The Best Restaurants in Phoenix

Enjoy a mood-lit dining experience at Arizona Center, in downtown Phoenix
Enjoy a mood-lit dining experience at Arizona Center, in downtown Phoenix | © Sunpix Travel / Alamy Stock Photo
Elizabeth Rose

The best restaurants in Phoenix are not necessarily the most expensive. You’ll be able to explore a wide range of cuisine, from regional Mexican food at Barrio Café, to upscale elegance at Arizona-favorite Steak 44. Best of all, each of Phoenix’s restaurants authentically represent a particular tradition, or fusion, bringing together unexpected tastes from several cultures.

1. Kai Restaurant

Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan

USA Arizona Phoenix Portrait of Chef de Cuisine Sandy Garcia at Kai Restaurant at Sheraton Wild Horse Resort
© WorldFoto / Alamy Stock Photo
Kai Restaurant, located in the Sheraton Grand in casino-resort Wild Horse Pass, is the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant in Arizona. With a commitment to a cuisine based on Native American foods such as the three sisters­ – corn, beans and squash – and with James-Beard-nominated Chef de Cuisine Ryan Swanson at the helm, you’ll be amazed at the seasonal offerings. In fall, you may find dishes like grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo with smoked corn puree, cholla buds, chorizo and scarlet runner bean chili, sweetened with saguaro blossom syrup. Locals will tell you to order the Journey Tasting Menu, which comes with wine pairings so you can get the full experience. As you enjoy the dishes, take in the Native art on the walls and then look out over the Sonoran Desert toward the mountains. Time it right and you may even see the sunset.

2. Steak 44

Restaurant, American, Steakhouse, Gluten-free, Seafood

Described by foodies as having the best steaks ever, Steak 44 is a go-to restaurant for fine dining featuring aged prime steaks, fresh sustainable seafood and fine wines from its 3,000-bottle wine vault. We recommend any of the steaks with truffle butter, as they are sure to set your taste buds dancing. Steak 44 can seat you on its intimate patio with a fireplace, in one of several dining areas or for those special occasions, you can book one of its dining suites with a view of the floor-to-ceiling glassed-in exhibition kitchen. For dessert try the Crispy Banana Split with salted caramel gelato, crispy cinnamon sugar banana and Luxardo whipped cream. If you decide you don’t have room for dessert, no problem – they’ll send you home with a home-made chocolate chip cookie.

3. Pizzeria Bianco

Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian

A pizza pie from Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, Arizona. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.
© Kerrick James / Alamy Stock Photo

Founder of Pizzeria Bianco, Chris Bianco, won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2003 and is in the running for Best Restaurant 2020. Bianco was a leader in the farm-to-table artisanal pizza movement and has received rave reviews from all over the US. He prides himself on personal relationships with growers and local purveyors. This small restaurant in a historic brick building in downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square has thus become a top destination for pizza lovers. All the recipes are original and most ingredients are made in-house. Meat lovers will enjoy the Wise Guy featuring wood-roasted onion, house-smoked Mozzarella and fennel sausage while cheese lovers will be wowed by the Biancoverde topped with fresh mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta cheese and fresh arugula. Love mushrooms? Add in wood-roasted mushrooms for $3 extra. Casual seating is available both inside and outside.

4. Barrio Café

Cafe, Restaurant, Mexican

Chef-owner Silvana Salcido Esparza is known for working pure Mexican magic in a kitchen where you’ll find delights such as her chile soup with goat cheese and crema or cochinita pibil. It’s a bustling place with waiters making table-side guacamole, live music on scheduled evenings and amazing smells wafting from the kitchen. Pair these delights with a Mexican beer or wine, or even one of their popular margarita cocktails. You’ll also find a smaller version of Barrio Café at Sky Harbor Airport.

5. Binkley's

Restaurant, American

Binkleys Lamb Osso Buco
Courtesy David Zickl
Sit back and enjoy an evening of creativity, courtesy of James Beard nominee, Kevin Binkley, and his team of chefs. The tasting menu changes with the season and the local offerings, but this multi-course dinner will keep you and your palate entertained for approximately three hours. The 20-seat restaurant is usually sold out so be sure and make an early reservation. The menu is $200 per person, and additional items including wine pairings are available. Vegetarians and food allergies can be accommodated with advance notice to the restaurant.

6. Lon's at the Hermosa Inn

Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Restaurant, Fusion, American, Mexican

Lon’s is known for global cuisine with an Arizona twist. Located adjacent to the Hermosa Inn, a beautiful adobe-walled boutique hotel in a hacienda setting, Lon’s was once the retreat of famed western artist Lon Megargee. Whether you dine outdoors next to the flickering fireplace or inside the lovely ranch-style dining room, you’ll look forward to the creativity of each course. Specialties include the Himalayan salt-seared Ahi tuna, served with cilantro, pickled onion and ceviche sauce. For something more traditional try the wood-fired filet mignon. For dessert, there are over-the-top specialty items such as Lon’s Signature Candy Bar made with chili-spiced ganache, Marcona nougatine and salted caramel sauce over brown-butter ice cream. Guests and locals can look forward to special events like wine dinners – Lon’s has a resident sommelier – and the new Chef’s Tasting Menu each week. For those with a lighter appetite, it’s fun to gather at Lon’s Last Drop Bar for a cocktail and small plates.

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