Travel Eats: Phoenix-Area Restaurants | chicago foodie girl


Travel Eats: Phoenix-Area Restaurants

Happy Travel Tuesday! I hope everyone is having a fab week. I am officially on winter break, which means I finally have some time to catch up with all of the posts I meant to write over the last few months, starting with a final wrap of my foodie adventures in Arizona. Ever since my trip last month, I've received numerous questions specifically focused on where to eat in the Phoenix-area. Based on what I heard, many Chicagoans don't think of Phoenix as having much of a food scene; rather, it's more like a giant suburb filled with the same old boring chain restaurants. I will admit that initially, I didn't think of Arizona as having much of a foodie draw, but as I learned during my trip, there is a rich and vibrant food scene that stretches all across the state... and yes, that definitely includes the Phoenix-area!

While this is in no way a comprehensive list of all of the possibilities in the Phoenix-area, between restaurant stops and exclusive chef meetings/tastings at the AZ Food & Wine Experience (similar to Chicago Gourmet), I managed to amass a fairly decent list of eats. I do highly recommend partaking in a Fresh Foodie Trail tour if you're really interested in learning more about the local food scene, but if you're just looking for a few restaurants to visit during spring training (or while fleeing the dreary Midwestern winter weather), I've also got you covered!

Jalapeño Bucks for Arizona-style BBQ. Located in a citrus grove, not only is the restaurant serving up some incredible BBQ (the brisket is an absolute must!) but also it's a super cute rustic outdoor spot that makes you feel like you're hanging out a family gathering. I've already recommended it to two of my AZ-based friends who hadn't heard of this hidden gem and both have proclaimed it to be their new favorite spot for BBQ. I fell hard for their Peanut Butter and Jelly Brisket Sandwich - the creamy, warm peanut butter and sweet jelly combined with tender, moist brisket made it one of the best sandwiches I've ever tasted! See more from my visit to Jalapeño Bucks here.

T.C. Eggington’s Brunchery: this egg-focused (they serve over 8,000 eggs per week!) casual breakfast/brunch spot is a perfect stop if you're looking for a family-friendly restaurant offering a variety of familiar options (omelets, benedicts, pancakes) with a local twist. I especially enjoyed the Farmers Market Ben E. Dict with spinach, tomatoes, avocado, and particularly nicely done hollandaise.

Foster’s French: grilled cinnamon bread mounded with banana and topped with warmed Foster’s sauce

Agritopia, a mixed-use planned community that includes a 160-acre urban farm, several dozen homes, and a gorgeous indoor market with space for artisanal craftsmen making their goods onsite. Along with some fab shopping, the space includes several fantastic restaurant options, including Joe's Farm Grill (elevated backyard BBQ), The Coffee Shop (coffee, breakfast, and lunch), The Uprooted Kitchen (plant-centric breakfast and lunch), 12 West Brewing (locally brewed beers), and Garage-East (local wines). See more from my visit to Agritopia here.

Liberty Market: Located in historic downtown Gilbert, Liberty Market was once a grocery store serving a tiny farming community; now, it's a booming multi-use space that includes a sit-down restaurant, specialty grocery area with to-go items, and espresso bar. It's a great place for a casual meal in a fun atmosphere; it's also a perfect choice if you have multiple people in your party with different tastes, as they have a fairly extensive menu.

Buffalo Fingerling Fries: fingerling potato fries, buffalo sauce, melted cheddar, mozzarella, blue cheese blend, and chives

Chilaquiles: sautéed tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, chile pequin sauce, sunny-side up eggs, tomatillo sauce, cotija cheese, and green chile pork

Serious Grilled Cheese: cambozola, cheddar, fontina, bacon, and Best Foods mayo on bolillo bread

Salt River Bar: layers of peanut butter, butterscotch, caramel, buttery crackers, and dark chocolate

Toasted Mallow: This adorable cafe/shop includes a made-to-order s'mores bar, addictive marshmallow-inspired shakes, jars of marshmallow fluff, and other drool-worthy gourmet marshmallow treats. Their cafe treats are all made from scratch daily and are corn syrup free (they also offer gluten and dairy free options). Everything about the shop is super cute and the marshmallows are all ooey-gooey delicious!

Brownie Bomb: vanilla bean marshmallow, brownie bits, cherry pie filling, and chocolate ganache

Pretty Unicorn: cotton candy marshmallow, purple vanilla frosting, sprinkles, and a cotton candy pouf

Fruity Pebbles Milkshake

Joyride Taco House (second location in Phoenix): this bustling taco restaurant is known for its gigantic margaritas (I loved the blood orange and the cucumber-serrano flavors) and its $2 Taco Tuesday specials. It's loud, fun, and has a hipster Miami Vice vibe (along with some fantastic people watching!).

The HandleBar Tempe: located in downtown Tempe, this bike-centric beer garden offers a rotating selection of 24 draft beers, along with 50 can, bomber, and bottled beer options. They also offer a variety of comfort foods (think grilled cheese, burgers, sausages) and fun meat-centric creations. We sampled the super flavorful Foie Gras Tamale bites with duck leg carnitas, black cherry chile compote, and serrano pepper.

Dust Cutter at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel: if you followed along with my Insta-stories, you may remember me waxing poetically about this sexy hotel located right in the heart of Phoneix. Not only is the recently renovated hotel beautifully done (definitely one of the best I've stayed at in a long time) but also they have an inviting lounge/bar/restaurant that is worth a visit. Along with the fantastic cocktails (the Calamity Jane is a must!), I especially enjoyed the Roasted Pepper and Garlic Pork Wings with Red Kitchen candied jalapeño and blue cheese.

House Smoked Pork Belly: Copper City bourbon date glaze, candied pistachios, nasturtium, and pickled watermelon rind

Mary's Chicken & Mesquite Pod Waffles with spicy pickled yellow watermelon and Copper City bourbon syrup

Wright's at the Biltmore: the signature restaurant of the Waldorf Astoria Resort offers diners a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired setting and a culinary experience focused on telling the story of the Arizona Desert. We had the chance to meet with Chef de Cuisine Brian Peterson and sample some of his favorite meat-forward bites, starting with this Wild Board Tenderloin over venison stew. Every dish we sampled was so perfectly executed and extremely flavorful - if you're looking for a special meal, Wright's is most definitely the place to go!

Chilled Ostrich with chili aioli and preserved lemon

Pizzeria Bianco: if you can only make it to one place in Phoenix, Pizzeria Bianco should be your choice! Cited as the best pizza in America, this legendary spot is serving up artisanal pies inspired by Chris Bianco's travels that also showcase his local connections to the food community (including Hayden Flour Mills). We had the chance to experience an intimate session with Bianco and Martha Stewart (!!!) - during his talk, he stressed the importance of keeping his food simple, flavorful, and accessible.

In-N-Out Burger: if you are going to hit up a chain restaurant, you might as well go big! While you once could only get it in CA, the much-loved burger chain has expanded to other states, including AZ. Midwesterners are hardcore obsessed with In-N-Out (mostly because you can't get it anywhere near here), so of course, a trip to Phoniex calls for a stop for some loaded animal fries!

Such a fun and delicious end to our Phoenix-area explorations!


  1. Looks like some great places, although I have to admit that I am partial to In-N-Out's roadkill fries and Neapolitan shake. There are also some great places to eat not far from Phoenix, such as one of the best Thai restaurants that I've been to in a small town called Payson, and the food/wine scene in Sedona is always worth a visit.

    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I definitely want to get over to Sedona the next time I visit -- this trip was mostly focused on the Phoenix-area with a short jaunt to Tucson.


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