Located in Maricopa County, Arizona, Tempe sits in the East Valley region of the metropolitan Phoenix area. Bordered by Phoenix, Scottsdale, Chandler and Mesa, Tempe hosts passers-by, tourists as well as a large student population from Arizona State University. With a dynamic mix of well-established and up-and-coming restaurants, we take a closer look at ten great restaurants contributing to Tempe’s culinary scene.
Mediterranean Chicken Kebabs Courtesy of Salut Kitchen Bar
Courtesy of Café Lalibela
Cafe, Restaurant, Ethiopian, $$$
Cafe Lalibela Ethiopian Cuisine, Tempe | Courtesy of Crêpe Bar
Café Lalibela specializes in authentic Ethiopian fare. Each dish incorporates injera, a crêpe-style bread made from an Ethiopian grain called ‘teff’, and wat, a hearty sauce made from meat and vegetables or completely vegetarian. A meal at Café Lalibela typically includes several small plates such chicken, beef, fish or lamb stew, or a vegetarian option of lentils, collard greens or mixed vegetables. Utensils are obsolete at Café Lalibela; guests eat in the traditional manner by tearing off a piece of injera and scooping up a portion of wat with their fingers.
Bakery, Bar, Food Truck, Restaurant, American, French, $$$
Crêpe Bar, Tempe | Courtesy of Essence Bakery
Infusing a traditional French concept with Southwestern flare, Crêpe Bar offers a delicious selection of sweet and savory crêpes made with fresh, local ingredients. The crêperie originally began as a food truck and found wild success with local customers and attention from the national media. Crêpe Bar subsequently opened as a sit-down restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.
Essence Bakery is a prime location for all your confectionary desires in Tempe. An extensive variety of colorful, French-style macaroons are a specialty, from pumpkin spice and hazelnut to pink grapefruit and key lime. The café also offers thoughtful breakfast and lunch menus featuring fresh, organic and locally sourced ingredients.
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House of Tricks, Tempe | Courtesy of La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar
House of Tricks serves New American fare in a tranquil setting. The restaurant is set within two renovated cottages, one dating back to the 1920s, the other a turn-of-the-century brick building. The restaurant exudes old-world American charm, equipped with a vintage stone fireplace and outdoor patio.
La Bocca Urban Pizzeria + Wine Bar is a sophisticated lunch and dinner spot in Tempe. The restaurant is a popular neighborhood choice for its warm and welcoming interior décor as well as relaxed al fresco dining on a large outdoor patio. The menu offers a selection of Italian-inspired dishes such as bruschetta, salads and pastas, not to mention an inventive list of artisanal pizzas.
Rúla Búla Tempe Irish Pub and Restaurant, Tempe | Courtesy of Salut Kitchen Bar
Enjoy the vitality of Irish pub culture at Rúla Búla Irish Pub and Restaurant. Taken from the Irish Gaelic saying, ‘rí rá agus ruaille buaille’, which translates into ‘uproar and commotion’, Rúla Búla is a great venue for a fun and lively dining experience. The pub is located in the historic, Victorian-era building in downtown Tempe.
Salut Kitchen Bar provides top-notch service, a stylish atmosphere and great contemporary American food. Brunch showcases the likes of eggs and quinoa pancakes, washed down with mimosas and Bellinis or vintages from an extensive wine list that offers approximately 100 options by the glass or bottle. Salut Kitchen Bar has a rustic décor with soft lighting and cleverly repurposed urban accents such as an industrial ceiling with a long bar, wine room and dog-friendly patio.
This scaled-back, cash-only burger joint is the best of its kind in town, catering to those who care most about excellent American food at great prices. The burgers are prepared over the fire in an open kitchen surrounded by a simple wooden waiting and dining area that’s casual yet fun for its subtle, old western charm. The Chuckbox is a neighborhood mainstay for amazing food without the frills.
The Dhaba offers consistently delicious Indian food, quality service and a comfortable atmosphere. The interior is tasteful with pops of bright color and Indian-inspired accents such as hanging lamps and tiled mirrors. The restaurant is particularly accommodating for vegetarians, with a delicious selection of dishes featuring paneer cheese, lentils and chickpeas.
For the true taste of Italy, give Vincitorio’s Restaurant a try. Vincitorio’s is family friendly as well as being a great place for a romantic date night or a lively gathering of friends. Wednesday through Sunday, guests are serenaded by live classical guitar and the relaxed rhythms of jazz saxophone. Lunch and dinner menus offer old-world Italian pasta dishes and delicious thin-crust pizza.