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Top 50

50 Things You Must Eat in Phoenix

Phoenix is a foodie city with a capital “PH” (read: “phoodie”). AZ Big Media’s offices are located in Midtown Phoenix, just a short light rail ride from some of its writers’ favorite downtown and uptown Phoenix restaurants. And, trust us, when we say we take our meal times pretty seriously around these parts. Whether you’re just in town for the weekend or are a regular at some of the restaurants below, here are the 50 best things to eat in Phoenix (in no particular order).

1. Snooze Spuds Deluxe, Snooze, an AM Eatery

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Nothing beats brunch, especially a heaping portion of hash browns, covered with the perfect balance of melted cheddar and jack cheese and scallions. The spuds deluxe also comes with a choice of two fillings (tastes best with bacon and mushrooms) and you can top it off with an egg cooked any way you like. — Meryl Fishler

2. VooDoo Penne, Caffe Boa

Voodoo Penne- Caffe Boa

Pasta lovers everywhere will drool over this penne pasta dish with blackened chicken breast, bell peppers, tomatoes, red onions and Cajun cream. — Robin Sendele

3. Charred Skirt Steak taco & Grilled Shrimp taco with coconut rice, Diego Pops

This fun Old Town Scottsdale restaurant is a taco connoisseur’s dream, from the pineapple wallpaper to the lit “Say Yes to Tacos” sign. The charred skirt steak taco includes guacamole, house slaw, grilled onion and crispy leek. Pair it with the grilled shrimp taco filled with corn salsa, red onion, queso oaxaca and salsa verde. We recommend the corn tortillas. Tacos come a la carte, so join your tacos with some delicious coconut rice. — Robin Sendele

4. Bruschetta, Postinos Winecafe

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Most people head out to Postinos for a glass of wine, but its bruschetta shouldn’t be missed.  You can choose from 12 types, all delicious, but the fresh mozzarella with tomato and basil as well as the brie and apples with fig spread are never disappointing. — Meryl Fishler

5. AB Cheeseburger, Arrogant Butcher

Ab Burger- Arrogant Butcher

This burger definitely deserves to be arrogant, served between a slightly sweet tasting potato bun, the savory charbroiled patty is topped with pickle slices, grilled onions, lettuce and melted cypress grove cheese. — Meryl Fishler

6. Dogfish Shark Taco, La Santisima

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Hailed as one of the best taco shops in Arizona, and declared as much by food celebrity Guy Fieri, La Santisima is where it’s at for truly authentic tacos. The Dogfish shark taco is by far the best choice. Cripsy beer batter, fresh shark, wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla with crisp cabbage, topped with salsa of your choice from the extensive rotating list of salsas (Tomatillo is recommended for this one). Absolutely flawless taco on every level. — James Bunting

7. The Casanova, Federal Pizza

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

From the king of gourmet pizza downtown, Federal pizza offers the Casanova pizza, which may be a bit off the beaten path for your typical pizza connoisseur. Prosciutto, Dates, Ricotta, Arugula with Pecorino 14. What really makes this pizza is when you order it to go, you get the arugula and dressing separately, which you shake together in a box they give you, and apply it directly on the pizza right before consumption. Each bite you get a little salt from the prosciutto, some sweetness from the dates, and a fresh crunch from the arugula. Paired with a cider or hefeweizen, and you’ve just entered pizza nirvana. — James Bunting

8. Truffle Mushroom Pizza, La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar

Truffle Mushroom Pizza- La Bocca (Facebook)

La Bocca’s menu is full of great dishes, but their truffle mushroom pizza is something you cannot miss with sautéed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella, fresh spinach lightly tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. And most importantly topped off with white truffle oil that makes the pizza give New York pizza a run for its money. — Meryl Fishler

9. The Bear, Short Leash

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

You would think that everything that could’ve been done to improve a hotdog would’ve already been attempted, but the sausage innovators at short leash just keep improving on the old staple. The Bear, a sausage of your choice wrapped in warm flat bread, smothered in barbecue sauce, peanut butter, and gouda, topped with cracker-jacks. I bit odd, but when used on the bratwurst is the perfect combination of sweet, salty and savory. — James Bunting

10. Avocado Curry, SaBai Modern Thai

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Spicy and meaty, the avocado curry is one of the best Thai dishes to get in Phoenix. Served with a mix of veggies and chicken, the base for the curry is an avocado broth along with that heat you expect to get with good Thai food. Perfect to order for take out, pour a big heaping ladle onto a mound of rice, place a few avocado slices that conveniently come with it, and you’re good to go. WARNING/ SUGGESTION: The longer it stays in your fridge, the spicier it gets. — James Bunting

