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Elote.
Bacanora

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Phoenix

Where to go now for plate-sized fry bread, uni-oyster shooters, filet mignon-stuffed tortelloni, and fancy Indian chaat.

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Elote.
| Bacanora

Although the metro Phoenix food scene naturally took a hit during the pandemic, it has been coming roaring back in recent years, offering more and better choices for memorable dining in just about every category.

The city has managed to keep distinguished old-timers such as Durant’s (for steaks), Great Wall (for dim sum), Haji Baba (for Middle Eastern), and Marcellino’s (for pasta), while adding exciting newcomers to our roster. These days, there are destination mom-and-pops (Confluence in Carefree), sophisticated neighborhood joints (Latin-influenced Vecina), regional Mexican (Casa Corazon), sigh-inducing omakase (Hai Noon), and dazzling fine dining restaurants (Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion). And that’s just a snapshot of what the Valley has to offer. Take a look. There’s a lot to like — and joyously eat.

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Confluence

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Husband-and-wife team Brandon and Victoria Gauthier do it all at their small, comfortable American bistro in Carefree, where Gauthier applies classical techniques to global ingredients, incorporating rare fish, wagyu beef cheek, cockscombs, and frog legs into a menu that walks the line between casual and fancy. Come for soup, salad, fried chicken, or a burger at lunch (all of them surprisingly sophisticated) or something more luxurious at dinner. There’s no better bang for the buck in town.

Six golden breaded and fried frog legs over Parmesan risotto dotted with deep green chunks of asparagus and caper spheres.
Crispy frog legs with Parmesan risotto, Meyer lemon, asparagus, and capers.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Bánh Mì Bistro Vietnamese Eatery

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There’s no pho at this friendly Vietnamese fast-casual restaurant, but the moderately priced bun bowls and banh mi rank among the best in town. For starters, try cha gio, fresh spring rolls, potstickers, or pork belly bao buns, and don’t miss excellent Vietnamese iced coffee or a smoothie whirled with taro, avocado, coconut, or various fruits.

Hush Public House

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Chef and owner Dom Ruggiero turns out the kind of sophisticated, satisfying American comfort food that keeps customers coming back on the regular. Menu highlights include crab hush puppies, mafaldine with pork ragu, duck-fried rice, and a deliriously good riff on Chicago’s Italian beef sandwich, made with braised oxtail.

Andreoli Italian Grocer

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Chef Giovanni Scorzo has been turning out some of the city’s best Italian food for decades, long before he landed a James Beard nomination for Best Chef Southwest in 2022. Though imported meats, cheeses, and other ingredients line shelves and fill cases in this casual, old-world-style restaurant, most people come for Scorzo’s ridiculously good dishes, including sandwiches, a rotating list of pastas, his own burrata and salumi, bistecca alla Fiorentina, freshly baked bread and beautiful desserts, Order the exquisitely rich gnocchi alla Romana if it’s available.

Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion

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Perched on the edge of a hilltop and attached to the graceful, 90-year-old Wrigley Mansion, Christopher’s is the city’s most dazzling restaurant. Minimalist and modern without being cold, the dramatic dining room offers 180-degree views of the city, an experience upstaged only by James Beard award-winning chef Christopher Gross’s modern French cooking. The prix fixe, eight-course tasting menu (starting at $275 per person) is a two- or three-hour fete of opulent ingredients, filled with surprises in service and presentation. Wine pairings run an additional $230 per person, which is pricy, no doubt, but Christopher’s and Wrigley Mansion share one of the biggest and best wine cellars in the state.

Hana Japanese Eatery

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Lori Hashimoto’s family-style Japanese restaurant covers a lot of ground: sushi, katsu, tempura, noodles, nabe, and other deftly prepared classics. The restaurant is famous for its fried oysters, grilled squid, hamachi kama, and sake-steamed seabass, as well as Hashimoto’s signature oyster shooter — uni and a quail egg — downed in one go. This former BYOB now offers Japanese beer and sake, including a shochu-fortified house sake crafted by Hiroko Yokohama, one of a growing number of woman sake masters in Japan.

A look down at a bowl filled with oyster, uni, raw quail egg yolk in bright orange. A thin brown sauce sits at the bottom of the bowl.
Oyster, uni shooter with quail egg at Hana in Phoenix.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Chula Seafood Uptown

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What started for the Heflin family as a sustainable commercial fishing operation in San Diego with a boat named Chula has become a mini seafood empire here in metro Phoenix, composed of three Valley outlets. Each store contains both a fish market and a restaurant, the latter offering bacon-studded clam chowder, poke bowls, sushi, smoked fish platters, Hatch chile tuna melts, and a legendary burrito stuffed with fresh fish, fries, and guacamole. Plan a trip around a rotating selection of daily specials, which vary by location.

