burritos, Nutella on toast, and smoothies. For the rest of the time, snag hot sandwiches, cold salads, lavosh pizza, and more. This former drive-thru photo mat is well-equipped for the quick visit, and the window is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Asadero Toro1715 West McDowell Road
Asadero Toro is the kind of nondescript, standalone Mexican restaurant that seems to fade into the metro Phoenix landscape without notice. But if you're the kind of Mexican food aficionado who can appreciate a well-made side of beans and a piping-hot burrito, it's worth taking note of Asadero Toro's drive-thru option. Neighboring the Arizona State Fairgrounds, Asadero Toro's drive-thru sign is spotted easily from McDowell Road, so there's no chance of you accidentally turning onto Grand Avenue in your quest for queso fundido.
BLD1920 West Germann Road, Chandler
BLD (Breakfast Lunch Dinner) offers a drive-thru menu on the higher end. Anything from the regular menu can be wrapped up to go, including crab cakes and filet mignon. This is where you'd want to go for some some picnic food. You may also order from a full coffee bar with smoothies and protein shakes. Due to the prep time for some of these menu items, BLD staff do ask that you call 10 minutes ahead so that they can have it ready for you when you get there. Adult beverages are also available for pickup.
Blue Fin Teriyaki Grill1401 North Central Avenue
Don’t judge Blue Fin by its cover — housed in a blue awning brick building on the east side of Central Avenue since 1981. The outside is meh, but as with all great holes-in-the-wall, the food feels like a surprise discovery. Teriyaki chicken is grilled over pumice stones for extra flavor, panko chicken and pork katsu are breaded to perfection, yakisoba packs in plenty of noodles and veggies, and all sauces are made from scratch. Call five minutes ahead and your order will be ready at the drive-thru window, often served by the owners themselves. Pro tip: Add an almond cookie for 30 cents.
Copper Star Coffee4220 North Seventh Avenue
Make it a nifty '50s afternoon with a treat from Copper Star — the Melrose District coffee shop housed in an old gas station where instead of full-service fueling, you'll receive full-service food (and fuel in the form of coffee). Pull up to the window and your car will drive over a strip that rings a bell inside. One of the servers will bring you a menu of salads, sandwiches, pastries, and the highly recommended hummus. Orders here take usually about five to seven minutes depending on your order.
When we think drive-thru, we're not usually thinking healthy options, but d'Lite has fixed this by serving leaner sandwiches, salads, wraps, and soups out of that convenient drive-up window. Swing by and grab a speedy breakfast sandwich, one of the popular morning buzz smoothies with peanut butter, chocolate, and espresso, and/or the sought-after turkey club with fresh avocado. There’s also homemade baja chicken soup, but we wouldn't recommend busting that out at the stop light.
Federal Pizza5120 North Central Avenue
When you’re craving pizza and beer — so, like, right now — Federal Pizza is your place. Just phone in your order, hit the drive-thru, and voila. The puffy-edged pie, a perfect combo of crispy and chewy, comes with both expected toppers (Canadian bacon, mushrooms) and unexpected (dates, ricotta). Wash it down with a local ale or IPA. When you’re craving Brussels sprouts topped with tender belly bacon, crispy polenta sticks, and lamb bolognese, Federal is also your place. Opt for the cabernet or chardonnay with that one. Major bonus: To-go beer and wine are always half off.
Sa Bai Modern Thai4121 East Thomas Road
Behind the tinted windows of a former Wendy's, there's some stellar Thai cuisine being prepared. In 2010, the owners opened Sai Bai and wanted to take advantage of the traditional drive-thru window, which is definitely getting some use these days. However, keep in mind food here is made to order and will probably take 10 to 15 minutes. Don't fret, sa bai (which means relax), recline your seat, and flip on that book on tape you've been meaning to "read."
Salad and GoMultiple Locations
Salad and Go brought the drive-thru back with a vengeance. In fact, the tagline for this place is "drive-thru revolution." Retrieve your little orange to-go containers packed with salads like the jalapeno ranch, bruschetta caprese, and Thai chicken, as well as classic orders like the Greek, Cobb, and Caesar. Salad and Go has 20 locations through the Phoenix area, all with drive-thrus open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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Sure, there are 'Bertos on every corner, we wanted to find a family-owned Mexican restaurant serving up some consistently good family recipes. If you live in the east Valley, Someburros is where it's at. You must call ahead at any of the pick-up windows that are built into every single location of Someburros. We've enjoyed the sauce topped Burracho Burro served in one of those round tins with white paper lids from our car many a time. We're happy to report that the aluminum container is sturdy enough to handle the plastic fork and knife treatment.
Z's Greek4026 East Indian School Road
If you're Arcadia with a hankering for some Mediterranean fare, you've hit gold. Z's Greek has gyros or pitas with chicken or lamb with a side salad with feta, tomatoes, and oregano dressing. A hot bowl of avgolemono or lentils should also do the trick. Depending on what you order, your wait should be no more than a speedy three to four minutes. They tell us the only things that might take a few more minutes are the moussaka, spanakopita, lamb souvlaki, or chicken souvlaki platter.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on July 10, 2012. It was updated on April 23, 2020. Jennifer Woods contributed to this article.