Top 100 Restaurants in the Valley of the Sun

December 19, 2019
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Dim sum at Great Wall; Photo by David B. Moore
Dim sum at Great Wall; Photo by David B. Moore

YOU’RE PROBABLY ASKING YOURSELF: Are there really 100 restaurants worth celebrating in Greater Phoenix? To which we say: Uh, yeah. And we could have done 100 more. Spend your 2020 getting acquainted with this crowd-sourced centenary of essential Phoenix eateries.

By Nikki Buchanan, Jess Harter, Marilyn Hawkes, Leah LeMoine, M.V. Moorhead, Craig Outhier, Madison Rutherford

Photography by Angelina Aragon, Rob Ballard, Blake Bonillas, Eric Cox, Art Holeman, Mirelle Inglefield, David B. Moore, Shelby Moore, Carl Schultz, Debby Wolvos


-> Must be local. No out-of-market chain restaurants or celebrity-chef imprints.

-> Quality, mystique and innovation: These were our three primary metrics while evaluating restaurants.

-> Is it essential? Could we imagine Phoenix without it?


3 Steakhouses
6 Japanese Restaurants
9 West Valley Restaurants
18 East Valley Restaurants
4 Restaurants with “café” in the name
10 Pizza joints


W West Valley restaurant

E East Valley restaurant

$ Budget-friendly

V Vegan/vegetarian-friendly


4743 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 602-296-7761,
Chris Bianco’s Camelback trattoria is not merely the sum of its dishes – though the dishes are spectacular feats of rustic craft, from the seasonal roasted chicken (bathed in a roasted-grape jus in the fall, pictured, and lemon in the spring) to the ticklish roster of handmade pastas. More skillfully than any restaurant in the Valley, it dances on that narrow fence between exoticism (Bianco’s devotion to local sourcing is so extreme, it borders on the avant-garde) and sturdy culinary tradition. It’s basically Michelin-level comfort food, and so confidently executed, you just have to sit back and enjoy the pirouettes. — Craig Outhier

Tratto; Photo by Art Holeman
Tratto; Photo by Art Holeman
Binkley's; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Binkley's; Photo by Blake Bonillas

2320 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, 602-388-4874,
Do yourself a favor and fast a bit before indulging in Kevin Binkley’s legendary 20-plus-course prix fixe extravaganza, a sometimes whimsical, always superlative progressive dinner involving luxurious ingredients, splendid wine pairings and a casual kitchen chat with one of the city’s most brilliant chefs as he prepares your next moan-inducing course. Binkley’s is dinner theater in the most pleasing sense, and Arizona’s premier bucket list restaurant. — Nikki Buchanan


7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale, 480-284-4777,
Outed as one of the nation’s most innovative restaurants by The New York Times in 2011, FnB has only grown in esteem over the past decade. Local produce is central to Charleen Badman’s menu, and she treats each item like a precious gem, from roasted butternut squash with Asian pears to a simple green salad highlighted by fennel. Named James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest in 2019, Badman lives up to the title. — Marilyn Hawkes

FnB; Photo by David B.Moore
FnB; Photo by David B.Moore
Little Miss BBQ; Photo by David B.Moore
Little Miss BBQ; Photo by David B.Moore
Little Miss BBQ $

Two Valley locations,
Barbecue in the top five? You bet your back ribs. Scott Holmes’ two LMB outposts are the Mecca and Medina of smoked meat in the Valley, particularly the universally admired brisket – which Holmes conjures via a rigorous, 14-hour feat of craftsmanship that no one else in the Valley can quite replicate. We dare say it’s the best central-Texas-style ’cue west of… well, Texas. — Jess Harter


3720 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-361-1021,
At his third and best incarnation of ShinBay, sushi maestro Shinji Kurita proves why he’s the itamae (chef) most often name-checked by his admiring peers (Nobuo Fukuda, for one). Kurita’s omakase-only menu is a stunning progression through cold Japanese classics to a 10-round finale of nigiri sushi – simple, yet so sublime it redefines the genre. — NB

ShinBay; Photo by Rob Ballard
ShinBay; Photo by Rob Ballard
Glai Baan; Photo by David B.Moore
Glai Baan; Photo by David B.Moore
Glai Baan $

2333 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, 602-595-5881,
This isn’t your neighborhood Thai joint – unless you live in Bangkok or Isan, the regions that inspire chef/owner Cat Bunnag. Glai Baan blows your average pad Thai peddler out of the water with spicy, snacky street food, from mackerel fried rice to kao soi (curry noodles with pickles).  — Leah LeMoine


36889 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree, 480-488-9796,
The city’s spendiest seafood restaurants don’t have a thing on this French-inspired, decidedly edgy New American bistro owned by talented Binkley’s alum Brandon Gauthier, who sources fish from all over the world and prepares it in deliciously creative ways. He also bakes his own bread and makes a crazy-good chicken sandwich at lunch – the best in town. — NB

Confluence; Photo by Debby Wolvos
Confluence; Photo by Debby Wolvos
Kai; Photo by David B.Moore
Kai; Photo by David B.Moore

5594 Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler, 602-385-5777,
Under chef de cuisine Ryan Swanson, the Wild Horse Pass Resort flagship restaurant – a consensus Top 10 Arizona restaurant since opening in the mid-2000s – has held serve as the Valley’s most lavish dining experience. The picture-perfect fare – sourced from and a tribute to Native American culture – is exactly what you’d expect at Arizona’s only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star honoree. The menu reads almost as wonderfully as it tastes, from foie gras with sweet I’itoi onions (foraged in the Tohono O’odham Nation) to cocoa-and-mesquite-cured duck breast. — CO

