Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
6: Wining and Dining at FnB
FnB's influence on the local food and drink scene has been so great, it's easy to forget sometimes that the restaurant has not yet been open a full decade. From its early years, operating out of a small space on Stetson Drive in Scottsdale, the restaurant felt purposeful in its mission to expand the possibilities of what you might expect from a bowl of locally grown vegetables, and to turn the focus on Arizona terroir in a way that has helped nurture and bring national attention to locavore culture in metro Phoenix.
The menu shifts with the season, although you can depend on certain things, like the restaurant's signature butterscotch pudding for dessert. On any given night, though, chef Charleen Badman might be preparing globally influenced small plates like turnips seasoned with piri piri; fried cauliflower served with fish sauce; or maybe okra touched with some Greek yogurt. The best kind of dish at FnB is often surprising, inventive, and satisfying in a way that you never would have imagined.
In national food circles, FnB is often highlighted in the context of Pavle Milic's Arizona-centric wine program. The FnB co-owner and beverage guru created a wine list a few years ago that has been deeply influential in spreading the word about (and love for) Arizona "grape juice." Milic even has a label of his own, Los Milics, which is available at the restaurant.
Developing a wine list centered around Arizona wine was no small risk a few years ago, but it was a risk that helped the restaurant earn its first James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for Outstanding Wine Program this year. So, to really drive home the point, if you have even the most casual interest in exploring the possibilities of Arizona wine, a visit to FnB is required.
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FnB in many ways has helped bring Arizona food and drink to a national stage, and even if a Beard Award has not yet been enshrined at Craftsman Court, there is no shortage of love for the restaurant here at home.
The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George’s Kitchen.
44: Spinach & Cheese Chimi Burro at Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant.
43: Dinner at Rustler's Rooste.
42: Gyro Omelet at Mel's Diner.
41: Zipps Wings at Zipps Sports Grill.
40: Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa.
39: Asian Nachos at Moto.
38: Olive Oil Tasting at Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill.
37: Baby Back Ribs at Don & Charlie's.
36: Limoncello at Cibo.
35: Chili Salt Chicken Wings at Asian Café Express.
34: Smoked Prime Rib at Texaz.
33: Steak Salad at Feeney's.
32: Tasting Menu at Kai Restaurant.
31: Toffee Banofi Sundae at Sweet Republic.
30: Big Jim at Welcome Diner.
29: Sonoran Hot Dog at El Caprichoso.
28: Sashimi at Nobuo at Teeter House.
27: Oysters at Casey Moore's Oyster House.
26: Spring rolls at Da Vang.
25: Bruschetta and wine at Postino.
24: Hot green chili fry bread at Fry Bread House.
23: The Big One at The Chuckbox.
22: Cahuamanta Stew at Cahuamanta El Yaqui.
21: Dim Sum at Great Wall Cuisine.
20: Fried chicken at The Horny Toad.
19: George & Dragon’s Famous Fish & Chips.
18: Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches at Pho 43rd Express.
17: Cerreta Candy Co. Factory Tour & Candy Sampling in Downtown Glendale.
16: Steak Dinner at The Stockyards.
15: Margarita + Guacamole del Barrio at Barrio Cafe.
14: BBQ Plate at Joe's Real BBQ.
13: Fried Chicken & Pork Chops from Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe.
12: Breakfast Burrito at Yucca Tap Room.
11: Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies at Super Chunk.
10: Doro Wat at Cafe Lalibela.
9: Lunch at Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli.
8: The Chef's Counter at Posh.
7: Flour tortillas and machaca at Carolina's.