50 things you must eat in Phoenix
It’s been great to see Metro Phoenix emerge as a hot spot — and we’re not talking about the weather. We are talking about Phoenix for foodies. We don’t care if Phoenix only ranked No. 23 in Wallethub’s list of the “Best Foodie Cities in America.” We’ve seen Metro Phoenix chefs reinvent our food scene, fuse cuisines and create fresh twists on Southwestern and American staples.
What better time to sample some of the tasty treats than during the upcoming holiday season? So whether you’re in town for the weekend or are a regular at some of the Valley’s best restaurants, here are 50 things you must eat in Metro Phoenix (listed in no particular order).
1. Himalayan salt seared ahi tuna — LON’s at the Hermosa Inn
A hefty block of heated Himalayan Salt is topped with a slab of ahi tuna, then yuzu-soy sauce is poured over it as it cooks tableside, creating a sensory celebration as the tuna sizzles and the aromas fill the air!
2. PBH — The Crepe Club
Peanut butter, banana and honey. Your favorite childhood snack just got a SCRUMPTIOUS makeover.
3. Kepta Duona — Sonata’s Restaurant
Perfectly sharable and beautifully presented, Sonata’s Kepta Duona — crispy rye bread tossed in duck fat aioli and Havarti cheese — is an Eastern European traditional appetizer and is the go-to dish to share with guests any time of the day.
4. Avocado Fries — Dust Cutter, Renaissance Phoenix Downtown
No one else in the Valley is doing avocado fries and this is food porn at its finest. Hand cut, lightly breaded and paired with house-made Chiltepin Pepper Aioli that is borderline orgasmic.
5. PH Burger — Protein House
Protein House has swapped the typical greasy, calorie-laden burger with their healthy version — organic grass-fed bison, three egg whites, low-fat cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomatoes between a whole wheat bun. Finally a burger you won’t feel guilty eating.
6. Iron Skillet Pancake — St. Francis
Cooked in an authentic wood-burning oven and featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” the Iron Skillet Pancake reimagines the traditional pancake with a unique texture and served with caramelized apples and syrup.
7. Buttermilk chicken — Sierra Bonita Grill and Catering
Some of the most famous people in Phoenix have dined at Sierra Bonita and many have come for the buttermilk chicken, served with mashed sweet potatoes. It is as comforting as comfort food can get and as delicious as any dish in Phoenix.
8. Niman Ranch Aged Tomahawk Rib-Eye — Hearth ’61
This 40-ounce, bone-in steak for two is finished in our beautiful, signature oven, which imparts an incredible smoky flavor to every bite.
9. Gnocchi Sorrentina — Marcellino Ristorante
You’re going to have tears in your eyes as these bursts of magnificent morsels hit your tongue. Gnocchi is tough to make perfect every time. Marcellino’s gnocchi goes beyond perfection and hits supreme … every time.
10. Green Chile Barbacoa Enchiladas — Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill
The slow roasted beef in these enchiladas is mouth-wateringly good. Smothered in Jack cheese and green chile sauce takes this dish to the next must-have level.
11. Casablanca Lamb Tagine — Prado at Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
You are sure to be the envy of the table when you order Chef de Cuisine Smail Yaakoubi’s Casablanca Lamb Tagine, one of his favorite dishes to prepare that is brimming with flavors from his home country of Morrocco, including saffron and dried fruits.
12. The Bear — Short Leash
You would think that everything that could’ve been done to improve a hot dog would’ve already been attempted, but the innovators at Short Leash reimagined the genre with The Bear, a hot dog wrapped in warm flat bread, smothered in barbecue sauce, peanut butter, gouda and topped with cracker-jacks. A bit odd, but it is the perfect combination of sweet, salty and savory.
13. Peking Duck Tacos — Taco Guild
Traditional Peking Duck takes hours to prepare – Taco Guild has accomplished that in this taco. The plum sauce and roasted poblano apricot compote plus the Brie cheese on top make these tacos incredible.
14. Pain Perdu — Vovomeena
It doesn’t matter if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Vovomeena makes everything right again. Enter Pain Perdu: Banana bread pudding french toast with whiskey caramel. Life will feel sweet until the last bite.
15. Fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese — Southern Rail
This signature dish is a beautiful blend of tart, crispy green tomatoes and rich, spicy pimento cheese. The flavors and textures are magic in your mouth.
16. Any steak from Lincoln, A JW Steakhouse
There is no doubt that Lincoln may serve the steaks you will ever eat in your life.
