Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe Restaurants

Just as the Valley of the Sun has attracted visitors from around the world, it has also been attracting a record number of worldly residents. Fortunately for everyone, many of those people are skilled chefs and/or restaurateurs who have opted to share their gifts with the public.

Phoenix and its surroundings have metamorphosed into a melting pot for every type of cuisine imaginable: northern to Tuscan Italian; mom-and-pop to Mexico City Mexican; low-key Cuban to high-end French- and Greek-inspired Southwestern; Japanese- to Spanish-style tapas; and kosher to American classics with subtle ethnic twists.

Eateries like La Grande Orange grocery are revolutionizing Phoenix's "fast-food" concept with gourmet takeout. Four-star cuisine, some concocted by celebrity chefs, also awaits all over the Valley, from Kai in Chandler to Scottsdale's Bourbon Steak, along with Binkley's and Cafe Blink in nearby Carefree. Dotted with massive strip malls, Phoenix’s outskirts are becoming a haven of corporate eateries, but don't worry, there's plenty of divine, independent dining for all tastes and all trends in between.

Many of the best restaurants in the Valley are in resorts, camouflaged behind courtyard walls, or tucked away in shopping malls. Newer, upscale eateries are clustered along the Camelback Corridor—a veritable restaurant row, running west to east from Phoenix to Scottsdale—and in Scottsdale itself. Great Mexican food can be found throughout the Valley, but the most authentic spots are in North Central and South Phoenix.

Restaurants change hours, locations, chefs, prices, and menus frequently, so it's best to call ahead to confirm. Show up without a reservation during tourist season (October through mid-May), and you may have to head for a fast-food drive-through window to avoid a two-hour wait for a table.

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  • 1. Anita's Cocina

    $$

    A favorite for locals or those just passing through, Anita's Cocina serves reliable Mexican fare including fresh tamales for lunch or dinner and warm, sugary sopapillas (piping-hot, fried pastry pillows) for dessert.

    57 N. Valentine St., Wickenburg, Arizona, 85390, USA
    928-684–5777

    Known For

    • The spot for dinner in Wickenburg
    • Charming Western decor
    • Tamales

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 2. Chalo's

    $

    A Globe mainstay, Chalo's offers just what you'd expect from a small-town Mexican restaurant: old-school dishes and very few frills. Fortunately, what Chalo's lacks in aesthetics is offset by its great food. Try the savory stuffed sopapillas, filled with pork and beef, beans, and red or green chiles. It's a favorite among locals, so plan for an early lunch or dinner to avoid a wait.

    902 E. Ash St., Globe, Arizona, 85501, USA
    928-425–0515

    Known For

    • Serving the same dishes since opening in 1969
    • Best refried beans in the area
    • Good meal before driving to Eastern Arizona

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Credit cards accepted
  • 3. Horny Toad Restaurant

    $$$

    Cave Creek's oldest restaurant is a rustic spot for barbecued pork ribs and steak, but the real star is the fried chicken. The quirky menu features a range of fare from soup "de joor" to Icelandic cod and carne asada.

    6738 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, Arizona, 85331, USA
    480-488–9542

    Known For

    • Kid-friendly environment
    • A bit of a Cave Creek–meets–Woodstock feel
    • Homemade barbecue sauce

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 4. Rancho Pinot

    $$$$ | Central Scottsdale

    The attention to quality here makes this one of the town's most lauded dining spots. The minimalist cowboy decor and almost secret-handshake location are forgotten upon the first bite of food and replaced with taste-bud heaven. The inventive menu changes daily, depending on what's fresh. If you're lucky, you'll get a crack at the flatiron steak with pancetta and chimichurri sauce, the handmade pasta with fennel and chicken meatballs, or Nonni's chicken. Organic and locally grown and raised ingredients are used whenever possible, which is just another reason why you'll want to return.

    6208 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85253, USA
    480-367–8030

    Known For

    • Seeing your meal prepared in the open kitchen
    • Neighborhood vibe, despite its Valley-wide draw
    • Locally grown ingredients

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. May--Sept., and 1st 2 wks of July. No lunch, Credit cards accepted
  • 5. Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Mañana

    $$$$

    Old West ambience emanates from every corner of the Tonto Bar & Grill, from the hand-carved ceiling beams to the latilla-covered (stick-covered) patios with views of the pristine Sonoran Desert. Try the cowboy Cobb salad or the Tonto burger piled with fried onions and cheddar for lunch; root beer–braised short ribs or onion-crusted walleye are good choices at dinner.

