July 24, 2019
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Best Breakfast Specials - Original Breakfast House; Photo by Angelina Aragon
Best Breakfast Specials - Original Breakfast House; Photo by Angelina Aragon

Food & Drink


Best West Valley Morning Hangout
Elevate Coffee Company
This spacious java peddler stands out at The Shops at Norterra, with its welcoming décor, house-roasted coffee and live music. The friendly baristas and loosely laid-out seating conjure that elusive home-away-from-home quality familiar to any discriminating coffee-shop habitué, and the menu’s great, too – a vast variety of both sweet and savory crêpes. 2530 W. Happy Valley Rd., Phoenix, 602-341-5480,

Best Breakfast Joint to Eat Like a Lumberjack
Ranch House Grille
Order up chicken-fried steak and eggs at this homespun café and you’ll get a jumbo breaded steak smothered in peppery white sausage gravy, three eggs, a princely pile of hash browns and two pieces of toast. Everything here is titanic – from the generous egg dishes to the plate-size pancakes. Can you say doggie bag? 5618 E. Thomas Rd., Scottsdale, 480-946-1290,

Best French Toast
It’s hard to improve on traditional French toast, and we can’t pin down what this Grand Avenue café does differently with the breakfast staple that keeps us coming back. Unless there’s something in the powdered sugar, the likely culprit is the maple cream cheese glaze that coats each of the thick slices of bread. Behold, the power of deduction! 1028 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602-258-1536,

Best Breakfast Specials
Original Breakfast House
Weekly/monthly dish specials have typically been the domain of lunch and dinner restaurants, but Original Breakfast House – OBH to its devotees, who are legion – makes a compelling case for all breakfast joints to institute them. Who could turn down chiles en nogada and squash blossom omelets, Caprese Benedict or carrot cake pancakes? 13623 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-482-2328,


Best Old-School Chinese Food
Little Szechuan
What’s a college town without decent Chinese food? Little Szechuan is walking distance from ASU’s Tempe campus, serving board games and candy alongside the chow mein and fortune cookies. From crab puffs and spring rolls to orange chicken and pepper steak, the menu is as classic as the Sinatra tunes playing in the dining room. 524 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480-966-7660,

Best Egg Rolls
Thai E-San
Egg rolls are too often an afterthought, over-fried on the outside, soggy and bland inside. The Thai-style cylinders of chicken, egg and veggies at this first-rate eatery, served with a sweet sauce, will show you what you’ve been missing; small, delicately flaky and packed with flavor is how they roll. 616 W. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-297-8888,

Best Fusion Dish
Jeweled Chicken Wrap at Mingle + Graze
Mingle + Graze cheese bar and kitchen chef/owner Mahfam Moeeni-Alarcon is Persian, her husband/co-owner Cristobal Alarcon is Chilean, and they have family members from around the world, so it’s no surprise that their menu is diverse. Cultures collide deliciously in the Jeweled Chicken Wrap, which features roasted chicken (spiced with za’atar, chile, garlic and turmeric), onion-barberry jam, pistachios, tomatoes, greens and pomegranate vinaigrette. 48 S. San Marcos Pl., Chandler, 480-726-2264,

Best Burger
Paris Texas Burger at Ingo’s Tasty Food
Topped with bacon, cheese, and a sweet and smoky apple barbecue sauce, this savory monster is the star of the Arcadia restaurant’s fabled burger menu. Just don’t ask for it well-done or that melt-in-your-mouth taste disappears. Want to take things to the next level? Add a side of their shattered potato chips, dusted with sea salt and cracked pepper. 4502 N. 40th St., Phoenix, 602-795-2884,

Best Old-School Mexican Food
Los Olivos
If you’re looking for Sonoran cuisine done right, Los Olivos is happy to accommodate. Now you can enjoy chiles rellenos, burritos, handmade tortillas and other Sonoran delicacies in the funky, vintage-tiled dining rooms at this Old Town Scotts-
dale staple, or on its pretty new patio. 
Either way, pass the salsa. 7328 E. Second St., Scottsdale, 480-946-2256,

Best Cash-Only Grub
El Pollo Supremo
El Pollo Supremo’s little storefront is old but clean, and the menu options are spare. You can get grilled beef or chicken, served with beans and pickled onions. The chicken is bright red, thanks to annatto seeds, and it’s delicious. Be sure to bring cash – no debit or credit here – and ask for flour tortillas. 221 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480-966-3713