17. Smoked Steak Tartare — Camp Social
Served in a jar, this dish is “smokin” … literally. Diners will twist, stir and enjoy this perfect combination of steak and seasonings best utilized as a dip with Camp Social’s house-made potato chips. The perfect starter to any lunch or dinner.
18. BBQ Baby Back Ribs — Bourbon & Bones Chophouse & Bar
Moist, tender and packed with flavor, these ribs made one Kansas City native exclaim, “These are the best ribs I have ever had in my life.” And she was right.
19. Horny Toad’s fried chicken — The Horny Toad
The Toad’s chicken, the most loved fried chicken in Arizona, is always fresh, is lovingly created with a very special breading and an array of secret spices, then cooked to perfection in a Henny Penny pressure cooker making it the most sought-after fried chicken in the state.
20. The Don — Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
This traditional pizza topped with Italian sausage, meatballs and pepperoni is made with fresh ingredients, handmade mozzarella, “secret recipe” dough and pizza sauce that comes together for the perfect pie that melts in your mouth.
21. Beef Bourguignon — Voila French Bistro
This traditional French beef stew is so delicious and comforting. The braised beef with carrots, onions and potatoes create layers of flavor. This dish will warm your soul.
22. Chi-talian Stallion — Gino’s East of Chicago
Gino’s East of Chicago’s legendary Chi-talian Stallion pizza is what happens when an Italian beef sandwich and a deep dish pizza collide. The Chicago favorite features the restaurant’s famous golden crust, chunky tomato sauce, and a perfect blend of Italian beef, roasted sweet peppers and giardiniera.
23. Pork Osso Buco Confit — Beckett’s Table
This dish tastes like home, reminding you of family dinners that are full of love, laughter and delicious food.
24. Hangover Fries — RnR
Having a rough morning? They say the cure for 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.
25. Butternut Squash Ravioli — ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
The ravioli has a bold color and an unexpected combination of flavors and textures, with sweet and savory perfectly balanced.
26. Kelly’s Original Four-Cut Burger — Kelly’s at Southbridge
A mouthwatering blend of short rib, sirloin, chuck and brisket makes the perfect patty base for Kelly’s Original Four-Cut Burger. The Four-Cut Burger is made with mushrooms, piquillo peppers, relish onion jam, melted New York cheddar cheese and crispy pancetta.
27. Cantina Shooters — Spotted Donkey Cantina at el Pedregal
Bursting with flavor, these poppers pack the punch for a perfect dining experience on the Spotted Donkey Cantina patio surrounded by 12-million-year-old boulder piles.
28. Slow Cooked Beef Shoulder — Salty Sow
So tender and delicious, the beef shoulder is a meat eater’s delight set atop mashed potatoes, vegetables and a fried egg.
29. Maine Lobster Pot Pie — Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak
According to celebrity chef and restaurateur, Michael Mina, the Lobster Pot Pie is one of the Top 10 dishes that made his career. We couldn’t agree more.
30. Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin — Roaring Fork
One of the signature Roaring Fork entrees, this flavorful combination of tender pork and bacon; hearty grits and street corn is the perfect southwestern meal for visitors and residents alike.
31. Chips & Dip — MERITAGE at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
This dish may not sound exciting, but those dips and the housemade chips are the bomb dot com. This trio includes a classic beer-infused cheese sauce from locally sourced beer, a white bean hummus with peppadew tapenade and a caramelized onion dip – all served with to-die-for housemade BBQ chips.
32. Fajitas — Old Town Gringos
This classic dish is sure to make you sizzle with a choice of six different meats — steak, shrimp, chicken, chorizo, ground beef or barbacoa — and is packed with flavor and always a customer favorite.
33. Tuna Crudo — Artizen, Crafted American Kitchen & Bar
Executive Chef Dushyant Singh’s tuna crudo dish is refreshingly delicious and made with oaxacan chile shoyu, avocado, macadamia and pickled pineapple.
34. Lobster Tacos — La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval
One of the most popular dishes at La Hacienda, this trio of tacos is perfection – and perfect for sharing – made with lobster, refried beans, arbol chile and avocado in a flour tortilla.
35. Pasta al Pomodoro — Mora Italian
Celebrity chef Scott Conant’s homemade spaghetti in a sweet and buttery sauce is as traditional as you will find in any Italian restaurant in or out of Phoenix, but unlike anything you will find at Grandma’s red-checkered-tablecloth Italian restaurant — or anywhere elser.
35. Cubano Sandwich — Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar
What’s not to love about melding pork carnitas and cured ham with Swiss cheese and Chinese mustard on a soft bread roll, paired with a rum cocktail, overlooking the 18th Hole of the TPC Scottsdale?