Nobuo at Teeter House

622 E. Adams St., Phoenix, 602-254-0600,
James Beard Award winner Nobuo Fukuda is Phoenix’s Jedi master of Japanese cuisine, a description that becomes even more on point in the midst of a mind-bending omakase dinner. Seated at a small private bar (weekends only), you’ll be treated to plate after plate of Fukuda perfection – maybe shimmering sashimi, gold leaf-flecked chawanmushi or his elegant take on shabu-shabu. — NB

Nobuo at Teeter House; Photo by Shelby Moore
Nobuo at Teeter House; Photo by Shelby Moore
Hana; Photo by Shelby Moore
Hana; Photo by Shelby Moore
Hana V, $

5524 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-973-1238,
No run-of-the-mill, Philadelphia-Roll-spewing sushi joint, this uptown BYOB is a beacon for fish fans who demand the good stuff, including hard-to-find delicacies like ankimo (monkfish liver) and tender, tantalizing ika yaki (charbroiled squid). Even more fun: Hassling chef Lori Hashimoto to unleash a few of her off-menu treats, particularly her legendary chawanmushi (custard egg). Ask for it by name . — CO

Andreoli Italian Grocer

8880 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale, 480-614-1980,
Don’t be fooled by the casual, shambolic vibe at chef-owner Giovanni Scorzo’s Italian market-eatery – the highly personal, old-school cuisine would be perfectly at home at any white-tablecloth fine dining restaurant. Order the pepper-edged porchetta sandwich on crusty Italian bread or choose a pasta dish from the white board specials. No need for white tablecloths here. The food speaks for itself. — MH

Andreoli Italian Grocer; Photo by Eric Cox
Andreoli Italian Grocer; Photo by Eric Cox
Atlas Bistro; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Atlas Bistro; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Atlas Bistro

2515 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-990-2433,
Conveniently housed inside a wine shop, this long-running BYOB and foodie favorite is better than ever thanks to executive chef Cory Oppold, whose affordable three-course prix fixe menu spotlights both his classical training and crazy-creative streak. Oppold makes fine dining fun, turning out beautiful food that’s never overwrought. — NB


10600 E. Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale 480-513-5085,
The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North’s flagship restaurant got a modern makeover last year but remains true to its Spanish steakhouse roots, complemented by a dazzling array of Iberian cured meats, paella and seafood under talented young chef Samantha Sanz. — JH

Talavera; Photo courtesy Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Talavera; Photo courtesy Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale
Pa'La; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Pa'La; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Pa’La $

2107 N. 24th St., Phoenix, 602-795-9500,
Pa’La chef-owner Claudio Urciuoli is the Valley’s gruff Italian answer to Alice Waters: obsessed with perfect ingredients showcased simply. The menu depends on his daily sourcing, so Tuesday could feature roasted white anchovies and Wednesday could highlight spicy fennel salami schiacciata (whole-grain flatbread) with arugula and pickled goat horn chile. — LL


3701 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale, 480-946-3477,
Warm, intimate Virtù makes our Top 25 for a slew of reasons, which may vary by voter: an impressive cocktail program, the legendary grilled octopus (which PHOENIX named the No. 1 dish in the Valley in 2016), a cozy, bi-level patio (just right for weekend brunch) and luxurious touches (say, foie gras hollandaise) that deliciously convey chef-owner Gio Osso’s sexy streak. — NB

Virtù; Photo by Art Holeman
Virtù; Photo by Art Holeman
The Parlor; Photo by Neal Mei/Courtesy The Parlor
The Parlor; Photo by Neal Mei/Courtesy The Parlor
The Parlor V, $

1916 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-248-2480,
A surprise choice for the Top 25? Only if you missed our 2014 Best of the Valley issue, in which the Camelback eatery won a blind taste test for the best wood-fired, Neopolitan-style pizza against the likes of Bianco and Pomo. Beyond that: off-the-charts antipasti and vegetable dishes, groundbreaking cocktail program. We stand by it. — CO

Rancho Pinot V

6208 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-367-8030,
Chef-owner Chrysa Robertson – a local gal with big-league talent long before that bandwagon was open for business – gets everything right at her Italian-inflected, Arizona-inspired restaurant, which takes “bests” in every category: service, people-watching bar, salad (we can name at least three) and dessert (pretty much anything on the list). — NB

Rancho Pinot; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Rancho Pinot; Photo by Blake Bonillas
the Larder + the Delta; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
the Larder + the Delta; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
the Larder + the Delta

200 W. Portland St., Phoenix, 480-409-8520,
Chef-owner Stephen Jones grew up on Southern cooking, and at his tiny, cheerful Downtown restaurant, he both replicates and re-imagines it, turning out sophisticated New Southern Cuisine that stays true to its roots. Expect crispy pig ears, Hoppin’ John, barbecued oysters and the crispiest, best fried chicken in town. — NB


6335 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-265-5886,
Nostalgia definitely has a hand in this ranking, guiding us back to those salad days when Richardson Browne’s seminal Southwestern eatery was the most exciting thing in a dining scene that lacked for excitement. But then we have a transportive mouthful of the molten green chile stew or the action-packed duck relleno and it’s like, “This place is just flat-out awesome.” As it ever was . — CO

Richardson's; Photo by Shelby Moore
Richardson's; Photo by Shelby Moore
The Gladly; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
The Gladly; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
The Gladly

2201 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-759-8132,
A PHOENIX Best New Restaurant no-brainer when it opened six years ago, this Bernie Kantak-fronted city gastropub continues to surgically disarm our appetites with innovative twists of culinary doctrine. Case in point: the bonkers foie-smeared duck meatloaf, and Donald Hawk’s amazing raw bar. His brown-butter tuna might be the Valley’s premier fish dish. — CO

