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

The 5 best bites we tried in March around metro Phoenix

From pancakes and waffles to sushi and salad, here are the best things we tasted in March.
After stopping by for a coffee, we couldn't resist the churro waffle at Valentine. It ended up being one of the best things we ate all month.
After stopping by for a coffee, we couldn't resist the churro waffle at Valentine. It ended up being one of the best things we ate all month. Tirion Boan
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March was a sweet and savory month for the Phoenix New Times food team as we sampled brunch menus and dug into some newly opened restaurants. Of all the delectable dishes we tried, five stood out above the rest. Here are the best things we ate at Valley restaurants in March.

Churro Waffle at Valentine

4130 N. Seventh Ave.
Valentine frequently finds itself on lists of this nature. But chef Donald Hawk, pastry chef Crystal Kass and their team just continue to knock out exceptional eats. Our latest find was the Churro Waffle, a decadent dish that perfectly blends its two namesakes. Listed on the breakfast and brunch menu, this would be quite an intense way to start your day. We'd suggest sharing the sugar bomb with a friend over coffee or as a dessert. The sweet looks like a waffle, but tastes like a churro. It's seriously crunchy on the outside, yet soft inside with a satisfying chew. The whole thing is crusted in cinnamon sugar which sprinkles itself all over the table as you enjoy.  The topping that takes the whole thing up a notch is the cajeta. Familiar to those who have tired Valentine's cajeta latte, this buttery caramel plays almost like a nutty butterscotch. On top of that, there's a pile of cool whipped cream that adds a cold note to the hot waffle and melty cajeta. It's sweet, a little salty, crunchy and creamy and positively decadent.

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Our server recommended adding grilled shrimp to the Sonoran Wheat Berry Bowl, and he didn't lead us astray.
Tirion Boan

Sonoran Wheat Berry Bowl at YumBar

635 W. Glenrosa Ave., #101
At YumBar, a lively brunch and dinner spot now open inside The Royale in the Melrose District, the food isn't perhaps always the focus. But even as drag queens perform, strutting around the restaurant in their sparkles, one dish might grab your attention. The Sonoran Wheat Berry Bowl offers something a little different. At many restaurants, those looking for a healthy option are frequently relegated to the list of salads. But at YumBar, nutrient-dense wheat berries take the place of rice or pasta in this bowl topped with pinto beans, roasted corn, grilled red bell pepper, avocado, jalapeno and cilantro. Mix in a little chile lime mayo for some extra kick. Chicken, grilled or coconut shrimp or salmon can be added to the bowl, and the pop and char of sliced grilled shrimp set the whole thing off. 
click to enlarge The Uchi Salad.
The salad at Uchi isn't an occasion for forks. You're invited to grab a bundle of greens and daikon and drag it through the pool of cashew pesto.
Sara Crocker

Uchi Salad at Uchi

3821 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
It's understandable if salad is not the first thing, or even the fifth thing, on your mind as you browse the menu at the recently opened Scottsdale outpost of Uchi, an Austin-born Japanese restaurant from award-winning chef Tyson Cole. But, this salad is a microcosm of the Uchi experience – thoughtful, delicious and just fun to eat. The salad arrives as four little bundles of gem lettuce and daikon radish topped with crunchy puffed rice. You're invited to drag a bundle through a pool of creamy cashew pesto that is punctuated by an herbaceous gremolata. This interplay between rich dressing and crisp salad is all about texture. The flavors are clean and bright, making it a worthy addition to an order at the swanky sushi spot.
click to enlarge A plate of blueberry pancakes.
The Eleanor kicks blueberry pancakes up a notch with a blueberry compote and housemade maple butter.
Sara Crocker

Blueberry Pancakes at The Eleanor

3207 Hayden Road, Scottsdale
The Eleanor head chef and partner Kent Macaulay knows there's little room for error when it comes to breakfast. “We tried to keep (the menu) traditional just done with a lot of care,” Macaulay told Phoenix New Times when the Scottsdale breakfast and brunch spot opened in September. The Blueberry Pancakes are an example of how the kitchen is taking a classic, familiar favorite and finding simple, thoughtful ways to make it even better, and part of why The Eleanor landed on our list of favorite brunch spots. The triple-stack of flapjacks are light and fluffy. They're topped with a blueberry compote that lets the tart fruit shine without becoming cloyingly sweet. The other revelation is The Eleanor's maple butter, a housemade syrup that combines those two quintessential pancake toppers. Sweet, velvety and rich, it's almost caramel-like, adding that kick of sugary indulgence that no brunch is complete without.
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Yutaka's take on the viral crispy rice and spicy tuna offers a contrast in texture and temperature.
Sara Crocker

Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna at Yutaka Japanese Restaurant

751 E. Bell Road, #9
Crispy rice and spicy tuna is a dish that gained popularity when renowned Chef Nobu Matsuhisa added a version to the menu of his Nobu restaurants. It has endured thanks to copycat recipes going viral on social media. During a visit for lunch at Yutaka, a sushi and ramen spot in north Phoenix, it was something we had to try. Squares of sushi rice are pan fried to a golden crisp and topped with a generous scoop of spicy tuna. The contrast in texture and temperature makes for a surprising bite. Spicy chile sauce and aioli add layers to the heat. Like Yutaka's other dishes, the portion size is generous, so this is a great starter to share or keep to yourself as a full meal.
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