AFJ 2018 PHOENIX Recommended Restaurants

compiled by The Arizona Republic’s dining critic, Dominic Armato

Available in PDF format

Downtown Phoenix

Pizzeria Bianco  |  623 E. Adams St., 602-258-8300. 11a-9p Mon-Sat, 12p-7p Sun.

Forged in the hearth of the Phoenix restaurant least in need of an introduction, Chris Bianco’s legendary pizza is the genesis of Arizona’s wood-fired style and one of the most important in American pizza history.

Nobuo at Teeter House  |  622 E. Adams St., 602-254-0600. 11:30a-2p and 5:30p-9:30p Tue-Sun.

Arizona’s last James Beard winner, Nobuo Fukuda, blends local ingredients and classic Japanese techniques at a quiet, contemporary izakaya. Fukuda’s omakase — by appointment only — is both stunning and absolutely unique.

The Breadfruit and Rum Bar  |  108 E. Pierce St., 602-267-1266. 5p-10p Mon-Thu, 5p-12a Fri-Sat.

Danielle Leoni’s fiery yet refined Jamaican fare meets Dwayne Allen’s rum flights and cocktails at their quiet and laid-back downtown restaurant.

Welcome Diner  |  929 E. Pierce St., 602-495-1111. 5p-2a, seven days.

Michael Babcock combines hipster style, local ingredients and solid technique into one of the best late-night joints in town, slinging Southern-flecked comfort fare to a packed house, indoors and out.

The Larder + The Delta  |  200 W. Portland St., 480-409-8520. 11a-10p Tue-Thu, 11a-12a Fri, 4p-12a Sat, 9a-3p Sun.

Stephen Jones’ recently relocated restaurant combines Southern inspiration and a little touch of Chicago into creative fare with big flavor and bigger soul.

Near Downtown Phoenix

Barrio Café  |  2814 N. 16th St., 602-636-0240. 11a-10p Tue-Thu, 11a-10:30p Fri-Sat, 11a-9p Sun.

Silvana Salcido Esparza’s landmark restaurant helped to expand Arizona’s awareness of Mexican cuisine beyond northern desert fare. Irreverent and boisterous, the kitchen throws caution to the wind, slinging flavor bombs aplenty.

Roland’s Café Market Bar  |  1505 E. Van Buren St., 602-441-4749. 8a-9p Sun-Mon, 8a-10p Tue-Thu, 8a-12a Fri-Sat.

Nadia Holguin and Armando Hernandez of Tacos Chiwas teamed with Chris Bianco to develop this Italian-twinged modern Mexican diner serving three squares a day built on the best ingredients Arizona has to offer.

El Caprichoso  |  2826 N. 35th Ave., 602-561-3723. 6p-2a Tue-Sun.

This late-night roadside stand is best of breed for the Sonoran hot dog — a dirt cheap sausage wrapped in crisp bacon, dressed with a panoply of Mexican-style toppings and served in a sweet, griddled bun.

Pa’La  |  2107 N. 24th St., 602-795-9500. 11a-3p Mon-Fri for lunch, 5:30p-9p Thu-Sat for dinner.

From a spartan and stylish bungalow in central Phoenix, Claudio Urciuoli serves some of the city’s finest roasted and grilled seafood disguised as inexpensive counter service fare, complete with paper plates.

Glai Baan  |  2333 E. Osborn Road, 602-595-5881. 5p-11p Tue-Thu, 5p-12a Fri-Sat.

Kat Bunnag’s chill central Phoenix joint is equal parts mellow and explosive — a warmly lit spot with a laid back beach vibe serving slick and flavorful takes on Thai street food with killer cocktails and a surprising wine list.

Binkley’s  |  2320 E. Osborn Road, 602-388-4874. Single seatings on Wed-Sat, times vary.

Kevin Binkley is one of the Valley’s most skilled and obsessive chefs, but at his new restaurant, he’s dialed back the pyrotechnics a touch and turned a dinner at his eponymous restaurant into a warm and joyous dinner party.

Little Miss BBQ  |  4301 E. University Dr., 602-437-1177. 11a-4p or until the meat runs out, Tue-Sat.

