Food & Drink

The Thrillist Awards: Phoenix’s Best New Food, Drink & Everything Else

Published On 12/28/2015 Published On 12/28/2015
Jill Richards Photography/Courtesy of Okra (edited)

It’s been a big year for Phoenix. Restaurants have opened, and restaurants have closed, but the Valley's food-eating denizens have come out on top, with a huge net gain of excellent new spots/waistline inches. And because we want to make sure we mention every single one of those new spots, we're awarding honors across a pretty healthy range of categories -- these are the best new openings of the year:

Best new Southern spot

Okra

Address and Info

Phoenix

The team behind our beloved Crudo took on a new endeavor this year: Southern- and Italian-style eatery, Okra. And it does not disappoint. Fried chicken (buttermilk or Tennessee hot), focaccia-style pizzas, craft cocktails, mussels, housemade pork rinds, bourbons, and burgers are just a few of the things you can find on the menu here.

Hash Kitchen

Best new brunch spot

The Hash Kitchen

Address and Info

Scottsdale

We always get pretty excited about new brunch/breakfast spots opening. And we were especially jazzed about the opening of Scottsdale’s Hash Kitchen this year. Hash has got six different types of mimosas and a build-your-own Bloody bar where you can choose from 50 toppings (like egg rolls and mini burgers) to deck out your drink. And we can’t forget to mention the food. The specialty hashes are a big draw.

Fame Caffe

Best new healthy spot

Fàme Caffe

Address and Info

Phoenix

The farm-to-table movement is alive and well in Phoenix. And Fàme Caffe is just one of the restos here in the Valley using the finest and freshest ingredients around. The family-owned spot offers American-style breakfast, brunch, and lunch six days a week (closed on Mondays).

Waffle Love

Best food truck turned brick-and-mortar

Waffle Love

Address and Info

Gilbert

One of our favorite food trucks made the move to a brick-and-mortar shop and we couldn’t be more excited. Waffle Love, known for its grilled cheese waffles and Belgian liege dessert-style numbers, recently swung open the doors to its Gilbert store -- no more tracking down the truck!

Courtesy of DeSoto Central Market

Best new place to camp out with your laptop

DeSoto Central Market

Address and Info

Downtown Phoenix

The cafeteria-style concept called DeSoto Central Market is Phoenix’s best new spot to eat and drink local. With a collection of restos and cafes in the food hall, including DCM Burger and Adobo Dragon, DeSoto Central Market is the perfect place to come, sip coffee, grab a bite, and look like you’re immersed in important work on your laptop.

Courtesy of Wren House Brewing

Best new brewery

Wren House Brewing

Address and Info

Phoenix

Arizona has more than 70 breweries around the state. While we rarely encounter a beer we don’t like, let’s face it, some brews are just better than others. Which leads us to Wren House, an Arizona-inspired brew house that just made its debut to the Phoenix craft brew scene. It might be new to the craft world, but it's already got a few awards under its belt. We’re excited to see what’s to come in 2016 and beyond.

District Bar

Best new nightlife spot

District Bar

Address and Info

Old Town Scottsdale

Our list of best everything wouldn’t be complete without mentioning District Bar. By day you can grab one of the best burgers in town (check out the Californication) and catch a game. But if bottle service is more you thing, stop by on the weekend.

El Guero Canelo

Best new Mexican place

El Guero Canelo

Address and Info

Phoenix

Tucson’s famed El Guero Canelo just set up shop in Phoenix, and we couldn’t be happier. Where else were we supposed to get our Sonoran dogs? Although the dog reigns king on the menu, El Guero Canelo also serves up a mix of Mexican-style fare like burros, tacos, 'dillas, and tortas.

Songbird

Best new coffee house

Songbird

Address and Info

Downtown Phoenix

Recently relocated from a shared space inside of Roosevelt Row’s monOrchid, Songbird opened the doors to its new location in the same neighborhood. The space itself isn’t exactly “new” though -- it set up shop in a charming Phoenix home, fit with original hardwood floors and a front porch, that was built way back in 1904.

Counter Intuitive

Best new cocktail bar

Counter Intuitive

Address and Info

Scottsdale

Where do you go to get a drink in Phoenix these days? Two words: Counter Intuitive. Scottsdale’s newest and downright best new cocktail bar is serving up sips, plus eats like bacon beignets to satisfy your stomach. The cocktail menu theme will change three times each year, so you’ll never get bored of this place.

Courtesy of COR

Best spot for tapas

CoR Tapas & Wine

Address and Info

Phoenix

Small plates are big. And one of the best place to get tapas in the Valley is at Phoenix’s CoR Tapas & Wine. The wine list features a selection of both West Coast and international wines, and the small dishes include paella, spicy scallops, and chicken Veracruz to name a few.

US Fries

Best fries

US Fries

Address and Info

Tempe

Poutine. Finally. In Tempe, you can now get your fries loaded with Wisconsin cheese and gravy, among other things, at this Mill Ave shop. Hailing from Tucson, US Fries also serves eegee's subs, something Tucson natives who’ve relocated to the Valley are very happy about.

The Velo

Best new random thing to do: Tune up your fixie and sip coffee

The Velo

Address and Info

Phoenix

The Downtown bike shop is geared (get it?) to Valley cycle-heads, but that doesn’t mean it’s off limits to those who don’t ride. The bike shop hangout has everything from top-of-the-line bikes and mountain bikes, to everyday cruisers, to Press coffee. The Velo is also a member of the DTPHX Arts District and the space displays the work of local photographers and artists.

