Where to Dine in the Valley in November & December

Editorial StaffNovember 10, 2022
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ABOUT THIS GUIDE

The restaurants listed are noteworthy and randomly selected from our rotating master list. We suggest that you confirm information, and we solicit your help in correcting any errors in the guide. We also ask readers to send us complaints in writing when one of the listed restaurants fails to meet expectations. Please note that, unless otherwise indicated, the listed restaurants offer free parking and recommend reservations for peak hours and large groups. Price categories reflect average dinner entrée prices; drinks, tax and tip are extra.

  • $=under $10
  • $$=$11-$15
  • $$$=$16-$25
  • $$$$=$26 and over

PHOENIX

Aftermath
New American
1534 E. Bethany Home Rd.
602-607-5240, aftermathphoenix.com

In a neighborhood bursting with neighborhood restaurants, Aftermath stands boldly out, offering a casual but sophisticated setting for wildly creative New American eats, including sexy vegetables (try the broccolini) and big, satisfying entrées such as harissa-glazed short rib with lentils. $$

Bacanora
Latin
1301 N.W. Grand Ave.
602-612-4018, bacanoraphx.com

Chef-owner Rene Andrade’s tiny, vibrant eatery, a heartfelt homage to the rustic cooking of his native Sonora, has earned universal raves for its flame-licked pollo asado, caramelos stuffed with succulent carne asada and otherworldly grilled octopus (which he offers on Saturday only).
$$-$$$

Barrio Café
Mexican
2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix
602-636-0240, barriocafe.com

Brash, crowded and tons of fun – that’s the lowdown on this high-end Mexican restaurant, specializing in food from central and southern Mexico. Don’t miss the tableside guacamole, the cochinita pibil or the churros for dessert. Other location: Sky Harbor International Airport. $-$$$

Carolina’s Mexican Food
Mexican
1202 E. Mohave St.
602-252-1503, carolinasmex.com

By 11 a.m., this bare-bones south Phoenix stalwart is knee-deep in customers, lined up for homey, straightforward tacos, tamales, burritos and enchiladas. The smart ones take home a few packages of Carolina’s huge and amazing tortillas, made fresh daily. Other locations: north Phoenix (602-275-8231), Mesa (480-912-3420), Peoria (623-487-1400). $

Barrio Cafe. Photo by Angelina Aragon
Barrio Cafe. Photo by Angelina Aragon

Farish House
French-American
816 N. Third St.
602-281-6659, farishhouse.com

Looking for a quiet, romantic restaurant before hitting a Downtown show? Here’s your sweet spot: a refurbished 120-year-old house brimming with antiques. Check out the robust wine list and plan to nosh on cheeses, charcuterie, light bites, salad and, for a splurge, cassoulet. $$-$$$

Hana Japanese Eatery
Japanese/Sushi
5524 N. Seventh Ave.
602-973-1238, hanajapaneseeatery.com

Family-owned and family-friendly, this beloved sushi restaurant captures the hearts, minds and bellies of locals who appreciate the warmth of the staff, the freshness of the fish (much of it bought whole and cut in-house) and chef Lori Hashimoto’s inventive chalkboard menu. Expect bento, noodles, tempura, exotic vegetables and teppan-style meats and seafood. $-$$$

Honey Bear's. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Honey Bear's. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Honey Bear’s Barbecue
American
5012 E. Van Buren St., Phoenix
602-273-9148, honeybearsbbq.com

Serving Tennessee-style (read: tangy, sweet and sticky) barbecue, this seminal restaurant has been a fixture in the low-and-slow scene since the early days, beguiling fans with mesquite-smoked ribs, chicken, yummy pulled-pork sandwiches and some of the best catfish in town. Catering available. $

L’Amore
Italian
3159 E. Lincoln Dr.
602-381-3159, lamoreitalianrestaurant.com

Soft lighting gives this upscale Italian restaurant a genteel, romantic atmosphere. The menu features petrale sole genovese, saltimbocca, gnocchi, signature cioppino and a daily selection of fresh ravioli. $$-$$$

Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli
Middle Eastern
3052 N. 16th St., 602-277-4927

This tiny shop smells wonderful (thanks to exotic spices and the adjacent bakery). Everything tastes good, too. Stop by for a quick, inexpensive lunch of stuffed grape leaves, hummus or baba ghannouj, and take home a package of fresh pita bread. $

