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Hands reaching across with white plastic forks to lift whole shrimp from a white paper bowl surrounded by other similarly plated dishes of olives, scallops, and salad.
A meal at Pa’La Downtown.
Pa’La Downtown

The 14 Hottest New Restaurants in Phoenix Right Now

From innovative Arab-Cambodian cuisine to stellar Sonoran grilling to a wood-fired Italian menu with Asian influences, here’s where to eat now in the Valley of the Sun

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A meal at Pa’La Downtown.
| Pa’La Downtown

Phoenix is at the nexus of one of the fastest-growing counties in America. As the city has changed, the restaurant scene has evolved too, driven largely by homegrown restaurants expanding to new locations and treating diners to new concepts.

Once a land of citrus and steaks, the metro area has become an engaging home to a diverse range of cuisines. In the sprawling desert city and its surrounding towns, notable recent openings have landed all over the gastronomic map.

As it continues to grow, morph, and expand, metro Phoenix constantly surprises diners with new places to eat and drink. Here are the restaurants to get excited about as the local food scene starts to navigate the post-pandemic age of eating.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Thaily's

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444 E Chandler Blvd ste 1
Chandler, AZ 85225
(480) 927-3865
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Early this year, Lee and Thai Kamber opened one of the more freewheeling restaurants in the East Valley. A true mom and pop operation, their food is primarily Cambodian with an Arab influence, reflecting the owners’ backgrounds. But they also channel other culinary traditions with joy and zero restraint. They shave gyro, bake naan, fold banh xeo. On the Cambodian end of the menu, the Kambers prepare lok lak — peppered beef salad with thinly sliced tomato, egg, and onion. They also stew salaw machu tart with tamarind. For dessert expect options like pistachio baklava and Cambodian snow cones.

2. Que Chevere

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142 W Main St
Mesa, AZ 85201
(480) 474-4954
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Orvid Cutler and Maria Fernanda, known for their Venezuelan food truck, opened a brick-and-mortar spot in rising downtown Mesa last summer. Arepas are a highlight at Que Chevere, griddled and filled with shredded beef, chicken, or beans, but the kitchen does far more. Cutler and Fernanda assemble a hefty patacon, a sandwich of beef, serrano peppers, and cheese with fried-together plantains as “bread.” They fold and stuff cachapa, a thick, fragrant corn pancake spilling queso mano. Empanadas, garlicky black beans, and spiral tequenos (rolled by hand every morning) fill tables in the casual space, where diners nod to tunes and sip tropical cocktails. Come the lunch, brunch, and dinner hours. Que Chevere is open for dine-in or takeout.

3. Elements

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5700 E McDonald Dr
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
(855) 245-2051
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Former Talavera chef Samantha Sanz has rejoined the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort’s Element kitchen, bolstering the program led by executive chef and Food Network regular Beau MacMillan. Sanz, a two-time James Beard Award nominee, leads the kitchen on a more day-to-day basis. Dishes feature unlikely flavor combinations like soy caramel and escargot, beets and pistachio-mint chimichurri. New American with a focus on high-flying, meat-and-fish-forward entrees, this resort restaurant is a special occasion splurge, from wagyu dumplings to lobster risotto with chanterelles. The dim, swank Jade Bar, long one of the valley’s best, has gotten a boost with the addition of bartender Christiaan Rollich from Los Angeles’s A.O.C. and Lucques. Elements is open for dine-in.

4. Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion

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2501 E Telawa Trail
Phoenix, AZ 85016
(602) 522-2344
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In a time when American dining has largely moved past France, James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross keeps Phoenix’s diners hungry for tatin and pate. Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion is housed in a 90-year-old manor with desert valley views where Gross plates bistro fare like red pepper soup and hangar steak for lunch. Weeknights, he cooks classics from his long career in the Valley: dishes like foie gras terrine and duck two ways. The main event is an imaginative weekend tasting menu, which costs $250 a pop; courses have names like “liberty duck, crispy black angel hair, truffles, and bao (sort of)” and “spoonful of the sea.”

5. Tru Tacos

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4041 E Thomas Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 486-3141
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The patio of Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe in Arcadia has morphed into a three-night-a-week taco pop-up. Tru Tacos is headed by Justine and Misael Trujillo. A small menu of tacos and a few sides includes the usual suspects, namely carne asada, lengua, and al pastor carved off a hot trompo. The duo also does a taco that combines al pastor and nopales, as well as one heaped with nothing but slivered cactus pads. They work prickly pear powder into some tortillas, tinting them pink, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into others, turning them blood-red. Specials like pozole (from an old family recipe, like many of the tacos) and a poblano-cream taco rotate in. The margaritas are juice-forward and sneakily drinkable. Tru Tacos is open for dine-in or takeout.

