Restaurant Guide–Phoenix

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  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)

Chandler

China Magic Noodle House–2015 N. Dobson Rd. (Chinese) Closed Mon.  Next door to Lee’s Market. Shaved noodles, steamed dumplings. (1-28-19)

Cyclo Vietnamese–1919 W. Chandler Blvd. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun & Mon (and closed between 2:30 and 5:00 pm).  Vermicelli, Hong Kong chow fun are good (Gil rates restaurant 25).  From Yelp reviews the dishes served seem good but not terribly exotic. (1-28-19)

Green Corner–1065 W. Queen Creek Rd. (Middle Eastern) Open daily except Sun evening.  Reviews are consistent about the delicious food, although the items served are pretty standard for Middle Eastern food. (1-28-19)

Phoenix Palace–2075 N. Dobson Rd. (Chinese) Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.  Yelp reviewers say this is the best dim sum in Phoenix (but is not up to Cal. standards). The regular menu is good–has a Chinese menu with traditional Cantonese dishes. Many say this is better than C-Fu (which is not as good as it used to be). Has xiao long bao. (1-28-19)

Swaddee Thai–5055 W. Ray Rd. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Authentic. Red curry, green curry, eggplant are good. Some noodle and stir fried dishes do not get as good reviews, and overall it seems that Mint Thai might be better. (1-28-19)

Note: Lee Lee Supermarket at 2025 N. Dodson Rd. has a selection of Asian and other ethnic items that rivals the stores on the west coast.

Gilbert

Mint Thai–1111 N. Gilbert Rd. (Thai) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Many report it as being better than Swaddee, but it seems to be inconsistent. Curries are good (green, panang, massaman). Some report that it has MSG, which is one reason for the inconsistent reviews. (1-28-19)

New Mexican Grill–3107 S. Lindsay Rd. (New Mexican) Breakfast & lunch Mon-Sat, dinner Mon-Fri.  New Mexican food that is the “real deal” according to reviewers. Food is served with Indian fry bread (probably the most popular item with customers). (1-28-19)

Glendale

A Touch of European Cafe–7146 N. 57th Dr. (Polish) Lunch Mon-Sat; Dinner Thu-Sat. Reviewers say it’s one of the best choices for Polish food in the U.S. Most dinners are about $17 on the 2018 menu. (3-14-19)

Little Saigon–7016 N. 57th Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily except Sun evening.  Taking a look at the reviews and the extensive menu, this may be the place to come for Vietnamese food in Arizona (although I realize there are a number of very good choices in the Phoenix area). (3-14-19)

Litchfield Park

Old Pueblo Cafe–102 N. Old Litchfield Rd. (Mexican) Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm.  Sonoran–one of the best in Phoenix. (I think the Sonoran food in Phoenix is pretty Americanized, but supposedly this restaurant is better than many others). (3-23-19)

Mesa

All Pierogi Kitchen–1245 W. Baseline Rd. (Polish) Closed Mon.  Pierogi is the specialty and possibly the only item served (but there is a large variety of fillings, etc.). It also appears that the owner makes all of them by hand, thus you do not get the frozen ones as is the case with many Polish restaurants. (3-23-19)

Asian Cafe Express–1911 W. Main St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Some recommend it as the best authentic Cantonese style restaurant in the Phoenix area, and the overwhelming consensus is that it has great Chinese food. (3-23-19)

Mekong Palace–66 S. Dobson Rd. (Chinese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Has dim sum, and authentic Cantonese food available from the menu (most say the dim sum is not the best in Phoenix but the menu items are very good). (3-23-19)

Phoenix

Atoyac–1830 W. Glendale Ave. (Mexican) Closed Sun-Mon.  Oaxacan style. Has mole. (5-5-17)

AZ Kabob House–7000 E. Mayo Blvd. (Persian) Open Daily.  Large menu of Persian dishes. Reviewers say the kabobs are cooked perfectly. Has ghormeh sabzi on the menu. (5-5-17)

Barrio Cafe–2814 N. 16th St. (Mexican) Closed Mon.  A very popular restaurant for authentic Mexican street food and food as it would be served south of the border. Enchiladas suizas, guacamole, churros, and pork tacos are popular. This, along with Los Sombreros, are said to be the most authentic Mexican restaurants in Phoenix (but Los Sombreros is more upscale). (5-5-17)

Carolina’s–2126 E. Cactus Rd. (Mexican) Closed Sun.  Sonoran–one of the most popular. In addition to the main dishes, the beans and tortillas are particularly good. Open for breakfast–burritos are popular. (5-5-17)

Chinese Cultural Center–668 N. 44th St. – Complex of businesses including the following:

  • Super L Ranch Market Open daily 9 am to 9 pm.  This is a grocery store that reviewers say is smaller than others in town but has higher quality items. The high point for most is its bakery, though. Many also recommend the cafeteria (mostly Chinese, but has other items also). (5-5-17)
  • Szechwan Palace Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm). Some say this is the only authentic Sichuan style restaurant in the Valley (authentic=good flavor). (5-5-17)
  • Beijing Garden Open Daily.  I’m a little concerned that this does not show up on people’s “best of Chinese” lists, but the restaurant reviews, menu, and photos indicate that it is authentic northern and Sichuan style food (the northern food is similar to the former Moon Day in El Paso). (5-5-17)

