Phoenix and the Valley hold an amazing number of restaurants. You'll find many restaurant reviews and listings in the free weeklies New Times (www.phoenixnewtimes.com), The Rep (www.azcentral.com), and Get Out (www.getoutaz.com). The more expensive places suggest making reservations and may have a dress code. The following list offers highlights and typical examples of the dining scene. You'll rarely be far from an American, Mexican, or Asian eatery, and nearly all of the resorts offer at least one elegant restaurant. Prices refer to the cost of dinner entrees; lunch specials generally cost less.
American, Southwestern, and Western
You'll glide high above the city at The Compass (122 N. Second St., 602/440-3166, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and nightly for dinner, $24-40), the Hyatt Regency's 24th-floor revolving restaurant. There's also a cocktail lounge on the same floor.
Sam's Cafe (455 N. Third St. in the Arizona Center., 602/252-3545, daily for lunch and dinner, $8-20) creates Southwest flavors in steak, chicken, tuna, quesadillas, tacos, and other specialties; you can dine indoors or on the patio, which overlooks fountains and a garden. Another branch is in northeast Phoenix at the Biltmore Fashion Park, on the northeast corner of E. Camelback Rd. and 24th St., 602/954-7100.
Durants (2611 N. Central Ave., 602/264-5967, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and daily for dinner, $18-35) has been serving steaks, prime rib, chicken, and seafood for 50 years. Morton's of Chicago (2501 E. Camelback Rd. in The Esplanade, 602/955-9577, nightly for dinner, $20-34) is a link in the famous steakhouse chain. Stockyards Restaurant (5001 E. Washington St., 602/273-7378, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and daily for dinner, $11-30) features beef with some seafood, chicken, and pork options in an 1890s setting.
Different Pointe of View (11111 N. Seventh St. and Thunderbird, 602/866-6350, www.differentpointeofview.com, nightly for dinner except closed Sun.-Mon. in summer, $26-48) in the Pointe Hilton Resort at Tapatio Cliffs, presents sophisticated French-Italian-Mediterranean dining with a dazzling view of Phoenix. Jazz musicians play Wed.-Saturday. The Chef's Tasting Menu includes wine pairings from the award-winning wine cellar.
Vincent on Camelback (3930 E. Camelback Rd., 602/224-0225, weekdays for lunch and Mon.-Sat. for dinner, closed Mon.-Tues. in summer, $18-32) prepares imaginative Southwestern cuisine with first-rate service.
Wright's (Missouri Ave. and 24th St. in the Arizona Biltmore Resort, 602/954-2507, daily for dinner, $27-31) presents Contemporary American cuisine with excellent service and a Frank Lloyd Wright-style decor. Patio and wine cellar dining are available too.
Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe (downtown at 808 E. Jefferson St., 602/262-9256, Mon.-Fri. for lunch, $9) has real Southern cookin' and plenty of it. The menu written on the wall lists such favorites as fried chicken, pork chops, catfish, and a vegetable plate with a sampling of every kind of veggie in the kitchen. After filling up on soul food, you simply tell the cashier, perhaps Mrs. White herself, what you had—that's the golden rule.
Green Leaf Cafe (4426 N. 19th Ave., 602/265-5992, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and Tues.-Sat. for dinner, $10-17) specializes in vegetarian food and also offers chicken and fish options.
Katz (5144 N. Central Ave., 602/277-8814, about $7) fixes deli food for breakfast and lunch daily. Miracle Mile (9 Park Central Mall, 602/277-4783, Mon.-Sat. for breakfast and lunch, about $6) is a kosher-style cafeteria serving good portions of excellent food.
At The Fish Market (1720 E. Camelback Rd., 602/277-3474, daily for lunch and dinner, most $12-21), the informal restaurant downstairs features mesquite-grilled fish and New England-style seafood. The upstairs "Top of the Market" room offers elegant dining with an exhibition kitchen; it's open daily for dinner only, most $16-30. You can also drop by the downstairs oyster bar, sushi bar, and fresh-fish sales counter.
Steamers (24th St. and Camelback Rd. in Biltmore Fashion Park, 602/956-3631, daily for lunch and dinner, $19-68, averaging about $24) prepares seafood and some steak and chicken items.