A plate filled with various foods.
Chula’s inspired take on the Hawaiian plate lunch.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Fry Bread House

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Fry Bread House has more than 20 years under its belt as a metro Phoenix dining staple. The James Beard Award America’s Classics winner specializes in Indigenous preparations of stews, tamales, and hand-stretched, plate-sized fry bread served puffy, golden brown, and faintly greasy. Filled with meat, beans, cheese, and various other savory combos, each fry bread is folded like a giant taco. Of course, there’s plenty of sweet fry bread, too — honey with powdered sugar and chocolate with butter, for example — all profoundly satisfying. Its founder, the late Cecelia Miller, used the Tohono O’odham recipes from her youth, including large, hand-stretched tortillas called chumuth, which accompany hearty stews and form the wraps for hefty burros.

Valentine

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This modern Southwestern restaurant and relaxed hangout, brought to life by owners Blaise Faber and Chad Price, offers innovative food, pastries, and beverages that never fail to impress. Faber’s cocktails combine regional ingredients such as cactus vermouth, Arizona gin, and creosote bitters, while lattes often include Southwestern ingredients such as squash, chiltepin, or cajeta. Chef Donald Hawk marries ingredients from his Korean ancestry with desert crops such as red fife wheat, heirloom squash, and tepary beans to create a style uniquely his own. Don’t miss whatever crudo he’s running at the moment or the smoked chicken with wheat berries and herb yogurt, a menu staple for good reason.

A white bowl filled with white hiramasa crudo with brown butter, raisin, and a pool of tomato vinaigrette.
Hiramasa crudo with brown butter, raisin, and tomato vinaigrette at Valentine.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Great Wall Cuisine

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Don’t be deterred by the rundown strip mall location. This cavernous and decidedly old-school Chinese restaurant is one of Phoenix’s best for classic Hong Kong-style dim sum. The requisite noodles, dumplings, buns, cakes, chicken feet, and spareribs are brought around on steam carts in endless succession. Be sure to try the restaurant’s famous shu mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings).

El Caprichoso Hot Dogs

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If Phoenix has a signature dish, it just might be the Sonoran hot dog; and yes, the irony is deep, given that Sonora is the Mexican state that borders Arizona. But they’re everywhere here, offered in dozens of permutations. Local enthusiasts generally agree that El Caprichoso turns out the very best of its kind, served from a truck until well after midnight. People gather at picnic tables under a giant tent to eat plump, charred dogs, wrapped in bacon, cradled in puffy griddled buns, and smothered in whole pintos, grilled onions, guacamole, salsa, cotija cheese, and generous squirts of ketchup and mustard.

Noble Eatery

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Jason Raducha, who founded artisan bakery Noble Bread, is also the brains behind this modern wood-fired deli, where his excellent breads are put to good use in sandwiches. The Caprese, tuna, and Italian sandwiches are menu staples, but creative daily specials are the superstars of the roster. There are salads, too, and a spectacular hummus combo involving spicy ’nduja, pickled vegetables, and charred pita. Get there early before items sell out, and be sure to take home a loaf of bread.

A plate of beige hummus topped with slices of pickled red onions and discs of orange carrots.
Hummus with pickled vegetables and ‘nduja at Noble Eatery.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Nelson's Meat + Fish

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Chris Nelson, who curates fresh seafood from around the world, has earned a reputation as the city’s best fishmonger. Besides snagging pristine retail fish for supper, customers drop by for a rotating selection of ready-made seafood dishes which might include poke, ceviche, chowder, salmon banh mi, or a lobster roll to rival any in New England. Don’t miss the oyster and raw fish platters, composed of whatever is fresh and on hand that day. Now there’s a second location in North Scottsdale.

Binkley’s Restaurant

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A night at Binkley’s is like no other dining experience in town. Unfolding in a small house with the laid-back vibe of a dinner party, the 10- to 12-course prix fixe meal — a heart-stopping run of perfectly executed, beautifully plated courses made with luxurious ingredients ($265 per person) — begins at the bar, where clever cocktails and pub food are dispensed, then moves outside to the terrace (weather permitting), and finally into the cozy dining room overlooking the exhibition kitchen. From this vantage, diners can watch Binkley do his thing or even wander into the kitchen to chat him up. Wine pairings are an additional $200 per person, while wagyu, caviar, and foie gras bumps range from $45-$126.