Best Family Dinner
Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants’ #DeviceFreeDinner
We’re not here to judge – sometimes electronic devices save family dinner by staving off tantrums and allowing adult time. But sometimes you want your wee ones to unplug and engage. Serrano’s and nonprofit advocacy organization Common Sense are here to help with #DeviceFreeDinner nights on Thursdays, when the whole family is encouraged to stash their phones and tablets in a basket on the table and use provided conversation starters to reconnect. Bonus: Kids younger than 10 eat for $2.49. Five Valley locations,

Best Pre-D-backs-Game Meal
Willie’s Taco Joint
Situated between Chase Field and Talking Stick Resort Arena, Willie’s Taco Joint is impossible to miss, with its wonderfully vibrant walls spray-painted by local artist Lalo Cota. That same flavor comes through in its WTJ Rolled Tacos, Mi Casa Margaritas and carne asada fries, which make in-stadium peanuts pale in comparison. 333 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 602-559-4059,

Best Meatloaf
BLK Live
Meatloaf? At a music venue? We were dubious, but our server persuaded us to give it a go, and we’re so glad he did. Sumptuous American Wagyu beef is ground, shaped into an elegant little plateau, baked and topped with spicy house-made barbecue sauce and served with potatoes, seasonal veggies and crispy onion strings. It’s a 1950s TV dinner through a gourmet prism. 7301 E. Butherus Dr., Scottsdale, 480-494-5069,

Best Steakhouse
Steak 44
Yes, Steak 44. Again. Edgy stuff, right? Listen, we’d love to trailblaze and deliver a non-obvious steakhouse rec, but the combined excellence of the Arcadia restaurant’s righteously aged and seared cuts, snappy shrimp cocktails and unparalelled martinis (Pluto-cold and massive) render such affectations pointless. It’s the best, and we’ll continue to bravely repeat that fact. 5101 N. 44th St., Phoenix, 602-271-4400,

Best of the Valley TRIO
CRUjiente Tacos
3961 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-687-7777,
1 Best Nouveau Taco
According to the barkeeps, the Korean fried chicken taco is far and away the customer favorite, as well it should be. With a swipe of tart gochujang sauce and a satisfying crown of fresh sprigs, it’s fusion cooking at its finest.

2 Best Weekly Specials
CRU’s core taco menu is a greatest hits of tacos, but its weekly Taco de la Semana specials always tempt. Recent highlights have included grilled zucchini and heirloom potato, tenderloin asada and Frites Street fries, and Chula Seafood swordfish with avocado mousse.

3 Most Guilt-Inducing Taco
Save room for CRUjiente’s carrot cake taco served on a pumpkin spice tortilla with bite-size pieces of butter-seared carrot cake, drizzles of mezcal caramel, candied pecans and creamy butter pecan goat cheese frosting. It’s almost too pretty to eat, but don’t let that stop you.

Best Coffee Shop

Peixoto Coffee Roasters
11 W. Boston St., Chandler, 480-275-2843,
• The only coffee shop in the state – and one of few in the country – that roasts beans grown and harvested from its own family farm.
• Rotating collaborations with local bakers mean the treat selection is always novel and yummy. We’ve paired our lattes with everything from Brazilian pan de queijo to Swedish cardamom buns.
• The smoothest cold brew in the Valley. It’s a controversial claim, but we stand by it.


Press Coffee Roasters
Multiple Valley locations.
• Rigorous employee coffee-culture indoctrination means you’re always being served by a fellow addict.
• Offers Chemex and all the other newfangled pour-over methods, but it’s the daily driver drip coffee that locks us in: a rotating roster of international styles brewed to perfect intensity.
• Smart but aggressive Valley expansion. Now with eight locations to provide your fix.


Pinpoint the best Vietnamese, barbecue, sandwich joints and beer taprooms in your neck of the Valley with our handy map.

West Valley
Taproom: West Valley

Dubina Brewing Co.: In addition to its own grog, this Glendale brewer operates around 16 well-curated “guest taps” – making it the alpha in the tap-starved WV.

BBQ: West Valley

AZ Fry Guy: Lots of first-rate barbecue joints in the Valley, but not many where you can get eye-rolling deep-fried catfish and legit collared greens. Gets our soul food vote. 623-374-7230

Sandwich: West Valley

Heidi’s Deli: Nouveau sammies aren’t big in the WV, but if it’s a corned beef/marble rye combo you want, head to this Peoria people-pleaser.

