Where to Eat in Phoenix Right Now
Plant-based tacos, Mexican-inspired sushi, and wood-fired ‘za.
Opening a restaurant is a momentous undertaking. Opening a restaurant between 2020 - 2021, even more so. Here in Phoenix, you don’t have to go far to find a new, or newish, place to eat. Our city is brimming with resilient culinary pros who have quite literally done whatever it takes to open their doors and keep those doors open (and keep their customers' bellies full, too!). And sometimes that means shifting their business models entirely. We’ve seen restaurants turn into makeshift bodegas. A series of fresh pop-up dining experiences have enthusiastically broke into the culinary scene. And takeout, well, for the sake of keeping our favorite spots up-and-running, we’ve all been eating more takeout than ever. Phoenix, let’s show some love to the indie restaurants and resilient, and incredibly creative culinary masterminds in our city. Get ready to feast. And remember, tip well.
The gist: The Valley certainly has its fair share of taquerias. But like tacos, there’s always room for more; we’re looking at you, Taco Boys.
The food: Much of what’s available on the Taco Boys’ compact menu has been kissed by their piping-hot charcoal grill. Expect authentic Mexican fare like tripa, cabeza, and barbacoa, to name a few, at the newest outpost of Taco Boy’s in Tempe—just like the Downtown Phoenix original. And whatever you do, don’t skip the vampiros.
The cost: Tacos are $2.69, burritos are $6.99 - $8.99, quesadillas are $2.99 - 8.99, and plates are $8.99. Homemade horchata is $2.99, bottled sodas are $2.99, and imported beer is $3.99.
Via Della Slice Shop
The gist: The latest pizza joint to swing open its doors in Downtown Phoenix, Via Della Slice Shop satisfies with its lineup of uncomplicated pies.
The food: Expect crispy pepperoni, gooey cheese, and bubbly crusts at this Downtown Phoenix pizza shop. Available by the slice or whole pie, Via Della’s creations range from classic options to more adventurous takes on Italian staples that include a white pie with a sesame seed crust, a pie smothered with vodka sauce, and a deep dish square pie with crispy-crunchy edges.
The cost: Slices range from $4 - $5.50 and whole pies are $28 - $36. Wings range from $9.50 - $16. And drinks are $1 - $3.
The gist: Wood-fired Italian-fusion cuisine that’s steadily gaining popularity with its newly opened second location in the heart of downtown Phoenix.
The food: The downtown Phoenix location offers a seafood-heavy menu consisting of inventive tapas, bowls, seafood dishes, and sandwiches that changes daily. And did we mention—every dish is cooked to perfection in a wood oven? You’ll never get bored with this constantly evolving restaurant so it’s the perfect go-to when you’re craving something different.
The cost: Opting for one of the seafood dishes will run you about $20, but sandwiches are a steal at $10 to $12. Starters are generally anywhere from $6 to $20 and you can usually snag a bottle of wine for under $30.
The gist: The legendary Arizona Biltmore Hotel’s new Latin restaurant offers a selection of flavorful and thoughtfully creative dishes in a modern yet warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The food: The menu is inspired by smoke—which touches everything from the Instagram-worthy cocktails (try the Los Muertos!) to the charred shrimp cocktail and grilled king salmon. Hearty dishes like the wagyu New York steak with salsa verde, avocado, and red wine vinaigrette perfectly complement refreshing, summer-appropriate picks like the grilled spanish watermelon salad.
The cost: Single entrees are between $24 and $58, small plates and shareables run from $12 to $45, and a premiere cocktail comes in at $22.
The gist: A roving food stand that frequently pops-up where something cool is happening, Chilte Tacos provides palate-pleasers that tickle the taste buds that aren’t just limited to their namesake.
The food: Mexican street food like drippy quesa birria made with tender beef and Oaxaca cheese tucked inside hand-pressed squid ink tortillas, smokey red sauce drenched chili relleno, and a rotating menu of handheld noshable tacos of the duck, barbacoa, and chicken carnitas variety comprise Chilte’s creative and ever-changing menu. Proteins rule, but vegan options are readily available for those who are so inclined.
The cost: Mains range from $10 - $13. Specials are $15. Specialty drinks are $6 - $8.