11. The Delux Burger, Delux Burger

Deluxe Burger- Deluxe Burger (Facebook)

Usually you can find a good burger almost anywhere you go to eat, but this one takes the bun. The Delux Burger uses premium (and trust me you can tell) beef, caramelized onions, bits of bacon, blue cheese and arugula served on a toasted baguette. What really sells this is the beef. It’s so tender that it just melts. Nothing unusual, just high-quality ingredients, and the nearest perfection you can get for a burger. Pair it with some sweet potato fries and you are ready to go. — James Bunting

12. Cajun Burger, Hula’s Modern Tiki

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

I like to be kicked in the grill, when I’m craving a burger. Hula’s Modern Tiki always has me covered. Grilled Maui onions, Cajun spices in the burger and in an aioli sauce with creamy jack cheese. It sounds so simple, but it hits the spot like few burgers can. Get this with sweet potato fries, and your tastebuds will go for a mini staycay. — Amanda Ventura

13. Scoop, Snoh Ice Shavery

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Want something that melts in your mouth and not in your hand? Snoh Ice Shavery is an Asian dessert shop that blends the concept of ice cream and shaved ice into a fluffy treat. Plus, the flavors are fun: lychee, matcha and mango among them. — Amanda Ventura

14. Orange Blossom Cupcake, Urban Cookies

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Don’t come within 10 feet of this bakery if you’re on a diet. Its bakers make the best cupcakes and cookies in the Valley, and they won Cupcake Wars. One of their treats that takes the “cake” has rosewater buttercream atop an orange olive oil cake. It’s light and refreshing enough to beat the heat when you’re craving something sweet. — Amanda Ventura

15. The Churchill, Angels Trumpet Ale House

Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix Flikr.com

Photo courtesy of Visit Phoenix Flikr.com

A simple grilled cheese, but with a bit of a gourmet twist. The Churchill Grilled cheese is made with smoked mozzarella and Fontana cheese, a honey drizzle, seasonal greens pesto, and to make it complete you can add bacon jelly or a slice of spam if you’re feeling adventurous. Perfect for any grilled cheese lover or gastropub adventurer. — James Bunting

16. The Bumblebee, Welcome Diner

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Located at 10th and Roosevelt streets, nestled amongst houses in the Arts District, Welcome Diner offers a selection of biscuit sandwiches as its main culinary item. Although you can’t really go wrong with any of them, The Bumblebee stands out as one of the best. Fresh hot biscuit, with a big piece of fried chicken, smothered in local honey, and some house mustard. Simple, bad for your waistline, and deeply satisfying. Order with a bowl of Brussels sprouts. — James Bunting

17. Hurricane Popcorn, Bitter & Twisted

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

You’re going to drink a lot when you visit this cocktail parlor, and its wasabi popcorn is not only addictive but makes an absorbent bed for the libations coming down the hatch. Bottoms up! — Amanda Ventura

18. Pain Perdu, Vovomeena

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

It doesn’t matter if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Vovomeena makes everything right again. Enter: Banana bread pudding french toast with whiskey caramel. Life will feel sweet until the last bite. — Amanda Ventura

19. Apple Fritter, Bosa Donuts

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Bosa puts every donut or pastry you’ve ever eaten to shame. It’s the right amount of crispy on the outside and airy inside. I heat it for eight seconds, and it’s buttery apple heaven. — Cheryl Green

20. Loaded Omelet, Ncounter

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Filled with everything but the kitchen sink, including ham, pork sausage, bacon, green pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, zucchini and assorted cheeses. This omelet is undoubtedly a hefty cure for the morning hungers. — Robin Sendele

21. Breakfast Buzz, D’Lish

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

This meal-replacing smoothie is the perfect on-the-go breakfast filled with vitamins, protein, espresso, nonfat milk, peanut butter, banana, chocolate and ice. Intimidated by this cornucopia of brain food? Ask for the baby breakfast buzz for a smaller portion. — Robin Sendele

22. Hangover Fries., RnR

Hangover Fries- RnR

Having a rough morning? They say the cure to a hangover is fatty foods. Start your cure early with these to-die-for Parmesan fries loaded with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, tomatoes and bacon, topped with sour cream, and two sunny-side-up eggs. — Robin Sendele

