“What is your favorite restaurant?” is perhaps the most frequently asked question I receive. In the last 30 years as a proud AZ resident–first of Glendale, then Phoenix, and now Scottsdale–I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the remarkable transformation of this desert town, not just in terms of sprawling urban developments but also in its gastronomic scene.
Phoenix has grown and diversified at an astonishing pace. The ever-changing restaurant scene, with its eclectic blend of flavors and experiences, is a testament to the city’s vibrant spirit. Over the years, I’ve seen the rise and fall of dining trends, the emergence of innovative chefs, and the steady progression of the culinary arts. As the city has expanded, so too has my appreciation for its culinary diversity. This guide is a reflection of my enduring love for the city and my passion for its dining treasures.
My ultimate Phoenix dining guide includes classic establishments and exciting newcomers, showcasing the city’s reputation as a true food lover’s paradise. This list is limited to Phoenix solely (you soon will see why!). Dedicated posts for our other Valley towns will be forthcoming.
So what am I waiting for? Let’s dive on it! xoM
(NOTE: this is an evolving list; if you don’t see your favorite restaurant or bar, please drop me a line below in the comment section and I will make haste to add it! )
Downtown Phoenix (aka DTPHX)
If you want really good food in Phoenix, you must experience the downtown dining scene. Period.
Anhelo – Reservations are required at Anhelo, a fine dining establishment led by Chef Ivan Jacobo, offering delicacies such as Beef Wellington and an outstanding wine list.
Bacanora – Seats are difficult to come by at Chef Rene Andrade’s restaurant, which serves wood-fired Sonoran specialties and delicious cocktails.
Barcoa – This lively cocktail bar invites you to discover the amazing world of heritage agave spirits. Book an agave tasting with co-owner Dave Tyda – you won’t regret it.
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour – Award-winning cocktail lounge with stylish interiors and innovative sips and bites by Scotsman Ross Simon.
The Cave at Quartz Bar – A 90-minute immersive cocktail experience behind the main Quartz bar with a menu inspired by deserts around the world.
Chilte – Owners Chef Lawrence “L.T.” Smith and his wife Aseret Arroyo serve “New School Mexican Eats” at this spot in the renovated Egyptian Hotel.
Cibo Urban Pizzeria – A traditional Southern Italian pizzeria in a restored 1913 bungalow with abundant patio seating and old-world charm.
Coabana – Cuban-inspired rum-forward cocktails and tapas in an atmosphere inspired by the lively city of Havana.
Disco Dragon – Craft cocktails meet Pan-Asian eats from Chefs Kevin Rosales and Bob Tan.
First and Last – A restaurant with an ingredient-driven menu, wines from small producers, and playful cocktails. Downstairs, Little Debbie’s cocktail bar is charming, too.
FYPM – Make a 90-minute reservation on Tock to experience other-worldly cocktails in a whimsical setting.
Gallo Blanco – Oaxacan-inspired Mexican food by Chef Doug Robson, who was born and raised in CDMX.
Garden Bar – A warm and welcoming neighborhood “garden to glass” cocktail bar in a renovated 1914 California-style bungalow.
Killer Whale Sex Club – Dark, quirky, and fun cocktail bar brought to you by Sam Olguin and Brenon Stuart, who also own FYPM, Disco Dragon, and Pour Bastards.
Little Rituals – A Tales of the Cocktail award-winning cocktail bar on the 4th Floor of the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott also has excellent food.
Lom Wong – Thai restaurant that focuses on family recipes and regional fare from villages across Thailand by female owner & chef Yotaka Martin.
Ocotillo – A striking modern indoor/outdoor design with full-service bar, dining room, and a communal wine events area. Check out adjacent Sidecar Cocktail Lounge too.
Pa’La – A wood-fire-inspired restaurant engaged in local and specialty import ingredients that range from Mediterranean, South American, and Japanese influences.
Pigtails – Second location of a series of locally-owned speakeasies hidden throughout the Greater Phoenix area, featuring exceptional cocktails, shareable plates and a raw seafood bar.
Pizzeria Bianco – Award-winning Chef Chris Bianco brings you world-class pizza since 1987 in Heritage Square.
Pour Bastards – A neighborhood bar with an expansive menu of expertly crafted modern cocktails alongside natural wines and local beer.
Quartz – Mixologist Maxwell Berlin and Beverage Director Paul Waxman bring you a cocktail menu and theme that is an ode to the twelve birthstones in each calendar year.
Rosso Italian – A concept from Pomo Restaurant Group featuring a curated selection of carefully crafted entrées, appetizers, seafood, and their signature Napoletana pizza.
Rough Rider – A 21st-century restaurant and cocktail bar inspired by the fashions, fare, and libations of the late 19th century.
Sake Haus – A spirit-forward sushi bar with a Tokyo street vibe with a large selection of Japanese and local sakes and Japanese whisky.
Sotisse – A modern French bistro inhabiting the historic Knipe House built in 1901 in Downtown Phoenix.