Casa Corazon $

2637 N. 16th St., Phoenix 602-334-1917,
Having opened to scant fanfare in 2018, this house of pan-Mexican goodies – set across the street from Barrio Café – quickly captured the hearts of Valley diners in the know. The cuisine is confident, the atmosphere hip without a hint of trendiness, and the salsa bar, running the gamut from zesty to nuclear, is a blast. Start with the beet-sauce enchiladas. They’re loco bueno. — M.V. Moorhead

Casa Corazon; Photo by Rob Ballard
Casa Corazon; Photo by Rob Ballard
Steak 44; Photo courtesy Steak 44
Steak 44; Photo courtesy Steak 44
Steak 44

5104 N. 44th St., Phoenix, 602-271-4400,
The Valley’s steakhouse of record is such a fount of merit, we’re sitting here wondering why it’s only No. 22: ridiculously good prawns, sinfully spectacular sides, obsessively spot-on service, and serving plates so hot, you can almost run a teppanyaki game on your medium-rare, bone-in ribeye. The off-menu steak specials are routinely insane. — CO

Crujiente Tacos $

3961 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-687-7777,
Sometimes you want cheap street tacos at a hole in the wall. Sometimes, though, you want something schmancier. Enter CRUjiente, where chef-owner Rich Hinojosa crafts truly innovative tacos – Wagyu, karaage, étouffée, to name a few – and co-owner Jason Morris helms a masterful Spanish wine program. — LL

Crujiente Tacos; Photo by Angelina Aragon
Crujiente Tacos; Photo by Angelina Aragon
Lon's at The Hermosa Inn; Photo by Eric Cox
Lon's at The Hermosa Inn; Photo by Eric Cox
Lon’s at the Hermosa inn

5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley 602-955-8614,
Chef Jeremy Pacheco is on his second tour of duty at this classic resort restaurant, but he’s not tired. The Arizona native enlivens culinary standbys with chef-y twists (chorizo emulsion on branzino, fennel pollen on scallops) and is maniacal about meat sourcing. Try his signature sizzling bacon – thick-cut, house-peppered, hissing on a cast iron plate, drenched in maple syrup and aged sherry vinegar. — LL

Chula Seafood

Two Valley locations,
Before Chula Seafood opened up shop in 2015, it was natural to question the provenance of any “fresh, sustainable” seafood dish placed before you in the Valley. Not at Chula. Pioneering the boat-to-table concept, owners Jon Heflin and Hogan Jamison catch the critters themselves in California and drive their catch to Phoenix daily. In addition to supplying fish to an armada of restaurants, they serve crazy good poke bowls, buttery sashimi, incomparable smoked salmon and the finest swordfish tacos you’ll devour. — MH

Chula Seafood; Photo by Carl Schultz
Chula Seafood; Photo by Carl Schultz

BEST of the REST

24 Carrots V, E

1701 E. Guadalupe Rd., Tempe, 480- 753-4411,
Craving a Sonoran hot dog sans sausage? This bright, airy eatery offers a panoply of plant-based comfort food classics like burgers and BLTs and yes, even a seitan hot dog freckled with faux bacon. Pair your fresh, meat-free meal with a cold-pressed juice or organic smoothie, grab a seat on the café’s comfy couch and thank the vegan gods for 24 Carrots. — Madison Rutherford

24 Carrots; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
24 Carrots; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
All Pierogi $, E

1245 W. Baseline Rd., Mesa, 480-262-3349,
The best pierogi in the Valley? It’s a bold claim, but after one bite of pliant, lightly crisped dough filled with farmer’s cheese and chives and glistening with butter, you’ll agree. Other dishes inspire cravings, too, from borscht to schnitzel. — LL

Amuse Bouche W

17058 W. Bell Rd., Surprise, 623-322-8881,
The West Valley’s premier French bistro – known for steak frites and beef Bourguignon – is so much more than that. Chef-owner John Bossmann creates weekly prix fixe menus that span the globe and history, from the food of the Renaissance to New Orleans cuisine. — LL

Arcadia Meat Market

3950 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-595-4310,
This whole-animal butchery is your best bet for interesting cuts (picanha, tomahawk ribeye), but we were stunned by its recent addition of truly interesting sandwiches, including a juicy Italian beef and the Freebird, one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in town. — LL

Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. $, E

Two Valley locations,
The brewpub’s award-winning ales get the lion’s share of the publicity, but the food – especially the creative specialty burgers featuring Arizona grass-raised beef and locally sourced produce and the signature duck-fat fries – more than holds its own. — JH

Barrio Café

2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-636-0240,
From chiles en nogada to conchinita pibil, chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza refined, and redefined, Mexican food in the Valley at her flagship restaurant in Central Phoenix, which opened to universal acclaim in 2002 and remains a must-visit. For a master course in Silvanology, try the six-course tasting menu at her more intimate Gran Reserva on Grand Avenue. — JH

Beckett’s Table

3717 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-954-1700,
For expertly crafted, cut above comfort food, grab a seat at Beckett’s Table. This homey Arcadia restaurant pays homage to local farmers and businesses, serving up everything from flattop seared cheeseburgers to fork-tender short ribs. Oh, and those chocolate-dipped bacon s’mores with house-made marshmallows? Case closed. — MH

Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria E

1964 N. Alma School Rd., Chandler, 480-696-4455,
You haven’t heard about chef-owners Matt Nobile and John Araujo’s unprepossessing Italian eatery? We’re not surprised. Their delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas and handmade pastas are among the Valley’s best-kept secrets – and surprisingly affordable compared to similar concepts. —JH

Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Bitter & Twisted cocktail parlour

1 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix, 602-340-1924,
Come for the cocktails, stay for the tantalizing global bar bites that rival dishes at any proper restaurant in town. Chef Bob Tam has a preternatural talent for fusion cuisine, churning out kung pao octopus and tempura fish and chips with equal ease. — LL

The Breadfruit & Rum Bar

108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, 602-267-1266,
Take an evening sojourn to Jamaica, savoring jerk chicken grilled over pimento wood or Red Stripe curried shrimp while sipping a rum-laden cocktail, courtesy of the husband-and-wife team of chef Danielle Leoni and spirits specialist Dwayne Allen. It’s so classy, it kills us, mon. — JH

Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue

6130 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 480-575-7155,
You’d be hard-pressed to find better ’cue than the brisket and pork ribs chef-owner Bryan Dooley slow-smokes over pecan wood. Come summer, ’mater-loving regulars forsake the meat for an heirloom tomato sandwich on buttery griddled white bread with mustard, watercress and sea salt – smoked, of course. — NB

Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue; Photo by Angelina Aragon
Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue; Photo by Angelina Aragon
Buddyz $, E

Multiple Valley locations,
Whether your preference is square-cut thin crust or belly-busting deep dish, Buddyz is the Monster of the Midsection when it comes to Chicago-style pizza in the Valley. Cheer on Da Bears with a Goose Island beer. — JH

Café Chenar V, $

1601 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix, 602-354-4505
It’s just so typical – we didn’t even realize the Valley needed a Bukharian Jewish restaurant until one opened right under our noses. A 2018 Best New Restaurant, this grandmotherly North Phoenix café specializes in kosher cuisine from Uzbekistan – itself culled from a dizzying variety of cultures and traditions along the ancient Silk Road, from Korean salads to Russian borscht. — CO

Café Lalibella; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Café Lalibella; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Café Lalibella $, E

849 W. University Dr., Tempe, 480-829-1939,
Few meals in the Valley are as scrumptious, soulful and affordable as the three-item combination at this quiet, elegant Ethiopian diner in Tempe. Try alicha sega wat (mild beef) with fosolia (green beans) and tikil gomen (cabbage and potatoes). — MVM

Cafe Monarch

6939 E. First Ave., Scottsdale, 480-970-7682,
Billed as Arizona’s foremost “romantic” restaurant, with the Yelp algorithm to prove it, this Scottsdale fine dining destination is indeed extravagant – seems like everything in the place is tufted, draped or gilded. It’s like eating in the Medicis’ guesthouse. But don’t dismiss the assiduously crafted modern-Mediterranean cuisine, ordered from a prix fixe menu of sumptuous four-course repasts. — JH

Carolina’s Mexican Food $

Two Valley locations,
Hungry diners have been lining up for more than a half-century for Carolina’s simple tacos, burros, tamales – pretty much anything wrapped in one of their mouthwatering house-made tortillas. (Pro tip: Order an extra dozen to bring home.) Simply put: It’s our White Castle. — JH

Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine

6710 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 480-488-8031,
Locavore chef Brent Vibber, whose well-chronicled foraging trips have netted everything from wild mushrooms to cactus fruit, puts creative twists on Cartwright’s desert-to-table menu while remaining true to its longtime mandate to honor Arizona’s past. Pair it with a Confluence visit for a one-two Cave Creek punch. — JH

Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Casa Terra V, W

6835 N. 58th Dr., Glendale, 623-230-2289,
Chef-owner Jason Wyrick makes a convincing case for veganism at this lovely, wood-floored restaurant, where the Mediterranean- and Mexican-inspired menu is as elevated as the décor. No virtuous rabbit food here, just a constantly changing selection of creative dishes boasting the requisite swishes and drizzles associated with fine dining. It’s the Valley’s most essential restaurant for herbivores. — NB

Century Grand

3626 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-739-1388,
One of three new restaurants in our Top 100, this immersive culinary playground instantly became an indispensible fixture of Phoenix dining upon its October opening – both for its groundbreaking small plates menu from chef Sacha Levine, and ticklish traincar bar with next-level cocktails overseen by owner-mixologist Jason Asher. — CO

Century Grand; Photo by Debby Wolvos
Century Grand; Photo by Debby Wolvos
Chou’s Kitchen $, E

Two Valley locations,
Eschewing the Cantonese-influenced dishes most familiar to Americans, Chou’s represents the Dongbei region of northeast China, where harsh winters necessitate more hearty, often pickled fare less dependent on rice in favor of noodles, dumplings, and even bread. It’s the best of the East Valley’s trove of exciting regional Chinese restaurants, and your one-stop remedy for kung pao fatigue. — JH

Clever Koi V, E

Two Valley locations,
Asian-inspired fare and stylish cocktails abound at this pan-Pacific food lab with an emphasis on first-rate service. Owners Nicholas Campisano and Joshua James have built a following with their eclectic menu of ramen, steamed buns, dumplings, wok-fried noodles and a smattering of sandwiches. The crafty cocktails alone are worth a visit. — MH

Clever Koi; Photo courtesy Clever Koi
Clever Koi; Photo courtesy Clever Koi
Cotton & Copper E

1006 E. Warner Rd., Tempe, 480-629-4270,
It’s Arizona through and through – not surprising given the reference to two of our state’s historic “Five C’s.” The Tempe gastropub marries locally sourced meats and produce from chef Tamara Stanger (you must try her legendary tepary bean spread and rotating carpaccio plate) with owner Sean Traynor’s delightful craft cocktails (each named after iconic Valley bars). — JH

