October was a busy month for restaurant openings in Metro Phoenix. We welcomed 21 new restaurants, including a hip new cocktail bar, Chinese hot pot, modern Mexican, a brand-new brewery, an unusual steakhouse concept, and a smoker-fueled barbecue joint on the outskirts of the Valley. We also said goodbye to two well-known Valley restaurants, one of which shuttered under mysterious circumstances. One thing's for sure: Your November dining calendar is going to fill-up quick with this many tantalizing new options.
Yan Grill And HotPot, Mesa
Each table at this new hot pot and Chinese kebab restaurant is outfitted with its own grill (and venting system) upon which you can grill the likes of spicy beef, pork, or lamb cubes; chicken hearts; intestines; or enoki mushrooms wrapped in beef. The skewers are placed on a rotating grill, so you don't even have to flip them yourself. The hot pot selection is vast, with single-serving options available.
Barrio Café Gran Reserva
Silvana Salcido Esparza has reopened Barrio Café Gran Reserva, unveiling an all-new menu at the avant-garde, 30-seat Mexican restaurant. Half the menu is now vegan, with many of the new ingredients coming from Mexico. On the vegan side of the menu, Esparza will be smoking yams for six hours and dressing them in syrup made from piloncillo, fresh brown sugar. She’ll be mixing salsa from xoconostle, a sour kind of prickly pear. She’ll be puréeing xoconostle and plating the purée with nopales from the same plant, or with fish. The “omnivore” side of the menu will include dishes like duck carnitas in quince salsa. The tasting menu will cost $42 for five or six courses.
2601 on Central
2601 on Central has filled the void left on Central by the now-defunct Corduroy, by offering a range of comfort food and craft cocktails. Their menu is described as cross-country regional and they aim to bring comfort food from around the country and combine it with Southwestern influences. Their signature dish, the meatloaf, boasts a hearty blend of ground beef and chorizo and can be ordered as an entree or sandwich. The bar has at least five different varieties of craft cocktails and plans to change the offerings seasonally. The bar makes their own simple syrups for the cocktails, including some unique flavors like lavender and sage peppercorn.
Mowry & Cotton, Scottsdale
A posh new restaurant has opened in The Phoenician. Mowry & Cotton is being headed up by chef Tandy Peterson, who is cooking "regional, ingredient-driven modern American dishes." The menu has rusticity, avant-garde elements, and style, like a beet starter with mustard greens and smoked onion yogurt, lamb tacos with harissa, smoked ribs with snap pea slaw, a hangar steak with pickled blueberries, and hand-sliced bison carpaccio.
"Craft popcorn," small plates like burrata and short ribs, a couple of salads, and a few boozy deserts keep the food side of the menu simple, while the focus at this new south Scottsdale joint is clearly on the craft cocktails and beer, and boutique wine offerings. The cocktail lounge is located inside the ASU SkySong Campus in Scottsdale and features a large bar area, an outdoor patio, and booth seating.
Manna BBQ, Mesa
Phoenix is having an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue explosion this year, and the latest to burst on to the scene is an outpost of the California Korean barbecue restaurant Manna, which opened on Dobson Road in Mesa. There are two AYCE options, one for $21.99 and a "premium meat selection" for $28.99, both of which are served along with a spread of banchan condiments.
Ghett’ Yo’ Taco, Chandler
A fun new casual street taco shop has opened in what used to be Yoli's Cafe in Chandler. The exterior is striking, as it was painted by a local artist, and the menu keeps things simple with five taco options, sides of rice and beans, chips, guac, draft beer and micheladas.
A new location of the popular Barrio Queen restaurant (originally launched by Silvana Salcido Esparza, though she is no longer involved with the brand), has opened at the Desert Ridge Marketplace at 21001 North Tatum Boulevard in Phoenix. There are already pretty heavy waits at the new location, so it's best to call and book ahead.
Steak And Stone, Gilbert
With a new location in Mesa, this restaurant is quickly expanding; a Gilbert location opened in October. The concept is simple: steak, seafood, and chicken is cooked on a 500-degree stone at your table. All hot-stone proteins come with access to the salad bar and hot bar. Speaking of bars, the restaurant has an extensive wine list, draft beer selection, and craft cocktails to round out their offerings.
Yu Tian Xia Hot Pot, Mesa
Heat-lovers take note: An authentic Szechuan hot pot restaurant has opened at 1948 West Broadway Road in Mesa. Select from various meats and veggies to cook in spicy broth. Szechuan peppercorns lend their signature numbing effect to the dishes. Take heed, even the mild has a little zing. Hot pots come with a myriad of dipping sauces to choose from on their "sauce bar." They don't have a website yet, but you can call for more details (480-508-6059).