6. Kabob Grill N Go

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3050 N 16th St
Phoenix, AZ 85016
(602) 607-5272
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Armenian-style meats and vegetables turned over a charcoal grill are Kabob Grill ‘N Go’s calling card. Loaded metal spits lean in long clusters under a glass display case in Hasmik and Tony Chilingaryan’s shop before getting sizzled and charred. Deeply browned meats and craggily blistered peppers and tomatoes come over basmati rice in metal tins. Pork ribs are deboned and strung onto kabobs. Whole Cornish hens are broken down and strung up, too. This casual eatery has won a loyal following for its family platters; lunch regulars come for the ground-pork-and-beef koobideh and shirazi salads of cucumber, tomato, red onion, and lime juice. Kabob Grill ‘N Go is open for dine-in or takeout.

7. Chantico Mexican Restaurant Phoenix

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1051 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85014
(602) 699-3015
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Walter Sterling and the crew from Ocotillo are cooking their take on Mexican food in a lofty space with several patios and distinct rooms including a main dining chamber overlooking Camelback Road. Dishes pull widely from Mexico’s many regions and get creative touches. Cochinita pibil comes with a rainbow of pickled vegetables. Ribs with quince glaze are jolted with salsa macha. Mole negro drowns duck leg with roasted orange. A deep menu ranges from large to small plates to all kinds of tortilla-based specialties: tacos (hard and soft), flautas, quesadillas, and enchiladas. The cocktail list is aptly agave-heavy. Chantico is open for dine-in or takeout.

An overhead shot of three deep fried tacos on a plate next to cups of gauc and sour cream. A large goblet filled with sangria and a twirly green straw is off to the side. Diana Brandt/Chantico [Official photo]

8. Belly Kitchen and Bar

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4971 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 296-4452
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The first opening from Instrumental Hospitality celebrates Southeast Asian-influenced food and drink. In a 7th Avenue kitchen that only recently opened to dine-in, chef Michael Babcock channels his love for countries like Vietnam, building pizza on grilled rice paper, bunning a torta-banh-mi hybrid, and sizzling jackfruit fried rice. Many dishes have ample riffing, while others keep it more traditional as in the case of Babcock’s spring rolls and pho ga. Cocktails veer in a deeply creative direction. Far removed from classics, they braid in Thai basil, lemongrass, turmeric, and other ingredients popular Southeast Asian ingredients. Belly is open for dine-in and takeout.

9. Valentine

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4130 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 612-2961
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Phoenix’s Melrose District is home to one of the most novel Arizona-centric restaurants in town. With blond woods, leather upholstered chairs, and accents that are seemingly 11,000 shades of brown, Valentine sets a mid-century vibe anchored in the 48th state by its art, food, and drink. The beverage program here is experimental: Lattes are swirled with heirloom squash, chiltepin, pink corn, and other regional ingredients. Desert-centric tinctures like cactus vermouth power cocktails, which bear the signature of co-owner Blaise Faber. Much of the rugged-yet-refined food by chef Donald Hawk has seen the smoke or flames of mesquite fire. Breakfast dishes include a churro waffle and steak and eggs; dinner “elote” pasta and Anasazi bean dip. For dessert, there’s nopales semifreddo. Valentine is currently open for dine-in and takeout (ordered in-store).

10. Character Distinctive Dining

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218 E Portland St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 675-4069
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Peter Kasperski, well-respected for his wine knowledge, has had a hand in canonical Valley restaurants such as now-closed Cowboy Ciao. He, alongside chef Justin Hauska, recently brought Character to life on Portland Street. A New American menu trots nimbly across the globe, focusing on Europe with apricot-fennel mostarda, port aspic, Spanish chorizo, and so on. Mains are higher priced and have something of a 20th-century opulence not often found downtown, including venison loin in beurre rouge and lamb rack with a rub of sumac and urfa chiles. A robust “snacks” selection offers artichokes, octopus, house-cured charcuterie, and more bites made for side-kicking wine and other beverages. Character is open for dine-in service.