Covenant; Photo by Eric Cox
Covenant; Photo by Eric Cox

4740 E. Shea Blvd., Phoenix, 602-595-7440,
Flashy but overlooked, this PV-area gastropub from O.H.S.O. kingpin Brian Roehrich has labored hard to achieve culinary respectability since opening in 2017, giving chef John Woo a recent free hand to explore his culinary impulses, like seared scallop over little rafts of watermelon, a new addition. Also: flat-out the Valley’s best green chile shortrib. — CO

Craft 64 $, E

Two Valley locations;
Admittedly, it was James Swann’s AZ-only craft beer tap program that seduced us. But few Valley pizzerias make wood-fired wonders that deserve to be mentioned in the same breath with Craft 64’s, and that sustains the love affair. Swann added a Chandler location after debuting in Scottsdale two years ago. — JH

Crêpe Bar $, E

7520 S. Rural Rd., Tempe, 480-247-8012,
Even the snootiest of French gourmands would be disarmed by chef Jeff Kraus’ crave-worthy creations, such as the Grand Prix, a coffee-flavored crêpe with maple-glazed pork belly, an egg up and chile aioli. Ooh la la! — JH

Cuff W

5819 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale, 623-847-8890,
A PHOENIX Best New Restaurant in 2014, Cuff is Glendale’s go-to comfort food spot, boasting a contemporary American menu with favorites like shrimp and grits, pulled pork tacos, hamburgers and mac and cheese. Cuff’s easy-going vibe makes it a great place to bring the family or tip back a few beers after work. — MH

Da Vang V, $, W

4538 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix, 602- 242-3575
This casual Vietnamese café is burrowed in a small, blink-and-you-might-miss-it strip mall, but inside it’s a capacious garden of Southeast Asian soul food. Don’t be deterred by its appearance – Da Vang serves the best bowl of pho in the Valley. Quantity and quality coalesce with a menu boasting more than 80 items that range from savory beef stew to cilantro-studded banh mi. — MR


2625 E. Bell Rd., Phoenix, 602-404-5919,
In short: This North Phoenix beer garden/restaurant combo has supplanted Haus Murphy’s as the Valley’s premier purveyor of Teutonic cuisine, including the most luscious beef rouladen we’ve ever tasted. Also factoring: a tasty assortment of Hungarian dishes, including a disappear-into-it cabbage roll. — CO

El Chullo $

2605 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-279-8425,
Rumor has it this beloved family-owned restaurant – one of two Peruvian eateries on our Top 100 list – will be decamping to more spacious, visible digs soon, and that’s just fine. The more folks exposed to its pan-fried chicken sided with a tart escabeche salad, and papa appetizer with its eerily smooth cheese and aji-amarillo chile sauce, the better. — CO

Essence Bakery Café

3830 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-296-4958,
Chef-owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos has great buns – brioche, that is, not to mention crusty baguettes, elegant French pastries and macarons to rival any in Paris. From the café side come flaky quiches, brioche French toast with banana-caramel sauce (sacré bleu!) and a lemon-basil chicken salad sandwich that curls the toes. Simply put, it’s the Valley’s best bakery. — NB

Fabio on Fire W

8275 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy., Peoria, 623-680-5385,
The name conjures a steamy romance novel, but the food is all class at this molto Italiano trattoria in a part of the West Valley that sorely needed some European panache. Mouthwatering porchetta, tender pizzas and handcrafted pastas keep regulars smitten. It’s amore. — LL

Fabio On Fire; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Fabio On Fire; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Flavors of Louisiana W

Two Valley locations,
Jennifer Landry Goff is the undisputed queen of Cajun cooking in the Valley, and if you doubt it, dive into a plate of her unabashedly garlicky crawfish étouffée. You’ll be splashing around like a delighted 5-year-old in no time. Try it smothered over fried catfish for a supercharged bayou repast. In addition to its original Avondale location, there’s a new Chandler outpost. — CO

Franco’s Italian Caffe

4237 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-481-7614,
For old-school Italian, nothing – except Andreoli, perhaps – beats Franco Fazzuoli’s snug, welcoming ristorante, where his house-made pastas are so comforting you’ll want to grab a blankie and take a nap. His merenghata – meringue semifreddo flavored with almond and amaretto – is quite possibly the dreamiest dessert in Scottsdale. — NB

Fry Bread House $

4545 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, 602-351-2345,
It doesn’t get more “Arizona” than this James Beard-honored Tohono O’odham café. Toppings run the gamut from seriously spicy (green chile beef; chorizo) to seriously sweet (chocolate, cinnamon, honey), all served on fluffy, puffy fry bread. Try the chumuth – an O’odham-style hand-stretched tortilla – with melted butter. — MVM

Gallo Blanco

928 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, 602-327-0880,
When Doug Robson resurrected Gallo Blanco in 2017, fans were overjoyed – the original GB pioneered the haute street taco concept in the Valley at its first location at the Clarendon Hotel. The new Garfield District hot spot includes a jazzed-up menu of Mexican staples and serves breakfast until 4 p.m. Haven’t tried Robson’s pozole rojo laced with tender pork shoulder or wood-grilled elote? You’re missing out. — MH

Ghost Ranch E

1006 E. Warner Rd., Tempe, 480-474-4328,
Although named for a New Mexico landmark, Ghost Ranch – the brainchild of star chef Aaron Chamberlin, who parted ways with the restaurant last year – also draws from Mexico, the Old West and indigenous people to revive the nearly forgotten genre of Southwestern cuisine with green chile burgers, mesquite-grilled chicken and cowboy steaks. Must order: the casserole-like Aztec Cake. — JH