Glai Baan

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Twinkling with string lights, this cozy, brick-walled Thai restaurant in Central Phoenix is a beloved standby for chef-owner Cat Bunnag’s delicious take on Thai street food, and the specialties of her native Isan. Local favorites include steamed dumplings filled with local pork; mackerel fried rice; and PEI mussels, fragrant with lemongrass and chile jam. Start with outstanding cocktails, which incorporate Thai ingredients.

A plate of Thai minced pork (larb moo) dotted with toasted rice sits next to a wedge of fresh green cabbage on a white plate painted with maroon and yellow flowers.
Larb Moo — local minced pork with toasted rice, herbs, shallots, and lime dressing, wrapped in cabbage leaves.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Essence Bakery Cafe

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Owned and operated by French-trained pastry chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos and her French husband Gilles Combes (the friendly GM), this busy, minimalist cafe offers the city’s best croissants, pain au chocolat, and macarons, as well as wonderful brioche, tarts, cookies, and kouign amann (the latter, weekends only), Savory breakfast and lunch options include excellent scrambled eggs (enriched with cream, Dijon, and Parmesan), quiche Lorraine, luscious lemon-basil chicken salad, and (because Theodosopoulos is Greek) spanakopita.

Omelette with spinach, herbs, Dubliner cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes, sided by a rosemary-kalamata croissant.
An omelet and pastry from Essence Bakery Cafe.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Vecina means “neighbor” in Spanish, an apt name for this lively neighborhood hangout offering great cocktails and a range of Latin-influenced dishes. Menu highlights include Peruvian-style hiramasa ceviche; pork belly tacos; mesquite-grilled prime carne asada rib-eye; and an outrageous carnitas empanada, stuffed with Duroc pork confit and manchego cheese, then garnished with onion marmalade and salsa verde. Grab a seat at the bar for good people-watching.

An empanada on top of a deep green salsa. Yellow dots of smooth sauce on the side of it and fresh crumbles of white cheese and microgreens on top of it.
Carnitas empanada with Manchego, onion marmalade, and salsa verde at Vecina.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

FnB Restaurant

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For more than a decade, James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman has skillfully turned the Valley’s bounty into vegetable-rich plates drawing inspiration from a constellation of world cuisines. On her frequently changing seasonal menu, you might find socca (chickpea cakes, a specialty of Nice), Peruvian chicken spring rolls, or Hungarian potato bread, each dish enlivened with local ingredients and far-flung spices. Partner Pavle Milić echoes Badman’s local focus with a beverage menu that puts Arizona wines center stage.

Marcellino Ristorante

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Situated in the heart of Old Town, this intimate, softly lit Italian restaurant, which features live music Thursdays and Saturdays, has the vibe of an old-fashioned supper club. Although chef-owner Marcellino Verzino’s menu offers plenty of classics — Caprese, carpaccio, and gnocchi Sorrentino, for example — it doesn’t read like every other Italian restaurant in town. To really appreciate what this chef can do, order from the specialties section, where you’ll find tortelloni, stuffed with pureed filet mignon and bathed in butter sauce with black truffle shavings as well as thyme-infused pappardelle with red wine-splashed rabbit ragu.

Virtu Honest Craft

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Tucked inside the charming Bespoke Inn, chef-owner Gio Osso’s tiny, intimate Virtù turns out exceptional modern Italian food, including fabulous crudo, grilled octopus two ways (one prep involves Calabrian butter, the other burnt orange sherry glaze), and obscenely rich asparagus with feta crumbles, bacon candy, foie gras hollandaise, and an oozy duck egg. For a splurge, consider a multi-course price-fixe dinner for six ($150 per person), centered upon smoked and roasted suckling pig — which requires 72 hours notice. Everything else is a la carte. For dessert, affogato or an amari from Virtù’s vast selection satisfies. In good weather, the charming patio is the place to be.

Barrio Cafe

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The Mexican food scene in metro Phoenix can be divided into two eras: before Barrio Cafe’s opening in 2002, and after. Classically trained chef Silvana Salcido Esparza broke the mold, serving pre-dinner bread instead of the usual chips and salsa, while lightly applying French cooking techniques to preparations from all over Mexico — cochinita pibil from the Yucatán, nut-studded chiles en nogada from Puebla, fish from Veracruz, and silky moles from Oaxaca. The work of local Mexican artists fills the restaurant’s interior walls, while the building’s exterior swirls with colorful murals. Agave-based spirits are everywhere these days, but Barrio was the first restaurant in the area to offer a vast selection of them.

Durant's

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Jack Durant opened his eponymous pink stucco steakhouse in 1950, and none of the important things have changed much since. Customers still enter through the back door and walk through the kitchen to enter the dining room. The red flocked wallpaper still conjures a bordello, and Phoenix movers and shakers still drink martinis at the bar or slide into deep booths for dinner. The menu is much the same too, featuring shrimp cocktail, sauteed chicken livers, prime rib, and lots of steak. Don’t miss the legendary strawberry shortcake.