36. Vegetarian Eggplant Torte — Tomaso’s Italian Restaurant
Chef Tomaso Maggiore’s multi-layered eggplant dish baked with tomato-cheese fondue, hazelnut cauliflower cake and gnocchi show why his restaurant has been voted Arizona’s best since 1977.
37. Quinoa & Flax Chip Nachos — Farm & Craft
It’s a unique healthier take on the popular appetizer with gluten-free quinoa and omega flax multi-grain chips, topped with chicken sausage, black beans, white cheddar, sour cream, green onions, cilantro and pico de gallo. Yummy!
38. Bacon Fat Heirloom Popcorn — Citizens Public House
They call it “bar snacks,” but you can get this appetizer anywhere you sit. It arrives in an average size cereal bowl and it’s oil-popped white popcorn with bacon fat and crispy bacon pieces. If you order a bowl for the table to share, you will secretly wish you’d ordered your own. Go at happy hour and get your bowl of popcorn heaven for half off.
39. Mile-High Corned Beef Sandwich — Chompie’s
After nearly 40 years in the Valley, the Borenstein family has perfected this delicious New York deli staple.
40. Three Onion Tarte — Coup Des Tartes
This is a delicious combination of softened shallots, leeks and onions suspended in a Gruyere and bacon cream. The quant Phoenix location and atmosphere make Coup Des Tartes taste even better.
41. Niman Ranch Pork Tomahawk — Café Monarch
The dish truly speaks for itself. A delicious 18-ounce prime Niman tomahawk served with Yukon potato mash, sautéed haricot verts, Maui onions, wild mushrooms, New Mexico chili sauce, Pinot Noir Reduction, cooked to perfection.
42. Royale With Cheese — Cornish Pasty Co.
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.
43. Beets and Burrata — Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse
This is the perfect starter to every Hand Cut meal. Golden beets, arugula and burrata with herb salt and hibiscus honey. Say whaaaa?
44. Short Rib Enchilada — Gadzooks
His mom told us 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.
45. Oaxacan Black Mole Burro — La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop
This slice of heaven is a blend of spices, chiles, nuts and chocolate made into a rich and flavorful sauce, mixed with shredded chicken, red onion-lime with a traditional rice. This is simple, but not uncomplicated, comfort food that reminds me that all is right in the world. It’s worth the trip just for the salsa bar.
46. Hurricane Popcorn — Bitter & Twisted
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!
47. Heirloom Brown Rice Bowl — La Grande Orange Grocery & Pizzeria
We are accustomed to referring to quinoa as “quin-blah,” but not so with LGO’s Heirloom Brown Rice Bowl. Who knew pistachios, beans and a fried egg could be one of the best breakfasts — or lunches — you’ve ever had?
48. Pan Sauteed Branzino — T. Cook’s
T. Cook’s Chef Todd Allison does everything well, but his Pan Sauteed Branzino with pancetta, capers, grilled lemon and saffron braised tomatoes takes the deliciousness meter in Phoenix to a whole new level.
49. Seared Chicken Livers — Tratto
I know, I know chicken livers, but these are not your grandpa’s dry, chalky liver and onions. These are fresh from the farm, seared to perfection and complemented with a sweet black plum jam from locally grown plums that brings a tired and misunderstood item into a new delicious world!
50. Shrimp San Remo — Salt Cellar
I saved this one for last because it comes with a confession. The Shrimp San Remo is so good that we sometimes head to the super-popular Salt Cellar without a reservation just so we can sit at the bar, order Shrimp San Remo and sop up every drop of deliciousness with an extra order or bread. If you have room left, Salt Cellar’s king crab legs will be the best you’ve ever had.
Banana Cupcake — Sprinkles
Here’s how good Sprinkles’ banana cupcakes are: When I was training for my first Ironman (yes, that’s why I can eat all this decadent deliciousness and not worry about it), I would plan the locations of my workout based solely on which days Sprinkles had banana cupcakes. I always made sure my Saturday workouts ended in Scottsdale so I could swing by Sprinkles and indulge in what can only be described as sugary bites of heaven. Words cannot adequately describe the perfection that is Sprinkles’ banana cupcake. It’s something that you have to experience to appreciate.
BEST SEDONA DISH
Lobster Mashed Potatoes — Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill
This dish is so decadent and so crave-worthy that the Travel Channel sent an entire film crew to Sedona just to capture Chef Lisa Dahl’s secrets to this dish for an upcoming episode of “Food Paradise.”