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10 Places to Eat Well in Phoenix On a Budget



What makes a restaurant a great value? A few things: uncompromising flavor, consistently high quality and the ability to eat out without breaking the bank.

For a nice breakfast or lunch in central Phoenix, check out Duza's Kitchen in the historic central Phoenix neighborhood of Coronado. The menu features surprisingly refined takes on breakfast and lunch staples, and the ambiance is friendly and cozy. 

If you want fresh fare without paying a bundle, Pita Jungle delivers both in spades. This regional chain a favorite with health-conscious diners seeking flavor and fresh ingredients with a Mediterranean flair.

Tacos Chiwas in central Phoenix proves you don't have to be well-heeled to eat well. This small, Chihuahua-inspired Mexican restaurant has become a local favorite for its well-crafted tacos, gorditas and other fare.

For down-home Mexican home cooking that was made for take-out, there's Carolina's Mexican Food. This long-time favorite is busy from open to close. One taste of the restaurant's popular machaca, beans and pillowy, homemade tortillas and you'll know why.

Finally, if you want stylish ambiance without having to spring for a huge tab, The Dressing Room in Roosevelt Row might be your cup of tea. This neighborhood spot offers a delicious selection of casual fare – think gourmet burgers, tacos and salads – at budget-friendly prices. 


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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.




Chris Bianco, the well-known chef and restaurateur, started Pane Bianco as an offshoot of Pizzeria Bianco, the award-winning Phoenix pizzeria that gained him national attention. Pane Bianco is a tiny sandwich shop with an even smaller menu. The menu consists of a few sandwiches and salads, but the results are extraordinary. All the breads are baked on site in the cafe's wood-fired oven, and the mozzarella could only be fresher if you made it yourself. (The mozzarella is in fact made in the restaurant). The focaccia and caprese salad are both outstanding. This is a popular take-out lunch spot, and it's easy to see why.




Since its debut in the spring of 2016, Tacos Chiwas has become the darling of the local Phoenix Mexican food scene. You can thank the restaurant's tight, focused menu, which specializes in the soulful cooking of the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Come here for tacos built on freshly-pressed tortillas. Highlights here include the Lengua (tongue) and tripas (tripe) tacos. You'll also want to try the homemade gorditas, especially stuffed with something like rajas, the restaurants medley of fire-roasted peppers, which are blended with melted queso asadero and a smear of refried beans. Speaking of beans, don't miss the restaurant's homemade bean stew, served with sliced-up hot dogs and perfumed with cilantro.


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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.




There are a lot of places to find good Mexican food in Phoenix, but Ta'carbon is a Mexican grill that stands out with a menu full of mouth-watering grilled meats cooked over mesquite. You'll find a delicious assortment of Sonoran-style tacos, burritos and quesadillas, including carne asada and specialty cuts like beef lengua (tongue), cabeza (head meat) and tripitas (beef intestines). Try the Taco Hazz, a green chile beef taco spilling over with carne asada blanketed in white cheese. There are two locations on the westside. Not surprisingly, both are generally crowded, but it's worth queuing up for these tacos.




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.




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.




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.




The Living Room is a relatively new addition to downtown Phoenix's Roosevelt Row food scene, but don't be fooled by its limited square footage. This "micro-restaurant" features a small but satisfying menu that's described as "food from streets, beaches, carts, and trucks." This translates to casual and creative globally inspired fare that includes burgers, tacos, and salads. The house RoRo Burger, a saucy, well-cooked burger squeezed into an English muffin, is deliciously dressed in a sweet-spicy Russian sauce. The Peruvian ceviche salad, meanwhile, is texture-rich and delicious. Don't leave without trying the restaurant's signature dessert, a churro ice cream sandwich featuring vanilla ice cream cemented between two freshly fried churros.




Duza's Kitchen is a small breakfast and lunch spot that's tucked away in a section of a repurposed home in the historic Coronado neighborhood of central Phoenix. It's a lovely spot, full of wooden tables, fresh flowers on the tables and local art on the walls. In the back, there's a sprawling patio that's become a popular destination for weekend brunch. The menu is New American, with touches of Southwestern inspiration. You'll find a range of breakfast and brunch options, including wholesome plates like apple crisp hot cereal, as well as more hearty items like the Mexican breakfast torta. Omelets, breakfast sandwiches, crepes, hashes, and an assortment of pastry items round out the eclectic menu, which offers something for just about everyone.


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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