What's one place I should eat in Phoenix/Tempe?
June 7, 2014 10:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm new to Tucson and have reason to be in Phoenix for one night (my first time there.) What is one place in Phoenix where you had delicious/pleasant/memorable dinner (besides Pizzeria Bianco)? Any type of food, any type of place: from weird hole in the wall up to moderately priced sit-down restaurant (cheap is a plus, tho). In or near Tempe is a bonus, but I'm open to driving. Maybe something with a little history?
posted by dahliachewswell to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I was just out that way for work and really enjoyed NoRTH, the Arcadia one. Kind of a neat, modern space. I was able to see right into the kitchen. Everything was fresh. Desserts were especially nice, my favorite was the salted caramel budino. It was served in a jar!
posted by mochapickle at 10:24 PM on June 7, 2014

The food is terrible, but Organ Stop Pizza is certainly memorable
posted by kelseyq at 11:19 PM on June 7, 2014

Hmm, well there is Rustler's Rooste which is quite a memorable experience with history. It has a beautiful view of the Valley and is quite close to Tempe, basically on the border between Phoenix and Tempe. Live music plays each night, the interior is rustic and old western. Not the cheapest, but it is unique. Good steaks and meat dishes, mediocre veggie dinners. You can even try out the locally-raised Rattlesnake appetizer (not on the internet menu I see).

In Central Phoenix there are a ton of fantastic dining experiences. One of my favorites is Fez Restaurant, a very hip Moroccan fusion joint. The atmosphere is very fun, and the food and drinks are amazing.

Also, Bliss/reBar a great little drink and food place, hip and fun to hang out at.

I'll try to think of some other options for you.
posted by insert.witticism.here at 11:21 PM on June 7, 2014

You'll find some great recommendations here, including my recommendation for Switch and another for Fez which I recently tried and loved (if you go there, you must try their sweet potato fries). My new favorite restaurant is Yupha's Thai Kitchen - it's in Tempe and reasonably priced, but the location isn't historic.

If historic really is important to you, maybe try Monti's (cheap but mediocre food) or House of Tricks (expensive, but hands down the best food in town). Casey Moore's is historic, reasonably priced, and it's kind of a hole in the wall (but not in a bad way!)

On preview, I see Fez recommended again (it really is good!) and I'd second Rustler's Rooste with its fantastic view of the valley - plus it has a slide!
posted by kbar1 at 11:43 PM on June 7, 2014

In Tempe, House of Tricks. Not cheap though.

In the same collection of historic buildings as Pizzeria Bianco is a Japanese restaurant called Nobuo at Teeter House. Also not cheap.

For cheap and weird, maybe Chino Bandido? A mexican/chinese mash-up with really good snickerdoodles. The link goes to the Chandler location but I have only been to the North Phoenix location--I assume they're the same but that website doesn't even mention the (original) Phoenix location. *shrugs*
posted by mullacc at 11:50 PM on June 7, 2014

Cornish Pasty Company is a place that never miss when we are in Tempe. Enough variety to please everyone, and they have Strongbow on tap!!

(MeMail me and I'm happy to tell you anything you want to know about Tucson! I love it here!)
posted by honeybee413 at 12:28 AM on June 8, 2014

Wherever you go for dinner, get up early the next morning and hit Matt's Big Breakfast in downtown Phoenix. Best breakfast I've ever had.
posted by Alterscape at 1:26 AM on June 8, 2014

3rding House of Tricks! And Monti's really is historic -- they are in the oldest continuously occupied building in the Phoenix area -- also notable because my date took me to dinner there before homecoming dance in 1987. Yup, historic. Restaurant Mexico on Mill Ave. makes central Mexican style food and has a green enchilada with crumbly white cheese that is unusual in the area (but may be easier to find in Tucson?).
posted by SandiBeech at 6:45 AM on June 8, 2014

Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles. Oh yes. The downtown location, rather than the Scottsdale one. This place is an institution.
posted by meese at 8:16 AM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it's in the budget, definite yes on House of Tricks; Nobuo at Teeter House is on my wish list, too.

I enjoy Fez, too, although it's much more casual.

I would add: Tuck Shop, one of my favorites, in a downtown residential neighborhood; Beckett's Table, in the Arcadia-adjacent zone that's rapidly becoming a restaurant district; and Gallo Blanco for casual but delicious (and very fresh) Mexican, plus a lovely roof deck where you can lounge around before or after your meal, overlooking the Clarendon Hotel pool and with some great sunset views.

None of these are particularly fancy, but still recommendation-worthy.
posted by Superplin at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2014

If you're willing to drop quite a lot of $$, Crudo in Phoenix is the place my foodie friends recommend. I've only ever been there for cocktails, but those were phenomenal too. (And the bartenders I know say that they are hands-down the best and most creative drinks in the Valley, so if you like booze, you might go just for that as well.)

I also really love Merci, which is a small French cafe in Scottsdale, a short drive from Tempe, and Persian Garden Cafe, in Phoenix, which does mostly vegan/vegetarian but has fantastic meat dishes as well.

For Tempe proper, there's a couple of good spots. If you decide you want pizza, Spinato's is phenomenal. I don't know if you're from a place you can get Ethiopian, but Cafe Lalibella is excellent. And, finally, if you're in a hurry and tired and just want some really awesome Middle Eastern takeout from a hole in the wall, Hummus Xpress does some of the best I've ever had. It's just the right combo of healthy (fresh hummus with cool flavors, lots of cooked greens and roasted veggies, but you can still get weird mystery gyro meat on top.)

A final observation: when I first moved here, it weirded me out to no end that everything, even the nice restaurants like Cornish Pasty, are basically storefronts in strip malls. Apparently this is the only way that Tempe knows how to build things. So just because it's in a weird bland-looking strip mall, don't discount it. Happy eats!
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, what a perfect mix of suggestions! I'll report back about where we go, if I remember. Also, for hypothetical future suggestion-seekers, I'm only excluding Pizzeria Bianco because we're getting one down here in Tucson soon. It sounds like a place worth a stop.
posted by dahliachewswell at 12:44 PM on June 8, 2014

Curry Corner in Tempe. Guy Fieri was blown away by it as were my adult kids.
posted by quackamoe at 11:29 AM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pane Bianco is the sister restaurant to Pizzeria Bianco and they use the same dough, ingredients, etc. but you don't have to wait four hours for it. It is exquisite.


Joy Ride Taco
La Santisima
Federal Pizza
posted by nubianinthedesert at 2:40 PM on June 9, 2014

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