Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Change From The Chain: 40 of Phoenix's Best Dining Spots

I've had the privilege to live in the urban gem of Arizona, Central Phoenix (yes, I am biased), for the past 2.5 years.

Central/Downtown Phoenix and Arcadia are
teeming with local restaurants of all price ranges & styles for the hipster, the classy, and the plain average folk.

Tuck Shop's chicken and waffles

I've comprised a list of my favorite restaurants in my area. If you're from these parts, you probably already know at least 3/4 of the places on this list, if not all, so this is dedicated to the more ignorant eaters. 

But be warned...once you go local, you never go back!

Very Casual

Two Hippies Taco Hut on Camelback- relatively healthy and nicely sized portions. Bring cash!

That's a Wrap! - also relatively healthy. I love their hibiscus tea & salad bowls in a taco shell. My husband thinks it is too girly.

Luci's Marketplace- best atmosphere, healthy gourmet food, half off 32 oz iced and blended drinks after 5 pm (that's a steal!!!), and overall best hang out. I craved this place every day of my pregnancy. The entire menu is divine. I like the Moe for breakfast and the hamburgers for dinner on a gluten free bun, of course ;) Luci's got me through some tough times... We even took our son here first thing on the way home from the hospital. I know, that's customer loyalty at its' finest.

Hob Nobs- a cottage feel coffee shop with delicious sandwiches, like the pork. 

Pane Bianco- cute little shop with good food for lunch, brought to you by the owners of Pizzeria Banco.

Pinos Pizzeria- my friend Estella works downtown & says this place serves slices the size of your face. 
Carolina's Mexican Food- authentic, mouth watering good. Anything is delicious here.

The Sack- creative sandwiches & Wanda's cookie dough is a must for take home.

ZK Healthy Grill- this one isn't really Central Phoenix (Greenway & Tatum) but I recently discovered it. Best gyro ever! And you get a lot of meat for $5.99

America's Taco Shop- don't let the casual atmosphere fool you- still expensive but definitely quality. The horchata and tacos are delicious but it'll cost you... but it's worth it all the same.

Casual Date Night

Heavenly, heart attack-sized burgers from The Grind

The Grind- this bar in Arcadia serves coal-fired, grass-fed beef. Uh, wow.

The Garage- try the spicy chili here. It's a great place to watch sports or listen to live music Saturday night.

Gallo Blanco- who knew hipsters could make a mean Carne Asade, says my Hispanic husband. 

Otro- this one is new, with the same owners as Gallo Blanco but more expensive, family style.

Windsor- eat their Windsor burger or die incomplete. So delicious. Great drink menu too.

Postino Central- wine at lunch is no crime here, as the motto goes. I love the 9 Iron sandwich or bruschetta.

Mazi's- sweet potato fries... MMM!!!!! Really nice owners too ;)

Fez's- same thing. Whoever is teaching these people the art of fries is succeeding.

The Parlor- pizza here is top notch. Drink menu is pretty stacked too.

La Grande Orange, or as the cool kids say, LGO- you don't live in Arcadia until you've been here. I secretly didn't care for the pizza but the strawberry sangria I sampled was to my liking. ;)

Humble Pie- pizza flavors I'd never invent but I am a fan of. You can get pazookie here too, same as Oregano's.

Portland's- amazing tiramisu!

Greenhouse- nice variety of food- try the Asian dumplings.

Pizzeria Bianco- Oprah once gave a shout out to this gourmet pizza shop. Yep.

Rice Paper- I love this little restaurant. The food is heavenly, especially the pho.

A Wee Bit Pricier Date Nights

Tuck Shop- charming and cozy upscale dining. I love the atmosphere but think the food portions are skimpy. Chicken and waffles are pictured above. It supposedly feeds two if you get an appetizer. It didn't.

St. Francis- the architecture blows my mind. It's very upscale hipster, so beware. I love the place itself- food is second to just sitting in a well- designed space.

True Food- a fun, healthier option for date night that isn't too upscale but will make you dig just a little more into your pocketbook. The grass-fed beef hamburger is so good.

Chelsea's Kitchen- what a fabulous environment this Arcadian favorite makes!

Going Out

Hulu- fruity tropical drinks & decent food

Culinary Dropout- I love the warm pretzel bites from here!

The Vig Uptown- fun place to be on a Saturday night

Aunt Chilada's- this casual restaurant has quite a fun night life, complete with beers and boce ball 

Beckett's Table- 1/2 off AZ wines on Sundays & the kale salad is divine.

Crescent Ballroom- concerts AND a great menu equals a good time had by all!


Dick's Hideaway- my husband loves their chorizo but I can't resist the French toast and fresh squeezed oj.

Scramble- I CRAVED this place too when I was pregnant. So delicious!!!

Ohso- run the canal & then head here for breakfast. Great happy hour & outdoor bar too.

US Egg- technically in Scottsdale but I LOVE their protein pancakes. 


Churn- homemade ice cream parlor. adorable.

Mary Coyle's- 1950's vintage sit-down ice cream parlor with homemade ice cream.

Urban Cookies Bake Shop- this bakery will get you into trouble but it's worth it.

Urban Bean- good coffee selection but you really go here for the coffee shop atmosphere

Lux Coffee Shop- same thing as Urban Bean. Coffee is second to the atmosphere.

And there really are so many more. What's your favorite, not on this list?

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