The gist: Esteemed local pastry chef, desert queen Tammie Coe’s venture into the world of craft pizza; conveniently located in Downtown Phoenix’s buzziest arts district.
The food: An east-meets-west style of ‘za is what’s on the menu; think veg-forward eggplant-adorned pies, inventive, regional-inspired takes that include toppings like roasted corn and cotija cheese, and piping-hot classic pepperoni stunners.
The cost: Slices range from $3.50-$5. Whole pies are $12 - $18. Other noshes including sandwiches and sides like cheesy garlic sticks are between $6 - $7.99. Grab-and-go desserts are also available.
The gist: A hip, and also historic, corner spot with expansive picture windows, lots of character, pink walls, and a warm welcoming vibe. Bacanora, the brainchild of a trio of hospitality pros, spotlights flavors of Mexico’s Sonoran region in every dish.
The food: Built on a foundation inspired by Nogales, housemade salsas, organic flour tortillas, peppers, and flame-kissed proteins come together to make burritos that require two hands to hold, tasty pollo asado and potatoes, and refreshing spoonable aqua chile.
The cost: The concise menu includes entrees that span from $12 - $28.50. Apps and sides range from $5 - $12.
The gist: Go-to for coffee, cocktails, natural wine, and wood-fired fare for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between.
The food: Uncomplicated, desert-inspired dishes like steak and eggs (served with a side of beans and tortillas, naturally), refreshing crudos, and chocolate-covered desserty things round out the menu at Modern Manor’s newest denizen, Valentine.
The cost: Burgers and sandwiches range from $10 - $16. Bar snacks range from $5 - $9. Entrees are between $18 - $28. Natural wines, by the glass or bottle, start at $11. Specialty cocktails are between $6 - $13.
The gist: A destination for Northern Mexico cuisines, Testal recently swung open their doors in Downtown Phoenix’s ever-growing Grand Avenue neighborhood.
The food: A lineup of hearty burritos and crushable gorditas rule the menu here. For our vegan friends there’s plenty of vegan-friendly options but certainly no shortage of protein-heavy picks, including gorditas and burritos stuffed with shredded beef, saucy pork, and even crispy chicharrones.
The cost: Burritos and gorditas are $3.25 - $5, agua frescas are $3.50, and tortillas by the dozen are $5.50.
Baja Fish Tacos & More
The gist: An unmissable bright orange food truck that’s open late, serving plates of dippable quesabirria and cravings-inducing tacos, burros, and quesadillas from the courtyard of Downtown’s Pemberton PHX and other locations across town.
The food: Can’t miss birria, asada, shrimp, and fish tacos and a selection of burros, cheesy dillas, and specials make up this taco truck’s menu.
The cost: Tacos range from $2.85 - $4 each. Burros are between $8.25 - $12.85. Quesadillas range from $5 - $12.85. Baja fries are $8.75. And a plate of birra is $8.75.
Belly Kitchen and Bar
The gist: This Southeast Asian-inspired eatery from the folks at Instrumental Hospitality is keeping our bellies full with contemporary takes on classics like scratch-made spring rolls and slurpable claypot dishes.
The food: Equal parts funky and fresh, Belly churns out a lineup of handmade Asian eats that run the gamut from housemade cha lau pork fried rice, pan mi handheld sammies of the jackfruit and pork varieties, a parade of scratch-made rolls, and specialties including a crispy white fish dish that keeps us coming back for more.
The cost: Spring Rolls are $9, claypots range between $14 - $17, specialities are between $14-$28, and sides range from $3.75 - $7.50.
The gist: This full-service restaurant and bar takes an organic approach to Mexican cuisine and offers a patio dining experience best enjoyed with a cocktail in your hand.
The food: Chantico sources many of its ingredients from local farms and purveyors and brings a taste of Mexico to its menu with chilies and heirloom corn varieties direct from Mexico. Stars of the show include a roasted lamb neck dish and the hefty prime Sonoran ribeye with chipotle mashed potatoes. But the tacos, flautas, and Yucatan-style tamales ain’t too shabby either.
The cost: Appetitizes are $11 - $15, salads range between $12 - $14, large plates are $18 - $45, tacos are $3.50 - $4.50 each, enchiladas, quesadillas, tamales, and chimichangas range between $12 - $17, and desserts start at $9.