Pa’La Downtown
Italian-Global Seafood
132 E. Washington St.
602-368-3052, palakitchen.com

Expect hipper digs and an edgier global menu at this second-story sib to the sparely furnished, Italian-inspired Pa’La on 24th Street. The focus on pristine seafood is still here, but this go-round, it might be accented with Middle Eastern za’atar or Japanese togarashi. The broader menu also features cocktails, pizza, pasta, mains and desserts, indulgent departures from the original. $$

Renata’s Hearth
Latin
2400 E. Missouri Ave.
602-954-2507, renatashearth.com

The seasonal menu at this Latin-influenced eatery at the Arizona Biltmore zeroes in on seafood-focused small plates (oysters, ceviche, grilled shrimp) and shareable platters for the table – most of them rarified meat cuts, grilled or smoked. Massive slabs of fatty pork belly, roasted to an umber crunch, are supremely satisfying, and even side dishes (say, charred street corn with lime and smoked goat cheese) have sex appeal. $$$

Sizzle Korean Barbecue
Korean Barbecue
21001 N. Tatum Blvd.
480-265-9406, sizzlekoreanbbq.com

Meat is the raison d’être at this wildly popular Korean barbecue restaurant, where beef and pork are cooked right in front of you on a tabletop grill. Although you won’t want to miss traditional galbi and bulgogi, you’ll be tempted by plenty of other mouthwatering selections such as beef tongue, pork jowl, prime ribeye and beef tartare. Round out your meal with other Korean specialties such as Korean pot stickers and bibimbap (a meat, rice and veggie bowl). Other location: Old Town Scottsdale (480-247-2027). $$-$$$

T. Cook’s
Mediterranean
5200 E. Camelback Rd.
(Royal Palms Resort & Spa)
602-808-0766, royalpalmshotel.com

The Valley’s most beloved resort restaurant got a remodel in 2013, but its elegance, fine cuisine, stunning views of Camelback Mountain, romantic indoor fireplace and charming courtyard patio remain intact. New-again chef Lee Hillson tweaks the menu to reflect seasonal offerings and culinary whims, while marching out his beloved classics, like lobster bisque, Mediterranean paella and pasta carbonara. $$$-$$$$

Valentine
global
4130 N. Seventh Ave.
602-612-2961, valentinephx.com

This hip hangout is a brunch/lunch/dinner go-to for grazing on chef-owner Donald Hawk’s wildly creative menu, which draws from his Korean upbringing, his past life as the raw bar chef at The Gladly and his commitment to local ingredients. Imagine churro waffles, molasses-glazed hushpuppies and crispy cauliflower with native seed tahini, laved with tangy raisin escabeche. Hawk also makes arguably the city’s best chicken dishes – a brined and smoked half-bird set on a puddle of creamy yogurt with durum wheatberries.$$-$$$

Welcome Diner
Southern
929 E. Pierce St.
602-495-1111, welcomediner.net

This Garfield neighborhood diner, beloved for its Southern-inflected comfort food served late, puts hip, impressionistic spins on classics like the fried green tomato sandwich, gooey mac and cheese and an insanely good chorizo meatloaf. Save room for old-fashioned pie. $$

Yasha From Russia
Deli/Sandwiches
10240 N. 32nd St., 602-347-6055

A tidy market and deli that’s home away from home for Russian expats who drop by for Eastern European sausages, cheeses, sour creams, canned goods, smoked fish, sandwiches and fabulous piroshki (dirt cheap, too). $

SCOTTSDALE

Atlas Bistro 
New American
2515 N. Scottsdale Rd.
480-990-2433, atlasbistrobyob.com

This tiny BYOB feels cozy and a little quirky, thanks to an eclectic menu and wine-geek servers with personality. The Southwestern-edged menu changes frequently, but always includes red meat, seafood and vegetarian options. $$$

Barrio Queen
Mexican
7114 E. Stetson Dr.
480-656-4197, barrioqueen.com

Gourmet Mexican food is on la mesa at this Old Town Scottsdale hot spot. Don’t miss the elote, lime-tinged sweet corn swathed in spicy mayo, or fresh guacamole sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Multiple locations. $-$$$

Campo Italian Bistro and Bar
italian
8260 N. Hayden Rd.
480-5897-9195, campoitalian.com

The second time’s the charm for James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Stratta, who wisely pulled the plug on faltering Stratta Kitchen and partnered with Genuine Concepts to create this lovely and lively bistro. Every inch of space – beautifully backlit bar, intimate dining area and plant-filled patio – is packed with locals who’ve shown up for happy hour deals (margherita pizza and a bottle of wine, $25), the already famous limoncello margarita and satisfying Italian food built upon a menu of antipasti, pasta, pizza and a handful of high-end entrées. $$

Fat Ox
Modern Italian
6316 N. Scottsdale Rd. (Lincoln Plaza)
480-307-6900, ilovefatox.com

Named for a cattle-centric food festival in Italy, Fat Ox offers modern Italian food in an absolutely gorgeous setting. Expect an expansive, amaro-focused cocktail list and some truly exquisite pasta dishes, like garganelli with black truffle butter, speck and Parmesan. Also expect nose-bleed prices. This is Scottsdale, after all. $$$-$$$$

Hearth ’61
Modern American
5445 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley
(Mountain Shadows Resort)
480-624-5400, mountainshadows.com

Casual but elegant Hearth does a splendid job of turning out modern American classics with surprising little twists. Try the ahi tartare, artisanal flatbreads, short rib agnolotti, herb-crusted salmon or honey-fig cheesecake. $$-$$$$

Jade Palace
Chinese
9160 E. Shea Blvd.
480-391-0607, jadepalacescottsdale.com

This upscale, classily under-lit restaurant offers a wide variety of Cantonese dishes ranging from duck to pork to vegetarian. With popular entrées such as crispy orange beef and Double Dragon, a specialty shrimp dish, it makes for one of the Valley’s few Chinese cuisine destinations. Other location: North Scottsdale (480-585-6630). $$-$$$

Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles
Soul Food
3133 N. Scottsdale Rd. 480-945-1920, loloschickenandwaffles.com

Ensconced in spacious digs in Scottsdale, Lo-Lo’s is the friendliest and hippest place for soul food in the Valley. The fried chicken and waffles (so good together) are outstanding, but so are the greens, mac and cheese, cornbread and red velvet cake. Other locations: Phoenix (602-340-1304), Gilbert (480-207-6173), Phoenix Sky Harbor (602-273-3300). $

Orange Sky
American
9800 E. Indian Bend Rd. (Talking Stick Resort)
480-850-8606, talkingstickresort.com/orange-sky.aspx

Located on the 15th floor, this restaurant offers 360-degree sunset views, along with a menu brimming with seafood, steaks and locally sourced produce. Highlights include a pork chop with tepary bean salad, wild game and an award-winning wine list topping 300 bottles and 30 wines by the glass. $$-$$$

Pitch
Modern American
6350 E. Thomas Rd.
480-272-7500, pitchpizzeria.com

Those who wish to partake of the locally fleeting pleasure of dining al fresco should appreciate this gastropub, which has an expansive courtyard patio with a commanding view of the Papago Buttes beyond. The food is even better than the view. Chief tempter among the sandwiches is the short rib grilled cheese – punchy barbecue Angus beef and cheddar on toasty multigrain bread. $-$$

Roka Akor
STEAK/SUSHI
7299 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
480-306-8800, rokaakor.com

The open charcoal-fire robata grill anchors this chic international superstar of Asian fine dining. Robatayaki (a grilling technique of Japanese fishermen) inspires a menu featuring sushi, salads and grilled entrées. $$$

ShinBay
Japanese
3720 N. Scottsdale Rd.
480-361-1021, shin-bay.com

You’ll need an open mind and some serious cash to partake in Shinji Kurita’s spectacular omakase, a mind-blowing, multi-course roller coaster of virtuoso Japanese cuisine, manifested in at least two dozen mostly classical preparations of seafood and exotic vegetables. There is no menu – you have to trust the chef to serve you something delicious. And trust us: He will. $$$$

Photo courtesy Roka Akor
Photo courtesy Roka Akor

Talavera
Spanish steakhouse
10600 E. Crescent Moon Dr. (Four Seasons Scottsdale)
480-513-5085, talaverarestaurant.com

With its covered, second-story patio overlooking the desert and recently refreshed dining room, this beautiful hotel restaurant transcends the genre, offering spectacularly good Spanish cuisine, including crudo, tapas, steaks and dreamy, Latin-inspired desserts. $$$$

Zinc Bistro
French
15034 N. Scottsdale Rd. (Kierland Commons)
480-603-0922, zincbistroaz.com

Big mirrors and soft lighting set the tone for this lively replica of a Parisian bistro, and Matt Carter’s food is always terrific. Try the onion soup, the mussels with pommes frites, and don’t miss the roasted chicken. $-$$$

EAST VALLEY

At My Place Cafe
Filipino
3450 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler
480-838-1008, facebook.com/atmyplacecafeaz

As casual and welcoming as its name, this cute Filipino café draws loads of Asian cuisine lovers who show up for lechon kawali, adobo, beef caldereta, breakfast silogs (offered all day), pork sisig, lumpia, empanadas, buko pandan and more. $-$$

The Brickyard Downtown
Tapas
85 W. Boston St., Chandler
480-963-1373, brickyarddowntown.com

This downtown Chandler gastropub is tucked inside a vintage newspaper building. Addictive small plates might include tuna poke, duck croquettes or avocado frybread. Larger, “family-style” tapas like elote short rib and aged New York strip steak are so good you might not want to share. $$-$$$

Café Lalibela
Ethiopian
849 W. University Dr., Tempe
480-829-1939, cafelalibela.com

Eating with your hands is not only acceptable but expected at this friendly Ethiopian restaurant, where injera (spongy tortilla-like bread) functions as silverware. Try the doro wat (chicken and hard-cooked egg in traditional berbere sauce) or the gomen (collard greens). $-$$

The Dhaba
Indian
1872 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe
480-557-8800

This nicely decorated haven serves Punjabi cuisine – hearty, full-flavored and including both vegetarian dishes and halal meat options of chicken, lamb, goat and fish. Don’t forget to take a handful of mukwah, candy-coated fennel and anise seeds, when you depart. $-$$

The Farmhouse Restaurant
American
228 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert
480-926-0676, farmhouseofgilbert.com

Although The Farmhouse is no longer in a farmhouse, this Gilbert standby is still a great place for a hearty breakfast (try the famous cinnamon rolls) or homey lunch. $

Kai
CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICAN
5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd.
(Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass), Chandler
602-225-0100, wildhorsepassresort.com

Explore contemporary, seasonal spins on indigenous regional cuisine at Arizona’s only AAA Four Diamond, Forbes Five Star dining destination. The impeccable service and remarkable desert vistas overlooking the Estrella Mountains only bolster this high-end resort restaurant’s natural charms. $$$$

Millie’s Café
Puerto Rican
1916 W. Baseline Rd., Mesa
480-223-8217, facebook.com/milliescafeaz

Homesick Puerto Ricans can find delicious solace at this tiny, family-owned cafe, but newbies will also delight in traditional Puerto Rican fare including mofongo, tostones, arroz con gandules and the jibarito, a hot meat and cheese sandwich that substitutes crisp, garlicky fried plantains for the bread. $

Original Cuisine
Chinese/Sichuan
1853 W. Broadway Rd., Mesa
480-255-7810, originalcuisineaz.com

An offshoot of one of California’s most admired Chinese restaurants, this efficient eatery really brings the heat, specializing in the one-two punch of ma la — dried red chiles and tongue-numbing Sichuan peppercorns, an acquired taste for some. For more nuance, start with mapo tofu— silky cubes of tofu bathed in a gravy-like sauce of chile oil, doubanjiang (spicy fermented bean paste), Sichuan peppercorns, garlic and ginger. It’s off the charts, releasing subtle sweetness and layers of controlled heat. $-$$

Pedal Haus Brewery
American/gastropub
730 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
480-314-2337, pedalhausbrewery.com

This buzzy, bike-themed brewery is arguably restaurateur Julian Wright’s most popular concept. Meaty pub grub such as smoked chicken wings, burgers and crispy pork schnitzel are balanced with a vegan menu of pizza, cauliflower wings and a Mediterranean board. Lots of gluten-friendly options, too, including gluten-reduced beers. Multiple locations. $$

The Stone Tofu House
Korean
1870 W. Main St., Mesa
480-361-0523, thestonetofuaz.com

Owners Don Kim and Cookie Sohn slip house-made tofu into bubbling soups and enormous, cooked-at-the-table hot pots, also frying fat rectangular cakes of it in sesame oil until they turn crisp. It’s heady but healthy, too, as are fresh-tasting versions of classics such as savory mung bean pancakes, kalbi, bulgogi and bibimbap. $-$$