Mexican and Latin American
Matador Restaurant (125 E. Adams St., 602/254-7563, $8-23) specializes in Mexican, but offers American and a few Greek items as well. It's one of the few downtown places open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Aunt Chilada's (daily for lunch and dinner, $10-18) has a century-old, general-store ambience. It's across from Pointe Hilton Resort at Squaw Peak (7330 N. Dreamy Draw Dr., 602/944-1286) and in Pointe Hilton Resort at South Mountain (2021 W. Baseline Rd., 602/431-6470).
Eliana's (1627 N. 24th St., 602/225-2925, daily except Mon. for lunch and dinner, $8-10) offers home-cooked Salvadoran food. Havana Cafe (4225 E. Camelback Rd., 602/952-1991, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and nightly for dinner, most $10-18) will give you a taste of Cuban, Spanish, and South American foods.
La Parrilla Suiza (two locations: 3508 W. Peoria Ave., 602/978-8334 and 13001 N. Tatum Blvd., 602/996-6479, daily for lunch and dinner, $6-10) prepares authentic Mexico City food, including vegetarian specials. San Carlos Bay (1901 E. McDowell Rd., 602/340-0892, daily for lunch and dinner, $11-16) specializes in Mexican seafood.
Sophisticated yet fun, Coup des Tartes (4626 N. 16th St., 602/212-1082, www.nicetartes.com, Tues.-Sat. for dinner, $17-25) serves eclectic French and other cuisines in a small house. No alcohol served, but you’re welcome to bring your own beer, wine or champagne ($8 corkage fee).
Christopher's (2502 E. Camelback Rd. in Biltmore Fashion Park, 602/522-2344, www.christophersaz.com, daily for lunch and dinner, $17-28) goes the extra distance to please its customers and his wine list has won awards. French-inspired fare is served in the sleek main dining room, Crush Lounge, and on the patio.
Lombardi's Romagna Mia (455 N. Third St. in the Arizona Center, 602/257-8323, daily for lunch and dinner, $10-19) is known for its seafood as well as pasta, pizza, rib-eye, veal, and chicken dishes. Patio seating overlooks a garden and fountains.
Avanti's (2728 E. Thomas Rd., 602/956-0900, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and nightly for dinner, $17-32) offers a varied menu including Italian cuisine.
Pronto Ristorante (3950 E. Campbell Ave., 602/956-4049, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and nightly for dinner, $12-19) serves regional Italian cuisine in a wood-paneled dining area decorated with antique clocks and musical instruments.
Tomaso's (3225 E. Camelback Rd., 602/956-0836, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and nightly for dinner, $12-30) prepares northern and central Italian and some Sicilian offerings.
Pizzeria Bianco (623 E. Adams St. in Heritage Square, 602/258-8300, Tues.-Sun. for dinner, $9-13) has creative pizzas, salads, and antipasti in a historic brick building. Bar Bianco next door serves wine, beer, and appetizers. California Pizza Kitchen (24th St. and Camelback Rd. in the Biltmore Fashion Park, 602/553-8382, daily for lunch and dinner, $8-12) prepares gourmet pizza along with pasta, soups, and salads. Our Gang Pizza & Cafe (9832 N. Seventh St., 602/870-4122, Tues.-Sun. for dinner, $7-17) serves great Italian food in a New York atmosphere.
Greekfest (1940 E. Camelback Rd., 602/265-2990, daily except Sun. for lunch and dinner, $10-25) serves tasty food in elegant surroundings.
The owner of Mediterranean House (1588 E. Bethany Home Rd., 602/248-8460, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and Mon.-Sat. for dinner, $8-15) has an Israeli and Yemeni background.
In east Phoenix, the popular Indian Delhi Palace (5104 E. McDowell Rd., 602/244-8181, daily for lunch and dinner) offers a large selection of flavorful vegetarian and meat dishes from north India. Options include a great-value lunch buffet ($7), entrees ($6-14), and set dinners ($14-18). Adjacent shops offer Indian clothing and a selection of South Asian sweets, snacks, and groceries.
