A whopping 28 restaurants opened in our parts in March, and only two closed. While we'd rather that some of the great restaurants that have been closing of late would have remained open, the general trend is a good one. Openings. Lots of openings. March saw new ice cream sandwiches and far-flung Mexican, new beer and new burgers. We even got a sparkling taco restaurant and a personality-soaked barbecue spot on the same street. The two standouts are actually neighbors. Yep, March was a good month.
501 East Roosevelt Street; 602-368-5316
When you walk into Taco Chelo, Aaron Chamberlin's new restaurant on Roosevelt Row, you get a strong sense that you've entered a different kind of taqueria. A wraparound patio boasts a view of the towers of downtown Phoenix, along with a view back into the kitchen, where chef Suny Suntana slings tacos, chicharrones, and frijoles charros. Santana, who grew up in Nuevo León, is the force behind a menu of five tacos, four starters, two salads, one dessert, and specials. He pulls from memories of his grandmother's and mother's cooking. Taco Chelo is a visually striking, highly original space that could become a fixture of the downtown scene.
SunnySide Up Cafe
11127 West Arizona Avenue, Youngtown; 623-234-4552
Sunnyside Up Cafe in Youngtown is a new family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot open until 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sundays. The cafe boasts a menu of classic comfort foods — think biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak sandwiches, and hearty breakfast plates with country-style potatoes. The atmosphere in the diner is cozy and casual. The owners hope to soon open their garden patio for live music. Sunnyside Up offers daily specials, reasonable prices, and military discounts for veterans.
Trapp Haus BBQ
511 East Roosevelt Street; 602-466-5462
Trapp Haus BBQ, a restaurant run by a veteran of the competitive barbecue circuit, opened on March 2 in Roosevelt Row. The pitmaster is Phil Johnson, nicknamed "Phil the Grill." Johnson's barbecue restaurant combines Southern cuisine and a "New York vibe." Johnson smokes brisket, pork, chicken, links, and St. Louis-style ribs and fuels his smoker with apple wood, cherry wood, and hickory. Johnson was born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island before moving to the Valley in 2009. On the competition circuit, he has won accolades from entities like the Kansas City Barbecue Society. (Check out our full write-up on Trapp Haus BBQ.)
Asian Corner Cafe
1940 West Chandler Boulevard, Chandler; 480-899-9967
This new, family-owned restaurant in Chandler specializes in Asian fusion cuisine, dishes like pho, tempura shrimp, and Panang curry with chicken. Gluten-free options are available.
Original ChopShop Co.
16205 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480-372-2333
The Original ChopShop opened its sixth Valley location in March, this time in north Scottsdale. The “chop” portion in the name of this fast-casual emporium of healthy eats refers not so much to meats (although it has them), but to its handling of vegetables. Here, carrots, kale, cucumbers, and the like are pressed into juices, placed into bowls, and packed into sandwiches and wraps for a small menu of hefty, all-natural offerings that don’t rise above the $10 mark.
825 West University Drive, Tempe
There's a new bubble tea and smoothie shop in Tempe, featuring boba milk teas, fruit teas, a juice bar, and a summer frosty series with flavors like passion fruit, fresh mango, and Japanese matcha red bean. Food menu items include basil popcorn chicken and deep fried garlic chicken wings. i-Tea is close to ASU and offers free Wi-Fi and a discount for students.
SanTan Brewing Company
1525 East Bethany Home Road; 602-595-7390
SanTan Brewing Company's new location on the southwest corner of Bethany Home Road and 16th Street is open. “SanTan Brewing is excited to officially announce our second home is up and running in the Bethany East neighborhood,” says Anthony Canecchia, founder and brewmaster, “bringing the spirit of SanTan, that our fans have come to love, as an Arizona owned, Arizona brewed company." SanTan's menu features Southwestern pub-style food like mac and cheese and souped up cheeseburgers. SanTan’s staple beers are available on tap, along with Arizona wines, a margarita made with Roger Clyne’s Mexican Moonshine tequila, and Peixoto’s cold brew coffee.
