38 essential restaurants in Phoenix: An updated list of the best places to dine in 2024 (2024)

Felicia Campbell,Bahar Anooshahr,Endia Fontanez,Becky Bartkowski,Jill Cassidy,Bill Goodykoontz,Ed Masley,Dina Kaur,Tiffany Acosta,Michael Salerno,Nadia Cantú,Reia LiArizona Republic

In January, the features team at The Republic shareda list of the 100 essential restaurants in metro Phoenix. Reporters and editors weighed in on the restaurants and bars they couldn't live without. Even readers got in on the action withtheir own list of favorites.

The 100 includes restaurants from Fabio on Fire Panini and Gelateria in Peoria to Ta'Carbon in Glendale. And there were so many restaurant picks in downtown Phoenix, we had to make it a separate list.

But if you're looking for a great place to eat in Phoenix outside of the downtown area, we have a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to 38 iconic spots to get a meal.

Here are 38 essential restaurants in the city of Phoenix, handpicked by The Republic features team.

100 essential restaurants in Phoenix: The best places to dine in 2024

Phoenix Restaurants: Camelback East

Beckett's Table

Beckett's Table is co-owned by two couples, chef Justin and his wife Michelle Beckett and sommeliers Katie and Scott Stephens. The restaurant offers comfort food with pizzazz and great service. One of the best dishes is grilled cheese served on a pillowy brioche bun, sprinkled with more cheese. You can order it with or without pancetta and it's served with a hearty cup of creamy tomato and roasted red pepper soup. It's the best grilled cheese sandwich you've ever tasted. For dessert, don't miss the award-winning pecan and fig pie a la mode.

Details:3717 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-954-1700,beckettstable.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

Chicago Hamburger Company

It’s exactly what it sounds like, only better. Everything is good, but start with the traditional Chicago dog paired with a chocolate milkshake. Pro tip: Dip fries in a cup of chili. Fabulous.

Details: 3749 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-955-4137. chicagohambuger.com.

— Bill Goodykoontz

Christopher's at Wrigley Mansion

Amuse bouche presented on a sculpted hand, creamy foie gras, crispy gougere and perfectly cooked A-5 wagyu with bearnaise are just a few highlights from a recent eight-course tasting menu at Christopher's. Chef Christopher Gross' culinary playground is housed in a modern glass addition to the famous Wrigley Mansion, and the dining room offers views of Camelback Mountain and Downtown Phoenix that almost rival the food. Almost. It's little wonder that Gayot called the experience a "culinary ecstasy."

Details: 2501 E. Telawa Trail, Phoenix. 602-522-2344,wrigleymansion.com/christophers.

— Bahar Anooshahr

CRUjiente Tacos

This modern taqueria is the brainchild of chef Richard Hinojosa and oenophile and sommelier Jason Morris, who is the former co-founder of Quench Wines. CRUjiente offerschef-driven crunchy (crujiente) and street tacos and some of the best margaritas in the Valley. Both taco and beverage programs have been mentioned in Forbes, thanks to the inventive ways Hinojosa uses tortillas as blank canvases. Don't skip the Korean fried chicken tacos.

Details:3961 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-687-7777,crutacos.com.

—Bahar Anooshahr

Essence Bakery

Stepping into Essence feels like entering a Mediterranean café. Chef Eugenia Theodosopoulos manages to make dishes like quiche Lorraine and spanakopita feel light, despite a French-level use of butter, and her bread, pastries and cookies are the stuff of legend. If you only order one thing, make it a chocolate croissant.

Details: 3830 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-296-4958, essencebakery.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

The Gladly

Call it whatever name you wish — the Stetson Chopped Salad, the Original Chopped Salad, Arizona's "state salad" — the genuinely iconic Bernie Kantak dish is served here and reason enough to go. But the menu of new American classics has plenty more to brag about, from burgers and legit fries to brussels sprouts over grits and chocolate chip cookies, which yes, you do need in your life.

Details: 2201 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-759-8132, thegladly.com.