In north Phoenix, Delhi Palace (16842 N. Seventh St. at Bell Rd., 602/942-4224, daily for lunch and dinner) prepares excellent vegetarian and non-vegetarian food in tandoori and other north Indian styles, with an inexpensive lunch buffet ($6), entrees ($7-13), and set dinners ($12-14).
The Chinese Cultural Center, a modern "Chinatown" with distinctive architecture, offers four restaurants, a large oriental supermarket, and some specialty shops. Look for the tile roofs at 668 N. 44th St. on the west side between Van Buren and McDowell Streets, just south from Exit 2 of the 202 Loop.
Ichi Ban Sushi Buffet (Chinese Cultural Center, 602/286-0040, closed Mon., $14 lunch, $21 dinner, less for kids) offers an amazing variety and quality of Japanese and Chinese food—all served buffet style—including sushi, seafood and meat dishes, soups, and salads. It's an oriental splurge and reasonably priced for what you get. Szechwan Palace (Chinese Cultural Center, 602/685-0888, daily for lunch and dinner, $7-11, some seafood is higher) fixes flavorful dishes including kung pao and Szechwan styles from their long menu of seafood, meat, and vegetable dishes. Lao Ching Hing (Chinese Cultural Center, 602/286-6168, daily for lunch and dinner, most $8-13) specializes in Shanghai cuisine with other popular and authentic styles too; the Peking duck ($27) must be ordered 24 hours in advance. Sampan Seafood Restaurant (Chinese Cultural Center, 602/286-9888, daily for lunch and dinner, $7-30) has a nautical decor for its mostly Cantonese and some Mandarin cuisine. Tanks hold live fish, lobster, and crab for many of the menu options, so you know that you're getting them fresh. You can also order meat and vegetable items including Peking duck and kung pao chicken or choose from the hot pot menu. There's a lunch buffet option on weekdays. Also in the Chinese Cultural Center, 99 Ranch Market has a large selection of Oriental groceries, a deli, and a bakery.
Vegetarian House (3239 E. Indian School Rd., 602/264-3480, Tues.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $6-10) is fun to try for its long, varied, and strictly vegetarian menu. Chefs offer mock seafood and meat dishes as well as tofu and vegetable choices. According to the menu: "To eat vegetarian food often will be beneficial to your health, remove miscellaneous matters from your body, and help enhance happiness and wisdom." The Suma Ching Hai Intl. Assoc. runs the restaurant and sells books and videos on their teachings; you can also buy meatless ingredients.
Gourmet House of Hong Kong (1438 E. McDowell Rd., 602/253-4859, daily for lunch and dinner, $7-20) offers more than 300 entrees and dinners from many corners of China! Specialties include live lobster and Peking duck. Don't be put off by the plain exterior and decor.
China Doll (3336 N. Seventh Ave. at Osborn Rd., 602/264-0538, daily for lunch and dinner, $7-10, seafood is higher) offers a large selection of Cantonese specialties, including lunchtime dim sum. The shrimp in garlic sauce is a favorite.
Golden Phoenix (6048 N. 16th St., 602/263-8049, Sun.-Fri. for lunch and daily for dinner, $6-8) serves good Mandarin, Cantonese, and Szechwan styles.
At Great Wall Cuisine (5057 N. 35th Ave., 602/973-1112, daily for lunch and dinner, $6-20) lunch-time dim sum will come to you—just wave over a cart operator when something good catches your eye. Dinners are from the regular menu.
Thai Rama (1221 W. Camelback Rd., 602/285-1123, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and daily for dinner, $7-10) offers inexpensive northern Thai food on a varied menu.
Pho Bang (1702 W. Camelback Rd., 602/433-9440, daily for lunch and dinner, $4-17) has great food, including some do-it-yourself grills. Tu Do (7828 N. 19th Ave., just south of Northern Ave., 602/864-6759, daily for lunch and dinner, $4-16) is a good choice in the north Valley.
The chefs at Ayako of Tokyo (2564 E. Camelback Rd. in Biltmore Fashion Park, 602/955-7007, Mon.-Fri. for lunch and nightly for dinner, $12-36) offer teppanyaki tabletop cooking, tempura, and a sushi bar.
On to Tempe