Complete Guide to Dining in Phoenix

Before I moved to Arizona I never really thought Phoenix coincided with great dining. Sure, I figured Phoenix was like every other big city and had a few dining gems, but I never thought I’d consider consider Phoenix a “foodie” city.

Cities surrounding Phoenix like Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, and Glendale have grown so much they’ve formed their own identity outside of being bedroom communities to Phoenix. I quickly learned that very few people mention a specific city and instead refer to the entire Phoenix metro area as “The Valley”, short for The Sun Valley.

The Valley dining scene has something for every style and every taste you could ever imagine. If you’re someone who likes a very specific type of food you’ll find your favorite and go back time after time again. If you’re like me and want to try everything and anything you’ll never be bored and never be disappointed. Take a look at some of my favorite places to eat in the Phoenix Valley

For Coffee

Infusion Coffee and Tea, Tempe

Infusion is located in Tempe but a little ways away from the commotion and busyness of ASU’s campus. Infusion is the perfect place to hole-up with your computer for the afternoon to get some work done.

what to order

Tea – a huge and impressive selection

Iced Coffee – honestly, one of the best iced coffees I’ve ever had

Volstead Public House, Mesa

Volstead Public HouseThis place gets perfect ratings in my book for coffee shop ambiance. The decor was hipster chic and the music was Bon Iver so I could have lived there. Volstead specializes in “nitro” coffee, meaning it’s brewed and then nitrogen is added to it. This eases some of the bitter flavor that coffee can sometimes have.

what to order

Over ice nitro brew – If you’re into black coffee a nitro might offend you, but if you’re more into coffee for the cream and sugar give the nitro a try.

Cartel Coffee Lab, Tempe

Just the fact that this place is called a coffee “lab” made me curious to see what it was all about. Cartel roasts in the open at their flagship store in Tempe so the whole ambiance is kind of similar to that a beer brewing company. Cartel in Tempe is located right on ASU’s campus so it’s definitely a busy place during the day.

what to order

anything – I’ve loved everything I’ve ever ordered from here.

For Breakfast

Matt’s Big Breakfast, Phoenix

Matt's Big BreakfastMatt’s was just a tiny little diner but quickly outgrew it’s humble roots when The Food Network’s Guy Fieri found out about them and came to film Matt’s for an episode of his hit show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Since then, Matt’s is no secret to locals and tourists traveling in the Phoenix area. The menu isn’t huge here, but the freshness and quality is the best around.

What to order

Anything with bacon – Matt’s has the most delicious thick-cut bacon you will ever taste.

Butter’s Pancakes & Cafe, Scottsdale

Butters Pancake cafeAnother place that is no secret in the Valley. On the weekend, the wait to get a table at Butter’s can be up to an hour long, but people gladly take a beeper and sit to wait. Butter’s is unlike Matt’s in that it has a HUGE menu with nearly everything you could ever want on it.

what to order

The California scrambler – this was absolutely divine and stuffed full of bacon and avocado.

Banana cream pancakes – the pancake possibilities here are endless. If you have a major sweet tooth give the Oreo cookie s’mores pancakes a try.

For burger bliss

Rehab Burger Therapy, Scottsdale

Rehab Burger TherapyThis place is in my top 3 best dining experiences during my entire time of living in Arizona. Everything from the food to the service to the atmosphere at Rehab Burger Therapy blew me away.

what to order

Backyard BBQ Burger – almost every burger joint has a burger somewhat like this, but this one is hands down better than any other BBQ burger I’ve ever had. Opt for the pretzel bun and sweet potato tater tots, you’ll thank me later.

Spicy Mac-n-Cheese Burger – don’t let the word spicy scare you away and don’t be freaked out by how weird this sounds. It was amazing and had just the right amount of everything on it.

For Pizza heaven

Barro’s, Multiple locations

Barro’s is a family owned pizza joint with over 30 locations in the Valley. Barro’s has a family friendly restaurant scene, but serves beer and even delivers. It’s hard for me to tell you what’s best about Barro’s because everything about it rocked my world. Their crust is thick and doughy but not quite Chicago style-esque, and their toppings are plentiful and amazing.

what to order

The BBQ Chicken Pizza – If you’re a BBQ flavor kind of person like me this pizza is a must order for you

The Mega Meat – for the men who want meat with a side of meat, this is right up your alley.

