But that doesn't mean groups of family and friends that can't decide where to eat have to all land on the same option. Across the Valley, there are five collections of restaurants that are sure to satisfy a crowd.
In the West Valley, a mall hidden inside another mall boasts a selection of food counters serving dishes like Mexico-city-style huaraches, mocha-flavored tres leches cake, and Mexican-fusion sushi.
In the East Valley, two Asian supermarkets are surrounded by places to stop and eat after a shopping trip, serving customers steaming bowls of noodles and plates full of dumplings.
In downtown Phoenix, the food collectives take a decidedly more trendy feel, with the Pemberton and the Churchill, two spots filled with food, drinks, and entertainment.
Work your way through these five metro Phoenix food collectives to please a crowd and get a true taste of the Valley.
1121 North Second Street
pembertonphx.comDowntown Phoenix's newest food and drink collective, the Pemberton, finds its home just off Second and Moreland Streets. The historic home built in 1920 sits surrounded by a selection of mobile businesses. Throughout the front and back yards, a fleet of food trucks, Airstream campers, and assorted trailers sell cocktails, beer, pizza, fish tacos, and pasta. Along with food and drinks, the Pemberton is a nightlife destination, often featuring live music and other events to entertain a crowd.
H Mart Market Eatery
1919 West Main Street, Mesa
hmart.com On any given day, the H Mart food court, technically titled the Market Eatery, buzzes with activity. Shoppers push carts full of plastic grocery bags as a robotic voice shouts out order numbers and families gather around tables to feast on the steaming bowls and plates before them. Located right next to the main grocery store, this food court occupies a long, thin area with restaurant counters lining either side. One spot specializes in crispy fried katsu, another serves black bowls brimming with Jjamppong, a deep red broth filled with mussel shells, noodles, and squid. At the back, there's a dessert counter that sells soft serve ice cream inside soft, fish-shaped Taiyaki cones. Here you'll find people looking to try things for the first time, mixed with customers searching for a taste of home. Either way, there's something for everyone.
901 North First Street
thechurchillphx.com Housed inside a collection of renovated shipping containers, the Churchill embodies the idea of multiple businesses coming together to improve an overall space. The businesses, which include two bars, a pizzeria, a Mexican food restaurant, a wine store, an acai bowl cafe, and a burger and bagel joint, all surround a central courtyard filled with picnic tables and lawn games. Customers move throughout the space, grabbing a beer from one spot, a cocktail from another, and a bite to eat from a third, perfect for a group of friends who can't collectively decide where they want to eat. While covered by a shared roof and fitted with large fans, the Churchill is an outdoor space, important to take into account in the summer.
66 South Dobson Road, Mesa
mekongplaza.com Before H Mart moved in, Mesa had Mekong Plaza. This old shopping center was converted into a food and drink hub, operated and visited by the local Asian community. The plaza is anchored by Mekong Supermarket and Mekong Palace, a large dim sum restaurant. Inside, there is every level of dining option, from the central restaurant, to smaller full-service cafes dotted around the edges, to a food court with different restaurant counters and a shared area of tables and chairs. Part of the fun here is to try a little bit of everything. Maybe grab a milk tea with boba to sip on while you look around. Order a tray of dumplings from Happy Bao's, try a couple of bites from some of the food court vendors, and snag some ice cream on your way out. This shopping plaza has an old-school vibe and food you can't miss. Soon, the plaza will have even more spots to try, as on July 13, developers broke ground on a 35,000-square-foot expansion.
Mercado De Los Cielos
7611 West Thomas Road
desertskymall.com The Mercado De Los Cielos is really a mall inside a mall. Located in the West Valley off Thomas Road and 75th Avenue, shoppers will find the Desert Sky Mall. Drive around the back, and a sign painted the colors of the Mexican flag will come into view. Inside, little stands and tiny stores sell their wares. If you are looking for a haircut, a glittering quinceañera dress, a new pair of cowboy boots, or a place to fix your watch, the Mercado has got you covered. But tucked in the corner is the most exciting part. A host of small restaurants serve a range of Mexican and fusion foods, including Mexican sushi, massively long folded quesadillas, bowls of menudo, and plates of seafood. A bakery offers slices of milk-soaked tres leches cake and little cups of flan. A location of La Carreta De Lily, a Valley chain of dessert and snack shops, sells coconuts piled high with toppings, fruit cups drenched in chile and chamoy, and other decadent desserts and snacks. Spanish music bumping, families laughing, kids playing, it's all part of the fun at this mall within a mall.