23. Turkey Sloppy Joe, Zinburger

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Hey, you fancy heifers! Zinburger plays off your love of wine and burgers. It’s as elegant as it is American. — Amanda Ventura

24. tSoynami, Green or Nami

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

In college I was vegan, and my favorite treat was the Coffee Coco Loco tSoynami — a blizzard of soft serve almond-based ice cream and vegan-friendly ingredients. This one comes with coffee grounds, organic chocolate and cocoa crunch balls. — Amanda Ventura

25. Slow Cooked Bar-B-Q Pork Tacos, Blanco’s Tacos & Tequila

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

These award-winning tacos are comprised of BBQ pork, roasted corn and tomato slaw, pickled onions and creme fresca. — Robin Sendele

26. Las Vegas Roll, Harumi Sushi

Las Vegas Roll- Harumi Sushi

For the sushi experts looking for a well-made roll, this item from downtown Phoenix’s sushi hot spot stuffed with fresh salmon, cream cheese, crab salad, avocado, jalapeño, eel sauce, spicy mayo, wrapped in their signature, all natural purple rice is a must-try.  — Robin Sendele

27. Deep Dish Pizza, Oregano’s

Deep Dish Pizzas- Oregano's

It doesn’t matter which type of pizza you get from Oregano’s, but trust us when we say it’s worth the 45-minute wait for your deep-dish ‘za. — Amanda Ventura

28. Strawberry Ice Cream, Churn

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

This is hands down the best strawberry ice cream you’ll ever taste. — Amanda Ventura

29. Cheese Pizza, Pinos Pizza Al Centro

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

I know this sounds basic, but this is the best slice of cheese pizza I’ve ever had on the West Coast. It oozes with cheese, and the sauce on the pizza is to die for. All I add is a little garlic, Parmesan and red pepper and it makes me feel like I’m in New York. — Zakiya Moore

30. Turkey Pastrami Sandwich, The WildFlower Bread Company

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Because I don’t eat beef or pork, this is seriously the best alternative I’ve found. This Turkey Pastrami Sandwich is massive and light and the same time. It’s a series of turkey pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, creamy coleslaw and an amazing homemade spicy honey mustard. You can actually taste the sticky sweetness of the honey. — Zakiya Moore

31. The Caterpillar Roll, Moira Sushi

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

32. $1 Taco Tuesday, Devil’s Advocate

$1 Taco Tuesdays- Devil's Advocate

On Tuesdays, Devil’s Advocate offers $1 tacos. I always order a grilled chicken taco. Its great, juicy flavor is accompanied by a cream sauce and veggies. It’s the best thing for a Tuesday after a long day. — Zakiya Moore

33. The Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich, Bowl Of Greens

Eggplant Parm sandwich- Bowl of Greens

Probably the best and freshest eggplant I’ve ever had. The sandwich has a delicious, oozing marinara sauce and shredded melted mozzarella cheese on a slightly toasted roll. It’s great for a chilly day. — Zakiya Moore

34. Philly Cheesteak Egg Rolls, Del Frisco’s Grille

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

 

Del Frisco’s is the ultimate happy hour spot, located in the center of a huge business district at the Esplanade. True to its patrons, this finger food means business. It’s all the makings of a gooey cheesesteak sandwich neatly packaged as an egg roll. — Amanda Ventura

35. Adovada Ribs, Los Dos Molinos

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

36. Lemon Pepper Chicken Ramen, The Clever Koi

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

Photo courtesy of Yelp.com

37. Tortillas, Carolina’s Mexican Food

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

38. Chia Seared Tuna, Citizen Public House

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

39. Soft Pretzels and Provolone fondue, Culinary Dropout

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

This fun appetizer comes highly recommended from just about everyone who steps through Culinary Dropout’s door. These doughy pretzel balls are the ideal vehicle for creamy cheese fondue. — Meryl Fishler

40. Waffle, Matt’s Big Breakfast

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

There are many good reasons a crowd of people wait outside Matt’s Big Breakfast on weekend mornings. But, I can’t skip ordering the Belgian-style waffle that is the entire size of the plate! — Meryl Fishler

41. Kimchee Fried Rice, Sumo Maya

Kimchi Fried Rice- SumoMaya

42. Testosteroni pizza, Pizza People Pub

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

43. Cochinita Pibil, Barrio Cafe

Cochinita Pibil- Barrio Cafe

44. Royale With Cheese, Cornish Pasty Co.

Photo courtesy of thoumustliveandeat

Photo courtesy of thoumustliveandeat

Pasties are the gourmet, glorified Hot Pockets popular among Cornish miners before microwaves and toasters were even invented. This pasty, which uses the French term for a Big Mac (popularized by “Pulp Fiction”) is a burger and fries packaged in a buttery, flaky crust served with three dipping sauces. Just, trust us. — Amanda Ventura