The gist: Stoop Kid keeps it simple with coffee, bagels, and burgers served directly to you from a super-convenient service window. Sure, you can get your bagel to go, but there’s no shortage of outdoor seating so you can make like cream cheese and spread out.
The food: Bagelfield’s keeps Stoop Kid stocked with their carby, hand-rolled Brooklyn-style bagels. But you gotta be quick—these babies sell out, and quick. If you miss the bagels you can get your fill of classic burgers, fried plantains, and handheld hash browns.
The cost: Bagels are between $4 - $12, burgers range from $7 - $12, and your snacky stuff is $3 - $6.
The gist: Downtown Phoenix’s newest Japanese joint has a robust selection of slurpable ramens, curries, and bento boxes that can be enjoyed at Ramen Kagawa’s open-air patio or at home on the couch.
The food: An approachable selection of authentic Japanese-style ramens and curries are yours to explore. Get acquainted with Ramen Kagawa and order a little bit of everything. It will make your tastebuds very, very happy.
The cost: Ramen is $11.50 - 15.50, curries are $9.50 - $12.50, bento is $14, sides range from $5-$6.50, and the green tea cheesecake is $3.
The gist: This immersive, speakeasy-style dining experience takes up residence above Citizen Public House. With its upscale fare and location, Benjamin’s Upstairs literally offers elevated dining experience, in every sense of the expression.
The food: Southern comforts like fried chicken and cornbread waffles get a fancy, and boozy, makeover here. And tasty delicacies like yellowfin tuna sashimi, fresh raw oysters, shrimp cocktails, and beef tartare complement the natural wine list effortlessly.
The cost: Sharable chef’s plates range from $12 - $26. Cocktails start at $13, wine, by the bottle or glass, starts at $12.
The gist: Fancy French-meets-Mediterranean cuisines are served-up in even fancier digs at Francine, the newest restaurant to pop-up at Scottsdale Fashion Square’s uber-posh luxury wing. The contemporary restaurant has an airy-vibe, expansive bar, and plenty of indoor/outdoor seating.
The food: The menu here will take you from brunch to dinner, and features an array of fare inspired by the south of France including hor d'oeuvres like grilled octopus and roasted bone marrow and other treats like branzino, diver scallops, striped bass, steak tartare and beef carpaccio, rack of lamb, and duck a la provencale. And a stellar bread service, naturally.
The cost: Hor d’oeuvres range from $18 - $25, salads are $16 - $22, pasta dishes are $24 - $34, mains range from $18 - $48 per plate, and desserts like the chocolate pot de creme and olive oil cake are $12.
The gist: Using sushi, sashimi, and a series of small plates and entrees as vessels, Kaizen effortlessly brings the flavors of Japan, Mexico, Central, and South America together.
The food: Take your tastebuds on a ride with an order of shisitos to start, a big bowl of yakisoba noodles, and some house rolls. Or leave it up to the sushi pros by ordering omakase; you’re in good hands.
The cost: Small plates are $4 - $12, bowls and salads are $10 - $15, signature plates are $14 - $26, signature rolls are $6.5 - $14, house rolls are $14 - $19, sushi assortments are $20 - $43, and cocktails start at $10.
The gist: Plant-based food that will leave you craving more? Say less. A farmers market favorite, husband and wife duo Maria and Kevin’s Pachamama has expanded to brick-and-mortar digs.
The food: The 100% plant-based menu features tacos de papa, crispy tacos filled with a chile garlic mash, the mexiyaki, a tribute to the savory okonomiyaki with a latin twist, and the ever-popular ceviche de mi corazon comprised of hearts of palm and fragrant citrus.
The cost: Tacos are $9 - $13, burritos are $10 - $11, and sides are $5 - $11. Check their social media for specials.
The gist: Vecina’s elevated cuisine and warm hospitality nabbed the Arcadia-based eatery a Beard nomination for best new restaurant, which is quite the achievement.
The food: Mesquite-fired elote, while seemingly simple at first look, will surprise and delight every single one of your tastebuds and serves as a tasty precursor for what’s next along your gastronomical journey.
The cost: Starters range between $8 - $16, entrees are $14 - $32, and desserts are $10 - $12.
Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, and content creator. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.