Vietnamese: West Valley

Little Saigon: Pho-loving CenPho-ers were heartbroken when this family-run resto decamped from Christown, but the new Glendale digs are charming – as are the unbelievable xao stir-fried noodles.

Taproom: CenPho

Kings Beer & Wine: You can’t argue with physics: more than 60 taps both Arizonan and super-regional, with a fine emphasis on sours, Belgians and Euro styles. Hail to the King.

BBQ: CenPho

Little Miss BBQ: With the addition of its new high-volume outpost in Sunnyslope, the local legend now has Phoenix covered two ways. New wrinkle: cocktails and F-Sa-only beef ribs.

Sandwich: Cenpho

Pane Bianco VB: So Roland’s Market didn’t work out. Chris Bianco’s wood-fired focaccia masterpieces at this Downtown replacement are a magnif consolation prize.

Vietnamese: CenPho

Da Vang: In a pinch, we’re always happy to grab a tasty pork banh mi sandwich at John McCain’s erstwhile fave. 602-242-3575

Scottsdale/North Valley
Taproom: ScottsDale/North Valley

Brat Haus: Strangely, Scottsdale has been slow to embrace the indie taproom trend, but this Old Town wiener garden – with its 16 taps and dozens of cans/bottles – makes us smile.

BBQ: ScottsDale/North Valley

NakedQ: When the North Phoenix favorite branched into NoSco, it took over. Top 3 brisket in the Valley.

Sandwich: ScottsDale/North Valley

New Wave Market: Reconceptualized Old Town uber-deli now offers a new fried chicken sandwich special every week, to go with its legendary chicken salad schmaltz.

Vietnamese: Scottsdale/North Valley

Viet Kitchen: Find a super solid bun bo hue (beef lemongrass noodle soup) at this North Valley lunch hotspot.

East Valley
Taproom: East Valley

The Sleepy Whale: Finally, the EV gets its own Downtown-style dedicated taproom, courtesy of the lads from The Wandering Tortoise. Nearly 40 taps, smartly programmed.

BBQ: East Valley

Jalapeño Bucks: If anyone has come close to synthesizing “Arizona” barbecue, it’s this cult favorite, set in a citrus grove. Exhibit A: the chimi-like brisket.

Sandwich: East Valley

Worth Takeaway: The crispy chicken sandwich at this downtown Mesa white-board-menu gourmet ’wich shop may have no peer.

Vietnamese: East Valley

Vietshack: Enticingly fresh, nuanced bun (cold noodles) and xao stir-fries make this south Tempe newcomer an immediate “Best of” shoo-in.


Best Paleo French Food
Sapiens Paleo Kitchen
French food with no dairy? Mon dieu! Mais oui, French-bred chef Aurore de Beauduy-Yasinsky does it with aplomb at Sapiens, the Scottsdale paleo restaurant she owns with husband and front-of-house maestro Roman Yasinsky. Feast on French onion soup, freshly baked paleo bread, bone broth, duck confit and house-made chocolates sans sugar, grains, dairy, corn, soy, beans and peanuts. 10411 E. McDowell Mountain Ranch Rd., Scottsdale, 480-771-5123,

Best Healthy Food Truck Fare
Awesomesauce Bowls
Sometimes there is truth in advertising: Awesomesauce Bowls really are awesomesauce – and healthy, to boot. You can choose from a slew of signature bowls (our favorite: the Asian rice bowl with shrimp, gochujang and veggies) or create your own with a base of greens, rice or both; proteins; toppings; and Awesomesauces.

Best Mock-Meat Burger
Beyond Burger at CBCB
If you eschew animal products, but still pine for a burger now and then, head to Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers for the Beyond Burger, a 100 percent vegan patty that – much like the Impossible Burger that has veg-heads in such a tizzy – looks and tastes (eerily) like beef. Served on a vegan bun and topped with caramelized onions, avocado, tomato, mixed greens and truffle oil, it might just rock your plant-eating world.

Most “Out of This World” Vegan Doughnuts
Alien Donuts
This space-themed doughnut shop embraces a rotating selection of vegan donuts in its daily assortment, including the vegan Oreo Crush, a vanilla or chocolate yeast doughnut dipped in melted chocolate and rolled in Oreo crumbles; and a vegan cake doughnut festooned with Fruity Pebbles. The mothership of vegan doughnuts has landed in Scottsdale. 7111 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale, 480-588-4668,

Best Way to Keep Your Gut Health in Check
Garden Goddess Beet Kvass
Drink two ounces of Beet Kvass Fermented Beet Tonic daily for better digestive health, according to the Garden Goddess, Suzette Smith. The briny mixture of ruby red organic beets highlighted with cinnamon and clove also helps reduce sugar cravings, supports mental clarity and aids in liver detoxification. That’s welcome news if you have a hangover.

