Weekend Eats

Three New Restaurants to Try Right Now in Greater Phoenix

Hot chicken is here.
Hot chicken is here. Chris Malloy
We know, there's a lot going on with the Valley's restaurant scene. In February along, 26 restaurants (and probably more) opened around the Phoenix area, and more have followed in March. But with all those recommendations, cafe reviews, and amazing food photos floating around, it's hard to pin down exactly what place you'd like to try this weekend.

So we'll help you out. Here are three new restaurants to try this weekend.

Nashville-style hot chicken lands in Phoenix. - CHRIS MALLOY
Nashville-style hot chicken lands in Phoenix.
Chris Malloy
Cafe Review: Little Miss BBQ 2.0
8901 North Seventh Street
Opened in 2014, Little Miss BBQ is handily the best barbecue joint in town. The owner, Scott Holmes, a former hobbyist smoker with classical culinary training, serves barbecue in the central Texas tradition: using muted rubs, emphasizing beef, papering brisket, serving meat naked, and so on. After protracted construction, Little Miss opened its Sunnyslope location in late 2018. The new Little Miss is counter service: You order, somebody keys an iPad, and food comes to your table. Some vitality is lost in the new setup. The pulled pork, sausage, and ribs are all about what they are at the original location. That is to say, they are succulent and allow a low current of smoke to embellish the meat.

Cioppini, swordfish crudo, and a grassy cocktail at Bar Pesce. - JACKIE MERCANDETTI
Cioppini, swordfish crudo, and a grassy cocktail at Bar Pesce.
Jackie Mercandetti
Cafe Review: Bar Pesce
3603 East Indian School Road
One of the more fun and daring menus in town can be found at Bar Pesce, called Crudo until late 2018. After six years of serving fish-forward modern Italian from the back of an Arcadia strip mall, chef Cullen Campbell decided to stay put physically but veer culinarily from Italian roots to other seacoasts of the world, namely Asia. And so in Bar Pesce, a restaurant evolved a step from its antecedent, you see, in the dim light of tall rooms, under music wrenching from club-like to down-tempo, some highly intriguing menu options. Pork belly with XO sauce. Shrimp crudo with yuzu in an Italian tonnato (tuna cream) sauce. Pig head. Gnocchi with snails. As at Crudo, drinks are strong. The bar program has been jazzed with 10 new cocktails. A grassy concoction of gin and parsley, Parsley My Fault, tastes ultra-fresh and nicely balanced, with the herb’s peppery essence boldly leading the way. Bar Pesce is a place to celebrate audacity, sip solid drinks, and eat a stellar dish or two.

[image-5] Cafe Review: Monroe's Hot Chicken
45 West Jefferson Street
Since at least last spring, it has been rumored that a Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant devoted to little but the cayenne-laced Music City classic would be opening in Phoenix. This month, the rumors passed from spoken words and read pixels to brick-and-mortar reality when Monroe’s Hot Chicken opened downtown. At Monroe's, you order on touch screens. You tap away, opting for a hot chicken sandwich or hot chicken over potato fries, or maybe a more fringe option like a sugared sandwich of hot chicken and waffles. The hottest chicken isn’t as hot as advertised. But hey, Nashville-style hot chicken has come to downtown Phoenix. The fryers are hot and so are the birds, and in an area that needs more lunch options. Incendiary or not, that can only be a good thing.
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo