Where Valley Newcomers Should Dine Out in May & June

Editorial StaffJune 23, 2023
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Postino Wine Bar. Photo by Izabella Hernandez.

Postino Wine Bar
3939 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix

602-852-3939, postinowinecafe.com

Housed in the old Arcadia post office, the aptly named Postino offers panini, salads, interesting wines and great snacks. Don’t miss the bruschetta sampler. Check online for other locations. $$

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


LON’s at the Hermosa Inn

5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd., Paradise Valley
602-955-7878, hermosainn.com

Thanks to its territorial decor and fabulous patios, LON’s is a romantic favorite that oozes Old Arizona charm. The chefs source locally for the Southwestern-inflected menu, from the Crow’s Dairy goat cheese to the Noble Bread that accompanies many apps and makes appearances on the brunch menu. $$$

Lons at the Hermosa Inn
LON’s at the Hermosa Inn. Photo courtesy Debby Wolvos.

Anhelo Restaurant
Modern American

114 W. Adams St.
602-596-7745, anhelorestaurant.com

From his historic Downtown location, young gun Ivan Jacobo dispenses pricy entrées such as seared halibut, scallops and beef Wellington. However, his best work is also his least expensive: toast topped with burrata, smoked prosciutto and seasonal fruit; whole roasted cauliflower with anchovies and almonds; and his famous crudo. $$-$$$

Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
Contemporary American

2 E. Jefferson St. (Hotel Palomar)
602-258-0231, bluehoundkitchen.com

Now that Alex Robinson helms the kitchen, the once-trendy Blue Hound has got its mojo back, offering great views, edgy cocktails and a menu that includes playful starters (try the Brie with fire-roasted apple and fig) and pricy, luxurious entrées such as the Net of the Sea with lobster, mussels and jumbo prawns.

Clever Koi

4236 N. Central Ave.
602-222-3474, thecleverkoi.com

Creative, non-traditional takes on Asian-inspired fare in a contemporary, energetic atmosphere. Come for barman Joshua James’ thoughtful cocktails, crafted with house-made ingredients and South Pacific flair; stay for the wood-grilled octopus in a hot and sour broth, spicy kimchi fried rice, Peking duck steamed buns, or big bowls of ramen. Other location: Gilbert (480-306-4237). $$ 


2611 N. Central Ave.
602-264-5967, durantsaz.com

This Midtown institution has been serving beef and booze for the past 50 years. Phoenix’s movers and shakers come for Florida stone crabs, excellent lunchtime sandwiches and classic martinis. $$-$$$ 

El Nopalito

2831 N. 24th St., 602-522-2043

This tiny storefront stays busy by offering regional Mexican specialties you won’t find elsewhere. The clientele, made up of Hispanics and savvy gringos, appreciates the excellent salsas, unusual quesadillas and the gutsy pambazo (a sandwich made with chorizo-potato bread). $

First & Last
Modern American
1001 N. Third Ave.
602-975-8297, firstandlastphx.com 

Tucked away in a vintage building, this Modern American restaurant – a narrow slip of an eatery with a gorgeously lit turquoise bar and dining mezzanine above it – is stunning. The globally inflected menu is fun, but the food is mostly average. Stick to cocktails, apps and the lovely lemon ricotta cheesecake dessert. $$

Glai Baan
Thai street food

2333 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix

Pornsupak “Cat” Bunnag escapes Americanized Thai restaurant tropes with her spin on classic Thailand street food and specialties from her home province of Isan. Using locally sourced ingredients where possible, Glai Baan (loosely translated as “far from home”) offers small plates meant to be shared, like out-of-this-world steamed pork dumplings, crispy chicken wings with garlic chips and mackerel fried rice. $$ 

Hana Japanese Eatery

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 and chef Lori Hashimoto’s inventive chalkboard menu. Expect bento, noodles, tempura, exotic vegetables and teppan-style meats and seafood. $-$$$

Indian Delhi Palace

5104 E. McDowell Rd.
602-244-8181, indiandelhipalace.com

Phoenix’s oldest Indian restaurant is still going strong. Feast on Goa-style delicacies including chicken tikka masala, the benghan bhartha and the palaak paneer. $-$$


515 E. Grant St.
602-432-0752, kaizenphx.com

Chef Gustavo Muñoz brings a Latin vibe to this hip fusion sushi spot in the warehouse district, where you can expect to find ceviche, scallop aguachile and tiradito alongside florid sushi rolls made with striking ingredients (shiso pesto, for example) and Japanese standards gone fancy. $$

Little Miss BBQ

4301 E. University Dr.
602-437-1177, littlemissbbq.com 

Scott and Bekke Holmes’ tiny one-room restaurant regularly draws long lines of locals, their fingers crossed in hopes of deterring the “sold out” sign. Their secret is mouthwatering meats smoked over white oak for 12-14 hours and served by the pound, on a bun or plated with sides. Other location: Sunnyslope. $-$$ 

Mora Italian
Modern Italian

5651 N. Seventh St.,
602-795-9943, moraitalian.com 

Celebrity chef Scott Conant puts the “it” in Italian at this buzzy Seventh Street corridor spot, blending familiar dishes with lesser-known regional favorites. Come for the imaginative cocktails at the gorgeous bar and modern-classic fusion pleasers like mushrooms boscaiola, an earthy pairing of mushroom sauce and ultra-creamy polenta. $$-$$$

Noble Eatery

4525 N. 24th St.
602-688-2424, nobleeatery.com

Local breadmaker Jason Raducha showcases organic legumes, artisanal meats, fresh local produce and mouthwatering loaves. Look for rotating daily sandwiches, salads and starters, including tart pink grapefruit with fennel, and bruschetta-like smorgas with seasonal ingredients like Blue Sky cherry tomatoes and milky mozzarella. $

Ocean Prime

5455 E. High St.
480-347-1313, oceanprimephoenix.com

Start with inventive appetizers like white truffle caviar deviled eggs before moving on to executive chef Jagger Griffin’s superlative surf-and-turf selections, like Chilean sea bass in champagne truffle sauce and a 10-ounce house-seasoned filet mignon. The wine menu (50 pours by the glass) is outstanding, as is the daring dessert menu, bulging with dense treats like 10-layer carrot cake. $$$$

Pizzeria Bianco

623 E. Adams St.
602-258-8300, pizzeriabianco.com

Located in a beautiful old building in Heritage Square, this tiny, always-packed Valley icon offers the best wood-fired pizzas in town, crafted largely from house-made and local ingredients. Other location: Town & Country (602-368-3273). $-$$

Quiessence at the Farm
6106 S. 32nd St.
602-276-0601, qatthefarm.com

It doesn’t get more charming – or romantic – than this legendary farmhouse restaurant, cozily set at the end of a lane on a sprawling 10-acre farm boasting flowers, lush lawns and an old pecan grove. Chef-owner Dustin Christofolo has enhanced the restaurant’s farm-to-table cuisine with flashes of Italian virtuosity, turning out some of the city’ best bread and pasta, as well as a charcuterie board you’ll eat with your eyes first. $$$-$$$$

Rusconi’s American Kitchen

10637 N. Tatum Blvd.
480-483-0009, rusconiskitchen.com 

From talented chef Michael Rusconi comes a snug and unpretentious home-away-from-home. The Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame-nominated chef has been spotted lugging in grocery sacks hours before opening and it’s not uncommon for him to launch into tableside explanations of gastronomic technique over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try the curried rack of lamb and luscious Durham Ranch buffalo sirloin with pungent, wholesome apple-bleu cheese. $$

Seydi’s Pupuseria & Grill
2625 E. Greenway Pkwy.

Painted the bright blue of the Salvadoran flag, this friendly Salvadoran mom-and-son restaurant hangs its hat on cheesy, melty, hot-pocket-like pupusas, but everything is well-prepared and remarkably inexpensive. $


1025 N. Second St
602-254-6378, sottisephx.com 

Sit on the deep porch and sip a carefully curated wine at this charming French bistro and wine bar, baby sis to TJ Culp’s equally charming Restaurant Progress. The grazing menu, which offers a few entrées (don’t miss the pork shank or the pesto pasta) runs to classic French – escargots, baked and melting Camembert, pâté and salmon rillettes, all of it outstanding. $$-$$$

T. Cook’s
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. Chef Lee Hillson tweaks the menu to reflect seasonal offerings and culinary whims, while marching out beloved classics, like lobster bisque, Mediterranean paella and pasta carbonara. $$$-$$$$

ZK Grill
Middle Eastern
4757 E. Greenway Rd.
602-354-3663, zaytoonkabob.com

These cheery, bustling, fast-casual restaurants specialize, obviously, in kabobs. Chicken, beef filet, lamb, ground beef – each is treated with utmost respect. Carefully trimmed, marinated and grilled to order, they come as entrées with superlative rice or as wraps, nestled in wonderful flatbread. All the usual go-withs are available: taboule, hummus, eggplant dip. Iranian specialties are offered daily. Saffron ice cream makes the perfect meal punctuation. Other location: Phoenix (480-961-2353). $-$$


The Mission

3815 N. Brown Ave., Scottsdale
480-636-5005, themissionaz.com

This swanky Latin-style lounge serves up mouth-watering meals and exotic cocktails, all in a quaint adobe-style setting. Start with the tableside guacamole or pork shoulder tacos. Sip on a pineapple-ginger mojito while savoring the short rib steak, but save room for the fried bananas. Other location: North Scottsdale (480-292-7800). $$-$$$

The Mission. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield.
The Mission. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield.

Ocean 44

4748 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale
480-867-0044, ocean44.com

Brought to you by the Mastro family of upscale steakhouse fame, this swanky seafood restaurant is the hottest game in town for good reason: gorgeous décor, impeccable service, good booze, great steaks and lots of seafood – sometimes good, sometimes great. Here, it’s the overall experience that counts. $$$-$$$$

Ocean 44. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield.
Ocean 44. Photo by Mirelle Inglefield.

Andreoli Italian Grocer

8880 E. Via Linda
480-614-1980, andreoli-grocer.com

Giovanni Scorzo is large and in charge at this comfy, antique-furnished market-restaurant, where he makes the sort of Italian food Italians want to eat: house-made salumi, focaccia, pizzetta, bresaola, carpaccio, pesce en brodetto and (if you’re lucky) vitello tonnato. For dessert, the fabulous meringata. $-$$$

Bourbon Steak
7575 E. Princess Dr. (Fairmont Scottsdale Princess)
480-513-6002, scottsdaleprincess.com/dining/bourbon-steak

Michelin-starred, James Beard Award-winning chef/restaurateur Michael Mina runs this upscale resort steakhouse with sleek design elements. Expect buttery, succulent, lick-the-plate steaks, like the imported Grade A5 Japanese Wagyu. Mina’s signature lobster pot pie makes for a show-stopping and utterly decadent presentation. Reservations recommended. $$$$

Chula Seafood

8015 E. Roosevelt St.
480-621-5121, chulaseafood.com

Don’t be turned off by the run-down strip mall that houses this cute, clean-as-a-whistle seafood market and restaurant specializing in fish caught off the Southern California coast. The Heflin family own and operate the restaurant as well as a commercial fishing boat in San Diego, offering fresh, never-frozen “boat-to-table” seafood in a variety of delicious permutations. Other location: Phoenix (602-354-3599). $$


15169 N. Scottsdale Rd.  (Scottsdale Quarter)
480-272-7271, dominickssteakhouse.com

The Mastro family, who created Mastro’s steakhouses and Mastro’s Ocean Club, spent millions constructing this lavish temple to beef at Scottsdale Quarter. Try the succulent bone-in veal chop. $$$$ 

El Chorro

5550 E. Lincoln Dr.
480-948-5170, elchorro.com

A Valley touchstone for generations, El Chorro offers a peerless patio and welcoming dining room. The core of the old menu remains, with an emphasis on such mid-20th-century favorites as shrimp cocktail, beef Stroganoff, trout almondine,wine-braised short ribs and delicious sticky buns. $$$$

7125 E. Fifth Ave.
480-284-4777, fnbrestaurant.com

Proprietors Pavle Milic and James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman serve a farm-focused menu dependent on whatever ingredients Badman receives from local  growers. Fare could include spaghetti squash almondine, roast jidori chicken or king salmon. The beverage list includes a generous selection of Arizona beer and wines. $-$$$$

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria

4000 N. Scottsdale Rd.
480-994-1100, grimaldispizzeria.com

This New York-style pizzeria serves terrific thin-crust pies, calzones, antipasto and New York cheesecake. Thanks to the colossal coal-fired ovens they’re baked in, the pizzas sport crisp, blistered crusts and a slightly charred flavor. Multiple locations.  $-$$

Hush Public House
New American
14202 N. Scottsdale Rd.
480-758-5172, hushpublichouse.com 

Just close your eyes and point: Everything is delicious and comforting at this dim, narrow and noisy strip mall restaurant run by industry vets Dom Ruggiero and Charles Barber. The menu, which skews New American, features lots of shared plates, so come with a food-loving friend or three and order in quantity. Don’t miss the country pâté, chicken liver mousse, spaghetti alla chitarra, luscious Italian beef sandwich or New York strip – all excellent, all a bargain. $$-$$$

June House

6245 E. Bell Rd.
480-219-9848, junehousekitchen.com

This to-go-oriented spot offers a mash-up of Asian favorites, from Americanized orange chicken to pad Thai. The wrinkle is a winning emphasis on Cantonese dim sum dishes. $$

Kyoto Scottsdale
7170 E. Stetson Dr.,
480-990-9374, kyotoscottsdale.com

By 6 p.m. most nights, this sushi bar and teppanyaki restaurant is slammed with 20-somethings, who party their way through dinner before hitting the clubs. High turnover equals fresh fish. $$

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). $

The Mick Brasserie + Bar
9719 N. Hayden Rd.
480-210-5500, themickaz.com 

There’s nothing fancy about The Mick, a Mid-Century Modern watering hole with a lovely French-inspired menu that’s all over the map – literally. Graze on dishes like char-siu pork belly banh mi sliders, Moroccan duck confit pastilla, chicken liver mousse, escargots or (best of all) butternut squash tartine. $-$$

13910 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.
480-314-9445, nicks-italian.com

A neighborhood favorite, this friendly spot serves more than 28 homemade pasta dishes and pizzas, as well as an extensive selection of chicken, veal and seafood. Other locations: Pinnacle Peak (480-515-0096), Paradise Valley (602-953-1110). $$

Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen
7325 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.
480-990-2212, picazzos.com

A 100 percent gluten-free menu makes this local Italian chain special. Feast on scratch-made focaccia, lasagna Bolognese, stone-oven-baked pizzas and tiramisu. $-$$

Roka Akor

7299 N. Scottsdale Rd.
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. $$$

Slanted Rice

6149 N. Scottsdale Rd.
480-696-3116, slantedrice.com

The sister restaurant to the Tran family’s Rice Paper in Phoenix, Slanted Rice also serves Vietnamese food in a chic neighborhood restaurant setting. Sweet pork and crisp veggies are encased in the Trans’ signature spring rolls, while shaken beef goes upscale with soy-marinated filet mignon served on a sizzling platter with caramelized onions and jasmine rice. $-$$

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 hotel restaurant transcends the genre, offering spectacularly good Spanish cuisine, including crudo, tapas, steaks and dreamy, Latin-inspired desserts. $$$$

Virtù Honest Craft
3701 N. Marshall Way
480-946-3477, virtuscottsdale.com

Virtù offers an ever-evolving Mediterranean menu at the charming Bespoke Inn in Old Town Scottsdale. Head straight for the signature charred octopus and wash it down with one of the restaurant’s handcrafted cocktails. This popular but unpretentious eatery definitely lives up to the hype. $$-$$$$

East Valley

Liberty Market

230 N. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert
480-892-1900, libertymarket.com

Another Gilbert institution from Joe Johnston, this fast-casual eatery is housed in a historic building in downtown Gilbert. Highlights include fresh baked goods, wood-fired pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads and all-day breakfast. Terrific espresso bar, too. $-$$

Liberty Market. Photo by Hannah Smith.
Liberty Market. Photo by Hannah Smith.

At My Place Cafe
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. $-$$

Ban Chan
2909 S. Dobson Rd., Mesa

This Korean restaurant in Mesa features excellent dishes such as spicy pan-fried octopus and squid, Korean-style pork belly (sam-gyeopsal)  and monkfish stew (agujjim), a favorite with the regulars.  $-$$

Café Lalibela

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
1872 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe

Named after Indian truck stops, 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. $-$$

Ghost Ranch

1006 E. Warner Rd., Tempe
480-474-4328, ghostranchaz.com

Sure, you could eat a juicy, outrageously good green chile burger at this elegant ode to Southwestern cuisine, but then you’d miss out on wonderful dishes that redefine the genre. If you’re willing to fork out the cash, the grilled trout is sensational, as are the pollo asado and the ceviche (technically an aguachile), one of the best in town. $$-$$$

The Hidden House
New American

159 W. Commonwealth Ave., Chandler
480-275-5525, hiddenhouseaz.com

Tucked away on a quiet street behind the bustle of Chandler’s historic square, this gastropub is a stone-cold gem, offering crowd-pleasing food, a terrific patio, cool bar and great cocktails. If you don’t live in Chandler, you’ll wish you did. $$

Mambo’s Dominican Kitchen

1950 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler
480-718-9210, mambosdominicankitchen.net

Lined with a proud gallery of Dominican baseball and pop stars, the dining room at Mambo’s makes an enticing setting in which to enjoy sophisticated, savory fare like mofongo de camarones, carne de res guisado and maybe the best sopa de pollo you’ll ever taste. Try the yuca frita for a starter, and the arroz con leche for dessert. $