Cocina Madrigal–4044 S. 16th St. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Upscale Mexican restaurant with a Oaxacan born chef has made a big impression on the reviewers. Wild mushroom enchiladas are very popular. (2-15-19)

Fry Bread House–4545 N. 7th Ave. (Southwest) Closed Sun (closes 8pm weekdays).  The owner serves food from her Tohono O’odham Nation roots including Indian tacos that are said to be some of the best. She has received a James Beard award for her menu based largely on fry bread and red chile. (1-28-19)

Great Wall–3446 W. Camelback Rd. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Authentic Chinese & dim sum (dim sum on weekends only). Authentic Cantonese dishes are listed near the back of the menu (reviewers say they are very good). (5-5-17)

Los Altos Ranch Market–1602 E. Roosevelt Rd. (Mexican) Open daily 6 am to 11 pm.  Los Altos is a grocery store with a food court inside. If you want authentic Mexican street food and are willing to sit at indoor picnic tables in order to get some of the cheapest prices in town, this is a popular spot. Many people get a Mexican Coke for a drink. The bakery in the grocery store is very popular, and there are sometimes vendors selling tamales in the parking lot. (5-5-17)

Los Dos Molinos–1044 E. Camelback Rd. (New Mexican) Closed Sun & Mon.  New Mexican cuisine that many people recommend. It has the spiciness that Arizona Mexican cuisine lacks, and it would be worth coming here if you can’t go to New Mexico. Enchiladas and green chile stew are recommended by reviewers. (5-5-17)

Nobuo–622 E. Adams St. (Japanese) Open daily except Mon lunch.  Upscale Japanese–from the reviews I think it will be worth the money.  Not primarily a sushi place–has a full menu like the Seattle Japanese restaurants. Listed as $$$ on Yelp. (5-5-17)

Pizzeria Bianco–623 E. Adams St. (Pizza) Open daily (closes at 7 pm on Sun).  Nationally recognized as being one of the best in the U.S. (crust is especially good). Margherita is good. (2-15-19)

Takamatsu–4214 W. Dunlap Ave. (Korean) Open daily (open until 10 pm).  Good reviews, and apparently is very authentic. Korean BBQ, dumpling soup, kim chee hot pot. Generous with the side dishes. (5-5-17)

Touch of Thai–16816 N. 35th Ave. (Thai) Open daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  I am a little suspicious of any Asian rest. not located in the Chandler/Gilbert area, but this one has very positive reviews, including those from people who have been to Thailand. Red, green, and yellow curry are recommended. Spice levels are authentic and not dumbed down. (5-5-17)

Scottsdale

Los Sombreros–2534 N. Scottsdale Rd. (Mexican) Dinner daily; lunch Fri-Sun.  Upscale Mexican–very good reviews. Recipes are from San Miguel de Allende. (3-23-19)

Tempe

Cafe Lalibela–849 W. University Dr. (Ethiopian) Open Daily.  Meat & vegetarian items, but reviewers particularly like the vegetarian dishes. (2-15-19)

Chanpen Thai–2700 W. Baseline Rd. (Thai) Open Daily.  A Thai restaurant that reviewers are passionate about (so it must be very good). Most people recommend the curries (it is thick like they say it should be). (3-14-19)

Cornish Pasty–960 W. University Dr. (British) Open Daily.  This is a pub, but unlike what may be the usual case this one puts a great emphasis on the food. Chicken pot pie would probably be my favorite, but many people have their own preferences. (3-14-19)

Little Miss BBQ–4301 E. University Dr. (BBQ) Lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  Central Texas style barbecue. This is a rather unusual restaurant in that you stand in line and wait for your order (in some cases for 2 hours or more) and yet people almost always have a great experience. Some say if you arrive early there is less of a wait (they open at 11:00 am). (3-14-19)

Nandini–1845 E. Broadway Rd. (Indian) Open Daily (closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  The flavor makes this the favorite Indian restaurant in the Phoenix metro for many. It is more expensive than other Indian restaurants-reviewers say you pay for the quality you get. (3-14-19)

Smile Lao Thai–2107 S. Rural Rd. (Thai) Open Daily.  I’m always looking for good Lao restaurants, as this one seems to be. However, I would be in a dilemma because reviewers say the Thai food is equally authentic and among the best in Phoenix. Pad ped and pad prik khing are among the recommended dishes for Thai food. Mii kathii seems to be the restaurant’s signature dish (this is a Lao soup). (3-14-19)

Udupi Cafe–1636 N. Scottsdale Rd. (Indian) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  All vegetarian cuisine. Has a lunch buffet (which lacks some of the items available on the dinner menu). Specializes in South Indian food (such as dosa). Thali is available (I loved the thali served at the Udupi Cafe in Seattle). This is the budget alternative is other Indian restaurants are too expensive. (3-14-19)

 

Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

 

Sources:

City-Data (Phoenix ethnic eats)

Eater Guide to the Southwest 2019

Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Phoenix)

Zomato (Phoenix)

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