Miss Dessert, Mesa
1832 West Broadway Road, Mesa; 480-912-3585
This new restaurant in Mesa on Broadway Road near Dobson Road specializes in Hong Kong-style desserts, from boba tea to mango pancakes topped with chunks of fruit and whipped cream.
The Halal Guys, Christown Mall
1818 West Montebello Avenue; 480-874-7526
The Halal Guys, which opened its first Valley location last year in Tempe, continues to aggressively add restaurants throughout the Valley. The Halal Guys is a chain that started from a food cart in New York City. The place serves sandwiches, but are most famous for the "chicken and rice" platter, which features chicken on a bed of orange rice with lettuce, pita, and tomato. Aficionados know to douse their platters with sauce, whether it's the popular "white sauce" or a fiery red sauce.
Dutch Bros. Coffee
6965 North 95th Avenue, Glendale; 541-955-4700
Dutch Bros. coffee continues taking over our town with hot, hearty coffee, adding a new location this month in Glendale. Dutch Bros. roasts its own coffee beans, and offers a long list of exclusive flavor blends from Torani syrups to their own special blend of Dutch Chocolate milk. Iced coffee comes cold and sweet. A large selection of pastries are available.
5609 East McKellips Road, Mesa; 480-300-5404
Jeff and Alec-Lauren Golzio, former owners of The Handlebar Pub & Grill in Apache Junction, have teamed up with executive chef Tony Snyder to open Osteria in northeast Mesa. The Italian eatery boasts locally sourced organic ingredients, ethically raised meats, wood-fired pizzas, and homemade pastas and pastries, along with a full wine menu and craft beer.
15414 North 19th Avenue; 602-504-3937
This new locally owned spot for wings in north Phoenix offers fast service and house-made sauces like garlic Parmesan, lemon pepper, and Korean barbecue. Eat in or carry out, and don't forget your side of chicken bacon-ranch fries.
El Tepeyac Cafe
17300 North Sun Village Parkway, Surprise; 623-546-8886
Los Angeles's El Tepeyac Cafe, home of the famous Manuel's Special Burrito (featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel's Man v. Food) has opened a second location in Surprise.
Wraps 'N Curry
4221 West Bell Road; 602-866-1907
A new Indian fast food eatery opened this month in north Phoenix. Wraps 'N Curry, open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., offers a selection of wraps made with fresh naan and served with masala fries, favorites like tandoori chicken, and vegetarian options including paneer tikka and veggie wraps. With a friendly mom-and-pop vibe and reasonable prices, this one's sure to become a local favorite.
Scottsdale Burger Bar
23535 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480-867-1968
Scottsdale Burger Bar is a new fast casual restaurant offering burgers and hot dogs, loaded fries, onion rings, milkshakes, and more. Build your own burger with a variety of toppings, including fried mushrooms, grilled onions, and sauerkraut.
1314 South Rural Road, Tempe; 480-446-8226
Chandler-based Mexican restaurant chain Someburros, which has been making Mexican food in the Valley for more than 30 years, has opened another location in Tempe. Known for its Mexican food made from scratch, the staple restaurant serves dishes like pollo fundido and crispy tacos.
High & Rye
5310 East High Street; 480-634-4143
High & Rye Southern Kitchen & Bar opened this month on High Street in Phoenix. The family restaurant features classic Southern comfort dishes like fried chicken, smoked beef brisket, and St. Louis style ribs, and offers an extensive selection of wine and specialty cocktails, along with 20 beers on tap. Outdoor seating is available, along with live music.
The Donut Shoppe
8141 West Camelback Road; 623-242-9789
This new gourmet donut shop at 83rd Avenue and Camelback offers a variety of freshly baked cake doughnuts, cream donuts, Long Johns, and croissants, along with a selection of breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Also on the menu are ice cream smoothies, boba tea, and coffee.
Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge
1325 Grand Avenue; 602-802-7854
A new tea shop in the Grand Avenue Arts District offers craft tea beverages like chai lattes and Moroccan mint tea in a relaxed, modern atmosphere.
Ono Hawaiian BBQ
13864 West Bell Road, Surprise; 623-214-8788
Ono Hawaiian BBQ, a fast casual restaurant chain specializing in plate lunches, has opened another Valley location, this time in Surprise. Plate lunches consist of two scoops of steamed rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and an entrée over steamed cabbage. Ono Hawaiian BBQ also offers other Hawaiian-inspired dishes like Spam Musubi (rice and Spam with Teriyaki sauce wrapped in seaweed).
The Brass Tap
313 North Gilbert Road, Gilbert; 480-268-9557
The Brass Tap opened its second Valley location this month in Gilbert. Beer is the word at Brass Tap, and if you can't find something you like among the endless lineup of craft drafts, the problem just may be you. Besides all your local and national favorites, Brass Tap regularly features hard-to-find, one-off draft options as a special treat for craft diehards and lovers of great beer.
The Baked Bear
2206 East Williams Field Road, Gilbert; 480-912-8954
The Baked Bear is probably best known for its cookie ice cream sandwiches, which you can custom order from a menu of 12 different homemade ice creams and 10 different kinds of soft-baked cookies, which are baked in-house. This month, The Baked Bear added a third Valley location in Gilbert.
18589 North 59th Avenue, Glendale; 602-559-4088
Mighty Gyros in Glendale is on a mission to bring fresh, made-from-scratch Mediterranean food to metro Phoenix. Menu items include staples like gyros, shawarmas, and kebabs. Mighty Gyros also prepares red pepper hummus, fried mushrooms, bean stew, and baklava.
Black Rock Coffee Bar
5351 South Power Road, Mesa; 480-361-6584
Black Rock Coffee Bar, a coffee shop chain based out of Portland, opened its third Valley location this month in Mesa.
1325 Grand Avenue; 602-651-1352
A new bakery featuring homemade cookies and cookie bars opened this month in the Grand Avenue Arts District. The owners of Cookie Brokers are not only committed to baking sweet treats but also to raising awareness for community organizations like PICK, a nonprofit servicing inner-city Phoenix families. Cookie options include chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and lemon with glaze. Cookie bars range from peanut butter chocolate to s’mores.
1250 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe; 480-912-6283
Tempe can’t get enough of bubble tea, it seems. This shop opened on Apache Boulevard between Rural Road and McClintock Drive this month and features plenty of options for tea, coffee, and smoothies. Snacks include a BBQ chicken lettuce wrap and basil popcorn chicken.
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Los Patos 2
415 East McKellips Road, Mesa; 480-610-4762
Authentic Mexican food awaits at Los Patos, a new fast casual storefront on East McKellips Road in Mesa. Stop in on Tuesdays for $1 tacos.
Rubicon Deli, Scottsdale
14601 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale; 480-795-2369
Rubicon Deli is a new shop in north Scottsdale serving sandwiches, soups, and salads. The restaurant is a small chain based in California, and incorporates California produce. Sandwich options, including the Dapper Dipper (French dip), spicy tuna, and grilled cheese, come with a side of waffle fries.
Joe's Midnight Run
Joe's Midnight Run closed on March 5, according to a post on the restaurant's Facebook page. The retro-style restaurant and bar on Seventh Street was known for old-school hip-hop tunes and new American food, much of it cooked over a wood-fired grill.
Wildfish Seafood Grille, Scottsdale
Wildfish Seafood Grille, a sleek restaurant on the Scottsdale Waterfront, has closed. It was owned by executive chef John M. Carver, the same seafood pros who own Eddie V's Edgewater Grille.