Discover Why Phoenix is Turning into Foodie Oasis

By Shana Fischer

It’s the age old question that has divided households, caused friendships to fray, and frustrated many a hungry person: where should we eat?

The Phoenix-Metro area used to be a landscape of fast food joints and the typical chain restaurants, but tradition has blown out of town like a tumbleweed. Now, the Valley’s dining scene is a mix of eclectic, inspired, and bold restaurant choices. The ordinary has transformed into the extraordinary.

Tacos. For years, debate has raged on about this simple street food. What makes a good taco? Forget the allure of cheaper places like Taco Bell or Filiberto’s. They have their place and time which is usually after midnight or after downing one too many at the bar. We’re talking tacos that offer more than refried beans, indescribable meat, and a sprinkle of cheese. Here are three taquerias to put in rotation: Barrio Café which is headed up by James Beard-nominated Chef, Silvana Esparaza. She oversees three locations around the Valley and is known for her slow-cooked pork tacos and tableside guacamole preparation. Tacos Chiwas is relatively new. Run by a husband and wife team from Chihuahua, Mexico, the tacos here are flavorful and authentic. Located near 19th Street and McDowell, the restaurant opens at 10am and serves up breakfast too. Finally, coming to Roosevelt Row in August 2017, is a joint venture between acclaimed chef Aaron Chamberlin, Chef Suny Santana, and artist Gennaro Garcia. Taco Chelo is reminiscent of the taquerias in Mexico. Santana promises mouth-watering yet simple taco combinations along with a daily special.

Italian food when done right can do no wrong. And, no one knows that better than Chef Chris Bianco. Bianco who actually won a James Beard Award for his pizza(Pizzeria Bianco) is continuing his domination in the Italian food world with Tratto. Sink your teeth into meatballs made by Bianco’s mother, or super light gnocchi. The focaccia is also not to be missed. Leave room for dessert and a sensational flourless chocolate cake. Tratto sits inside the Town and Country shopping center . If you are looking for something more casual try Tommy’s Place. Owned by Tommy Morano, the restaurant offers traditional Italian food like antipasta and all kinds of pasta dishes. Tommy’s is located at 28th Street and Bell Road.

Noodles are all the craze now. Soba noodles, a protein and veggies swimming in a flavorful broth. SoSoBa Noodles opened shop in Downtown Phoenix and has been on fire. Serving up dishes with unique names like The Mic Drop(pork, pork, and more pork in a pork-flavored broth and Hostile Takeover(think Broccoli and Beef in broth). You can also get your noodles sauced like the SUV or So You’re a Vegan. They also have a great drink menu.

Move over Starbucks. There are the days you want a venti Americano with four shots and two pumps of vanilla, but if you are feeling a tad more adventurous, Mexicano-style coffee is the way to go. Tres Leches Café is on Roosevelt in Downtown Phoenix and serves up unique flavors like horchata and churro. In the West Valley, Colados Coffee and Crepes is serving up uniquely brewed cups of joe and crepes. You can get a breakfast crepe filled with eggs, ham and cheese or the crowd favorite, Nutella and strawberries. If you find yourself in the East Valley, check out Peixoto (Pay-show-toe) in Chandler. The crop-to-cup concept accounts for some of the best coffee drinks around. Owner Julia Peixoto-Peters and her husband Jeff use beans from Julia’s family’s coffee plantation in Brazil. They roast the beans in-house and use them in the café. Look for seasonal drink offerings and do not miss the Lemongrass lemonade, based on a recipe from Julia’s grandmother.

Burger and fries. Chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes. Diner food! When those cravings hit, head on over to Welcome Diner. Locally sourced ingredients make for some solid hamburger combos and hot dog dishes. And if you like your entrée served with a side of nostalgia, try Mel’s Diner. The diner served as the inspiration for the hit tv show, “Mel’s Diner”. The restaurant offers traditional diner food. Fans swear by the chopped steak and eggs.

Phoenix is quickly becoming a foodie mecca. So, no matter what direction your tastebuds pull you, you’ll find it in the Valley of the Sun.