The Best Restaurants In Phoenix

Where to find classic taquerias, pillowy fry bread, mole espresso barbecue sauce, and more.
The Best Restaurants In Phoenix image

photo credit: Lauren Topor

To the uninitiated, Phoenix may seem like a sun-drenched desert pit-stop between Austin and Los Angeles that’s full of resorts, golf courses, and retirement communities. But we're here to enlighten you: Phoenix is just as cool (and diverse!) as our neighbors, and nothing proves that more than its restaurants. 

Phoenix’s food scene has a little bit of everything: Pan-African recipes, Texas-style barbecue, comfy French food, fried chicken served with Thai red chile sauce, and vegan-friendly restaurants that are doing magical things with vegetables. And of course, we've got classic taquerias, that one pizza spot everyone’s always talking about, and the house that fry bread built. It’s an exciting time to dine in Phoenix, and this guide breaks down where to start.


photo credit: Lauren Topor




$$$$Perfect For:Walk-InsKidsOutdoor/Patio SituationSerious Take-Out Operation
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Head to the original University location of this Texas-style barbecue spot for some of the best pork ribs, sausage links, and brisket in Phoenix. Sure, you’ll likely have to stand in line before calling dibs on one of the outdoor picnic tables, but that’ll give you some time to sort out your game plan: sandwich or a plate? Pulled pork or ribs? When they’re on the menu, get the oversized beef ribs and try the pastrami brisket. And whatever you do, don’t skip the sides—we love the jalapeño cheddar grits, red potato salad, and ranch-style beans.

This Phoenix spot is a long-time Arizona favorite, and for good reason: the fry bread. Native American fry bread is a pillowy, frisbee-sized fried dough that serves as a vessel for honey and jam or filling toppings like beans, vegetables, and meats and cheeses. Cecelia Miller of the Tohono O'odham Nation opened The Fry Bread House in the early 1990s, and it remains owned and managed by the family today. The location has jumped around over the years, but the menu still features the original family recipes from the restaurant’s early days.

The pies at Pizzeria Bianco have launched Phoenix’s food scene into the orbit of national conversation. Seriously, these pizzas are so famous they moved to Downtown Los Angeles, where a new Bianco’s debuted in 2022. Head to the original Heritage Square spot for pies like the Biancoverde, with mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta, and arugula, before a Diamondbacks game, or a weekday lunch when there’s less of a wait. Go with a group and order family-style so you can try everything.

Don’t confuse this spot for the chain of similar-named restaurants—there’s only one Barrio Café. Since opening in the early 2000s, the Calle 16 original has become a fixture in Phoenix for regional Mexican favorites. There are two main reasons why: the tableside guacamole and the chef’s community involvement and civil rights activism. When the pandemic hit and the restaurant was closed, she provided free food to the neighborhood from the empty parking lot. Nowadays, its back to its normal state of almost always packed.

Matt’s Big Breakfast isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but this consistently humming breakfast spot has perfected it. They serve plates like hearty scrambles, piled-high sandwiches, griddle cakes, and thick-cut bacon all day to a walk-in-only crowd that’s mostly made up of people who get up early to shop for produce at the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market around the corner. If there’s one place you’re going to prioritize in the city for breakfast, this is it.


Valentine knows the way to our hearts: pastries, pasta, natural wine, and late-night cocktails. The atmosphere here feels familiar—think more living room than dining room, with retro modern leather chairs and soft lighting. The Melrose spot puts Arizona ingredients at the center of every dish, and we particularly love the brunch spread: the avocado squash toast and the churro waffles with dulce de leche are some of our favorites.

photo credit: Carolina Useche



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Chilte is like that laidback cousin you only see during family reunions: liked by everyone, effortlessly cool, and randomly spent one spring break in Tulum with Kristen Stewart. Come for dinner to try Chilte’s experimental Mexican food, where you should start with an appetizer like the Argentine prawns with chocolate aguachile and tickle-your-tongue prickly pear. Perhaps nothing tops the pozole recado entree, which comes with a huge, well-cooked pork tomahawk. And that margarita flight you’re considering? We all know your cool cousin would endorse getting the trio of classic, chili, and ponche.