Michael’s Pizza, Gilbert
Gilbert now has its very own New York-style pizza joint. In early October, Michael's opened on Warner Road, dishing up large, thin-crust pies, massive bowls of pasta, and some really serious calzones.
The third location of this well-known, micro-chain barbecue joint has opened at Camelback Road and 32nd Street in the posh Biltmore area.
North 75th Avenue has a casual new option for Greek fare like spanakopita, gyros, shawarma, and mussels. The restaurant also serves things like chicken fingers and hamburgers, but if the name is any indication, the Mediterranean specialties are where it's at.
Philly Steak & Gyro, Glendale
Westsiders gained a new option for hearty sandwiches with the opening of Philly Steak and Gyro on Glendale Avenue. In addition to their namesake sandwiches, they also offer jalapeno poppers, cheese sticks, hot wings, and burgers.
Snooze An AM Eatery
The latest outlet of the wildly popular, Denver-based breakfast chain is now opened in Ahwatukee on Ray Road. If it's anything like the other trendy branches, people will be queuing for the likes of Breakfast Pot Pie (flaky puff pastry smothered in rosemary sausage gravy and topped with an egg).
Sauce Pizza and Wine, Queen Creek
The newest branch of this pizza and wine bar has opened in Queen Creek, serving up wood-fired pizza, salads, sandwiches, along with a full bar.
Scotti’s Market & Eatery, Tempe
A Chicago-style deli opened on the corner of McClintock Drive and Warner Road in Tempe. The shop turns out Italian grinders, Chicago-style hot dogs, gourmet grilled cheese, Italian sausage, and a huge case full of colorful salad options.
Health-conscious Arcadia residents now have their very own ProteinHouse on Indian School Road.. The fast-casual restaurant offers plant-based protein bowls, packed with tofu, quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, chickpeas, cauliflower, and other healthy carbs; burger options with creative, carb-less bun options like collard green wraps and portobello mushroom buns; and a laundry-list of no-sugar-added beverages ranging from cold-press juices to protein shakes. Nutritional information for every dish is listed on the menu.
Good Bad Ugly Brewing Co., Glendale
Brewing started back in September at Good Bad Ugly Brewing Co. (GBU for short), and now there are four beers ready for sipping in the brewery, which is housed entirely inside another restaurant, Tavern + Bowl. GBU can only be reached by walking through the restaurant. One set of the brewery's windows, which surround the 10-barrel operation, looks onto eight of Tavern + Bowl's bowling lanes. There they are serving an IPA (of course) brewed with a citrusy trio of hops: Green Hornet, Simcoe, and Mosaic; an American Stout made using roasted barley and two kinds of malt; an unfiltered wheat beer is brewed on its own and also is the base for specialty wheat beers like lemon-blueberry; and an American lager.
Mission Possible Cafe
We wrote about this socially conscious cafe a few months ago, when it was still in the development phase. The cafe was opened and is operated by the Phoenix Rescue Mission as part of their ongoing initiative to help those struggling with homelessness, addiction, and trauma, many of whom have limited employability due to their current hardships and lack of job experience. Serving casual Mexican fare, like burritos and enchiladas, as well as fresh-baked cookies and coffee, Yelpers are already raving about the food.
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Homer’s Smokehouse BBQ, San Tan Valley
This new mom-and-pop barbecue joint in San Tan Valley is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. until the meat runs out. Whatever they're smoking must be good, because it seems to have run out by midday their entire first month of operation.
Okra, the much-hyped eatery that opened on Seventh Street in central Phoenix back in 2015, has closed. It was the second spot opened by the Crudo team — Cullen Campbell, Maureen McGrath, and Micah Olson, serving a bold fusion of two beloved cuisines: Southern and Italian. “It is with a heavy heart we have decided to close Okra due to my move to California," said Okra co-owner Maureen McGrath. “Cullen Campbell will continue to focus on Crudo in Phoenix. We’d like to thank everyone for all of the support during the past two years.”
Alice Cooper'stown closed without warning. The festive restaurant just south of Talking Stick Resort Arena served American comfort classics like macaroni and cheese, potato skins, and sliders, often with a Southwestern twist, was owned by none other than rocker Alice Cooper, whose band started in Phoenix. In true drop-mic fashion, the restaurant shuttered, shut down their Facebook, and updated their Google-status as "permanently closed" with no official statement.