Great Wall W

3446 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-973-1112
Not for nothing does this cavernous, bustling Chinese eatery enjoy take-a-number-and-wait crowds on the weekends. It offers the Valley’s only knockout dim sum, from heavenly executions of standards like steamed pork buns, sticky rice and shrimp dumplings to rarer delicacies like duck tongue. — MVM

Great Wall; Photo by David B. Moore
Great Wall; Photo by David B. Moore
Green Corner; Photo by David B. Moore
Green Corner; Photo by David B. Moore
Green Corner E

Two Valley locations,
Syrian chef-owner Ebrahim Takkem’s Levantine heritage is evident in his deftness with eastern Mediterranean cuisine, especially the aromatic beef and chicken shawarma, which are among the best in the Valley, and the sumptuous grilled lamb chops. It’s like a gourmet Pita Jungle – and who could possibly object to that? — JH

House of Tricks E

114 E. Seventh St., Tempe, 480-968-1114,
Humming along for 30-plus years now, Tempe’s most romantic and flat-out best restaurant is as popular as ever, thanks to a flower-filled patio and a canopied outdoor bar built around a gracious old tree. It doesn’t hurt that the New American menu, which veers from Korean-style baby backs to lamb barbacoa arepa, remains edgy and fun. — NB

Hush Public House

14202 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-758-5172,
Never mind the cramped strip mall digs. Chef-owner Dom Ruggiero and bevvie partner Charles Barber capture the boisterous cocktail-fueled spirit of the public house sans the predictable pub grub. In its place: crispy crab hush puppies, halibut crudo and a glorious open-faced Italian beef sandwich made with braised oxtails. — NB

Ingo’s tasty food V, $

4502 N. 40th St., Phoenix, 602-795-2884,
It might not be considered a “hot take” to include this upscale burger hutch on our Top 100 list to the exclusion of LGO sister properties La Grande Orange and Chelsea’s Kitchen, but hey… the tight menu of salads and creatively upgraded burgers (house-made pickles? Yes, please!) is just that good. Or maybe it’s the complimentary chocolate chip cookies. We’re a sucker for those. — CO

Khyber Halal V, $

4030 N. 24th St., Phoenix, 602-954-5290,
Serving hard-to-find Afghan cuisine, this midtown kebabery definitely scores novelty points, and to that end: Make sure to order off the clearly designated Afghan menu for treats like badanjan (smoky eggplant stewed with tomatoes) and mantoo (ground beef dumplings), and skip the Pakistani offers, which are less great. — CO

La Marquesa $

1915 E. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, 602-252-7777
With its stark white walls and elegant Mexican art, Felipe Guzman’s small but classy Jalisco-style Mexican restaurant looks nothing like the typical birrieria, but birria de chivo (soupy, earthy, tender goat stew with adobo paste) is, indeed, the specialty here, and it’s sensational with puffy, piping hot tortillas. This one definitely gets novelty points. — NB

La Piazza

Two locations,
It’d be nay impossible to have a conversation about the best VPN-style (Verace Pizza Napoletana) pizza in the Valley and not include Justin Piazza’s two outposts. (The original Glendale spot may still be the best restaurant in the WV.) His sauce-free “white” pies are particularly evil, including the Bianca, with ricotta, mozzarella and basil, and the Quattro Formaggio, which includes basically every cheese you can think of. — CO

LAMP Wood Oven Pizzeria

8900 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale, 480-292-8773,
Lindsay and Matt Pilato (LAMP, get it?) turn out some of the best wood-fired pies in the Valley, and like Bianco (the pizza god himself), they’ve got the crust down: light but substantial, with a little chew. Nobody in town offers more toppings or combos – 19 red, eight white – all of them inspired. — NB

LAMP Wood Oven Pizzeria; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
LAMP Wood Oven Pizzeria; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Little Saigon W

7016 N. 57th Ave., Glendale, 623-939-6136
According to one of the most learned culinary voices around – former Arizona Republic critic Howard Seftel – it’s the best Vietnamese restaurant in the Valley, and we enthusiastically agree. You’ll find lavishly doctored versions of regional classics, including deluxe bún noodle salads, along with dozens of bright, delightful dishes you’ve never seen before, even if you love Vietnamese grub. — CO

Lo-Lo’s chicken & Waffles

Five Valley locations,
Can soul food be slick and polished and remain authentically soulful? That’s a complex question, but either way, the eats slung at this local soul chain are delectable. Chicken and waffles, sure, but don’t miss the gorgeous shrimp and grits, or the legendary smothered chicken. — MVM

Los Andes Peruvian Cuisine $

6025 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix, 602-368-9205,
A century ago, Escoffier ranked Peruvian cuisine among the world’s best, and you’ll see why when you visit this friendly little storefront, where chef-owner Oscar Graham serves the classics – ceviche, papa a la Huancaína, causa rellena de camarón, lomo saltado and the exquisite shortbread cookies called alfajores – for a song. — NB

Los Dos Molinos E

Three Valley locations,
We were saddened to hear of the recent passing of Los Dos matriarch Victoria Chavez, a culinary visionary who refused to take it easy on demure gringo palates when she opened her first New Mexican-style eatery in the Valley three decades ago, brutalizing those sensitive soft tissues with deliciously chile-foward braised meats. And you know what? We liked it. We liked it a hell of a lot. — CO

MODERN OysterBar Chophouse

10050 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-531-1400,
In a city loaded with steakhouses, this elegant steak/seafood split, owned by industry veterans Cat and Randy Frankel, and Frank Schneider, separates itself from the pack by being more personal and less ostentatious. Great steaks, loads of fresh, briny oysters (try them grilled) and the best lobster mashed potatoes in town. — NB