El Chullo Peruvian Restaurant & Bar

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Charming El Chullo remains one of the best Peruvian restaurants in town since opening in 2014. Here, owners Esperanza Luzcando and José Ramírez Sánchez dish out a range of well-executed classics. Look for seafood (ceviche and jalea), beef (lomo saltado and grilled beef hearts), tallarines (Peruvian-style spaghetti), causas (layered potato dishes), and the ubiquitous huancaína (creamy yellow pepper sauce) ladled over Peru’s favorite ingredient: potato. El Chullo’s newer, spiffier 7th Avenue location has a bigger menu, offering modern ceviches and appetizer platters that allow diners to try three dishes at once.

The Coronado PHX

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Housed in the former Tuck Shop space in the heart of the historic Coronado neighborhood, this comfy vegan restaurant offers locally brewed beer and coffee, garden-to-glass cocktails, and dishes with Mexican and Southwestern influences. Consider masa-battered and fried cauliflower tacos, black coffee chili and cornbread, or a beet and quinoa burger topped with poblano corn relish and crispy fried onions. 

Bacanora PHX

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Because Arizona borders the Mexican state of Sonora, Phoenicians have long assumed they know what’s what when it comes to Sonoran food. Then René Andrade opened his tiny, hot pink Grand Avenue restaurant and devoted it to all things Sonoran. He chars steak, local chicken, elote and just about everything else on a Santa Maria grill; sources local vegetables for light, beautiful salads; hauls up fiery chiltepins from his family’s ranch; and pours Sonora’s signature spirit — bacanora — in a dramatic, cinnamon-scented presentation of fire and smoke. He demonstrates that Sonoran cooking can be simple yet complex, rustic yet sophisticated, a regional cuisine this city is only beginning to fully appreciate.

A red clay bowl of beef birria topped with thinly sliced radish, chopped white onion, and minced cilantro.
Beef birria, a special at Bacanora in Phonenix.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Lom Wong

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Set in a historic bungalow in Roosevelt Row, Sunny and Alex Martin’s charming Thai eatery bears no resemblance to formulaic, Americanized Thai restaurants. Here, Sunny — who grew up in Northern Chiang Rai and borrowed recipes from family members — hand-pounds Thai red chiles to make curry and squeezes her own coconut milk rather than opening a can. The menu, which also features the seafood dishes of Thailand’s Moklen community, is universally wonderful, but don’t miss these: excellent Thai-influenced cocktails; yam mamuang boran (green mango salad with hand-torn shrimp); sai ua (charcoal-grilled sausage); and kaeng phet charinda (coconut beef curry with eggplant).

Pizzeria Bianco

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Chris Bianco, America’s best pizza maker, is meticulous about everything, sourcing (and sometimes even milling) flour blends, hand-shaping mozzarella, and topping pies with tomatoes from his own California label. His wood-fired pizza — a little Neapolitan, a little American, a lot Bianco — defies strict categorization, but the result is always a light, charred-at-the-edges crust, offering just the right amount of chew. An expanded menu at the Town & Country shopping center location also includes beautiful salads, excellent pasta, lush chicken cacciatore, and a rice pudding that zips you back to childhood. The tiny pizza shop spawned a mini-empire, which includes Italian restaurant Tratto (one of the city’s best modern Italians) as well as sandwich-and-salad gem Pane Bianco.

Welcome Diner

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This cheerful but deceptively sophisticated diner on Garfield takes cues from the South and Southwest alike, featuring buttermilk fried chicken tucked into homemade biscuits; a fried green tomato sandwich with corn relish and chipotle ranch; imaginative burgers; mac and cheese with a multitude of add-ons (including Brussels sprouts, chorizo, or jalapeno relish); and a dandy bourbon chocolate-pecan pie. It’s an all-day, half-the-night hangout covering breakfast, lunch, brunch, happy hour, and late night.

Mariscos Playa Hermosa

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The Maldonado family has been making the party happen for over 20 years at this cheerful, brightly colored cantina, which draws crowds for its excellent Mexican seafood and oversized, lavishly garnished bevvies. The huge menu features just about everything oceanic you can think of: raw oysters, fried calamari, ceviches, aguachiles, seafood soups, shrimp dishes of every description, lobster enchiladas, fried red snapper, tacos (the octopus are fantastic) on and on for pages and pages. The hard part is narrowing it down to one thing. By the way, there are turf options for the seafood-averse.