11. Stoop Kid

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901 N 1st St Ste 107
Phoenix, AZ 85004

This limited breakfast-and-lunch counter inside of the Churchill does bagels and sandwiches. It isn’t a classic bagel spot, as Stoop Kid uses bagels made by a third party. It isn’t a sandwich shop either, because people stop by for early bagels with cream cheese and coffee — but the place has also developed a reputation for burgers. For both singles and doubles, thin charred patties overhang their brioche buns so far that their rims flop down and curl, almost like bucket hats. Melted cheddar and American drip down the sides. There are pickles, onions, and some basic condiments that vary based on the specific burger order. To some degree, Stoop Kid is a burger joint in disguise.  

12. Bacanora PHX

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1301 NW Grand Ave Unit 1
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602) 612-4018
Visit Website

Rene Andrade, a native of Nogales, Mexico, is preparing some of the most vibrant Sonoran food in greater Phoenix on a single Santa Maria-style grill fired with three kinds of wood. Most dishes see the hot grates — carne asada, octopus, finfish, half chickens, potatoes, elotes, even pots of plump pinto beans. Tonging tome-thick steaks and squeezing lime over chiltepin-flecked aguachiles, Andrade glances up to greet diners streaming into his tiny dining room on Grand Avenue. He approaches caramelos and burritos with the technique and rigor of a veteran chef, yet they remain homestyle. And yes, a limited cocktail menu mixes in plenty of bacanora. 

13. Pa'La Downtown

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132 E Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 368-3052
Visit Website

The second Pa’La location aims beyond the Italian-leaning sandwiches, bowls, tapas, and fish dishes of the Claudio Urciuoli’s first. Breads are still masterful. The food is still radically simple, often made with ingredients from esoteric Italian producers and treated minimally or not at all. But now, Urciuoli veers more into pizza, pasta, fregola, and kindred staples. At Pa’La downtown, Jason Alford, who oversees the kitchen, introduces Asian touches that lend a new complexity: a tart smear of apple-miso below simply seared scallops, a white pizza with poblano peppers and roasted corn touched with togarashi. 

14. Kaizen PHX

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515 E Grant St #100
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 432-0752
Visit Website

Inside the Galvanize co-working complex in downtown Phoenix, Kaizen operates out of the same kitchen as the Larry, a wide-ranging casual American restaurant. Though billed as a sushi spot, Kaizen focuses on raw fish broadly. Chef Gustavo Munoz wades into seafood traditions of North and South America, plating octopus tiradito and scallop aguachiles with improvisational flair. The bulk of the menu, however, is as Japanese as advertised. It ranges beyond raw fish preparations a bit and into territory like karaage and katsu. Temaki, nigiri, sashimi, and specialty maki abound. Get the best of many worlds by ordering omakase. Kaizen is open for dine-in and takeout.

1. Thaily's

444 E Chandler Blvd ste 1, Chandler, AZ 85225

Early this year, Lee and Thai Kamber opened one of the more freewheeling restaurants in the East Valley. A true mom and pop operation, their food is primarily Cambodian with an Arab influence, reflecting the owners’ backgrounds. But they also channel other culinary traditions with joy and zero restraint. They shave gyro, bake naan, fold banh xeo. On the Cambodian end of the menu, the Kambers prepare lok lak — peppered beef salad with thinly sliced tomato, egg, and onion. They also stew salaw machu tart with tamarind. For dessert expect options like pistachio baklava and Cambodian snow cones.

444 E Chandler Blvd ste 1
Chandler, AZ 85225

2. Que Chevere

142 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201

Orvid Cutler and Maria Fernanda, known for their Venezuelan food truck, opened a brick-and-mortar spot in rising downtown Mesa last summer. Arepas are a highlight at Que Chevere, griddled and filled with shredded beef, chicken, or beans, but the kitchen does far more. Cutler and Fernanda assemble a hefty patacon, a sandwich of beef, serrano peppers, and cheese with fried-together plantains as “bread.” They fold and stuff cachapa, a thick, fragrant corn pancake spilling queso mano. Empanadas, garlicky black beans, and spiral tequenos (rolled by hand every morning) fill tables in the casual space, where diners nod to tunes and sip tropical cocktails. Come the lunch, brunch, and dinner hours. Que Chevere is open for dine-in or takeout.

