A local's guide to the best eating and drinking in Phoenix
Phoenix is like a giant fiery bird rising from the... oh wait. Wrong Phoenix. But the largest city in AZ is a giant oasis in the flaming-hot (fiery?) desert, and you know what they say about spending time in the desert: it's important to stay hydrated and well-fed. With cocktails and carne asada. Here's where the locals get their fill of Southwestern tacos and over 250 tequilas.
Need even more places to eat and drink? Head to Thrillist Phoenix for hot openings and the rest of our longtime favorites.
Why you're here: Inventive foods with even more creative cocktails
What you're getting: Okay, first, the food -- it's delicious (pork belly pastrami, truffle grilled cheese, etc.), and worth the trip. And now, what you'll be drinking with the food -- because the cocktail program is so good, that barkeep Brandon Casey's “Star Spangled Banner” cocktail was commemorated at the Smithsonian Museum. And the cocktail menu features the likes of an equally tongue-pleasing Manhattan with walnut & cherry bitters.
Why you're here: An impressive date night with a tasting menu
What you're getting: Quiessence is a no-kids-allowed, super-romantic spot that can put a car payment-sized dent in your bank account, but it is absolutely worth every bit of it. Set in a tiny renovated home at the far end of The Farm at South Mountain, it’s so intimate it’ll make you actually use the word “intimate” in a spoken sentence. Expect your server to know every obscure ingredient on the modern European menu...
Why you're here: A special "drinking food" menu until 2am, plus a confit pork shank for every other hour
What you're getting: Steeped in a laid-back atmosphere aided by wood floors and an open kitchen, P&P doesn’t seem like the place to find a culinary masterpiece, but trust us, as soon as you order the little neck clams with a side of its daily featured tots (!) you will change your mind about that. Also worth mentioning? It’s open till 2am every single day, and has a special "drinking food " menu.
Why you're here: A solid-gold, hands-down Phoenix classic
What you're getting: Postino’s locally revered status is all the more impressive considering how it's managed to expand out into four individual, unique branches that retain the essence of the Arcadia original -- an intimate, classy wine bar, with an ever-rotating bottle list (plus a great beer lineup), and a solid menu to match.
Why you're here: Scottsdale's 42-year-old lunchtime stalwart
What you're getting: DeFalco’s is part deli, part boutique Italian grocery store, part dine-in or take-out Italian resto -- and all amazing. The moment you walk in, you’re given a delicious olfactory overload of Italian goodness, leading you towards its expansive menu of Italian classics.
Why you're here: Expertly selected wines, paired with modern Italian plates
What you're getting: The menu changes daily depending simply on the ingredients available in the kitchen, and the chefs serve as many dishes with locally grown or raised ingredients, beers, and wines as humanly possible.
Why you're here: The best example of Phoenix's evolving fine-dining scene
What you're getting: Though a recent addition to the scene, Beckett’s Table has rapidly become a local icon, with every detail, from the misters on the patio to the leather-topped stools at the brick-lined bar, thought through -- and that attention extends to the menu, too, which boasts an ever-evolving (and ever-changing) array of modern American classics, like chicken dumpling soup.
Why you're here: Expertly thrown-together cocktails
What you're getting: Award-winning mixologist Micah Olson uses fresh ingredients and house-made syrups to craft drinks like his signature Daring Dutchman, with Bols Genever, house-made apricot syrup, mascarpone, fresh lemon, and fennel pollen.
Why you're here: Wine from 45 different countries, plus other strong selections
What you're getting: This Downtown Scottsdale locale features a long wine list, but the menu also has a variety of other booze, including craft beers and unique cocktails such as the Peas and Thank You, which is created with snow pea-infused vodka and rich honey syrup.
Why you're here: Cocktails and craft beer in a historic Phoenix 'hood
What you're getting: The Windsor champions itself for being a place where “everyone is welcome”, and thanks to the eight rotating craft taps (Left Hand Milk Stout!), fantastic house cocktails (go for the rye/mint/pineapple No. 09), and extensive food menu, that's certainly true.