Best Vegan Mexican Fare Without Using a Stove
Mi Vegana Madre
Jose and Leticia Gamiz were so smitten with their new restaurant space they didn’t realize the existing stove hood and newly purchased stove weren’t compliant with fire safety regulations. Rather than install an expensive sprinkler system, they forged ahead using only an oven to pump out first-rate vegan tacos, burritos, empanadas, nachos and tortas. 5835 W. Palmaire Ave., Glendale, 623-934-0358,

Sweet Stuff

Best DIY Dessert
Cannoli Bar at The Sicilian Baker
You can take all the cannoli at this slim bakery abutting The Sicilian Butcher, a fellow The Maggiore Group concept. It’s like Chipotle, but for cannoli: You choose a shell size (mini, regular, large or The Sicilian, a foot-long monster), shell flavor (from plain to pistachio), cream (from coffee to mint chocolate chip) and fun garnishes. Creamy, crunchy, customizable. What’s not to love? 15530 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, 602-612-5591,

Best Cookies
Warm Oaxacan Cookies at Rita’s Kitchen at JW Marriott Camelback Inn
They’re warm, served fresh from the oven. They’re rich, loaded with dark chocolate and walnuts. They’re crumbly and gooey, their texture hovering somewhere between a brittle meringue and a fudge brownie. They’re an immersive delight for chocoholics, and your server won’t look at you askance if you order them with milk. (We did.) 5402 E. Lincoln Dr., Scottsdale, 480-948-1700,

Best Asian Treats
Happy Buns
If you like your treats a little less sweet and a little more savory and complex, get your buns over to Happy Buns, an Asian bakery that sells its namesake buns (fluffy bread swirled with a semisweet coconut filling), almond cookies and gluten-free sesame crisps at farmers’ markets and events around the Valley.

Best Marshmallows
Toasted Mallow
Five years after opening – and weathering a name change and releasing a cookbook – Toasted Mallow remains the undisputed queen of craft marshmallows in the Valley. In addition to whimsical flavored mallows (strawberry-banana and churro), the s’mores café also offers edible cookie dough, mallow whip and mallow pies. 1034 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-686-9071,

Best Use of Edible Flowers
Pressed-Flower Shortbread Cookies at Dark Hall Coffee
The vegan baking elves at Dark Hall Coffee get up to all sorts of delicious mischief, but none so beautiful as the pressed-flower lemon shortbread cookies we sampled in May. Each cookie is like a circular picture frame showcasing a dainty arrangement of pressed petals dusted with a flurry of sugar. They’re sweet in every sense of the word. 3343 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-277-5507,

Best Place to Eat Pie
Practical Art
Surprise! The best spot to eat pie is not a restaurant. At Practical Art, one evening a month you can plunk down 10 bucks for unlimited slices of pie. All pie sales and 10 percent of store sales go directly toward a local charity. Pie and a good cause? Sign us up. 5070 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-264-1414,

Best Chile-Laced Chocolate
Carolina’s Chocolate
Spice up your chocolate game and check out Carolina’s Chocolate, made by Arizona native Lisa Jaimes-Toon. Inspired by her grandmother and her family’s Mexican heritage, Jaimes-Toon makes three varieties of small-batch, chile-infused chocolate: Spicy Sonoran with cinnamon and cayenne; Jalisco Jalapeño with white chocolate, jalapeño and cinnamon; and Smokey Joe with chipotle pepper. 480-890-8788,

Best Candy Store
Looking for fun-sized Junior Mints? Giant bags of Sour Patch Kids? The widest assortment of salt-water taffy flavors you’ve ever seen? We’ve got the candy store for you. Sweeties is less store and more warehouse, with floor to ceiling shelves of every candy you remember from childhood and a few you wouldn’t mind trying. 1986 N. Alma School Rd., Chandler, 480-899-4245,

The Liquid Arts

Best Seasonal Drink Menus
Peixoto Coffee Roasters
It’s true that our seasons aren’t as dramatic as those back east, but thanks to Peixoto we have delicious ways to mark the progression of the year: seasonal drink menus. The friendly baristas greet spring with lavender-honey lattes, summer with coconut cold brew, autumn with cascara apple cider and winter with cookie butter lattes, just to name a few.
11 W. Boston St., Chandler, 480-275-2843,