Little Miss BBQ-University

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Scott Holmes’s indoor-outdoor barbecue joint by the airport stars Central Texas-style meats — simple but sublime — cooked low and slow on giant offset smokers Holmes designed himself. Naturally, beef is king here, whether it’s fatty brisket, short rib, or pastrami, but everything is top-notch, including house-made sausage links, creamy mac and cheese, and smoked pecan pie. The larger satellite location on Seventh Street features an enclosed patio.

Cafe Lalibela Ethiopian Cuisine

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Cafe Lalibela is Phoenix’s longest running Ethiopian restaurant, a comfy classic with a top-notch reputation. Tangy discs of spongy injera serve as the delivery vehicle for soft, seasoned stews made with meats, lentils, split peas, and vegetables. Begin with small plates of kitfo (raw ground beef) or fried lamb, and check out the impressive Ethiopian coffee and tea on offer, a selection that includes clay pot brews.

Haji-Baba

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This Tempe restaurant and grocery has been serving Arizona State University and the surrounding community for decades, offering affordable Middle Eastern specialties such as tabbouleh, falafel, baba ghanoush, shawarma and kebabs, as well as gyros and other meats tucked into house-made pita. Several flavors of baklava, including pistachio and Arizona pecan, are available for dessert.

Tacos Chiwas

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Married couple Nadia Holguin and Armando Hernandez (Chihuahua natives, aka Chiwas) turn out excellent street tacos at their three Valley locations in Phoenix, Chandler, and Mesa. Order juicy barbacoa, their signature Taco Chiwas (filled with beef, ham, chiles and cheese), and the best tripas in town — all tucked in handmade corn tortillas. The pair have recently opened Cocina Chiwas in Tempe and Santo Arcadia in Phoenix’s South Arcadia. Both specialize in upscale, modern Mexican food.

Chou's Kitchen

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From their small, unpretentious Chandler restaurant, chef-owners Lulu Zhou and Sunny Zhao turn out the specialties of their native Liaoning Province in Northeastern China as well as popular dishes from other regions. Famous for their savory pies and juicy steamed pork dumplings (all hand-made), they also make ethereal tomato-flour ball soup (infinitely better than it sounds) and an earthy stir-fry of eggplant, potato and jalapeño.

Hai Noon

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James Beard award winner Nobuo Fukuda is back in action at this dimly lit bar and restaurant, which dispenses creative cocktails and eclectic small bites, founded upon Japanese culinary traditions. Try affordable nibbles (prices range from $10-$20) such as panko-fried tofu with green papaya curry; soft shell crab and rice noodle; and the best sunomono on the planet. His signature sashimi is here, and unforgettable omakase, priced at $200 per person, is available with advanced notice.

Feringhee Modern Indian Cuisine

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Head chef Karan Mittal uses eclectic ingredients — furikake, fennel pollen, tomatillo — and modern technique to reinvent the traditional dishes of India. The first section of the menu offers his delicious spin on chaat and Indian street food, while larger plates often honor regional Indian classics. Try a fancy cocktail as a preamble for food that is vibrant, elegant, and fun at the same time.

Casa Corazon Restaurant

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Housed in a former church, Javier Verdugo’s lovely Mexican restaurant — which boasts vaulted ceilings, paned windows, and corner frescos — turns out fantastic food with emphasis on the specialties of Southern Mexico. The menu offers mainstream standbys such as burritos and enchiladas (try the latter enrobed in the restaurant’s famous beet sauce) as well as cochinita pibil, mole, and a wonderful steak Mexicano, served with nopales and onion. Order excellent tacos during Happy Hour, then hit the extensive salsa bar.

Kai Restaurant

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The only restaurant in Phoenix with five diamonds from AAA and five stars from Forbes, Kai (which means “seed” in the Pima language) sits in the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass on Gila River Community land. Its expanse of windows overlooks the desert and its menu is rife with Native American-influenced dishes and Indigenous ingredients — many grown by the community on nearby land. Here, local products are transformed into elegant representations of the diverse culinary cultures of the Southwest. Case in point: grilled tenderloin of American Bison served with 60-day corn puree, oxtail and scarlet runner bean cassoulet, cholla buds, and saguaro blossom syrup. For the full experience, opt for the multi-course tasting menu ($185 per person, $330 per person with wine pairings).

Confluence

Husband-and-wife team Brandon and Victoria Gauthier do it all at their small, comfortable American bistro in Carefree, where Gauthier applies classical techniques to global ingredients, incorporating rare fish, wagyu beef cheek, cockscombs, and frog legs into a menu that walks the line between casual and fancy. Come for soup, salad, fried chicken, or a burger at lunch (all of them surprisingly sophisticated) or something more luxurious at dinner. There’s no better bang for the buck in town.