Mora V

5651 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-795-9943,
Buzzy, fun Mora, the modern Italian brainchild of celebrity chef Scott Conant, gives the people what they want: a big center-stage bar, imaginative cocktails, handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza and salted caramel pudding at affordable prices. We’ll always lament the passing of the tableside bread cart – too outré for some diners, sadly – but plenty remains. — NB

New Wave Market V

7120 E. Sixth Ave., Scottsdale, 602-736-2383,
You might fall in love with the Old Town hidden gem at the front door, where the pastry case is stocked with nationally acclaimed house-made bagels, award-winning cookies and other sinful sweets. Or you could stick around for brunch, lunch or dinner and a crack at Hawaiian-bread French toast, sesame seed-studded togarashi chicken and curry-napped Bangkok fries. Great selection of local hot sauces, cocktail mixers and various culinary goodies, too. — NB

New Wave Market; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
New Wave Market; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Noble Eatery V

4525 N. 24th St., Phoenix, 602-688-2424,
“Gluten-free” is a dirty phrase at bread boss Jason Raducha’s shrine to carbohydrates. He crafts sandwiches, artisanal toasts and wood-fired pizzas using simple ingredients and old-world baking techniques. The menu changes seasonally (sometimes daily) and never hits a wrong note. — LL

Noble Eatery; Photo by Eric Cox
Noble Eatery; Photo by Eric Cox
Ocean 44

4748 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale, 480-867-0044,
For Scottsdale-style glitz and glam and the chance to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, check out this breathtakingly gorgeous, Mastro-family-owned seafood and steak restaurant, one of Scottsdale’s most visually stunning spaces. You could forget, amid all the splendor, that the meat and fish are first-rate, too. — NB

Ocotillo V

3243 N. Third St., Phoenix, 602-687-9080,
Ocotillo’s menus are studded with inventive vegetable dishes, glorious house-made pastas and bold protein entrées, including to-die-for mesquite grilled chicken with lemon and chile highlights served with date-potato salad. The indoor/outdoor compound in Midtown Phoenix is one of the Valley’s great culinary play-spots, with lots of nooks and grassy places to eat, drink and be merry. — MH

Original Breakfast House; Photo by Eric Cox
Original Breakfast House; Photo by Eric Cox
Original Breakfast House $

13623 N. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-482-2328,
The vibe is old-school at John Stidham’s surf hut-inspired diner: The Beach Boys play on the sound system, servers call you “sweetie” and they only take cash. Almost everything is made from scratch, from brioche cinnamon rolls to lemon-scented pancakes, and it is all delectable. — LL

Pizzeria Bianco

Two Valley locations,
It feels semi-scandalous not to include Bianco – certainly the most famous and influential restaurant in Arizona – in our Top 25, but it would be disingenuous to ignore the sense that founder Chris Bianco is squeezing most of his juice on other projects now. Nonetheless, PB is still the wood-fired godfather, serving beautifully crusted pies that match anything in the Valley. The margherita pizza with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil is a study in simplicity, but it’s heaven on a plate. — MH

Pomo Pizzeria

Three Valley locations,
One of the Valley’s original Neapolitan pizza (VPN) classics. Chef-owner Stefano Fabbri hand-tosses a dozen of the wood-fired, thin-crust beauties, along with a quartet of white pizzas and gluten-free and vegan pies. Also on the menu: an abbondanza of Italian classics from eggplant parmigiana to spaghetti carbonara, and sometimes-complimentary shots of house-made limoncello. — MH

Postino V, $, E

Six Valley locations,
Trendy and too-trafficked? Maybe. But by trailblazing the $5 glass of wine – good wine, mind you, and smartly curated – the Upward Projects flagship elevated and mainstreamed wine literacy in the Valley, and remains one of our “can’t imagine Phoenix without it” favorites. Postino’s signature is bruschetta – crusty baguettes slathered with divine toppings like warm artichoke spread and prosciutto with figs and mascarpone. — MH

Quiessence V

6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix, 602-276-0601,
Tucked away on The Farm at South Mountain, on 10 acres of pastoral paradise, the Q is perfect for a romantic, get-away-from-it-all dinner. Executive chef and co-owner Dustin Christofolo turns out exceptional house-baked breads, house-made pasta and produce from the property’s garden, but first, the stunning charcuterie board to jump-start your unforgettable date night. — NB

Quiessence; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Quiessence; Photo by Blake Bonillas
Reathrey Sekong

1312 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-451-9792
Glibly put, the Valley’s lone Cambodian restaurant gives Thai food lovers an unvarnished punch of everything they love about Thai food – the freshness, the aromatics, the burlesque Lynchian interplay of heavy and light (see: satay with pickled veggies). Chef-owner Lakhana In makes the Valley’s best papaya salad (don’t worry – it tastes nothing like papayas) and Phoenix dining would be poorer without her. — CO

Restaurant Progress

702 W. Montecito Ave., Phoenix, 602-441-0553,
It was damned good from the get-go, but this sincere and intensely personal New American restaurant from 28-year-old chef-owner T.J. Culp is even better now – more confidence, more polish. We love the cocktails, the surprisingly good wine list and the freewheeling, seasonally changing menu, which might feature scallop crudo, combining slippery, olive-oiled slivers with scoops of icy cucumber granita and lime crème fraîche. You’ll remember that one when it’s 115 degrees in the shade. — NB

Restaurant Progress; Photo by Rob Ballard
Restaurant Progress; Photo by Rob Ballard