Best Unexpected Tiki Menu
Provision Coffee Bar
Finally, our favorite bars – coffee and tiki – have joined forces. This May, the North Phoenix coffee roaster and bar debuted its summer-only tiki menu, which features tiki-inflected coffee drinks like the Tahitian Latte (espresso, coconut almond cream, milk, vanilla, orange bitters, nutmeg) as well as actual tiki cocktails like the Golden Bird (brown butter rum, bitter aperitivo, simple syrup, lime, pineapple, bitters). We never thought we’d say this, but we can’t wait for summer to return. 4501 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-626-3866,

Best Non-Boozy Cocktails
Bar Bianco
You don’t need to drink alcohol to enjoy a bright and bracing cocktail. Bar Bianco has a mocktail menu full of classic recipes that maintain the nature of the original, boozed-up drinks by using Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits and house-made syrups. They’re also very pretty. 623 E. Adams St., Phoenix, 602-528-3699,

Best Gift for Winos
Build-Your-Own Wine Box at Postino
Have a friend who’s partial to Pinots or who salivates over Sauv Blancs? Postino has you covered. Its seasonal wine boxes let you mix and match bottles (any two for $25; four for $45) curated by beverage director Brent Karlicek. On deck for summer: Shades of Rosé, perfect for the pink lover in your life. Six Valley locations,

Best Novelty Cocktail
Italian Bird at Parma Italian Roots
Remember the mood rings you wore in junior high? Now you can drink one. Parma’s Italian Bird cocktail is a floral, gingery and citrusy gin cocktail kissed with butterfly pea flower, a plant native to Southeast Asia that causes the drink to morph colors as you sip it, from indigo to lilac. We predict you’ll be in the mood for another round. 20831 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-292-9900,

Best Hotel Bar
Little Rituals
Ross Simon has done it again. With mixologist/partner Aaron DeFeo, The Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour barman recently opened Little Rituals, arguably the most creative cocktail bar in town, and definitely the most cutting-edge hotel bar. On the fourth floor of the Residence Inn by Marriott Phoenix Downtown, you’ll discover a world of mind-blowing drinks featuring ingredients like saffron, cardamom and pepper oil. 132 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-603-2050,

Best Tea Shop
Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge
You can order a brownie or a turnover at Cha Cha’s, but the star of the show at this sweet little Grand Avenue hangout is the tea, served hot or cold in a wide variety including specialty flavors like our personal favorite, vanilla lavender matcha. We like what they’ve got brewing here. 1325 Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602-802-7854,

Food Scene

Best Free Kids’ Menu
Otro Café
Trust us when we say kids are tired of chicken fingers. They are! And you have the means to unleash their inner foodies at this upscale, Uptown cantina, where the 9-and-younger kids’ menu is free. Favorites include the El Niño Taco, cheese quesadilla and a generously portioned breakfast. And just to reiterate: It’s free, so if your fickle little princess decides she doesn’t like eggs today, at least you’re not out 8 bucks. 6035 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-266-0831,

Best Canadian Import
Canadian Bacon from Ma Taylor’s Kitchen
Last year’s Best New Food Truck upped the ante this year with the debut of its mouthwatering Canadian bacon – two kinds, for good measure: house-smoked back bacon and peameal bacon. Both start with pork loin brined in sugar, salt and spices. In lieu of being smoked, the peameal bacon is rolled in cornmeal, sliced and fried. Ma Taylor’s serves both bacons in grilled cheese sandwiches and on its signature burger, but we’d happily eat great quantities of them solo.

Best (Secret Menu) House-Made Hot Sauces
The Mission
Who knew chef Matt Carter was such a chile freak? He obsessively sources peppers from around the world, from fruity aji amarillos to chiltepines, to create his own sauces in-house. They’re not offered as a matter of course, but if you ask, Carter will oblige. Two Scottsdale locations,

Best New Food Festival
Fried Festival
Shoestring. Crinkle cut. Waffle. Our prayers have been answered with an entire event devoted to the french fry. Debuting in April, this festival gathered 20 food vendors in Margaret T. Hance Park, where they served up clever dishes with crispy fried spuds as the star: pizza fries, carne asada fries, even veggie fries. 67 W. Culver St., Phoenix,