45. Macarons, Essence Bakery

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Feeling fancy? Essence Bakery’s gluten-free macarons (which are made with almond flour, traditionally) are among the best in the Valley. They come in colorful flavors, such as grapefruit and raspberry rose, as well as mainstays like vanilla and chocolate. — Amanda Ventura, who also loves Public Market’s bud-blowing macaroons.

46. Crispy Cuban Cigars, Corduroy

Crispy Cuban Cigars- Corduroy

Corduroy is a new restaurant concept in a 1920s building in Midtown Phoenix. While everything on the menu is tantalizing, these dapper ham-and-cheese-stuffed wontons caught our eyes from across the room and it’s been true love ever since. — Amanda Ventura

47. Deviled Fried Oysters Grits, Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails

Deviled Fried Oyster Grits- Blue Hound

48. Drunk Bread, Central Bistro

Drunken Bread- Central Bistro (Facebook)

49. Shrimp San Remo, Salt Cellar

Shrimp San Remo- Salt Cellar

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

 50. Short Rib or Cornbread Enchilada, Gadzooks

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Photo courtesy of Instagram.com

Rumor has it (his mom may have told our editor in chief) that founder Aaron Pool used to demand enchiladas for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a kid. He seemed destined to open a build-you-own enchilada joint that offers interesting filling options and a killer tortilla soup. Among our favorite fixings are the short rib and cornbread enchiladas. — Amanda Ventura


 

Postino Annex, Upward Projects

Postino opens newest location in 1950s art studio next month

Next Wednesday, Oct. 1, the latest Postino WineCafé location, Postino Annex (615 S. College Avenue) will open in Tempe inside a revamped former art studio just steps away from the ASU campus. Tucked into the historic ASU Art Annex building, this fourth Valley Postino location will help serve as a new gateway to ASU’s main campus as part of the all-new ASU Recruitment Walk on College Avenue. The project is also a special honor that’s very near and dear to the owners, as all four (Kris & Craig DeMarco and Lauren & Wyatt Bailey) are ASU alumni.

“It means a lot to us to return to our roots here in Tempe and ASU,” says co-owner, Craig DeMarco, “From our sharable menus to the open and communal layout, we really hope Postino Annex serves as a new neighborhood hub for this vibrant college community that helped shape our success.”

According to Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, “On behalf of the City of Tempe, we’re excited to welcome a great local company like Postino to be a part of our community. Not only is it going to help anchor the new ASU Recruitment Walk, it will bring new life and vitality to College Avenue by restoring this beautiful historic building.”

Open daily for lunch and dinner with brunch every weekend, at Postino Annex guests will savor a compact yet craveable menu of bruschettas, from-scratch soups, fresh salads and hearty panini sandwiches – all made with the finest local ingredients. Plus, every Saturday and Sunday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) Postino serves up farm-fresh brunch fare with a side of live music and $5 mimosas. Not to mention, Postino’s ever-changing selection of boutique wines and craft beers, including 16 beers on tap and two dedicated nitro taps.  Enjoy signature specials such as $5 Before 5 p.m., offered everyday on all wines by the glass and draft beer pitchers, and $20 Bottle & Board on Monday & Tuesday evenings.

Architecturally, this low-slung mid-century modern space has been artfully reinvented to create a light, airy yet stylish space that blurs the lines between the indoors and outdoors thanks to Postino’s trademark rollup garage doors leading to two lushly-landscaped patios. Here, guests can cozy up inside an intimate booth, settle in at the large indoor/outdoor walnut butcher block bartop, sip in the sun on the oversized outdoor sofa seats or make some friends at the various communal tables, all while soaking in the funky vintage furnishings and colorful custom artwork.

Postino Annex is located at 615 S. College Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281 and open from Monday – Thursday 11 am – 11 pm; Friday 11 am – midnight; Saturday 9 am – midnight; Sunday 9 am – 10 pm.

Rendering courtesy of Brick & West Design and RSP Architects

Wetta Ventures, ASU to redevelop College Ave.

Wetta Ventures and Arizona State University today announced a partnership to redevelop a portion of College Avenue as part of an adaptive reuse project that includes  the former ASU Annex.