— Becky Bartkowski

Glai Baan

Yeah, you might have to throw back a beer at the bar around the corner while you wait for a table, but this Thai restaurant is worth the fuss. It is cozy enough for date night and the place to take out-of-towners. Don't get me started on the perfect patio. Order plates to share (don't miss the crisp yum het tod and pad kee mao) and find your co*cktail of choice, whether it's the passionfruit-brandy Sunshowers or herbed fan fav Laab Sided.

Details: 2333 E. Osborn Road, Phoenix. 602-595-5881, glaibaanaz.com.

— Becky Bartkowski

Jewel's Cafe

I go to Jewel's Café because everything is gluten-free, but even my friends with no dietary restrictions are obsessed with the deliciously fluffy waffles and fried chicken. The best time to go is brunch, but whenever I'm in the area, I can't help but stop and grab something from the bakery.

Details: 4041 E. Thomas Road, Suite 101, Phoenix. 602-714-5243, jewelsbakeryandcafe.com.

— Endia Fontanez

Noble Eatery

Fresh bread and one special sandwich keep me coming back to Noble over and over. The semolina loaf needs no introduction, but have you tried the tuna sandwich? Tuna is mixed with potato, pinto beans, grains and parsley, drizzled with Cabernet vinegar and olive oil and topped with arugula. It’s light and bright and perfect served stuffed into house-made, wood-fired pide. You might not think the combination of fish with pinto beans is a natural fit, but Noble will make you a believer.

Details: 4525 N. 24th St., Phoenix. 602-688-2424. noblebread.com/eatery.

— Bahar Anooshahr

Renata's Hearth

Located inside the historic Arizona Biltmore Hotel, this Latin-inspired restaurant uses smoke as an ingredient in drinks like the jet-black Los Muertos co*cktail made with serrano-infused reposado, agave, lime and black lava salt, colored with activated charcoal and served with flourish from under a smoked cloche. The theme continues on the food menu with deceptively simple dishes like charred Spanish octopus a la Veracruz. Renata's churros are legendary and the only right way to finish your meal.

Details: 2400 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix. 602-954-2507, renatashearth.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

Tacos Chiwas

I trust the judgment of the Mayor of Flavortown. One bite of the barbacoa tacos and the gorditas at Tacos Chiwas — both sampled by Guy Fieri during his 2017 trip there for “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” — and I knew there was something special about this place. Readers agree: they recently named Tacos Chiwas’ carne asada and calabacitas tacos among metro Phoenix's best tacos.

Details: Multiple locations; I visit the original location at 1028 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-358-8830, tacoschiwas.com.

— Michael Salerno

Phoenix restaurants: Midtown

Belly

The menu at this Melrose destination blends Vietnamese and Mexican cuisines, among others. But if you can only choose one thing, the seared king mushrooms are an all-timer. You'll find natty wine and uber-boozy co*cktails on the menu. Though the banh mi is no more, you can join us in hoping the jackfruit sando makes a comeback.

Details: 4971 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-296-4452, bellyphx.com. Multiple locations.

— Becky Bartkowski

Frank's New York Style Deli

It's the neighborhood deli real ones know, because Frank's keeps things classic and has for decades. These beast-mode sub sandwiches could easily stretch over several meals, but why deny yourself the pleasure of being beyond stuffed with the cold cuts and cheeses of your choice?

Details: 2301 W. Orange Drive, Phoenix. 602-242-8288. facebook.com/franksnystyle.

— Becky Bartkowski

Fry Bread House

Founded by Cecilia Miller of the Tohono O'odham Nation, this James Beard Classics award-winning restaurant in the Melrose neighborhood is the place to go for Native American fry bread. Order the ultimate taco available with ground beef, red chili or green chili if you have a craving for something savory, but don't miss the sweet fry bread, which you can get topped with honey, powdered sugar or both.

Details: 4545 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-351-2345, frybreadhouseaz.com.

— Michael Salerno

Guanaquito Restaurant

Guanaquito Restaurant, a Salvadoran restaurant and pupusería, is the best place to eat pupusas in the Valley. My favorites are the revueltas — a combination of cheese, pork rinds and beans. But if you’re looking for something a bit simpler, you can never go wrong with the cheese and beans combo.