Original Cuisine
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. $-$$

The Peppermill
Steakhouse/Contemporary American
7660 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe,
480-590-6755, peppermillaz.com 

Chef-owner Chad Bolar spent nine years working for culinary star Christopher Gross, and his classical chops are deliciously apparent at this unassuming strip-mall spot – part modern-day steakhouse, part gastropub – embraced by cuisine-starved South Tempeans. The pork belly, crunchy with “everything bagel” toppings, the loin-like meat beneath ribboned with buttery fat, is among the Valley’s best. $$$-$$$$

101 E. Baseline Rd., Tempe
480-839-8226, someburros.com

This family-owned local chain serves some of the finest Southwest-Mex favorites in the Valley, from the intensely cheesy pollo fundido to the borracho burro, redolent with smoky, earthy green chiles. We love a place that lets us “enchilada-ize” and deep-fry our burros for saucy custom chimis. Multiple locations. $

Zu Izakaya

2210 N. Scottsdale Rd., Tempe
480-625-4372, zuizakaya.com

Owned by Chef June Kang of Scottsdale’s Bei Sushi, Zu captures the spirit of a Japanese izakaya pub without its more traditional trappings. A massive menu of tempura, hot pots and grilled meats includes gyoza, chile-garlic edamame and tempura sweet potatoes, with fried cheese SPAM katsu sliders for more adventurous appetites. $-$$

West Valley

Melting Pot

19420 N. 59th Ave., Glendale
623-444-4946, meltingpot.com

Dark and intimate, this vaguely European-looking fondue place makes a great date restaurant. And if all goes well, there’s a sensual finale involving cake, fruit and warm chocolate. Other location: Ahwatukee (480-704-9206). $$$

Melting Pot. Photo by Hannah Smith.
Melting Pot. Photo by Hannah Smith.

Arrowhead Grill
8280 W. Union Hills Dr., Glendale
623-566-2224, arrowheadgrill.com

Chef Charles Schwerd has manned the grill for Mastro’s and Ruth’s Chris. While steaks occupy the front burner, there are also seafood options and hearty appetizers. $$-$$$$ 

Dillon’s KC BBQ
20585 N. 59th Ave., Glendale,
623-566-8100, dillonsrestaurant.com

This rambling, down-home restaurant is beloved for its barbecued ribs and chicken, pecan-smoked and served with comforting sides including mashed potatoes, steak fries, macaroni and cheese, barbecue baked beans and potato salad. Fish sandwiches and platters are stellar, too. Other location: Scorpion Bay Lake Pleasant (928-501-2227). $-$$ 

Fabio on Fire
8275 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy, Peoria
623-680-5385, fabioonfire.com

As a third generation pizzaiolo, chef-owner Fabio Ceschetti is passionate about his excellent pies. This cute, cozy trattoria with patio is also a North Peoria go-to for excellent pasta and daily specials such as roast lamb, veal piccata and cioppino. $$

Siamese Kitchen
4352 W. Olive Ave., Glendale

A small, family-operated, storefront restaurant featuring beef, pork, chicken and seafood dishes spiced as you wish. $

4214 W. Dunlap Ave., Phoenix
623-842-0400, takamatsurestaurant.com

This Japanese-Korean restaurant sports a sushi bar, as well as tabletop, do-it-yourself grills for Korean barbecue. The Korean food packs an unbelievable flavor punch. Try the kalbi dolsot bibimbap (marinated beef short ribs served with vegetables and white rice in a sizzling stone bowl), served with a spread of pickled vegetables for intrepid sampling. $$-$$$

Urban Margarita
6685 W. Beardsley Rd., Glendale
623-561-6674, urbanmargarita.com

Alongside a wide variety of suavely cosmopolitan tequila and lime concoctions in “house or skinny” form, this Mexican gastropub has a menu of upscale tacos. $$.

Carefree/Cave Creek

Brisam’s Grill, Bar and Patio
4730 E. Lone Mountain Rd., Cave Creek

480-595-2202, brisams.com

Although the slew of mounted TVs say “sports bar,” this neighborhood restaurant caters to families, offering great burgers, peel-and-eat shrimp, fish tacos, loaded fries and pizza. $-$$

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. $$-$$$$

El Encanto Mexican Café

6248 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek
480-488-1752, elencantorestaurants.com

The food at this longtime favorite is consistently good. And just as good is the charming patio that overlooks a duck pond. Stick with Sonoran basics, and don’t miss huevos rancheros on the patio on Sundays. Other location: Carefree (623-780-5948) and Fountain Hills (480-837-1070). $