Best Food Hall
The Churchill
An outdoor food court made of shipping containers in Downtown Phoenix? Sounds kind of awful, but the reality turned out to be pretty awesome. Grab a cocktail and a pizza (or tacos or a sandwich) and relax in the airy open space. Check out the micro shops, featuring Mexican imports, wine and more. 901 N. First St., Phoenix,

Best Place to Read a Book
Fair Trade Cafe
With cushy, comfy seating, fresh-baked treats and Arizona-made art all around, Fair Trade Cafe is the perfect place for Downtowners to unwind after a busy day. And, unlike lots of local coffee spots, it’s open until 10 p.m., which allows plenty of time to get lost in a book and away from it all. 1020 N. First Ave., Phoenix, 602-354-8150,

Best Farmers’ Market
Ahwatukee Farmers Market
Cozy Sunday mornings with cartoons and cereal don’t have anything on Ahwatukee Farmers Market. That is, unless your cozy Sunday mornings include Horny Toad’s fruits and vegetables, Crow’s Dairy’s goat cheese and Dr. Hummus’, well, hummus. Make a day of it and hop in the pool at the Ahwatukee Community Center and Swim Club across the street. The market is open Sundays from 8 to 11 a.m., from June to September; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. October to May. 4700 E. Warner Rd., Phoenix,

Best View of Camelback Mountain
Orange Sky at Talking Stick Resort
Located on the 15th floor of Talking Stick Resort, Orange Sky fine dining restaurant and lounge has the most spectacular view of Camelback Mountain in the Valley, full stop. Book a table on the west side of the restaurant to gaze at the mountain through floor-to-ceiling windows. Time it right and most days you’ll witness a spectacular sunset. 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, 480-850-7777,

Best Food-Insecurity Initiative
From November through August, Borderlands Produce Rescue collects discarded produce from warehouses and connects consumers with it through its Produce on Wheels Without Waste (P.O.W.W.O.W.) initiative. For just $12 (cash only), shoppers can leave with up to 70 pounds of fresh produce. The remaining fruit and veggies are shared with partner nonprofit organizations, who distribute the food to their constituents in need.

Best Wine Shop
Hidden Track Bottle Shop
Every single wine is tasted and hand-selected by the discerning staff at Hidden Track, so you know every sip is vouched for (and loved). You’ll find more interesting selections than your basic Cab or Chard, too, like a lovely selection of Pét-Nats and a Georgian wine or two. The wine club may be the best deal in town: For $25 a month, you get two bottles of wine, 12 percent off store purchases and waived tasting fees. 111 W. Monroe St., Phoenix, 602-566-7932,

Best Haunted Bar
Casey Moore’s
If you’ve walked into Casey Moore’s Oyster House on a summer evening, you might recall being greeted with a chill that’s more than just a highly effective air conditioner. Legend has it this popular Tempe bar and restaurant is thrice haunted: by the original owners of the house, William and Mary Moeur; by a nameless female spirit who may have worked in the bordello the house became after the Moeurs passed; and by flying silverware. Hell hath no fury like an oyster-shucker scorned. 850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe, 480-968-9935,

Nikki’s Nook

Pick through this spread of curated delicacies from PHOENIX’s head dining critic Nikki Buchanan.

Best Biblical Feast
Chef-owner Brandon Gauthier, one of the Valley’s biggest talents, performs the miracle of the loaves and fishes nightly at his charming outpost in Carefree, where he bakes four exceptional breads a day and offers a carefully curated collection of fish you won’t find in the city’s most lauded seafood restaurants. The dinner menu might showcase southern boarfish (Australia), frost fish (North Pacific), gurnard (U.K.) and other fish you’ve never heard of but will love at first bite, thanks in part to Gauthier’s wildly creative accompaniments. We’re not saying he walks on water… OK, maybe we are. 36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree, 480-488-9796,

– Flatbread with a quenelle of airy guinea hen liver mousse

– Country sourdough with thyme tallow (rendered beef fat rich with flavor)

– Cocoa powder-infused chocolate rye with duck fat butter and chives

– Flounder with preserved citrus vinaigrette, white anchovies, asparagus, chickpeas and leeks

– Arctic char with saffron couscous, zucchini, golden raisins, black olives and pine nuts

– Thai snapper with house-fermented lemongrass kombucha, black tea-poached shiitake mushrooms,Asian pear, pickled ginger, Thai chile oil and shiitake powder

– Hiramasa (sashimi-grade yellowtail amberjack) with huitlacoche tamale, mango pico, chile de árbol salsa, tomatillo and pepitas