Details: 1438 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix, AZ 85006. (602) 257-9053, restauranteelguanaquito.net.

— Nadia Cantu

Original Hamburger Works

Just north of Encanto Park, this classic spot has been serving massive burgers cooked over mesquite wood since 1977. These are the smokiest burgers in town and the kitschy condiment wagon is just the icing on the cake. Great local drafts seal the deal, making this smoky haunt my family's go-to burger joint.

Details: 2801 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix. 602-263-8693, greatburgeraz.com.

— Felicia Campbell

Phoenix Coqui

Phoenix Coqui offers a comforting taste of Puerto Rico in Phoenix. The tiny restaurant, owned by Alexis Carbajal and Juan Ayala, makes a mouthwatering pernil plate. I always mean to try other dishes, but I can’t resist the pulled pork served with rice with a side salad for only $13.95.

Details: 4041 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix. 602-768-7894, phoenixcoqui.com.

— Endia Fontanez

Reathrey Sekong

The first Cambodian restaurant in Phoenix, Lakhana In's family-run spot is still widely considered the best. It's the perfect place to try classic dishes like cha kreung, a stir fry built on a fragrant paste of lemongrass, makrut lime leaf, shallots, garlic, galangal and dried turmeric; an array of nom banh chok noodle dishes; and amok, a coconut fish curry that she steams and serves in a banana leaf.

Details: 1312 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-451-9792, facebook.com/Reathrey-Sekong-Cambodian-Cuisine-133199290086725.

— Felicia Campbell

Valentine

At Valentine, chef Donald Hawk and his team create many of the dishes with indigenous Sonoran ingredients. Mesquite and elote make appearances in pasta, and appetizers feature local tepary beans and huitlacoche butter. It's a beautiful homage to Arizona, right down to the name, which is a nod to Feb. 14, 1912, when Arizona officially became a state. The not-so-secret bar, located in an alley behind the restaurant, is aptly named 1912 and features a co*cktail menu almost as exciting as what's coming out of the kitchen up front.

Details: 4130 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 602-612-2961, valentinephx.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

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North Phoenix restaurants

Ava Bakery

Ashkan and Diana Taheri opened Ava Bakery and Restaurant in north Phoenix on Seventh Street and E. Union Hills Drive in November 2022 and since then I’ve been more times than I can count. I visit weekly to pick upfresh baked sangak and barberi breads and at least a few times a month for classic Iranian sandwiches like sausage bandari served on their fresh baked bread or for a breakfast of haleem, a sweet-savory porridge, tomato and egg omelet or the simple Persian breakfast of fresh bread, cheese and homemade carrot preserves.

Details:814 E. Union Hills Drive, C-6, Phoenix. 480-906-9757.

— Felicia Campbell

Chompie’s

RIP the Tempe location. The locations still standing remain the type of deli with pages of menu items, almost all of which are delightful. But who are we kidding? You’re here for the bagels. (And they don’t disappoint.)

Details:3212 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix. Additional locations atchompies.com.

— Bill Goodykoontz

EL Super Taco

The pile of mesquite wood in front of this tiny restaurant is the first sign that you're in a good place. The second is the smell of slow-simmered birria de res that hits you upon opening the door. Order the quesa birria combo, a perfect plate of three crispy, cheese-filled birria tacos and a hearty bowl of consommé along with access to the condiment bar, filled with essentials like shredded cabbage, cilantro, chopped onion, radishes and salsas that range from tingly to oh-my-goodness-give-me-the-cabbage levels of heat.

Details:14620 N. Cave Creek Road, Phoenix. 602-585-2150,Search El Super Taco on Facebook.

— Felicia Campbell

Maya's Kitchen

I’m on a quest to find the best Indian food in Arizona, and so far, Maya's Kitchen is my favorite. I usually order chicken tikka masala with chili naan, but the dal makhani and chicken biryani are also great and have made it into my rotation. The warm chai offered free to guests dining-in is an especially nice touch.