7044 E. Main St., Scottsdale, 480-949-6296,
Ready for a splurge? Consider sleek, post-modern Sel, tucked among the galleries in Old Town, where the frequently tweaked four-course prix fixe menu ($90 per person) runs to dishes like sea urchin bisque and seven-spice duck. Great wine pairings are worth the extra Benjamins, as is the new brunch menu. — NB

T. Cook’s

5200 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 602-808-0766,
The one legitimate knock on this storied resort restaurant at the Royals Palms, roiled by a revolving door of chef changes in recent years: While consistently excellent, it hasn’t been consistent. (Other than serving the Valley’s best roasted branzino.) Maybe the return of chef Lee Hillson will steady the ship, because we still like her lines. — CO

Ta’Carbon $, W

Two Valley locations,
If you think, à la Gertrude Stein, that a taco is a taco is a taco, then you haven’t tried this no-frills taqueria, where the smoky, mesquite-grilled carne asada, crisp-edged lengua and spongy calf testicles are as good as it gets. (“Best testicles ever” should be their new tagline.) Expect supple, house-made tortillas and a bangin’ salsa bar, too. — NB

Taco Chiwas; Photo by Eric Cox
Taco Chiwas; Photo by Eric Cox
Taco Chiwas $, E

Two Valley locations,
It’s the street-food crossover success story of the decade. Talented husband-and-wife duo Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin have built a rabid following for their Chihuahuan-style Mexican fare – particularly street tacos made with tortillas that are hand-pressed and cooked to order. Gotta try the eponymous Chiwas taco: a smorgasbord in miniature of beef, ham, jalapeño, Anaheim chile and Asadero cheese. — JH

Taj Mahal V

4225 N. Craftsman Ct., Scottsdale, 480-257-1791,
No self-respecting best-of dining list would fail to include at least one mom-and-pop Indian restaurant, and this one is our favorite. Chicken tikka masala, that marvelously mild non-Indian Indian dish (supposedly developed by Indians to please the wimpy Western palate), is done to perfection at this Scottsdale spinoff of a Prescott institution. The mulligatawny soup is not to be missed, either. — MVM

Tampopo ramen E

3223 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe, 480-491-2177,
You feel like you’re in Japan in this sleek, rectangular sliver of an eatery that specializes in Hakata-style ramen. Tampopo’s tonkotsu base is creamier and more richly pork-flavored than its competitors’, and its noodles are handmade daily in the shop. — LL

Tampopo Ramen; Photo by David B. Moore
Tampopo Ramen; Photo by David B. Moore
Thai E-San $

616 W. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 602-297-8888,
At whichever of the five levels of spice-heat you prefer it, the pad Thai at this sophisticated yet relaxed joint is as good as that classic dish comes. And the stubby, flaky eggrolls are at least as fabulous. — MVM

Tuck Shop

2245 N. 12th St., Phoenix, 602-354-2980,
Secreted in the otherwise restaurant-free Coronado Historic District in Central Phoenix, Tuck is one of those hyper-distinctive, tasteful little places you want to clone and place in every neighborhood. On the food side, it pioneered the orange-brined fried chicken thing in the Valley (we’ll always be grateful) and continues to ride the edge with seasonal gastropub fare and experimental cocktails. — CO

Tuck Shop; Photo by David B. Moore
Tuck Shop; Photo by David B. Moore
Veneto Trattoria

6137 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-948-9928,
The fegato alla Venezania – liver with onions and polenta – at this marvelous Venetian ristorante, quietly making people happy for decades on Scottsdale Road, is one of the single finest meals in the Valley. Don’t miss tiramisu for dessert, either. — MVM

Welcome Diner V

929 E. Pierce St., Phoenix, 602-495-1111,
Sweet Welcome, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways: We love your chorizo meatloaf and red beans and rice, your fried green tomato sandwich and grilled cheese, your quirky, ultra-personal décor in the Downtown-adjacent Garfield District, fun cocktails and, oh! The cookies! With your South-by-Southwest sass, you’re the diner all diners aspire to be. — NB

Worth Takeaway $, E

218 W. Main St., Mesa, 480-833-2180,
Sandwich-making is an art, and Jim Bob and Kelsey Strothers are the Valley’s Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The crispy chicken with house-made pickles and honey Sriracha is their masterpiece, but all 14 sandwiches are exhibit-worthy. For once, the name does indeed say it all. — JH

Worth Takeaway; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Worth Takeaway; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Yasu Sushi Bistro

4316 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix, 602-376-9823
Sushi isn’t the only reason to visit this stylish North Phoenix outpost, where chef-owner Yasu Hashino – perhaps the city’s most under-appreciated Japanese chef – specializes in Japanese binchotan charcoal grilling, offering delicately smoky Japanese Wagyu and unctuous bamboo-wrapped beef tongue as well as Kumamoto oysters with uni. It’s all quietly spectacular. — NB

Zinc Bistro

15034 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-603-0922,
Chef-owner Matt Carter’s Parisian bistro is the Birkin bag of Valley dining: always chic, always reliable. Whether you’re talking business over salade Niçoise, wooing a lover over oysters or celebrating a milestone with a soufflé, Zinc supplies that fabulous French je ne sais quoi. — LL


Though they didn’t make our list, these tried-and-true eateries are a vital part of our culinary landscape.


The tufted red leather, the sky-high shrimp cocktails, the Boomer-riffic service team – nothing says “classic Phoenix” like this Central Avenue institution.

The Stockyards

Genial service, ginormous steaks and a singular historical property set on an old cattle ranch make this Phoenix eatery a surefire way to delight out-of-towners.


At 25 years, is the beloved pizza chain old enough to be a classic? One thing’s for sure: It’s a crowd-pleaser that’s diffused many an argument over where to go
for dinner.