Scott Holmes’ joint, modeled after Franklin, is good enough to make the knees of even the most hardcore central Texas ‘cue geeks wobbly. Get there well before opening and plan on a long wait, or you risk missing the signature fatty brisket.

Carolina’s  |  1202 E. Mohave St., 602-252-1503. 7a-7:30p Mon-Fri, 7a-6p Sat.

Carolina’s wraps up all the quirks and flavors — both good and bad — of Arizona’s complicated relationship with Mexico into the quintessential picture of old-school AZ-Mex. A landmark of deep interest, both culinary and anthropological.

The Fry Bread House  |  4545 N. 7th Ave., 602-351-2345. 10a-8p Mon-Thu, 10a-9p Fri-Sat, 9a-3p Sun.

A James Beard American Classic restaurant, The Fry Bread House is a local touchstone of Tohono O’odham culture, serving the apotheosis of its namesake dish. Few takes on fry bread evoke the same “Aha!” as The Fry Bread House.

Camelback Corridor

The Gladly  |  2201 E. Camelback Road, 602-759-8132. 11a-10p Mon-Fri, 4p-10p Sat.

Bernie Kantak’s American fare is both sassy and hearty, wonky enough to be fun with the fundamentals to satisfy. Donald Hawk’s excellent creative raw bar is the icing on the cake.

Tratto  |  4743 N. 20th St., 602-296-7761. 5p-9p Mon-Thu, 5p-10p Fri-Sat.

Chris Bianco’s warm, welcoming trattoria, under the hand of chef Cassie Shortino, ties minimal Italian tradition to stellar Arizona products to give a glimpse of how Italian fare might have evolved if they’d had our ingredients to work with.

Crudo  |  3603 E. Indian School Road, 602-358-8666. 5p-10p Tue-Sat.

Cullen Campbell’s dimly lit roost, hidden on the building’s rear alleyway, slings sexy, sophisticated Italian-inspired crudi, composed cheese plates and rich, succulent mains that would be a bargain at twice the price.

Scottsdale

FnB  |  7125 E. 5th Ave., 480-284-4777. 5p-10p Tue-Sat, 5p-9p Sun.

Charleen Badman wields Arizona produce like a wizard and a mesquite-fueled grill like a culinary Vulcan. No restaurant has meant more to the emergence of contemporary Arizona cuisine than FnB. Don’t miss it.

Rancho Pinot  |  6208 N. Scottsdale Road, 480-367-8030. 5:30p-9p Tue-Sat.

Chrysa Robertson’s old standby may bear the worn leather charm of all of its 25 years, but her simple, unpretentious California and Italian-flecked fare has a freshness that makes the place feel as though it could have opened yesterday.

Virtù Honest Craft  |  3701 N. Marshall Way, 480-946-3477. 5p-10p daily, brunch 10a-2p Sat-Sun.

A romantic little nook tucked into the Bespoke Inn, Virtù is home to Gio Osso’s bold and vibrant contemporary Italian fare, merging old world tradition and modern pyrotechnics with fantastic effect.

Andreoli Italian Grocer  |  8880 E. Via Linda, 480-614-1980. 10a-9p Mon-Sat.

Giovanni Scorzo is as likely to be watching soccer in the FoH as he is to be cooking in the BoH, but don’t be fooled. This master cook and culinary curmudgeon slings perfect casual Italian fare. Focus on the white board and the pastry case.

Other Favorites

Shaanxi Garden  |  67 N. Dobson Road, 480-733-8888. 11a-3p and 4:30p-10p Mon-Thu, 11a-11:30p Fri-Sun.

The sophomore effort from Changhai Huang and Noel Cheng brings the flavors of northwestern China — including Xi’an’s ancient and famed biangbiangmian — to the Valley.

Hue Gourmet  |  66 S. Dobson Road, 480-251-7429. 9a-8p Thu-Tue.

Bucking the pho/bun/com template of American Vietnamese restaurants, this nondescript food court stand offers the vibrant signature dishes of the ancient capital of central Vietnam.