Local Lunchbox

Best new food truck

Local Lunchbox (address and info)
Phoenix
This seasonally inspired resto-on-wheels is known for its healthy eats. The menu is constantly changing, but there are a handful of standby staples that are always available, like the Italian chicken sandwich, truck-made sweet potato chips, and toffee-topped brownies. Oh, and all of the ingredients are sourced from local farmers and ranchers.

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Lauren Topor is a Phoenix food writer who’s a big fan of street eats. Follow her to the best food trucks on Twitter and Instagram.

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1. Okra 5813 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85014

The stylish, brick-lined Okra brings Southern cooking with an Italian twist to Phoenix with eats such as fried chicken skins & honey hot sauce, catfish al forno, a pimento cheeseburger, and fried chicken served three different ways: buttermilk-brined, Tennessee hot, and Umbrian-style. From the team behind Crudo and Bar Crudo, Okra slings an expansive list of wines, craft beers, and cocktails, too, including a seasonal collection of Mint Juleps with high-quality small-batch bourbons.

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2. The Hash Kitchen 8777 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

The breakfast menu is one of the best in town, offering up things like Nutella and banana French toast, smoked salmon frittatas, and a Breakfast Burger. But the real star of the show is the Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar, which offers various in-house infused vodkas including bacon and jalapeño and over 50 toppings from mini cheeseburger sliders to king crab. So that's where their "Creative Breakfast & Bar" tagline comes in...

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3. Fàme Caffe 4700 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012

This family owned farm-to-table spot serves up breakfast, lunch and brunch Tuesday through Sunday.

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4. Waffle Love Maricopa County, Phoenix, AZ

Once you track down this truck, your sweet tooth will thank you. A selection of favorite waffle combos along with a more a la carte option make this a great place to get the sort of meal that tastes like dessert, but will fill you like dinner.

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5. DeSoto Central Market 915 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

A whole host of local food items and cuisines come under one roof at this high-ceilinged, industrial chic market. Vendors include DCM Burger Bar, Yardbird + The Larder, and Adobo Dragon.

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6. Wren House Brewing Company 2125 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

Old meets new at cozy brewery Wren House, situated inside a house built in 1922 that's now outfitted with sleek subway tile, varnished wood countertops, and a stacked lineup of inventive stouts and hoppy IPAs. To get a taste of everything Wren has to offer, go for a flight, which will set you up with beers like the hibiscus-brewed Lady Banks; the fan-favorite Jomax, an oatmeal stout made with Press Coffee Roasters cold brew; and the super-hoppy, unfiltered Wrenovation.

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7. The District Bar 7301 E Indian Plaza, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Burgers by day, bottle service by night. If that's not the best of both worlds, I don't know what is.

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8. El Guero Canelo 5131 W McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85035

This Mexican restaurant has locations all throughout the city, serving Tusconites their world-famous Sonora (bacon-wrapped) hot dogs.

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9. Songbird Coffee & Tea House 812 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Located in a old Phoenix home, Songbird Coffee and Tea House has retained the house's original 1904 hardwood floors and porch, but updated the rest of the inside and out with local coffees, vibrant colors, and friendly staff. Using coffee roasted by the Cortez Coffee Roasters in Tempe and teas from the Maya Tea Company in Tucson, Songbird keeps its business local and its products fresh. The star of the show is the coffee, available as a single serve pour-over if you wish, but it's backed up by a slew of homemade pastries that have garnered positive reviews—especially the vegan options.

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10. Counter Intuitive 7133 E Stetson Dr # D, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 (Old Town Scottsdale)

You could walk into Counter Intuitive one night and it'll be decked out like a Shanghai social club. Another night, it's Picasso's visit to Cuba. A third, it's Bourbon Street in New Orleans. You'll never get bored with this intimate, rustic-chic cocktail lounge in Scottsdale, considering the theme at this cocktail lounge changes several times a year -- from the decor to the food to the drinks. The menu elevates your typical bar bites with snacks like bacon beignets, and the cocktails are expertly crafted, with past concoctions including a classic pisco sour with snap pea-infused pisco and watermelon syrup, and the "Sippin Tea in the LBC," made with apricot, thyme, jasmine tea, yuzu, orange bitters, and Del Maguey Vida Mezcal.

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11. CoR Tapas and Wine 4500 N 12th St, Phoenix, AZ 85014

With craft sangrias and cheese and meat boards, CoR Tapas and Wine is serving up some serious small plates plus happy hour on Thursday's and Friday's.

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12. US FRIES 414 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

Poutine has arrived. Fries smothered in cheese, BBQ sauce, gravy, you name it, US Fries has it.

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13. The Velo Bike Shop and Cafe 828 N 2nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

This cyclist-friendly Roosevelt Row coffee house is equal parts bike and coffee shop (seriously). With beans from Press Cofee, tea from the Maya Tea Company, and walls adorned by artwork from fellow members of the DTPHX Arts District, this Phoenix staple is all about building community. This isn't the biggest or the fanciest coffeehouse in Phoenix, but they produce their limited menu flawlessly, with pour-over, shakerato, or cold brew coffees and an ever-changing selection of healthy, energy-boosting snacks from local vendors. Live music and social bike rides continue their commitment to the community, and the limited seating inside means you'll have chance to get very close with your neighbors.

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