WEST VALLEY

Abuelo’s
Mexican
16092 N. Arrowhead Fountains Center Dr., Peoria,
623-878-8282, abuelos.com

These Texas-based corporate restaurants offer hearty Mexican food with a decidedly Tex-Mex accent. Expect large portions and lots of spice. Save room for chocolate flan. Other location: Chandler (480-855-0960). $-$$

Dazzo’s Dog House
American
6143 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
623-934-3536, dazzosdoghouse.com

The Chicago native Dazzo brothers and their families have been running this joint since 1979. Grab a hot dog, Polish dog or bratwurst or feast on a Chi-Town smorgasbord of Italian beef sandwiches, chili dogs, pizza puffs, Chicago tamales and fresh-cut fries. $

Flavors of Louisiana
Cajun/creole
13025 W. Rancho Santa Fe Blvd.,
Avondale, 623-935-2357, flavorsoflouisianacajun.com

Baton Rouge native Jennifer Landry Goff runs this little slice of the bayou like it’s her home kitchen, specializing in lovingly scratch-made Cajun and Creole specialties like jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp ètouffèe and boudin balls. The po’boys and muffulettas will transport you to NOLA. $-$$

Haus Murphy’s
German
5739 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
623-939-2480, hausmurphys.com

Don’t let the “Murphy’s” moniker throw you. Brett and Rose Hoffmann’s kitschy, cozy German restaurant is Teutonic through and through, and one of the Valley’s top three German eateries. The menu lists all the classics – bratwurst, sauerkraut, sauerbraten, a half-dozen schnitzels, strudel and dandy tortes. $$

Mochilero Kitchen
Latin
6791 W. Happy Valley Rd., Peoria
623-440-5588, mochilerokitchen.com

This colorful Latin chic restaurant is the brainchild of siblings Jorge Cota and Meliza Miranda, who had the dandy idea to bring regional Mexican cuisine to an underserved area of town. Even those farther afield should
visit to feast on Yucatán-inspired guacamole with crispy plantains, Michoacán’s succulent carnitas and Baja’s famed fish tacos, all in one place. Bring it all home to the Sonoran Desert with a prickly pear paloma. $$

Siam
Thai
5008 W. Northern Ave., Glendale
623-931-2102, siamthaicuisine.com

Try the Siam beef and tom ka gai soup at this attractive neighborhood restaurant. The owners operate an adjacent import grocery store. $

Ugly Tuna Sushi
Japanese/sushi
15459 W. Bell Rd., Surprise 623-248-1957, uglytunasushi.com

Despite the cruel and hurtful name, there’s nothing unappealing about this Surprise sushi bar Sweet and savory find a delicate balance in such well-executed classics as the eel-topped Dragon roll. $$

CAVE CREEK/CAREFREE

Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue
Barbecue
6130 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek
480-575-7155, bryansbarbecue.com

Voted “best ribs in Arizona” by Food Network, this laidback barbecue joint specializes in meat, beer and fries. For vegetarians, there’s a meat-free “pulled” squash sandwich or olive coleslaw. Cool your taste buds with a refreshing homemade chocolate-chip cookie ice cream sandwich. $-$$

Confluence
Modern American
36899 N. Tom Darlington Dr., Carefree
480-488-9796, restaurantconfluence.com

Kevin Binkley protégé Brandon Gauthier conjures up a winning debut with his first venture as a chef-owner – a brash New American bistro located in the old Café Bink space. Like a hybrid of Café Bink and Gauthier’s more high-end, experimental work at Binkley’s, the menu offers dishes both delicate and powerful, like a foie gras parfait and butternut squash agnolotti. $$-$$$$

English Rose Tea Room
Tea/Sandwiches
201 Easy St., Carefree
480-488-4812, carefreetea.com

Floral fabrics, crystal chandeliers and bone china make this pretty tea room a must-do for ladies who lunch. The menu features a variety of quiches, sandwiches, soups and salads. $$

Tonto Bar & Grill
Southwestern
5736 E. Rancho Mañana Blvd., Cave Creek
480-488-0698, tontobarandgrill.com

Tonto Bar & Grill stands on the original site of the Rancho Mañana dude ranch, once the largest of its kind in Arizona. Enjoy fresh baked breads and house-made desserts. $$$

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