Details: 2948 E. Bell Road #102, Phoenix. 602-867-4904, mayaskitchenaz.com.

— Dina Kaur

Paradise Valley Burger Company

Unpopular opinion, but I think regular burgers are lame. That said, I’m here for the unusual combination of a famous French dessert and an American delicacy that is the PVBC burger brûlée. It comes topped with a fried egg, bacon, onions, burnt sugar, Havarti and Thousand Island dressing. To keep with the theme, I skip the french fries and order French toast fries instead.

Details: 4001 E. Bell Road #102, Phoenix. And in Tempe. 602-535-4930, pvburgercompany.com.

— Tiffany Acosta

Los Reyes de la Torta

The original and still the best, this longtime, family-owned Mexican restaurant specializes in its namesake sandwiches. The signature Del Rey is piled high with ham, melted mozzarella, pork sirloin, breaded beef, a sausage-chorizo omelet, fresh tomatoes, caramelized onions and avocado that's slathered in a chipotle sauce and served on teleras bread made at the adjoining bakery. These are serious sandwiches, but don't sleep on the quesadillas, which can be ordered either flour (de harina) or corn (de maiz). They're a good foot long with a variety of filling options. The pro move is to order them "estilo Del Rey" topped with green salsa, cheese, onions, cilantro and sour cream.

Details: 9230 N. Seventh St., Phoenix. 602-870-2967, losreyesaz.com.

— Felicia Campbell

Seoul BBQ & Sushi

Set in a nondescript parking lot surrounded by office parks and overlooking the I-17 freeway, Seoul BBQ & Sushi doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue is excellent and abundant. Despite the huge menu of meat and appetizer options included in the AYCE dinner deal, my favorite is the spicy beef bulgogi, which is the only meat we order along with bowls of rice and an endless stream of pickled banchan.

Details: 11025 N. Black Canyon Hwy, Phoenix. 602-441-0900, seoulphx.com.

— Felicia Campbell

ZK Grill

There are several great Persian restaurants in metro Phoenix, but if you want koobideh, this is the place to get it. When artfully molded onto a flat skewer and grilled over charcoal, the seemly simple combination of minced beef, shredded onion, salt and pepper becomes the stuff dreams are made of. Finished with a swipe of melted butter and sprinkle of tart sumac, the Iranian kebab is beefy and indulgent in the best way. Perfectly cooked basmati rice and a charred tomato complete the meal, billed as "Ground Beef Entree." A total steal for $11.99.

Details: 4757 E. Greenway Road, Phoenix. 602-354-3663, zkgrill.com. Also in Ahwatukee.

— Felicia Campbell

South Phoenix Restaurants

JL Smokehouse

Whether your appetite is fit for a Whipper Snapper (two meats, one side) or a Slugger (six meats, four sides), pit master James Lewis’ BBQ restaurant near South Mountain is a must for smoked meat lovers. I go for everything from the tender pulled pork to the saucy ribs. And the Texas-style sausage is the best I've had in the Valley.

Details: 1712 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix. 602-900-4296. Also, 10423 N. 19th Ave., Phoenix. 602-314-6301, jlsmokehouse.com.

— Michael Salerno

Little Miss BBQ

As a general rule, I don't wait in line for food. Let alone an hour and a half. Yet, there I was on a hot summer day, praying they wouldn't run out of brisket before I reached the front of the line. Some days, I miss out on the pastrami special, sometimes I'm too late for the meltingly tender Texas-style brisket, but whatever's left when I get to the order counter is good enough to make me forget about the wait.

Details: 4301 E. University Drive, Phoenix, 602-437-1177. Also at 8901 N. Seventh St., Phoenix. 602-314-6922, littlemissbbq.com.

— Felicia Campbell

Los Dos Molinos

Great Mexican food that is really hot. In the best possible way. But to repeat: hot. How hot? The menu comes with this warning: “Food is spicy! You order it, you own it.” That hot. Everything is good and the margaritas are famous.