Taco Chelo – Classic tacos, craft cocktails, and imported beer in an airy space decorated by murals by local artist (and part-owner) Gennaro Garcia.
Welcome Diner – A circa-1945 diner with counter seating and a menu of comfort fare featuring Southern flair.
Wren and Wolf – A craft cocktail bar and chef-driven kitchen in a space decorated with life-sized taxidermy animals and murals of wild animals.
Across The Pond – Outstanding cocktails and sushi brought to you by Clever Koi’s Joshua James and Nick Campisano.
Bar 1912 – Charming bar inside Valentine honoring the year of AZ statehood where drinks are inspired by the Five C’s of Arizona: copper, cattle, cotton, citrus, and climate.
The Beach House – A family-owned and operated, cash-only eatery serving fish tacos, burritos and more in beach-house-themed surroundings.
Belly Kitchen & Bar – The first of one of two locations in Phoenix serving Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes, plus wine and cocktails.
The Captain’s Cabin – Serving tiki classics Thursday through Sunday only in an intimate space adjacent to Hula’s Modern Tiki on 7th Street.
Chula Seafood Uptown – The second outpost of the fast-casual fresh fish market and restaurant that serves award-winning fish tacos, sashimi platters, poke, and a tasty swordfish Cubano.
Clever Koi – Hip, modern eatery serving comfort foods from various Asian countries plus cocktails.
The Dinersaur – A gem of a bakery with confections by Olivia Girard. The sandwiches are also delicious.
Don Woods’ Say When – A 70’s-inspired rooftop bar and lounge serving retro-modern cocktails and small bites atop the Rise Uptown Hotel.
Fàme Caffe – Farm-to-fork cafe fare open for breakfast and lunch with French and Mexican flair, plus espresso and local craft beer.
Federal Pizza – From Upward Projects, Midcentury meets modern in a restored 1950s bank building designed by Al Beadle serving wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, pastas, and salads.
Highball Cocktail Bar – A cozy neighborhood cocktail bar and lounge from award-winning mixologists Libby Lingua and Mitch Lyons.
Hula’s Modern Tiki – One of three locations of a locally-owned tropical paradise serving Polynesian inspired entrées and cocktails.
Joyride Taco House – One of two locations in Phoenix serving tacos and other Mexican fare, margaritas, cocktails, beer, and wine.
JL Patisserie – The second location of Jenna Leurquin’s high-end French artisanal bakery that sells freshly baked French bread, croissants, pastries, and decadent cakes.
Lux Central – Cafe and bakery serving an eclectic, ever-changing menu plus coffee, wine, beer and cocktails.
Lylo Swim Club – A mid-century poolside bar and restaurant offering cocktails and an all-day menu of Sonoran eats.
Mora Italian – Celebrity Chef Scott Conant’s first restaurant in Phoenix offering pastas, wood-fired pizzas and hearty mains.
Neighborly Public House – An “elevated neighborhood spot” by Chef Christopher Collins serving quality seafood, pristine cuts of meat, and fresh vegetables.
Pane Bianco – Chris Bianco delivers again with a modern menu of Italian sandwiches, salads and pizza made with house-baked bread. Consistently voted best sandwich spot in Phoenix.
Otro Cafe – Doug Robson’s sister restaurant to Gallo Blanco that serves brunch daily until 4 pm plus a tasty selection of Mexico City-style dishes.
Persepshen – Chef Jason Dwight and Pastry Chef Katherine Dwight focus on local and organic produce, meat, and seafood at this charming eatery on Central Avenue.
Phoenix City Grille – Since 1997 by owner Sheldon Knapp, this restaurant in the style of an old town tavern serves New American dishes.
Restaurant Progress – Chef/owner TJ Culp’s menu features locally sourced ingredients in classic, simple dishes, including a significant array of vegetarian dishes.
Richardson’s – One of my old haunts when I moved here in 1993 that serves New Mexican cuisine and great Prickly Pear Margaritas.
Rokerij – Dutch for “smokehouse,” this restaurant serves American comfort food, grilled meats, and seafood in a charming stone house.
Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey – Chef Engin Onural brings his popular Palm Springs concept to Phoenix that serves hand-crafted sushi and whiskey pairings.
Sauvage Wine Bar – Chris Lingua relocated his natural wine bar from The Churchill to a charming spot on McDowell Road. The bar offers light bites and a fantastic selection of natural wines.
Southern Rail – A full bar and large outdoor patio complement Chef Justin Beckett’s updated Southern dishes at this casual restaurant.
Texaz Grill – Speaking of Southern dishes, if you are craving some Chicken Fried Steak to wash down with a Big Red or Shiner while listening to Jerry Jeff Walker, Texaz Grill is for you.
Tratto – James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco’s Italian restaurant is one of the best restaurants in town serving a rotating seasonal menu of elevated Italian plates.
Valentine – Owners Blaise Faber and Chadwick Price created this restaurant, cocktail bar, coffee shop, and wine bar that celebrates all that is great about our Valentine State.