    5736 E. Rancho Manana Blvd., Cave Creek, Arizona, 85331, USA
    480-488–0698

    Known For

    • Eclectic fare far beyond Cave Creek cowboy grub
    • Almost year-round comfortable dining on the patio
    • Menu featuring Native American and Southwest ingredients

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • Recommended Fodor’s Video

  • 6. Basis

    $$ | North Central Phoenix
    Closed Permanently

    Fortunately, enough people have known about this little strip-mall secret to keep it going since 2003, but it's high time the gossip got out. In a bright, contemporary and tasteful space the menu is a great mix of American creations with a splash of Southwestern and Cajun accents, including crisp calamari with vinaigrette, seared (to perfection) ahi tuna salad, a shrimp po'boy sandwich with chipotle aioli, blackened jumbo scallops and tenderloin medallions, or Basis mac and cheese. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and adept at pairing the perfect wine from their distinctive selection with their unusual dishes. Leave room for the guajillo squash flan or an ancho-chile brownie.

    410 E. Thunderbird Rd., Phoenix, Arizona, 85022, USA
    602-843–3689

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 7. Binkley's Restaurant

    $$$$
    Closed Permanently

    This upscale restaurant is a diamond in the Valley's last bit of rough. In a town of cowboy bars and gut bombs, chef Kevin Binkley puts together world-class four-, five-, and six-course tasting menus that feature delicate portions of such dishes as black-truffle croque madame, red wine–braised octopus, and duck with bok choy and ginger. The menu changes daily. Whether you select the tasting menu or not, be prepared for some delicious surprises.

    6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, Arizona, 85331, USA
    480-437–1072

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch, Reservations essential, Credit cards accepted
  • 8. Noca

    $$$ | Camelback Corridor
    Closed Permanently

    This small, hidden establishment is a Valley favorite. It's a fun place to see, be seen, and sample everything. The waitstaff are veteran fine-dining servers, and the chefs manage to turn even cotton candy into a culinary work of art. The menu changes daily—yes, daily—and features items such as Japanese Wagyu cheesesteak with Kobe beef or braised lamb ragout with rosemary bread crumbs. The last Sunday of every month, the menu includes Noca's famous fried chicken. If you're hungry for a gourmet sandwich, stop by Nocawich, the restaurant's lunchtime conversion.

    3118 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Arizona, 85016, USA
    602-956–6622

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon. in summer, Credit cards accepted
  • 9. Bistro 24

    $$$$ | Camelback Corridor
    Closed Permanently

    Smart and stylish, with impeccable service, the Ritz's Bistro 24 has one of the most attractive dining rooms in the Valley. Take a break from shopping at the nearby Biltmore Fashion Park and enjoy the largest Cobb salad in town. For dinner, try classic French steak au poivre with frites, grilled fish, or sushi. Happy hour is every day from 5 to 7 in the bar.

    2401 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Arizona, 85016, USA
    602-468–0700

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner Sun. and Mon., Credit cards accepted
  • 10. Cave Creek Coffee Company

    $ | Coffee
    Closed Permanently

    The eating, drinking, and live entertainment are so great here that even Phoenician homebodies have been known to make the out-of-the-way journey. Some of acoustic music's finest artists perform at this peaceful venue, which claims to be Arizona's version of Austin City Limits. The eclectic menu offers breakfast burritos, artisanal sandwiches, salads, pizzas, antipasti, and sweets.

    6033 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, Arizona, 85327, USA
    480-488–0603

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 11. Cave Creek Smokehouse

    $$
    Closed Permanently

    Some might remember this location as the Satisfied Frog, and while it keeps changing its name, locals still come here for beer, nachos, barbecue, and an authentic Cave Creek experience.

    6245 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, Arizona, 85327, USA
    480-488–3317
  • 12. Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar

    $$ | Downtown Phoenix
    Closed Permanently

    Although loved by locals as a wine bar, Cheuvront's also offers some of the best food in downtown Phoenix. Conveniently located off the Portland Avenue Light Rail stop, Cheuvront's takes wine and cheese to a whole new level. The goat cheese phyllo pockets are a delight, but the true comfort comes from the mac and cheese menu, which includes five varieties of cheesy perfection.

    1326 North Central Ave., Phoenix, Arizona, 85004, USA
    602-307–0022
  • 13. Kashman's Place

    $
    Closed Permanently

    This local duo of Jewish delis came all the way from Brooklyn, and brought a wealth of other influences with it. Nancy and Steve Kashman's sumptuous omelets with crisp home fries, creatively blended salads, and piled-high sandwiches (like the Pennsylvania roast beef and Brie with mustard on baguette) cater to a large following of locals. Everything is deliciously fresh, and portions are generous. New York bagels (including the not-so-traditional multigrain, protein "power" bagel) are done the authentic way—boiled and baked on the premises using filtered water duplicated from New York City water samples. The matzo-ball soup is award-winning. Expect lines on weekends. There's another location at 32531 N. Scottsdale Road.