142 W Main St
Mesa, AZ 85201

3. Elements

5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

Former Talavera chef Samantha Sanz has rejoined the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort’s Element kitchen, bolstering the program led by executive chef and Food Network regular Beau MacMillan. Sanz, a two-time James Beard Award nominee, leads the kitchen on a more day-to-day basis. Dishes feature unlikely flavor combinations like soy caramel and escargot, beets and pistachio-mint chimichurri. New American with a focus on high-flying, meat-and-fish-forward entrees, this resort restaurant is a special occasion splurge, from wagyu dumplings to lobster risotto with chanterelles. The dim, swank Jade Bar, long one of the valley’s best, has gotten a boost with the addition of bartender Christiaan Rollich from Los Angeles’s A.O.C. and Lucques. Elements is open for dine-in.

5700 E McDonald Dr
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

4. Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion

2501 E Telawa Trail, Phoenix, AZ 85016

In a time when American dining has largely moved past France, James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross keeps Phoenix’s diners hungry for tatin and pate. Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion is housed in a 90-year-old manor with desert valley views where Gross plates bistro fare like red pepper soup and hangar steak for lunch. Weeknights, he cooks classics from his long career in the Valley: dishes like foie gras terrine and duck two ways. The main event is an imaginative weekend tasting menu, which costs $250 a pop; courses have names like “liberty duck, crispy black angel hair, truffles, and bao (sort of)” and “spoonful of the sea.”

2501 E Telawa Trail
Phoenix, AZ 85016

5. Tru Tacos

4041 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

The patio of Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe in Arcadia has morphed into a three-night-a-week taco pop-up. Tru Tacos is headed by Justine and Misael Trujillo. A small menu of tacos and a few sides includes the usual suspects, namely carne asada, lengua, and al pastor carved off a hot trompo. The duo also does a taco that combines al pastor and nopales, as well as one heaped with nothing but slivered cactus pads. They work prickly pear powder into some tortillas, tinting them pink, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into others, turning them blood-red. Specials like pozole (from an old family recipe, like many of the tacos) and a poblano-cream taco rotate in. The margaritas are juice-forward and sneakily drinkable. Tru Tacos is open for dine-in or takeout.

4041 E Thomas Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85018

6. Kabob Grill N Go

3050 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

Armenian-style meats and vegetables turned over a charcoal grill are Kabob Grill ‘N Go’s calling card. Loaded metal spits lean in long clusters under a glass display case in Hasmik and Tony Chilingaryan’s shop before getting sizzled and charred. Deeply browned meats and craggily blistered peppers and tomatoes come over basmati rice in metal tins. Pork ribs are deboned and strung onto kabobs. Whole Cornish hens are broken down and strung up, too. This casual eatery has won a loyal following for its family platters; lunch regulars come for the ground-pork-and-beef koobideh and shirazi salads of cucumber, tomato, red onion, and lime juice. Kabob Grill ‘N Go is open for dine-in or takeout.

3050 N 16th St
Phoenix, AZ 85016

7. Chantico Mexican Restaurant Phoenix

1051 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014
An overhead shot of three deep fried tacos on a plate next to cups of gauc and sour cream. A large goblet filled with sangria and a twirly green straw is off to the side. Diana Brandt/Chantico [Official photo]

Walter Sterling and the crew from Ocotillo are cooking their take on Mexican food in a lofty space with several patios and distinct rooms including a main dining chamber overlooking Camelback Road. Dishes pull widely from Mexico’s many regions and get creative touches. Cochinita pibil comes with a rainbow of pickled vegetables. Ribs with quince glaze are jolted with salsa macha. Mole negro drowns duck leg with roasted orange. A deep menu ranges from large to small plates to all kinds of tortilla-based specialties: tacos (hard and soft), flautas, quesadillas, and enchiladas. The cocktail list is aptly agave-heavy. Chantico is open for dine-in or takeout.

1051 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85014

8. Belly Kitchen and Bar

4971 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

The first opening from Instrumental Hospitality celebrates Southeast Asian-influenced food and drink. In a 7th Avenue kitchen that only recently opened to dine-in, chef Michael Babcock channels his love for countries like Vietnam, building pizza on grilled rice paper, bunning a torta-banh-mi hybrid, and sizzling jackfruit fried rice. Many dishes have ample riffing, while others keep it more traditional as in the case of Babcock’s spring rolls and pho ga. Cocktails veer in a deeply creative direction. Far removed from classics, they braid in Thai basil, lemongrass, turmeric, and other ingredients popular Southeast Asian ingredients. Belly is open for dine-in and takeout.

