Being home in Phoenix for the holidays gave me the opportunity to enjoy some of my favorite spots that I miss while I’m away. Now that I live in Indianapolis and have traveled across the country, I can really appreciate Phoenix all that it really is. After growing up in the Phoenix suburbs, I am so happy my parents now call the urban center of the city home. In our new neighborhood we have access to some of the best restaurants: so many up-and-coming spots, along with the classics that never get old.
While there are so many places I would put on this list, I chose to highlight the top 10 spots that are always in my rotation while I am home. This list of suggestions is concentrated, more or less, to the Midtown/Uptown area. Without further ado, in alphabetical order, here are 10 of my favorite spots in Phoenix.
I could roam the isles of grocery stores for fun and for hours. While I don’t often do regular grocery shopping at AJ’s because it is pricey, it is the perfect stop for specialty items and baked goods or meals. The main reason AJ’s makes my list is for their iced tea. When I’m home I make an obligatory run for the large iced tea that costs a whopping $1.50. The China Mist flavors are endless, but served with their special crushed iced and fresh chunks of citrus, the tea can’t be beat.
Home of the best carne asada in the valley, America Taco Shop is my favorite casual spot for a Mexican food fix. They have franchised several locations, but I believe the food is best at their 7th Street location. Try their Cochata (iced coffee mixed with horchata), carne asada burrito, al pastor tacos or breakfast burritos in the morning.
Chef Silvana of Barrio Café has created something special at Barrio Cafe. You’ll first notice the restaurant off 16th Street because of the incredible murals coloring the outside of the building. Once you get inside, you will find some of the best Mexican food in the valley. Start the meal with a margarita and an order of tableside guacamole. Their posole soup is one of my favorites, but you truly can’t go wrong with any dish.
This hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop has been family owned for 60 years. Choose your timing carefully because around lunch, the lines are long and seating is limited. Sandwiches here are made by hand with Boar’s Head meats and cheese. The options are endless, but my favorite is the Wild Turkey. You can find my dad and I eating lunch here on his break while we catch up on life or the news.
When it comes time to order pizza, stay in for the night with a bottle of Meomi wine and catch up on reality television, Federal Pizza is our choice. Dining inside, the restaurant environment is so cool with one of my favorite geometric pattern murals. Luckily there is also a drive through pick-up area so you can call in your order. My favorites are the At Last (ricotta cheese, corn and broccolini) and Casanova (prosciutto, Dates, ricotta and arugula).
I could go to Lux at 7:00 in the morning, noon and 10:30 at night all in one day and be happy. At this local hangout, you’ll find a little bit of everything, but none of it disappoints. In the morning, you will want to order one of their beautiful fresh-baked pastries. Come afternoon, you will feel the creative juices and energy flowing from the crowd of people in the zone on their computers working or studying. In the evening, the bartenders will be busy concocting craft cocktails with finesse and precision.
I keep thinking the bruschetta and mixed green salad are going to become redundant, but I honestly cannot stop coming back for more. Postino is the perfect spot to reconnect with friends and, if the weather is stunning per usual, sit outside while you’re eating. Choose four types of bruschetta to share and grab a $5.00 glass of wine if you stop in before 5:00pm. Their saying is, “Drinking wine at lunch is not a crime.” It could be the best motto for life.
If you ask my Dad, this is the spot he would choose for dinner for any occasion any night of the week. I love the industrial interior of the restaurant and bar area facing to the outdoors. The baked tomato and goat cheese appetizer is a favorite of mine. If you ever need bread for a dinner party or meal, swing by to grab a fresh loaf they sell for under $5.00.
This historic church-turned-restaurant is a recent favorite of mine. I am still wowed everytime I walk in and see the grand ceilings and elaborate chandeliers. Their grilled romaine salad and street corn could serve as a meal for me, but don’t miss out on their tacos. The coffee braised beef taco is fabulous. And the happy hour deals lead my family there often for an early dinner.
Whether it’s a girl’s night or small group reunion, The Yard is the perfect spot to hang out, play games and enjoy a few cocktails. When I walk into The Yard, I feel like I just got to a neighborhood block party. There is a huge open space in the middle with games, big couches and chairs, television and a sky full of outdoor lights. The drink options are great and if you’re hungry, you can grab a bite at Culinary Dropout built right into the same place.
I hope this list of ten spots gives you an idea of a few places to try when you are in the area or – to the locals – a suggestion for somewhere to add to your rotation. I am always discovering new favorites while I am back in Phoenix, so I look forward to trying out new places next time. What places are on your favorites list in Midtown Phoenix?
Love food. Love self. Love life.