For Authentic Latin American flavor 

Republica Empanada, Mesa

Republica EmpanadaRepublica Empanada specializes in Arizona’s largest variety of South American style savory empanadas. Their empanadas, as well as their dishes, represent the different regions and tastes of Latin American comfort food. My favorite thing about Republica Empanada was that they were true to their Latin American flavors but also worked in some American flavored empanadas as well, like the cheeseburger empanada.

what to order

Cheeseburger empanada – the flavors of two different cultures in perfect harmony

Bean and cheese empanada – a very traditional Latin American flavored choice

For the Craft Beer Lover

Craft 64, Scottsdale

As a self proclaimed beer snob, I am always excited to get to know the new craft beer of an area when I get to another part of the country. Craft 64 has over 30 craft beers on tap, all made in the state of Arizona. I was blown away by their selection and the beer knowledge of their bar staff.

what to order

ask for a recommendation – when I find myself somewhere where the amount of choices are overwhelming I always ask the bar staff for a recommendation. Tell them what you tend to like, what you tend to not like and they’ll fix you up with the perfect craft beer.

Four Peaks Brewery Grill & Tap, Tempe

Of all the craft beer I discovered in Arizona Four Peaks made my favorite brew, a Scottish-style Ale called the Kilt Lifter. Not only is their beer selection impressive, but so is the food at their Grill & Tap in Tempe.

What to order

Kilt Lifter – Scottish Style Ale

8th Street Pale Ale – Engish Style Pale Ale

8th Street Pale Ale Chicken Tenders – almost as good as these hand breaded tenders is the honey mustard sauce that comes with them.

For a Fancy Night Out

Different Pointe of View, Phoenix

Different Point of ViewDifferent Pointe of View is hidden away at the top of a cliff as a part of the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. This place has a beautiful dining room with floor to ceiling windows that show off a beautiful view of Phoenix. If you’re not looking to splurge on dinner here, come for happy hour appetizers and cocktails and watch the sun go down on their outdoor patio and lounge.

what to order

Perigold Truffle & Parmesan Risotto – this includes a poached egg and hollandaise sauce, and is amazing. We wanted about 4 more orders of this.

Seared Aleppo Chili Crusted Pork Tenderloin – I’m not someone who likes spicy food so “chili crusted” scared me at first. There was a little “kick” to this, but the rest of the flavors balanced out the bit of spiciness and I loved this dish.

Cowboy Ciao, Scottsdale

Cowboy Ciao is such a chameleon of a restaurant I’m not even sure I can correctly categorize it. Their website proudly states, “no rules apply except Food With Flavor”.

what to order

Grilled Swordfish – I didn’t know what half of the ingredients where that came with this dish, but I know it was insanely delicious.

For a Sweet Treat

Sugar Bowl, Scottsdale

The Sugar BowlVisiting the Sugar Bowl is like taking a step back in time to an old fashioned 50’s diner. The Barbie pink color covers not only the outside of the building but the seats inside at the bar and the booths. The Sugar Bowl has a full menu, but the best thing on the menu is the sweets.

what to order

Buster Brownie Ice Cream Sundae – brownie, ice cream, gooey marshmallow, whip cream, cherry. Want hot fudge instead of marshmallow or want both? Not a problem at Sugar Bowl.

Phoenix surprised me with some amazing dining. I've got a complete guide to make sure your Phoenix trip is delicious!

What’s your favorite place to eat in the Valley?

Do you like to eat at the same restaurants over and over again or do you like to try to new places and flavors?

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  • Ohhhhkay I think you’ve convinced me that I need to visit Arizona. I was so jealous of your pictures while you were there but now I need these pancake restaurants too.

    • carrie

      You would have LOVED Butter’s! We went there right after we got done hiking Camelback Mountain so we were starving! We seriously ate every last thing that was in that picture. haha!

  • SO EXCITED! I just booked a trip in February 🙂

    • carrie

      YAY!! run your legs off and then eat your face off!! :):):)

  • I am so excited about this post! I spent the last days of 2015 in Tucson and we ate way too much (everything was so good). Now, I am more obsessed with Arizona than before. We want to hit the Phoenix area next.

    • That’s great to hear, Ruth! Tucson is one part of Arizona I didn’t really get to. But I highly recommend Sedona! Great food, and art scene, and tons of great hiking.

  • Oh I am now feeling VERY hungry! When I visited Arizona, I literally flew in and out of Phoenix and didn’t get to see the city at all but I’ve evidently missed a big foodie trick. I love the range of different restaurants too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Arizona and Phoenix really surprised me for the 8 weeks I was living there. My only complaint is that it’s soooooo brown 🙁
      but I’ll take the dry heat in Arizona over the crazy humidity in Florida any day. Thanks for hosting! 🙂

  • What a extensive choice of restaurants…wow! I’ve never been to Phoenix but I need to even more after reading this. Oreo cookie pancakes, nitro coffee and mac and cheese burger – I wouldn’t know where to start! Thanks for making me very hungry – and linking up to #citytripping

    • haha, trust me I was extremely hungry after writing this post! thanks for hosting! 🙂