Best Riff on Poutine
Clam Chowder Fries at Chula Seafood Uptown
If you think Quebec’s poutine is comfort food nirvana, wait until you try Chula’s seafood spin, composed of wonderfully crisp Belgian-style fries (from Frites Street food truck) smothered in Chula’s superlative clam chowder, a creamy potage of chopped clams, smoky Niman Ranch bacon, cubed potatoes and sherried cream – a double spud whammy, plus a corn- and cilantro-spiked tomatillo pico finish. Poutine shmoutine. Uptown Plaza, 100 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-354-3599,

Best Restaurant Evolution
New Wave Market
Sergio and Country Velador have come a long way from their tiny, wildly popular Super Chunk Sweets & Treats shop, opened in 2013 and expanded in 2017 to become New Wave Market, famous for its house-made bagels and schmaltz chicken salad sandwich. This year, they acquired a beer and wine license, created a more comfortable, lounge-y ambiance, snagged Lester Gonzalez (former chef at defunct Cowboy Ciao) and expanded the menu to include togarashi fried chicken, Hawaiian-style brisket and one of the best hot dogs in town, proving slow and steady wins the race. 7120 E. Sixth Ave., Scottsdale, 602-736-2383,

Best Affordable Farm-to-Table Experience
Singh Meadows
Super-talent Sacha Levine has zero interest in serving la-di-da food at exorbitant prices, which makes her the perfect chef for casual, family-oriented Singh Meadows, owned by Ken and Lee Singh of Singh Farms. Using fruits and veggies from the Singh farm, and that of other local farmers, Levine turns out gorgeous, inventive dishes that are mostly light and invariably healthy, virtuous eats that taste perfectly decadent. 1490 E. Weber Dr., Tempe, 480-225-7199,

Best Southern Cooking
The Larder + The Delta
Nobody reimagines the Southern classics – shrimp and grits, beignets, Hoppin’ John – like chef-owner Stephen Jones, who dishes out the heavy, heavenly comfort food that makes our pea-picking little hearts sing: crispy pig ears dusted with Cheetos, Benton’s aged ham with pimiento cheese and tomato jam, sticky-sweet Nashville hot chicken, all of it so finger-licking good we could eat here every day if heart health weren’t an issue. Oh, the irony. 200 W. Portland St., Phoenix, 480-409-8520,

Best Soup
She-Crab Soup at Andreoli Italian Grocer
Most people associate she-crabs (female crabs carrying eggs) with the bisque-like soups of the American South, but Giovanni Scorzo’s lusty Italian rendition, chock-full of veggies, lump crab meat and crab roe, is even more swoon-worthy. The roe lends velvety texture, a burnt umber hue and a salty tang that nicely offsets the sweetness of the crabmeat. It’s a rare specialty, so call ahead. 8880 E. Vía Linda, Scottsdale, 480-614-1980,

Best Cultural Crossroads
Café Chenar
Take a dash of Middle Eastern cuisine, pinch of Indian, soupçon of Russian, drop of Chinese and speck of Korean, blend them all together and what do you get? The Silk Road cooking of the Bukharian Jews of Central Asia, a heady mix of doughy fried pies, kebabs, noodle soups, rice dishes and kimchi that feels exotic yet familiar. Try anything. Try everything, and give thanks to Marco Polo while you’re at it. 1601 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix, 602-354-4505

Best Place to Learn to Love Okra
Welcome Diner
No veggie – not even W’s broccoli – has been more maligned than okra, universally condemned for being slimy and unappetizing. But texture becomes a non-issue with Welcome’s tasty take on the classic stewed okra and tomatoes of the South. Here, the okra spears are roasted to a deep burnish, then combined with smoked tomatoes, crispy Brabant potatoes and Banyuls soy glaze for a juicy, crunchy, flavor powerhouse that transcends its regional roots. 929 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, 602-495-1111,

Best Phoenix-Style Italian Beef
Hush Public House
Hush’s elevated version of the classic Italian beef may be too fancy for dyed-in-the-wool Chicagoans, but this open-face, knife-and-fork affair – involving silky red wine-braised oxtail, grilled Noble brioche bread, melty smoked provolone and spicy house-made giardiniera, the whole luscious thing swimming in beefy jus – is worlds better than its hand-held French-dippy Chi-town cuz. This is Phoenix’s version of Italian beef, and it’s badass. 14202 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-758-5172,