You know that friend you’ve been wishing would invite you over for dinner? Lom Wong, with its homey vibe and family recipes, is the restaurant equivalent. Bring a group and get the cold-and-sweet green mango salad along with the fried chicken you can dunk in Thai red chile sauce. Eating on the patio is always nice—it’s heated for chilly days and has misters for when it’s hot. They also have a great wine list, specifically put together to pair with the spicy dishes on their menu.

You’ll find this Grand Avenue spot inside the restored Bragg’s Pie Factory building, but with the exception of the dessert menu, you won’t find many sugary treats. Instead, you’ll get a solid introduction to the different cuisines of the Mexican state of Sonora, which on any given day, might include a list of specials like the lime-cured halibut aguachile or bone-in ribeyes. Reservations open at the start of each month, but you can try your luck at the bar. You might even find an empty seat next to an Arizona Cardinals starter.

At Belly Kitchen & Bar, a two-story restaurant in Central Phoenix’s Melrose area, you’ll encounter fusion takes on Asian cuisines, like the Vietnamese crab crepe and heaps of jackfruit with fermented mustard green fried rice. Order one of the normal-size cocktails while you wait for your date with the meet-cute you had at the farmers market. If it’s going well, you can always suggest splitting a pitcher of their special margarita recipe, the Spicy Hydra.  

SnapBack Pizzeria started as a mobile pop-up and catering operation under a different name before finding a more permanent spot in the old Grand Avenue Pizza Company location. This casual slice shop makes pies that any pizza purist will appreciate, but that’s not to say there aren’t surprises. Keep an eye out for the chef’s Mystery Pie, with a description that reads: “no mods, no complaints.” We like eating on the back patio here, but it’s also great for takeout or delivery when you don’t feel like interacting with the outside world.


Eating at this anything-but-stuffy French restaurant feels a bit like getting a hug from a friend who’s wearing a very soft cashmere sweater. There’s a lot to love about this charming hideaway off of Roosevelt, like all the orange wine, low-ABV cocktails, and unpretentious takes on classic French dishes. Start with the baked brie or caper-topped tartare before moving on to the steamed mussels bathed in fumet with creme fraiche.

Wren & Wolf is a certified sexy restaurant. Its dark, moody vibe sets the scene for cocktails, caviar bumps, and A+ people-watching. Start your meal with the $7 bread service (delivered to the table in gilded chalices alongside whipped truffle butter) and follow it with the oversized bone marrow starter that could intimidate even a Hungry Hungry Hippo’s appetite. The Alaskan king crab legs and the Japanese A5 wagyu, prepared tableside, hibachi-style, are perfect for when you want a luxe surf and turf moment.

photo credit: Tía Carmen at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa



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Tía Carmen’s minimalist aesthetic and bohemian desert decor is the kind of restaurant where you’re going to end up flooding your camera roll with photos. Post a picture of the space and someone you became besties with for seven minutes in line for the bathroom at the club will be in your DMs with “omg where is this?” Come here for a nicer birthday dinner and share the avocado aguachile or tomahawk ribeye with tepary bean mole. You can also keep it casual, starting at the bar with a yuzu paloma before settling into a corner table. It’s a great perch to watch all of the Saint Laurent bags pass by as you snack on oysters and ceviche from the grande seafood platter.

In its early days, The Stockyards was a watering hole for cattlemen, cowboys, politicians, and bankers. (Rumor has it that John Wayne was a regular—you can reserve what people say was his favorite table, booth 26, for yourself.) Today, over 75 years later, the spirit of the Old West is still very much alive here, though the restaurant has been restored with oversized leather booths and twinkly crystal chandeliers. The facade may have changed, but the old-timey charm and menu has stayed pretty much the same. This spot goes heavy on hand-cut aged steaks, wild game, and baking soda biscuits.