    23425 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85262, USA
    480-488–5274

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner, Credit cards accepted
  • 14. L'Ecole

    $$ | Central Scottsdale
    Closed Permanently

    You won't regret putting yourself in the talented hands of the student chefs at the Valley's premier cooking academy. Choose from an extensive list of French-inspired entrées or the four-course prix-fixe menu, available for lunch ($30) and dinner ($35). The fine-dining atmosphere is designed to give students (who fill each restaurant position) and customers the impression of the real thing, which is why customers keep coming back. The menu changes seasonally, but expect inventive appetizers such as lobster gratin, stuffed rabbit saddle, ricotta gnocchi, and entrées such as filet mignon.

    8100 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85251, USA
    480-425–3111

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed weekends, Credit cards accepted, Reservations essential
  • 15. La Fontanella

    $$$ | Camelback Corridor
    Closed Permanently

    Quality and value are a winning combination at this outstanding neighborhood restaurant. The interior is reminiscent of an Italian villa, with antiques, crisp table linens, fresh flowers, and windows dressed in lace curtains. Chef-owner Isabella Bertuccio turns out magnificent food, often using recipes from her Tuscan and Sicilian relatives. The escargots and herb-crusted rack of lamb top the list.

    4231 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, Arizona, 85018, USA
    602-955–1213

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No lunch, Credit cards accepted
  • 16. Lola Tapas

    $ | Center City Phoenix
    Closed Permanently

    The menu at this tiny tapas bar is about as big as the restaurant itself, but both focus on a delicious and delightful community-oriented dining experience. Steady streams of folks come for the snug, ambient Latin atmosphere and the sensible portions of sensational food like garbanzo beans with garlic and sautéed spinach, the tortilla de patatas (potatoes), or the grilled steak with seasoned butter. If you can find a space at the tiny bar in back, settle in with what may be the Valley's best sangria, white and red, while you wait. By day Lola transforms into a delicious Spanish-style coffeehouse.

    800 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Arizona, 85014, USA
    602-265–4519

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun. and Mon. No lunch, Credit cards accepted, Reservations not accepted
  • 17. Padre's Modern Mexican Cuisine

    $$ | North Central Phoenix
    Closed Permanently

    This isn't your everyday Mexican restaurant, and the crowds that gather here in the evening show why. Start the night off right with a margarita or mojito, then order the cilantro mousse and prepare for a feast. House specialties include the pollo relleno, a chicken breast stuffed with poblano chiles, corn, caramelized onion, and goat cheese. For something a little more traditional, try Tia's enchiladas.

    1044 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, Arizona, 85014, USA
    602-277–1749
  • 18. Radio Milano

    $$$ | Center City Phoenix
    Closed Permanently

    One of the many eateries conceived by the wildly successful team behind La Grande Orange (LGO), Radio Milano is a sleek and casual Italian-inspired experience with simple, but simply fantastic food. Radio serves unusual but tasty fare like Italian fresh-fish sashimi, deviled eggs, and celery Caesar salad for starters, and simple but standout pasta dishes and entrées like handmade pappardelle with goat cheese, corn, asparagus, and tomatoes, and pork roast "prime rib" with baby spinach and potato. Kids eat free noodles, meatballs, and minipizza until 7 pm. Adults will enjoy a small but great selection of wine and beer along with cool, crisp Italian-inspired cocktails like blood-orange champagne or limoncello. Leave room for the olive-oil cake.

    3950 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix, Arizona, 85018, USA
    602-956–6600

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Credit cards accepted
  • 19. Scratch Pastries

    $$ | Old Town
    Closed Permanently

    Duc and Noelle Liao are a model couple, literally. The two met in Paris, where Duc worked as a fashion photographer and Noelle as a model. Now, the two are the hottest pair in pastry making. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Duc Liao conjures up sublime creations, both salty and sweet, from jumbo shrimp in Japanese sauce to duck confit with pommes frites. Don't let the location in a strip mall fool you; this is a flavor trip all the way to France.

    7620 E. Indian School Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85251, USA
    480-947–0057

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: No dinner Sun.–Tues., Credit cards accepted, Reservations not accepted
  • 20. Sushi on Shea

    $$$ | Central Scottsdale
    Closed Permanently

    You may be in the middle of the desert, but the sushi here will make you think you're at the ocean's edge. Fresh yellowtail, toro, shrimp, scallops, freshwater eel, and even monkfish liver pâté are among the long list of delights. The best dish? Maybe it's the una-jyu (broiled freshwater eel with a sublime smoky scent) served over sweet rice. The fact that some people believe eel is an aphrodisiac only adds to its charm. The bento box is a good way to sample a variety of menu offerings.

    7000 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85254, USA
    480-483–7799

    Restaurant Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon., Credit cards accepted

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