Best Bucket List Experience
Omakase at ShinBay
Shinji Kurita’s spectacular third incarnation of ShinBay offers nothing but seafood-centric Japanese omakase – a multi-course meal chosen by the chef, not the customer – and it’s a singular experience for food nerds who can appreciate premium, carefully curated seafood, labor-intensive preparations and Kurita’s elegant but simple style, which skillfully blends modernity with tradition. Big price, big night. Expect to be dazzled. 3720 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-361-1021,

Best Fried Calamari
Fellow Osteria
Eating fried calamari is generally about as exciting as watching paint dry, but not so at Fellow, where calamari steaks are butchered in-house, tempura-battered, tossed with Controne red pepper and salt, and fried to tender, feathery lightness. Served with fresh lemon, a chiffonade of mint and a swirl of nutty romesco, this grease-free re-did squid totally rocks. 1455 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-207-1864,

Best Arizona Cuisine
Rabbit lasagna at Cotton & Copper
Chef Tamara Stanger’s toe-curling rabbit Bolognese lasagna (winter menu) is Arizona cuisine at its best – gloriously original yet rooted in place. It’s a florid impasto of egg noodles, charred sweet corn and pasilla peppers, pungent epazote pesto, cottage cheese, tart persimmon gastrique, pine nuts and Oaxacan cheese, a scrumptious, gooey number you’ll be jonesin’ for all summer. 1006 E. Warner Rd., Tempe, 480-629-4270,

Food & Drink

Best Arizona Winery
Page Springs Cellars

Best Bakery
My Gal Sal Bakery & Café

Best Barbeque
Little Miss BBQ

Best Breakfast
Morning Kick food truck First-time winner. All-time leaders: Matt’s Big Breakfast and Good Egg (tie).

Best Brewery / Brew Pub
Saddle Mountain Brewing Company WV upstart breaks Four Peaks’ eight-year run.

Best Brunch
U.S. Egg Breakfast & Lunch

Best Burger
Blu Burger Grille BOV debut. All-time leader: Zinburger.

Best Burrito
Carolina’s Mexican Food

Best Chinese
Flo’s – New Asian Cuisine

Best Classic Arizona Restaurant

Best Cocktails
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Best Coffeehouse
Enroute Coffee and Tea House

Best Cookie
Soda Rush

Best Comfort Food
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles

Best Cupcake
Frosted Frenzy Cupcakes

Best Dessert
Kamana’Wana Hawaiian Treats Phoenix shave ice legend scores first BOV.

Best Distillery
Adventurous Stills

Best Dive Bar
Pattie’s First Avenue Lounge

Best Doughnuts
BoSa Donuts

Best Food Truck
Wandering Donkey

Best French Fries
Blu Burger Grille

Best Fried Chicken
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles

Best Frozen Yogurt
Top That Frozen Yogurt

Best Happy Hour
Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers $4 Four Peaks pints!

Best Hot Dog
Der Wurst Hot Dogs

Best Ice Cream

Best Irish/British Pub
Cornish Pasty Co.

Best Italian
Mora Italian

Best Kid’s Menu
Pita Jungle

Best Korean
Gen Korean BBQ House

Best Local Food Product
RA Seasonings Category debut!

Best Local Hot Sauce
Big Red’s Hot Sauce

Best Locavore Restaurant
Joe’s Farm Grill

Best Mac & Cheese
Bobby-Q BBQ Restaurant & Steakhouse

Best Margarita
Caramba Mexican Food

Best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern
The Ivy Mediterranean Lounge

Best Mexican Restaurant
Joe’s Tacos The star of our recent taco issue takes the big prize. All-time leader: Los Dos Molinos.

Best New Brewery
HELLUVA Brewing Company

Best New Restaurant
Hush Public House

Best Outdoor Patio
LON’s at The Hermosa Inn

Best Pie
Rock Springs Café

Best Pizza
Barro’s Pizza For the second year running. All-time leader: Pizzeria Bianco.

Best Restaurant With a View
Different Pointe of View

Best Salsa
Los Muertos Salsa

Best Sandwich
Perfect Pear Bistro

Best Seafood Restaurant
Chula Seafood

Best Special-Occasion Restaurant

Best Steakhouse
Durant’s Regains throne after three-year Steak 44 run.

Best Sushi
Hana Japanese Eatery Hai! For the eighth year running.

Best Tacos
Tacos Calafia

Best Taproom
Ground Control

Best Thai
Malee’s Thai Bistro

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Best Wine Bar
Brix Wines