By Patricia Escarcega
Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson Local Expert
Best value restaurants in Phoenix deliver uncompromising flavor and consistently high quality without breaking the bank.
Senor Sushi: Such a relaxed atmosphere. Very much like waking into a Mexican restaurant with the strolling musicians and tv’s projecting Spanish tv. But visually a Japanese restaurant with the colors and lotus lamps through out the venue. The food was delicious and had generous portions. Service was fast and despite being a very busy night with a birthday party…we were seated, waited on and was served fairly quickly. Definitely coming back for the
If you want excellent, fresh fare and sophisticated ambiance, Pita Jungle delivers both in spades. This regional chain a favorite with health-conscious foodies seeking great flavor and fresh ingredients with a Mediterranean flair.
La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop in central Phoenix proves you don’t have to be well-heeled to eat well. This small, artsy Mexican cafe serves a colorful menu of authentic Mexican tacos, quesadillas, burritos and plates. Don’t miss the salsa bar, which is a meal unto itself.
For down-home Mexican home cooking that is perfect for take-out, don’t miss Carolina’s Mexican Food. This long-time favorite is busy from open to close. One taste of the restaurant’s creamy beans and pillowy, homemade tortillas and you’ll know why.
Craving a delicious burger? Rocket’s Burger & Subs delivers a long menu of specialty burgers and subs, for less than you would spend on a gourmet cup of coffee.
Finally, if you want cozy wine bar ambiance without having to spring for a huge tab, Postino is your cup of tea. This charming wine cafe offers a delicious selection of appetizers, small plates and fine wines at budget-friendly prices.
10.)La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop
La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop – formerly known as La Condesa – is not your run-of-the-mill taco shop. Here you’ll find fresh produce sourced from local farms and combined with the unique and traditional flavors of Mexico: bright green tomatillos, chipotle chiles, Oaxacan cheese, and soft, pillowy tortillas, all combined to create startling and delightful flavors. The menu is small, but you can’t go wrong with any of the seven specialty tacos. There are also specialty quesadillas, burritos and combo plates. Artful, authentic and always tasty, the tacos here are exquisite. A great part of the allure of La Condesa Gourmet Taco Shop is the excellent salsa bar. It’s impossible to try just one.
9.) Welcome Diner
What this tiny traditional diner lacks in square footage, it more than makes up in style and heart. The vintage diner ambiance and modern American menu of comfort food classics has made Welcome Diner a downtown favorite. The food menu includes burgers, buttermilk biscuit sandwiches, and side dishes. The menu also features a supper menu that includes a market salad, New Orleans-style red beans and rice, and vegan po-boys. The drink menu includes Mexican Coca Cola, rotating draft beers, and a small selection of cocktails and wine. Side orders include unique dishes like smoked spring union slaw and poutine, fries with cheddar and gravy.
8.) Postino Arcadia
Adapted from what used to be a neighborhood post office, this trendy wine bar is awash in candlelight, earthy colors, and dark wood furniture. It’s also distinguished by a glass garage door that blurs interior and exterior space when the weather cooperates. The stylish mid-century style is replete with artisanal touches, plenty of open, communal spaces, and even a hand-carved wood wine wall. The menu is rustic and flavorful, defined by bruschettas, paninis, antipasti, and salads. Knowledgeable servers are happy to help with wine selections, which hail from across the world and are available by glass and bottle. Great for couples or groups.
7.) Tacos Kissi
Tacos Kissi is what you might consider a hole-in-the-wall, a modest-looking mid-town eatery specializing in classic Mexican street tacos like carne asada, al pastor and pollo asado. You’ll also find a wide variety of burritos, along with an eclectic menu of Mexican snacks that includes shrimp cocktails, nachos and the Sonoran-inspired indulgence known as carne asada fries. Tacos Kissi also offers Mexican sushi, the hybrid rolls made with ingredients like carne asada, cream cheese and deep-fried for crunch. The salsa bar is fresh and the corn tortilla chips are hot, crispy and plentiful. You’ll also find plenty of Mexican dessert snacks and ice cream.