Six golden breaded and fried frog legs over Parmesan risotto dotted with deep green chunks of asparagus and caper spheres.
Crispy frog legs with Parmesan risotto, Meyer lemon, asparagus, and capers.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Bánh Mì Bistro Vietnamese Eatery

There’s no pho at this friendly Vietnamese fast-casual restaurant, but the moderately priced bun bowls and banh mi rank among the best in town. For starters, try cha gio, fresh spring rolls, potstickers, or pork belly bao buns, and don’t miss excellent Vietnamese iced coffee or a smoothie whirled with taro, avocado, coconut, or various fruits.

Hush Public House

Chef and owner Dom Ruggiero turns out the kind of sophisticated, satisfying American comfort food that keeps customers coming back on the regular. Menu highlights include crab hush puppies, mafaldine with pork ragu, duck-fried rice, and a deliriously good riff on Chicago’s Italian beef sandwich, made with braised oxtail.

Andreoli Italian Grocer

Chef Giovanni Scorzo has been turning out some of the city’s best Italian food for decades, long before he landed a James Beard nomination for Best Chef Southwest in 2022. Though imported meats, cheeses, and other ingredients line shelves and fill cases in this casual, old-world-style restaurant, most people come for Scorzo’s ridiculously good dishes, including sandwiches, a rotating list of pastas, his own burrata and salumi, bistecca alla Fiorentina, freshly baked bread and beautiful desserts, Order the exquisitely rich gnocchi alla Romana if it’s available.

Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion

Perched on the edge of a hilltop and attached to the graceful, 90-year-old Wrigley Mansion, Christopher’s is the city’s most dazzling restaurant. Minimalist and modern without being cold, the dramatic dining room offers 180-degree views of the city, an experience upstaged only by James Beard award-winning chef Christopher Gross’s modern French cooking. The prix fixe, eight-course tasting menu (starting at $275 per person) is a two- or three-hour fete of opulent ingredients, filled with surprises in service and presentation. Wine pairings run an additional $230 per person, which is pricy, no doubt, but Christopher’s and Wrigley Mansion share one of the biggest and best wine cellars in the state.

Hana Japanese Eatery

Lori Hashimoto’s family-style Japanese restaurant covers a lot of ground: sushi, katsu, tempura, noodles, nabe, and other deftly prepared classics. The restaurant is famous for its fried oysters, grilled squid, hamachi kama, and sake-steamed seabass, as well as Hashimoto’s signature oyster shooter — uni and a quail egg — downed in one go. This former BYOB now offers Japanese beer and sake, including a shochu-fortified house sake crafted by Hiroko Yokohama, one of a growing number of woman sake masters in Japan.

A look down at a bowl filled with oyster, uni, raw quail egg yolk in bright orange. A thin brown sauce sits at the bottom of the bowl.
Oyster, uni shooter with quail egg at Hana in Phoenix.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Chula Seafood Uptown

What started for the Heflin family as a sustainable commercial fishing operation in San Diego with a boat named Chula has become a mini seafood empire here in metro Phoenix, composed of three Valley outlets. Each store contains both a fish market and a restaurant, the latter offering bacon-studded clam chowder, poke bowls, sushi, smoked fish platters, Hatch chile tuna melts, and a legendary burrito stuffed with fresh fish, fries, and guacamole. Plan a trip around a rotating selection of daily specials, which vary by location.

A plate filled with various foods.
Chula’s inspired take on the Hawaiian plate lunch.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Fry Bread House

Fry Bread House has more than 20 years under its belt as a metro Phoenix dining staple. The James Beard Award America’s Classics winner specializes in Indigenous preparations of stews, tamales, and hand-stretched, plate-sized fry bread served puffy, golden brown, and faintly greasy. Filled with meat, beans, cheese, and various other savory combos, each fry bread is folded like a giant taco. Of course, there’s plenty of sweet fry bread, too — honey with powdered sugar and chocolate with butter, for example — all profoundly satisfying. Its founder, the late Cecelia Miller, used the Tohono O’odham recipes from her youth, including large, hand-stretched tortillas called chumuth, which accompany hearty stews and form the wraps for hefty burros.

Valentine

This modern Southwestern restaurant and relaxed hangout, brought to life by owners Blaise Faber and Chad Price, offers innovative food, pastries, and beverages that never fail to impress. Faber’s cocktails combine regional ingredients such as cactus vermouth, Arizona gin, and creosote bitters, while lattes often include Southwestern ingredients such as squash, chiltepin, or cajeta. Chef Donald Hawk marries ingredients from his Korean ancestry with desert crops such as red fife wheat, heirloom squash, and tepary beans to create a style uniquely his own. Don’t miss whatever crudo he’s running at the moment or the smoked chicken with wheat berries and herb yogurt, a menu staple for good reason.