4971 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013

9. Valentine

4130 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

Phoenix’s Melrose District is home to one of the most novel Arizona-centric restaurants in town. With blond woods, leather upholstered chairs, and accents that are seemingly 11,000 shades of brown, Valentine sets a mid-century vibe anchored in the 48th state by its art, food, and drink. The beverage program here is experimental: Lattes are swirled with heirloom squash, chiltepin, pink corn, and other regional ingredients. Desert-centric tinctures like cactus vermouth power cocktails, which bear the signature of co-owner Blaise Faber. Much of the rugged-yet-refined food by chef Donald Hawk has seen the smoke or flames of mesquite fire. Breakfast dishes include a churro waffle and steak and eggs; dinner “elote” pasta and Anasazi bean dip. For dessert, there’s nopales semifreddo. Valentine is currently open for dine-in and takeout (ordered in-store).

4130 N 7th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013

10. Character Distinctive Dining

218 E Portland St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Peter Kasperski, well-respected for his wine knowledge, has had a hand in canonical Valley restaurants such as now-closed Cowboy Ciao. He, alongside chef Justin Hauska, recently brought Character to life on Portland Street. A New American menu trots nimbly across the globe, focusing on Europe with apricot-fennel mostarda, port aspic, Spanish chorizo, and so on. Mains are higher priced and have something of a 20th-century opulence not often found downtown, including venison loin in beurre rouge and lamb rack with a rub of sumac and urfa chiles. A robust “snacks” selection offers artichokes, octopus, house-cured charcuterie, and more bites made for side-kicking wine and other beverages. Character is open for dine-in service.

218 E Portland St
Phoenix, AZ 85004

11. Stoop Kid

901 N 1st St Ste 107, Phoenix, AZ 85004

This limited breakfast-and-lunch counter inside of the Churchill does bagels and sandwiches. It isn’t a classic bagel spot, as Stoop Kid uses bagels made by a third party. It isn’t a sandwich shop either, because people stop by for early bagels with cream cheese and coffee — but the place has also developed a reputation for burgers. For both singles and doubles, thin charred patties overhang their brioche buns so far that their rims flop down and curl, almost like bucket hats. Melted cheddar and American drip down the sides. There are pickles, onions, and some basic condiments that vary based on the specific burger order. To some degree, Stoop Kid is a burger joint in disguise.  

901 N 1st St Ste 107
Phoenix, AZ 85004

12. Bacanora PHX

1301 NW Grand Ave Unit 1, Phoenix, AZ 85007

Rene Andrade, a native of Nogales, Mexico, is preparing some of the most vibrant Sonoran food in greater Phoenix on a single Santa Maria-style grill fired with three kinds of wood. Most dishes see the hot grates — carne asada, octopus, finfish, half chickens, potatoes, elotes, even pots of plump pinto beans. Tonging tome-thick steaks and squeezing lime over chiltepin-flecked aguachiles, Andrade glances up to greet diners streaming into his tiny dining room on Grand Avenue. He approaches caramelos and burritos with the technique and rigor of a veteran chef, yet they remain homestyle. And yes, a limited cocktail menu mixes in plenty of bacanora. 

1301 NW Grand Ave Unit 1
Phoenix, AZ 85007

13. Pa'La Downtown

132 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

The second Pa’La location aims beyond the Italian-leaning sandwiches, bowls, tapas, and fish dishes of the Claudio Urciuoli’s first. Breads are still masterful. The food is still radically simple, often made with ingredients from esoteric Italian producers and treated minimally or not at all. But now, Urciuoli veers more into pizza, pasta, fregola, and kindred staples. At Pa’La downtown, Jason Alford, who oversees the kitchen, introduces Asian touches that lend a new complexity: a tart smear of apple-miso below simply seared scallops, a white pizza with poblano peppers and roasted corn touched with togarashi. 

132 E Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85004

14. Kaizen PHX

515 E Grant St #100, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Inside the Galvanize co-working complex in downtown Phoenix, Kaizen operates out of the same kitchen as the Larry, a wide-ranging casual American restaurant. Though billed as a sushi spot, Kaizen focuses on raw fish broadly. Chef Gustavo Munoz wades into seafood traditions of North and South America, plating octopus tiradito and scallop aguachiles with improvisational flair. The bulk of the menu, however, is as Japanese as advertised. It ranges beyond raw fish preparations a bit and into territory like karaage and katsu. Temaki, nigiri, sashimi, and specialty maki abound. Get the best of many worlds by ordering omakase. Kaizen is open for dine-in and takeout.

515 E Grant St #100
Phoenix, AZ 85004

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