The 5 best dishes we found at Phoenix restaurants in April | Phoenix New Times

The 5 best bites we tried in April around metro Phoenix

From hearty sandwiches to unusual cocktails, here are the best things we tasted in April.
A Meatball Hero and a baseball-sized arancini from Sorelle. The hero is made with tender meatballs stewed in red sauce and topped with mozzarella and pesto.
A Meatball Hero and a baseball-sized arancini from Sorelle. The hero is made with tender meatballs stewed in red sauce and topped with mozzarella and pesto. Sara Crocker
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April proved to be a truly delicious month for the Phoenix New Times food team. We sampled delectable doughnuts, dug into plenty of outstanding Chinese food and sipped on some standout cocktails. A few specific bites and sips rose above the rest. Here are the five best things we ate at Valley restaurants and eateries in April.

Meatball Hero from Sorelle

Various locations
You'll find Sorelle, the sandwich and baked goods pop-up helmed by sisters Melissa and Samantha Miola, at spots around Phoenix, serving comforting Italian food and sinfully good sweets. At a food truck meet-up outside of the "Sheaborhood" in north Phoenix, the meatball hero was enticing. A Noble Bread baguette was piled high with meatballs in red sauce, slices of mozzarella and pesto. The herbaceous pesto cut through the richness of the tender meatballs and melty mozz. The sturdy baguette ensured this sandwich didn't fall apart, but it was so delicious, it didn't last more than a few minutes anyway.

click to enlarge Cinnamon roll and doughnuts from Chin Up Donuts.
Though doughnuts are the focus at Chin Up Donuts, don't skip the rich cinnamon rolls, which are topped with a vanilla cream cheese glaze.
Sara Crocker

Cinnamon Roll at Chin Up Donuts

7325 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., #103, Scottsdale
7021 E. Main St., Scottsdale
Chin Up Donuts is home to some of our favorite, and most unique, doughnuts in the Valley. During a recent visit, what did we spy but a massive cinnamon roll among its brioche kin? Don't let the dark exterior of the roll, which just barely peeks out from under a good slathering of vanilla cream cheese glaze, scare you off. The rolls are deep-fried to create a crisp outer shell and gooey interior that's giving Cinnabon in the best way. The rolls are loaded with lots of spice from the cinnamon, and you'll be licking your fingers to savor that last bit of not-too-sweet glaze.

click to enlarge The cemita poblana from El Rincon Poblano.
The Cemita Poblana from El Rincon Poblano is packed with flavor and texture from its crisp bun, fried beef cutlet, stretchy Oaxacan cheese, slices of avocado, onion and spicy chipotle casero, a housemade chipotle condiment.
Sara Crocker
Cemita Poblana with Milanese de Res at El Rincon Poblano

3302 W. Thomas Road, #1
El Rincon Poblano highlights the owners' family recipes from Puebla, Mexico. Among them is a Pueblan-style torta, the Cemita Poblana. Cemita is the name of both the sandwich and the bun, which is light with a crisp exterior topped with sesame seeds. A breaded, fried beef cutlet is the traditional foundation and the sandwich arrives with the cutlet overhanging the bun, offering an enticing first bite. The sandwich is also topped with stringy, stretchy Oaxacan cheese, slices of avocado, onion and, if you like, chipotle casero, a housemade chipotle condiment. The crisp toasted bun and beef give way to sweet onion and creamy avocado, punctuated by salty bits of cheese and hits of spice from the chiles. It's a feast all wrapped up in a green-and-white checkered paper.

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The Cumin Lamb at Spice Spirit Chinese is made with watercress and roasted garlic cloves.
Tirion Boan

Cumin Lamb at Spice Spirit Chinese Cuisine and Bar

1955 W. Main St. #101, Mesa
The menu at Mesa’s Spice Spirit Chinese Cuisine and Bar is massive. It's filled with everything from barbecue to spicy noodle soups, hot pots, dry pots, skewers, Americanized dishes, rice plates, dumplings and more. So it can be tricky to know what to order. Recently, we tried the Cumin Lamb, and now that’ll be on our ticket every visit. Thin slices of tender lamb are mixed with roasted half-cloves of garlic and sauteed watercress, a spinach-like green with a peppery and slightly bitter flavor. The whole thing is tossed in a savory, chile oil-based sauce. Cumin seeds stick to the lamb slices and bring forward a strong and fragrant flavor that takes over your senses with each bite. Dishes like this are why Spice Spirit ranks as one of the best Chinese restaurants in the Valley.

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Knox notes that the Horchata Punch is one of the drinks that customers often feel a nostalgic connection towards.
Tirion Boan

Horchata Punch at Huarachis

814 N. Central Ave.
Huarachis Taqueria is, at its core, a taco shop with a menu created by top local chef Rene Andrade. Customers flock to try his flame-kissed food and rotating specials that draw on Sonoran tradition. And as great as the food is, don't sleep on the cocktail menu. The drinks take the experience from casual to exceptional and their creator, Jesse Knox, warrants his own acclaim. One of his outstanding creations is the Horchata Punch. The take on a clarified milk punch starts with rice and cinnamon stepped in a mix of Hennessy and house rum. Cream of coconut keeps the drink vegan, and the concoction is rounded out with Licor 43 and chai. Finally, the whole thing is clarified to create a refined, transparent yellow-hued sip reminiscent of the creamy drink sold by the styrofoam cup at taquerias around the Valley. 
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