A white bowl filled with white hiramasa crudo with brown butter, raisin, and a pool of tomato vinaigrette.
Hiramasa crudo with brown butter, raisin, and tomato vinaigrette at Valentine.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Great Wall Cuisine

Don’t be deterred by the rundown strip mall location. This cavernous and decidedly old-school Chinese restaurant is one of Phoenix’s best for classic Hong Kong-style dim sum. The requisite noodles, dumplings, buns, cakes, chicken feet, and spareribs are brought around on steam carts in endless succession. Be sure to try the restaurant’s famous shu mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumplings).

El Caprichoso Hot Dogs

If Phoenix has a signature dish, it just might be the Sonoran hot dog; and yes, the irony is deep, given that Sonora is the Mexican state that borders Arizona. But they’re everywhere here, offered in dozens of permutations. Local enthusiasts generally agree that El Caprichoso turns out the very best of its kind, served from a truck until well after midnight. People gather at picnic tables under a giant tent to eat plump, charred dogs, wrapped in bacon, cradled in puffy griddled buns, and smothered in whole pintos, grilled onions, guacamole, salsa, cotija cheese, and generous squirts of ketchup and mustard.

Noble Eatery

Jason Raducha, who founded artisan bakery Noble Bread, is also the brains behind this modern wood-fired deli, where his excellent breads are put to good use in sandwiches. The Caprese, tuna, and Italian sandwiches are menu staples, but creative daily specials are the superstars of the roster. There are salads, too, and a spectacular hummus combo involving spicy ’nduja, pickled vegetables, and charred pita. Get there early before items sell out, and be sure to take home a loaf of bread.

A plate of beige hummus topped with slices of pickled red onions and discs of orange carrots.
Hummus with pickled vegetables and ‘nduja at Noble Eatery.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Nelson's Meat + Fish

Chris Nelson, who curates fresh seafood from around the world, has earned a reputation as the city’s best fishmonger. Besides snagging pristine retail fish for supper, customers drop by for a rotating selection of ready-made seafood dishes which might include poke, ceviche, chowder, salmon banh mi, or a lobster roll to rival any in New England. Don’t miss the oyster and raw fish platters, composed of whatever is fresh and on hand that day. Now there’s a second location in North Scottsdale.

Binkley’s Restaurant

A night at Binkley’s is like no other dining experience in town. Unfolding in a small house with the laid-back vibe of a dinner party, the 10- to 12-course prix fixe meal — a heart-stopping run of perfectly executed, beautifully plated courses made with luxurious ingredients ($265 per person) — begins at the bar, where clever cocktails and pub food are dispensed, then moves outside to the terrace (weather permitting), and finally into the cozy dining room overlooking the exhibition kitchen. From this vantage, diners can watch Binkley do his thing or even wander into the kitchen to chat him up. Wine pairings are an additional $200 per person, while wagyu, caviar, and foie gras bumps range from $45-$126.

Glai Baan

Twinkling with string lights, this cozy, brick-walled Thai restaurant in Central Phoenix is a beloved standby for chef-owner Cat Bunnag’s delicious take on Thai street food, and the specialties of her native Isan. Local favorites include steamed dumplings filled with local pork; mackerel fried rice; and PEI mussels, fragrant with lemongrass and chile jam. Start with outstanding cocktails, which incorporate Thai ingredients.

A plate of Thai minced pork (larb moo) dotted with toasted rice sits next to a wedge of fresh green cabbage on a white plate painted with maroon and yellow flowers.
Larb Moo — local minced pork with toasted rice, herbs, shallots, and lime dressing, wrapped in cabbage leaves.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

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Essence Bakery Cafe

Owned and operated by French-trained pastry chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos and her French husband Gilles Combes (the friendly GM), this busy, minimalist cafe offers the city’s best croissants, pain au chocolat, and macarons, as well as wonderful brioche, tarts, cookies, and kouign amann (the latter, weekends only), Savory breakfast and lunch options include excellent scrambled eggs (enriched with cream, Dijon, and Parmesan), quiche Lorraine, luscious lemon-basil chicken salad, and (because Theodosopoulos is Greek) spanakopita.