With more than 300 days of sun a year, it’s always patio season in Phoenix. Camp out under an umbrella of flowering trees at Ocotillo and order the smoked beets with local pecans flecked in Arizona honey, the citrusy mesquite-grilled chicken, or the wood-fired beef ribs that come slathered in a mole espresso barbecue sauce. If you’re celebrating something, this is where to do it.

The move at Taco Chelo is to go with a bunch of people and order practically one of everything. Start with the crispy rolled tacos and snappy chicharrones before going all-in on the beef barbacoa tacos or beer-battered fish tacos. Add a round of drinks for the table and take advantage of those Happy Hour prices, $9 margaritas and $15 buckets of beer. While chilling on the patio with your beverages, watch the art walk crowds buzz by on their way to First Friday

Latha is in a historic downtown bungalow with a big open-air porch that doubles as a live music stage, making it one of the coolest places to grab a weekend dinner. You won’t even care if your friends are late (again) because one of the rum-based cocktails can keep you company. The passion fruit mojito or rum punch both go down easy while listening to the R&B singer or Afrobeats DJ they have booked for the night. Once everybody in your party finally shows up and has had a chance to look at the menu, dig into dishes like the shrimp moqueca, rice grits, and vegan mushroom criollo. 

When we're entertaining out-of-towners, they’ll often say things like “we've got an appetite as big as the Grand Canyon.” That’s when we know to take them to Gallo Blanco for big plates of eggy chilaquiles and elote. The Garfield spot brings the heat with tacos and burritos, shareable sides, spicy ceviches, grilled tortas, and enchiladas drenched in red and green sauce. Save room for the sugar-dusted churros and tres leches—and, yes, just like the Grand Canyon, these desserts are something everyone should experience at least once.

Sake Haus is a small sushi bar that feels like an underground street lounge in Tokyo, when you’re actually halfway around the world in Roosevelt Row’s arts district. For the best seats in the house, slide up to the sushi counter, start with the pork gyoza or sashimi salad, and watch the chefs go to work as they effortlessly slice through yellowtail. Sip on one of their exclusive sakes like the melon-tinted Secret Brew while counting the number of paper lanterns dangling from the ceiling. 


This vibrant cafe is among the palm trees and bungalows in, yes, Phoenix’s Coronado neighborhood, and sells plant-based treats. A roster of baked goods like rose cookie sandwiches and mesquite snickerdoodles pack the pastry case, and are the warm-up to bigger plates like short stack buttermilk pancakes (made with vegan butter) dripping with maple syrup. We obsess over the savory fried potato tacos and almost always grab a lavender chocolate chip cookie on our way out.

In Phoenix, you’re never far from a good taco—and they’re more than good at Tacos Chiwas. They draw on an archive of family recipes, including lingua and tripe, two things you won’t find at just any ordinary walk-in taqueria. Other notable menu items include the pillowy gorditas, cheesy quesadillas, and hefty burritos.

Phoenix isn’t exactly the most walkable city, but we’re working on it. One silver lining to the city’s car culture is The Stand Burger Shoppe, a drive-thru-only mom-and-pop burger stand. The busy streetside hamburger joint keeps it simple with a lineup of ground beef burgers and salty hand-cut fries. Pick from a list of milkshakes and lemonades to wash it all down—the chocolate chile is our shake of choice.

Located inside The Churchill, this casual spot deals bagels, burgers, coffee, and sometimes burritos to crowds of college students and cool moms from its compact side-order window. Stoop Kid’s bagels are sourced locally from a small batch bakery (go early, before they sell out) headed by a Brooklyn-born chef, a fact bagel purists can feel good about. Their bagel sandwiches like the Money Shot with spicy bacon jam shmear and a hash cake are a savory morning way to fuel the rest of your day. Once you have your goods, you can chill in The Churchill's open courtyard or grab a birthday gift from one of the artisan booths.

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