Why you're here: The largest booze list in town
What you're getting: Located in Downtown Phoenix, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails has dubbed itself an American gastro-lounge, but the real fun is to be had with the fact that it also boasts Phoenix’s largest selection of bourbons, Scotches, and gins, all of which are used to great effect in the cocktail menu.
Why you're here: A classic, local brewpub experience
What you're getting: Four Peaks Brewing Company is a favorite of college students and families alike, and for good reason. With four locations across the Phoenix Metropolitan area, it’s a household name amongst beer lovers, thanks to their inventive, yet solidly delicious lineup of brews. We recommend trying out the classic Kilt Lifter, their flagship Scottish-style ale.
Why you're here: Family-owned bar with a constantly changing drink lineup
What you're getting: The Whining Pig is a reliably great joint; every two weeks, 33% of the wine selection and 25% of the beer selection will change, giving customers a revolving door of new options to try, and they have yet to disappoint.
Why you're here: A hole-in-the-wall, where you can throw a dart at the menu and leave satisfied
What you're getting: If tacos are your bag, go for (in this order) the shredded beef, the chicken, and then the fish, and finish it all with an order of the old-school sopaipillas. Or go for the Poblano Cream Chicken Enchilada, a delicious mix of mild poblano, a light & fluffy tortilla, and chicken that's actually evenly distributed throughout the enchilada.
Why you're here: Authentic Mexican food with a mile-long tequila list
What you're getting: With three colorfully decked dining rooms, Barrio’s been plating traditional Mexican for the last 12 years, and doing it really well. Boasting 205+ tequilas, and an extensive food menu to match, it even has a Sunday brunch menu complete with an entree dubbed Huevos Divorciados (which differs from the classic huevos rancheros because the eggs are prepared separate of one another, and they sub hollandaise for a salsa mix).
Why you're here: Uh, tacos & tequila
What you're getting: With the vast shelves of ‘quila, you can create approximately one million variations on the margarita. Their new Mexican dishes cut back on the grease and lighten things up with the freshest veggies and cheeses, and their happy hour comes with as many rounds of tacos as you can handle. Bonus: the Slow Cooked Bar-B-Q Pork tacos have won awards, and rightly so.
Why you're here: Time-tested family recipes
What you're getting: The name isn’t just a marketing technique -- Rosa’s grandson opened the first Tia Rosa restaurant in Mesa in 1991 exclusively using Rosa’s homegrown Mexican recipes, and the decor matches the traditional-ness of the menu. Sadly, one of the Tia Rosa locations just burned down... but they are working to reopen soon, and there are two more locations throughout the East Valley.
Why you're here: Modern bites with an easygoing, wood-decked vibe
What you're getting: Gallo offers up a range of Mexican dishes, from breakfastings to wild shrimp ceviche to a margarita and pisco menu (which the daily happy hour makes even more attractive).
Why you're here: If you're young and into Mexican food, this is the spot.
What you're getting: Despite the newness, the cuisine sticks to the traditionals (chicken mole, fish tacos, etc.), but does them really well.
Why you're here: Breakfast, Mexican-style
What you're getting: There is an entire portion of its menu dedicated to “the art of hollandaise”. Unlike most breakfast spots with that naggy request for “no substitutions”, Snooze actually says, “We encourage your custom creations”, not that it’s needed however. Also, don’t think because we’re talking breakfast that the drink menu is limited to mimosas and Bloodys. Plan on sampling the Dharma Rum: a chai latte, rum, whipped cream, and pumpkin spice glass of deliciousness.
Why you're here: Welcome to a choose-your-own-enchilada adventure.
What you're getting: Gadzooks boasts possible enchilada ingredients like beer-braised bison, Chihuahua cheese, and “blended habanero lava” -- and as weird as they may sound, they are fantastic.