Omelette with spinach, herbs, Dubliner cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes, sided by a rosemary-kalamata croissant.
An omelet and pastry from Essence Bakery Cafe.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

Vecina

Vecina means “neighbor” in Spanish, an apt name for this lively neighborhood hangout offering great cocktails and a range of Latin-influenced dishes. Menu highlights include Peruvian-style hiramasa ceviche; pork belly tacos; mesquite-grilled prime carne asada rib-eye; and an outrageous carnitas empanada, stuffed with Duroc pork confit and manchego cheese, then garnished with onion marmalade and salsa verde. Grab a seat at the bar for good people-watching.

An empanada on top of a deep green salsa. Yellow dots of smooth sauce on the side of it and fresh crumbles of white cheese and microgreens on top of it.
Carnitas empanada with Manchego, onion marmalade, and salsa verde at Vecina.
Nikki Buchanan/Eater

FnB Restaurant

For more than a decade, James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman has skillfully turned the Valley’s bounty into vegetable-rich plates drawing inspiration from a constellation of world cuisines. On her frequently changing seasonal menu, you might find socca (chickpea cakes, a specialty of Nice), Peruvian chicken spring rolls, or Hungarian potato bread, each dish enlivened with local ingredients and far-flung spices. Partner Pavle Milić echoes Badman’s local focus with a beverage menu that puts Arizona wines center stage.

Marcellino Ristorante

Situated in the heart of Old Town, this intimate, softly lit Italian restaurant, which features live music Thursdays and Saturdays, has the vibe of an old-fashioned supper club. Although chef-owner Marcellino Verzino’s menu offers plenty of classics — Caprese, carpaccio, and gnocchi Sorrentino, for example — it doesn’t read like every other Italian restaurant in town. To really appreciate what this chef can do, order from the specialties section, where you’ll find tortelloni, stuffed with pureed filet mignon and bathed in butter sauce with black truffle shavings as well as thyme-infused pappardelle with red wine-splashed rabbit ragu.

Virtu Honest Craft

Tucked inside the charming Bespoke Inn, chef-owner Gio Osso’s tiny, intimate Virtù turns out exceptional modern Italian food, including fabulous crudo, grilled octopus two ways (one prep involves Calabrian butter, the other burnt orange sherry glaze), and obscenely rich asparagus with feta crumbles, bacon candy, foie gras hollandaise, and an oozy duck egg. For a splurge, consider a multi-course price-fixe dinner for six ($150 per person), centered upon smoked and roasted suckling pig — which requires 72 hours notice. Everything else is a la carte. For dessert, affogato or an amari from Virtù’s vast selection satisfies. In good weather, the charming patio is the place to be.

Barrio Cafe

The Mexican food scene in metro Phoenix can be divided into two eras: before Barrio Cafe’s opening in 2002, and after. Classically trained chef Silvana Salcido Esparza broke the mold, serving pre-dinner bread instead of the usual chips and salsa, while lightly applying French cooking techniques to preparations from all over Mexico — cochinita pibil from the Yucatán, nut-studded chiles en nogada from Puebla, fish from Veracruz, and silky moles from Oaxaca. The work of local Mexican artists fills the restaurant’s interior walls, while the building’s exterior swirls with colorful murals. Agave-based spirits are everywhere these days, but Barrio was the first restaurant in the area to offer a vast selection of them.

Durant's

Jack Durant opened his eponymous pink stucco steakhouse in 1950, and none of the important things have changed much since. Customers still enter through the back door and walk through the kitchen to enter the dining room. The red flocked wallpaper still conjures a bordello, and Phoenix movers and shakers still drink martinis at the bar or slide into deep booths for dinner. The menu is much the same too, featuring shrimp cocktail, sauteed chicken livers, prime rib, and lots of steak. Don’t miss the legendary strawberry shortcake.

El Chullo Peruvian Restaurant & Bar

Charming El Chullo remains one of the best Peruvian restaurants in town since opening in 2014. Here, owners Esperanza Luzcando and José Ramírez Sánchez dish out a range of well-executed classics. Look for seafood (ceviche and jalea), beef (lomo saltado and grilled beef hearts), tallarines (Peruvian-style spaghetti), causas (layered potato dishes), and the ubiquitous huancaína (creamy yellow pepper sauce) ladled over Peru’s favorite ingredient: potato. El Chullo’s newer, spiffier 7th Avenue location has a bigger menu, offering modern ceviches and appetizer platters that allow diners to try three dishes at once.

The Coronado PHX

Housed in the former Tuck Shop space in the heart of the historic Coronado neighborhood, this comfy vegan restaurant offers locally brewed beer and coffee, garden-to-glass cocktails, and dishes with Mexican and Southwestern influences. Consider masa-battered and fried cauliflower tacos, black coffee chili and cornbread, or a beet and quinoa burger topped with poblano corn relish and crispy fried onions.