Begun in December, the project will convert the Annex, a 7,323 square-foot-building on the corner of College Ave. and Sixth Street next to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, into a two-restaurant building. Wetta Ventures already has a commitment from local favorite Postino Winecafe for the northern space as well as interest from various restaurant operators for the second space. Postino is expected to open in August 2014.

The Annex is across College Avenue to the east of College Avenue Commons, a five-story, 137,000 gross-square-foot building now under construction that will house the Del E. Webb School of Construction, a prospective student visitors center, and Sun Devil Marketplace, a next-generation college store featuring dining and congregation spaces, books and soft goods, and the best of emerging digital technologies revolutionizing the world of books and publishing. College Avenue Commons will open summer of 2014.

“We are thrilled to partner with ASU on the transformation of College Avenue and to help bring to life the shared vision of creating a one-of-a-kind dining destination in Tempe,” said David Wetta, founder of Wetta Ventures. “The first phase, redeveloping the Annex, is a truly unique project.   We will reinvent this old structure to create a warm, inviting space that will be full of personality. The charming and humble design from the 1950s will be preserved, while integrating modern touches and functionality. We could not ask to be part of a more exciting project.”

The Annex now.

The Annex now.

The Annex, a 1950s schoolhouse turned multi-functional building that was once the Sun Devil weight room during the Frank Kush era, will be transformed into two building spaces connected by a central breezeway. The windows along the front of the building will be replaced with rollup glass garage doors, midcentury modern design and interior features such as wood ceilings, exposed brick and industrial ductwork. Two large patios for outdoor seating will run along College Avenue. Michael Rumpeltin of Brick & West Design is working in collaboration with RSP Architects on the architectural design of the project.

Postino Winecafe will occupy the northern 3,838 square-foot building and will have a 2,500 square-foot patio. A second restaurant will occupy the southern building that is 3,484 square-feet with a 1,640 square-foot outdoor patio.

Wetta Ventures recently completed Old School O7, an adaptive reuse and new construction project in Midtown Phoenix. The project consists of a 1948 church that has been repurposed as a restaurant, Taco Guild, a freestanding Starbucks and a 1955 school building that will serve as new shop space for a general retail tenant.

In addition to being an ASU alumnus, Wetta has a longstanding relationship with ASU through his membership in the President’s Club and membership in the Sun Devil Family Association.

“Creating a destination place on College Avenue, where downtown Tempe, the ASU Tempe Campus, and ASU public performance venues meet, is an important part of activating the street and making College Avenue a nexus for people to come together across campus and community,” said Morgan R. Olsen, ASU executive vice president, Treasurer and CFO.  “The presence of these destination dining venues as part of this exciting place will only enhance the creative environment ASU is fostering for its faculty, staff and students, and our community stakeholders.”

This development project will be done in conjunction with ASU’s College Avenue Streetscape project that is slated to begin this spring. Running along College Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, it will include green spaces, a shade structure, pedestrian walks, outdoor dining and event spaces and street beautification.

Photo: Postino

Top 5: Wine Bars (Fall-Winter 2012)

The Top 5 Wine Bars — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Postino

Three locations in the Valley
(602) 274-5144 (Phoenix)
postinowinecafe.com
Opened 10 years ago, Postino is the Valley’s original local WineCafe with a “warm, edgy culture,” unique wines and delicious food.


D’Vine Bistro & Wine Bar

Two locations, in Chandler
and Mesa
(480) 782-5550 (Chandler)
dvinebistro.com
D’Vine doesn’t just serve high quality food, craft beer, wine and spirits, but local entertainment, too.


Kazimierz World Wine Bar

7137 E. Stetson Dr.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 946-3004
kazbar.net
Considered the Valley’s finest wine bar, Kazimierz features more than 3,200 wines, signature cocktails, global small plates and live entertainment.


Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar

1326 N. Central Ave.,
Phoenix, AZ 85004
(602) 307-0022
cheuvronts.com
This wine-and-cheese cafe located in Downtown Phoenix offers daily happy hours and monthly events featuring fine wines and international cheeses.


Sportsman’s Fine Wines & Spirits

3205 E. Camelback Rd.,
Phoenix, AZ 85018
(602) 955-9463
sportsmanswine.com
Whether you’re a novice or connoisseur, head to Sportsman’s to pick up a bottle of wine or sit at the WineBar for food pairings and samplings.

Experience AZ Fall-Winter 2012