Nana Tee’s Hometown Dogs
Formerly based in Fountain Hills, this humble hot dog joint made the westward leap to a strip mall at Cactus Road and 43rd Avenue at the beginning of the year. The daily special of two standard dogs with a choice of toppings, chips and a drink for five bucks is a swell deal. But it’s worth the dollar or two more to get the big, quarter-pound dog in any of some 20 combinations, from “New York” (deli mustard and sauerkraut, $5) to “Wisconsin” (deli mustard, sauerkraut, cheddar cheese and a pickle, $6) to “Sonoran” (mustard, bacon, pintos, salsa, guacamole, cotija cheese and sriracha mayo, $7). These bun-busters come with one side dish; try the Frito Pie. Nana Tee also makes her own desserts, and some excellent soups.
Must Try: If you’re lucky, Nana Tee may be offering “Slumgullion” ($8.50 for a quart), a splendid sausage gumbo/minestrone hybrid she learned from her Alabaman father.
4212 W. Cactus Rd., Ste. 1107, Phoenix, 602-814-2476
Tucked between a chiropractic clinic and an urgent care facility, this Mediterranean eatery administers its own brand of salubrious treatment, with its serene, handsome, dark-wood interior and wholesome menu. The name stands for “Most Valuable Pita,” and said bread is indeed a fine teammate for the lean, juicy gyro, falafel, kabob and shawarma meats served with, in or on it. Introduce yourself to the menu with an MVPita Plate: a choice of two ($10.99) or three ($12.99) of the above with pita, salad or hummus – regular or spicy, both worthwhile – and fries or rice. Be sure to try the fresh, light dolmas ($4.99) as a complement to the meat, and the lentil soup ($2.99), with its lemon-tinged broth and tender veggies. Signs on the wall read “HUMMUS WHERE YOUR HEART IS” and “DON’T FEEL AWFUL EAT FALAFEL.” There’s no additional charge for this wit.
Must Try: Save room for a nibble of dessert: The flaky, copper-colored baklava ($1.99) is nutty and not too sweet.
1066 N. Power Rd., Mesa, 480-247-9399, mvpita.com
No Qué No! Mexican Grill
The idiom from which No Qué No! takes its name is elusive, but it roughly translates as “I told you so.” A server explained it thusly: “If I was eating something and I said you should try it and you didn’t want to, and I said, ‘Come on, try it,’ and you did and you liked it, I’d say, ‘No qué no!’” The tempting fare at this SoSco eatery is unlikely to require much persuasion, anyway. The chicken enchiladas bathed in balanced and hearty but not heavy mole and topped with queso ($10) is knockout comfort food, and the menudo (usually offered on weekends; $7.50) may be about as good as that dish gets – luxuriously rich red broth elevating the spongy, chewy tripe to delicacy status. For a lighter appetite, there are many seafood options; a particularly fine recent lunch special consisted of three salmon tacos with chipotle sauce ($13). The excellence extends to the chips, served with either a green or red salsa, both superb.
Must Try: From the appetizer menu, the Camarones Asados ($10), plump crustaceans in a buttery, citrus-y sauce over grilled sliced cactus, gives entree-style satisfaction.
2515 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-941-6966,
Mary Coyle Ol’ Fashioned
The venerable ice cream parlor, which shuttered its longtime Seventh Avenue location in 2014, recently reopened in smaller, more modest digs on the red-hot Seventh Street dining drag with a less ambitious menu. Apparently following the theory of sticking with what works, the sandwiches and savory items have been retired in favor of an all-sweet-stuff lineup. The portions are ponderous: Even the “pippen” size of a Turtle and the Hare showboat ($7.95) is five scoops of butter pecan, drowning in caramel and crushed nuts. It’s a grand creation, but definitely an example of Eyes-Bigger-than-Stomach Syndrome. Not all of the standards are home runs. The plain old chocolate shake ($4.95), made with chocolate ice cream, was surprisingly bland and lacking in chocolatey punch.
Must Try: For sheer refreshment, the simple “Boston Cooler”-style float ($4.95), with vanilla ice cream pummeled into slushy submission by the root beer’s carbonation, is heavenly.
5823 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-626-5996,
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