Details: 8646 S. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-243-9113. Find other Valley locations at losdosmolinosmesa.com.

— Bill Goodykoontz

The Farm at South Mountain

The Farm at South Mountain is as farm-to-table as you can get. The lush grounds are home to three restaurants. Morning Glory Café offers counter service breakfast dishes starring locally grown veggies and house-smoked salmon and brisket. The Kitchen, another counter service option, serves salads and sandwiches. Both venues are as much about picnicking at an idyllic farm as they are about the food. Then there's Quiessence, which is almost entirely about the food with its hyper-local tasting menu served under the stars.

Details: The Farm at South Mountain, 6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix. 602-276-0601, qatthefarm.com.

— Felicia Campbell

Phoenix restaurants: Uptown

Chula Seafood

I love to take people who scoff at the idea of great seafood in the desert — silly considering we're only a four-hour drive to the sea — to Chula Uptown for lunch. Fresh-caught fish, much of it from Chula's very own fishing boats in San Diego, are stuffed into creative sandwiches, grilled and tossed over salads or sold raw for those who prefer to cook at home. I can rarely resist taking home a pound of palm-size prawns from Puerto Peñasco to grill, and I have yet to resist ordering the fish burrito. Layered with grilled fish, French fries, guacamole and a tangy Baja sauce, it is more than the sum of its parts.

Details:100 E. Camelback Road, Suite 172, Phoenix.602-354-3599,chulaseafood.com.

— Felicia Campbell

Lux Cafe

This eclectic coffee shop is a classic hangout for creatives and hipsters who meet over coffee and pastries or a glass of wine and let the ideas flow. More than just a cool scene, this shop roasts its own excellent coffee in-house.

Details: 4402 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-327-1396. Also 16220 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-553-0307, luxcoffee.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

Mora Italian

Food Network star Scott Conant puts his own twist on classic Italian food in uptown Phoenix. The pasta-heavy menu includes the dish that made him famous: the signature pasta al pomodoro made with spaghetti in a sweet-savory, basil-flecked tomato sauce.

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

— Tiffany Acosta

Pane Bianco

Chris Bianco opened this sandwich shop in 2005, offering fresh focaccia sandwiches. It won't take you long to find a favorite sandwich from the small but mighty menu, though don't overlook the fantastic lineup of pizzas, salads and desserts, either.

Details: 4404 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-234-2100, pizzeriabianco.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

Persepshen

Persepshen is a husband and wife-owned restaurant where Jason Dwight is the chef, who butchers nose to tail, cooks in a wood-fired oven and cures meat in-house, and Katherine, who bakes bread and desserts. Local, organic and sustainable are what the couple believes in and executes to perfection at their stellar restaurant.

Details: 4700 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-935-2932, persepshenarizona.com.

— Bahar Anooshahr

The Rokerij

In a beautiful stone house with dim lights and a fireplace, excellent service, great food and a cozy if occasionally crowded downstairs bar, The Rokerij is a standby for a nice romantic evening. The name is Dutch for smokehouse and they offer a great selection of steaks, from the New Mexican sirloin topped with peppercorn whiskey lime sauce to the Rokerij steak, a bacon-wrapped filet with king crab and jalapeno hollandaise. Other dishes I’ve enjoyed include the New Mexican enchiladas and the carne adovada.

Details: 6335 N. 16th St., Phoenix. 602-287-8900, richardsonsnm.com.

—Ed Masley

The Windsor

Do I give the Windsor bonus points because I like that one entire wall is covered in cassette tapes, including several I owned in high school? Yes, of course I do. But those are bonus points. I’d go there anyway because I like the atmosphere on the backyard-style patio and they make a good burger. The country vegetable chop is also worth a try if you’re more in the mood for a salad. And if you’re looking for an appetizer, try the Roulettes, as their seasonal peppers are named because some are fairly mild while others… well, you get the picture.

Details: 5223 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-279-1111, windsoraz.com.

— Ed Masley

38 essential restaurants in Phoenix: An updated list of the best places to dine in 2024 (2024)
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