Windsor – A restaurant serving American cuisine with a bar offering beer, wine, and cocktails. Brunch is available indoors or on the patio.
36 Below – A below-ground cocktail bar (accessed via Sip Coffee & Beer) with virtual reality scenes that pair with seasonal cocktail menus.
Beckett’s Table – Chef Justin Beckett’s first concept opened in 2010 serving New American farm-to-table fare with an award-winning wine list.
Binkley’s – Intimate, cozy, and fabulous multi-course meals from one of the best chefs in town, Christopher Binkley, in an equally intimate and cozy house.
Buck & Rider – From LGO Hospitality, a seafood restaurant offering raw bar fare, meat dishes, craft drinks, and hand-rolled sushi.
Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion – James Beard Chef Christopher Gross serves a tasting menu with wine pairing or a mid-week limited menu of chef’s favorites in an all-glass space with spectacular city and mountain views.
The Collins Small Batch Kitchen – From Chris Collins’ Common Ground Culinary, this bright, spacious eatery offers modern American dishes, daily happy hour, and a bar with TVs.
CRUjiente Tacos – Arcadia neighborhood’s favorite upscale taco spot, where San Antonio Chef Richard Hinojosa serves modern tacos and small Mexican plates, craft cocktails, and the best margaritas in town.
Flint – Wood-fired contemporary Mediterranean fare housed inside an elegant, two-story space with an open-top rooftop cocktail lounge overlooking Camelback Road at 24th Street.
The Gladly – Local chef Bernie Kantak creates flavorful new-American cuisine that pairs with an extensive beverage program featuring 300+ whiskies and table-side ice balls.
Glai Baan – Thai for “far from home”, this cozy Phoenix Thai restaurant focuses on shareable street food and snacks from Bangkok and Isan paired with an outstanding cocktail program.
Geordie’s at Wrigley Mansion – Dining inside the elegant, sprawling Italianate mansion built by William Wrigley, Jr., in 1929 is a must in Phoenix. Don’t miss Jamie’s Wine Bar as well.
Grey Hen Rx at Century Grand – Grey Hen Rx reimagines the New Orleans apothecary, offering an elevated cocktail experience with hand-selected fine spirits as one of three themed bars within Century Grand.
La Grande Orange – a curated general store, wine shop, pizzeria, and restaurant offering dine-in or grab-and-go breakfast, coffee, lunch, and dinner. I am obsessed with their salads, sushi, and pimiento cheese.
The Henry – A versatile space for catching up with friends, meeting colleagues for lunch, or enjoying a family dinner with cocktails. Also an ideal spot for getting work done on your computer.
Ingo’s Tasty Food – From LGO Hospitality, a restaurant featuring fast and convenient hand-chopped salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Now, with a new downtown location that also serves breakfast and coffee.
The Macintosh – A menu of modern comfort classics from Chef and Owner Christopher Collins, like Southern Shrimp and Grits, Barbecued Beef Ribs, and Shrimp Po’ Boy, plus an expansive selection of brews and whiskey.
Merc Bar – Known for its martinis and specialty cocktails, Merc is a beloved upscale bar in the Valley that opened in the ’90s, closed, and then reopened.
Nelson’s Meat + Fish Phoenix – Since 2017, this meat and fish market on Indian School Road offers high-quality proteins as well as daily specials, including their popular Lobsta Roll. Now with a second location in North Scottsdale.
Noble Eatery – Jason Raducha’s modern wood-fired deli is open for mid-day meals featuring their fresh-baked naturally leavened breads with local organic produce.
Pa’la 24st Street – Claudio Urciuoli’s restaurant serves wood-fired organic veggies, grains, and seafood in a charming house near 24th street. The restaurant also boasts a spacious patio for outdoor dining.
Parlor Pizzeria – Since 2009, this Italian eatery specializes in wood-fired pizzas, handmade pasta, craft cocktails, and an inspired wine and beer list.
Pizzeria Bianco – The second location of Chris Bianco’s well-known pizzeria is larger and includes a small bar to enjoy while you wait.
Platform 18 at Century Grand – All aboard for a 90-minute reservation at this 1920s-inspired craft cocktail bar housed in a replica Pullman train car.
Postino’s – The winecafé’s first location is situated in the old post office of Arcadia neighborhood, and offers an impressive list of wine by the glass and bottle, along with light bites.
Pyro – A Japanese izakaya with an open flame, live-fire cooking, a cocktail bar, and an outdoor patio with an open hearth.
Renata’s Hearth – Fine Latin American cuisine made from the freshest ingredients ranging from light bites to family-style feasts.
Tarbell’s and Tarbell’s Tavern – Since 2009, Chef Mark Tarbell offers New American cuisine with creative takes on fresh vegetables, chicken, seafood, and beef.
Undertow at Century Grand – A tiki bar in Century Grand designed to look like the inside of a 19th-century clipper ship.
Wally’s American Pub N Grill – A family-owned restaurant and bar that offers hearty, from-scratch lunch and dinner options.