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:
The Thrillist Awards: Phoenix’s Best New Food, Drink & Everything Else
Best new Southern spot
OkraAddress and Info
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.
Best new brunch spot
The Hash KitchenAddress and Info
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.
Best new healthy spot
Fàme CaffeAddress and Info
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).
Best food truck turned brick-and-mortar
Waffle LoveAddress and Info
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!
Best new place to camp out with your laptop
DeSoto Central MarketAddress and Info
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.
Best new brewery
Wren House BrewingAddress and Info
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.
Best new nightlife spot
District BarAddress 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.
Best new Mexican place
El Guero CaneloAddress and Info
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.
Best new coffee house
SongbirdAddress and Info
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.
Best new cocktail bar
Counter IntuitiveAddress and Info
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.
Best spot for tapas
CoR Tapas & WineAddress and Info
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 FriesAddress and Info
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.
Best new random thing to do: Tune up your fixie and sip coffee
The VeloAddress and Info
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.
Best new food truck
Local Lunchbox (address and info)
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.
1. Okra5813 N 7th St, Phoenix
2. The Hash Kitchen8777 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale
3. Fàme Caffe4700 N Central Ave, Phoenix
4. Waffle LoveMaricopa County, Phoenix
5. DeSoto Central Market915 N Central Ave, Phoenix
6. Wren House Brewing Company2125 N 24th St, Phoenix
7. The District Bar7301 E Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
8. El Guero Canelo5131 W McDowell Rd, Phoenix
9. Songbird Coffee & Tea House812 N 3rd St, Phoenix
10. Counter Intuitive7133 E Stetson Dr # D, Scottsdale
11. CoR Tapas and Wine4500 N 12th St, Phoenix
12. US FRIES414 S Mill Ave, Tempe
13. The Velo Bike Shop and Cafe828 N 2nd St, Phoenix
Okra Cookhouse & Cocktails brings homestyle cooking to the Grand Canyon State by serving upped Southern cuisine that features house made pork rinds, hush puppies, and ham hocks.
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...
This family owned farm-to-table spot serves up breakfast, lunch and brunch Tuesday through Sunday.
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.
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.
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.
Burgers by day, bottle service by night. If that's not the best of both worlds, I don't know what is.
This Mexican restaurant has locations all throughout the city, serving Tusconites their world-famous Sonora (bacon-wrapped) hot dogs.
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.
With a new cocktail menu 3 times a year, you'll never get bored with Counter Intuitive. Plus they serve up great bar eats like bacon beignets.
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.
Poutine has arrived. Fries smothered in cheese, BBQ sauce, gravy, you name it, US Fries has it.
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.