6.) Cornish Pasty Co
Savor the joys of an authentic Cornish pasty (pronounced pass-tee) without even having to jet off across the pond. The Cornish pasty is a traditional English comfort food featuring a variety of meats, veggies and cheeses, all stuffed into a pastry pocket. The pasty gets a twist at the Cornish Pasty Company, where diners can choose from an extensive menu of signature, premium, and vegetarian pasties. Try the Oggie, the traditional Cornish pasty made with steak, potatoes, onion, rutabaga, and served with a side of red wine gravy or ketchup. Pasty lovers will enjoy exploring the diverse menu, which also features Mexican, Italian, Greek, and Indian variations on this English classic. The large veggie pasty menu has made this a favorite stopping point for vegetarian foodies.
5.) Good Fellas Grill
Goodfellas Grill offers an enticing menu of Mediterranean and Greek favorites. Fresh ingredients and great execution results in above-average menu items, such as the kafta, two skewers of seasoned ground beef, charbroiled and served with rice, pita bread, and fresh slices of tomatoes and onions. Another house favorite is the falafel, grounded chickpeas and fava beans perfectly mixed with fresh herbs and spices, deep-fried and served with pita bread and homemade tahini sauce. Of course, there is always the gyro plate, slices of rotisserie gyro meat, served with fresh slices of tomato, onion and a generous helping of cool, creamy tzatziki sauce.
4.) Rocket’s Burger & Subs
This classic hamburger shop features made to order burgers made with fresh, never frozen, 100% angus beef patties. Burgers come in singles, doubles, or if you’re really hungry, the signature rocket size burger, a 12 inch sub role stuffed with three juicy patties and loaded with your favorite burger fixings. You’ll also find a complete menu of specialty burgers, including a savory teriyaki burger, featuring pineapple, swiss, lettuce, tomato, and a homemade teriyaki sauce. Also on the menu are classic subs, sandwiches, rocket dogs, mini corn dogs, fresh salads, chicken and “rocket sides,” including fries, cheese fries, chili fries, chili and cheese fries, rocket rings (aka onion rings), and fried zucchini. Still hungry? Rocket Burger & Subs has a large selection of cones, shakes, sundaes, floats, Slush Puppies, and the popular rocket freeze ice cream treat. Rocket Burger & Subs is also home to a popular soda pop shop where thirsty diners can find one of the largest selections of bottled sodas, including hard-to-find novelty pop. Tasty treats, friendly service and fast food prices make this one of the Valley’s best burger shops.
3.) Pita Jungle
This regional chain is a favorite with local foodies and health-conscious enthusiasts. The large, eclectic menu features wraps, salads, burgers, wood fired pizzas, and several delectable sides, as well as a small but very satisfying dessert menu. Try the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus for starters, a house favorite, or dive right into the wraps menu, which features hot and cold selections, including Mediterranean Roasted Chicken, Broiled Chicken Pita, Gyros, Falafels, and even a Philly Steak Pita. Seasonal specials include the Wood-Fired Fresh Salmon, Wood-Fired Chicken, Mahi Mahi with Pita Chips, Chicken Del Sol, and Chicken Tikka Masala. There is also a drink menu featuring beer and wine.
2.) The Original Carolina’s Mexican Food
This South Phoenix institution has been dishing out some of the best home-style Mexican food for decades. Don’t be fooled by the humble exterior and lackluster dining area: the food is hot, tasty, and top-notch. Tacos, burros, flautas, chimichangas, tostadas, and tamales: all your favorites are here, made to order. As if that wasn’t enough, you can eat well here with the spare change in your pocket. Perfect for a quick and affordable meal on the go, Carolina’s continues to draw regulars craving down-home, no-nonsense Mexican food. Great for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don’t forget to sample the famous tortillas.
This neighborhood pizza joint has been serving up gooey pizza delights, fresh subs, salads, calzones and wings, salads and classic Italian entrees since 1999. The pizza menu includes unique specialty pies featuring the freshest meats and cheeses. For a savory and unforgettable pie, try The Barbey, made with chicken breast, bbq sauce, red onion, cheddar, jack, and mozzarella. The Greek is another favorite, featuring artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, banana pepper, red onion, feta, all drenched in mozzarella, and garlic olive oil. There is also a menu of specialty salads and homemade Italian dinners, including lasagna, baked ziti and manicotti. Don’t miss the homemade meatballs, either.