Restaurants with the Best Value in Phoenix

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. 


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.

Recommended for Best Value because: Carolina's Mexican Food is the local go-to destination for affordable yet tasty Mexican food.

Patricia's expert tip: The hot, pillowy flour tortillas at Carolina are legendary.

Read more about The Original Carolina's Mexican Food →

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.

Recommended for Best Value because: For simple yet refined fare on a budget, stop by for lunch at Pane Bianco in central Phoenix.

Patricia's expert tip: The market sandwich, the special sandwich daily, is a pretty safe bet for lunch.

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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.

Recommended for Best Value because: High quality pizza, subs and Italian dinners offer a good value at Stumpy's, a favorite neighborhood pizza joint.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the 10" pizza crisp, made with Stumpy's mouth-watering garlic butter, mozzarella, romano, and served with your choice of marinara or ranch dipping sauce.

Read more about Stumpy's →


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.

Recommended for Best Value because: You can eat like royalty for less than $10 at Ta'Carbon, which dishes top-notch Sonoran-style mesquite-grilled steak tacos.

Patricia's expert tip: For a large group, try the "paquete familiar," or family size selection of grilled meats.

Read more about Ta'carbon Grill →

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.

Recommended for Best Value because: Cornish Pasty Co., with five locations around the Valley, dishes out endless variations on the classic pub pastry without breaking your dinner budget.

Patricia's expert tip: Did you know that Cornish Pasty Co. ships most pasties to almost any location in the U.S.? The restaurant ships Mondays through Wednesdays. Contact the restaurant for details.

Read more about Cornish Pasty Co →

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.

Recommended for Best Value because: Goodfellas Grill is one of north Phoenix's favorite spots for authentic and budget-friendly Greek and Mediterranean food.

Patricia's expert tip: Looking for fresh-made hummus? You found it at Good Fellas Grill.

Read more about Good Fellas Grill →

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.

Recommended for Best Value because: Pita Jungle in Phoenix offers an eclectic selection of tasty yet health-conscious fare that won't break your dining budget.

Patricia's expert tip: A huge menu makes this a good spot for groups and diners with dietary restrictions.

Read more about Pita Jungle - Downtown Phoenix →

Rumor has it that some of the best Al Pastor burritos can be found just east of downtown Phoenix at El Fundador Taqueria. The small family-owned restaurant might be labeled as a typical west Phoenix hole-in-the-wall for some, but the kitchen delivers hot and delicious Mexican food nirvana for Phoenix foodies in the know. While it might be difficult to choose the best Al Pastor in Phoenix, the one here certainly has its merit: savory, spicy and fall-off-the-bone pork spit-grilled pork is wrapped in a pillowy soft tortilla. The results are nothing less than delicious. The menu features an eclectic pick of burritos, tacos, stews, quesadillas and other Mexican food staples, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a bad pick in the bunch. The dining room is small and nondescript, but the food speaks volumes.

Recommended for Best Value because: If you're looking for authentic, down-home Mexican food, head to Taqueria El Fundador, a small, family-run eatery just west of downtown Phoenix.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the Al Pastor tacos or burrito, some of the best spit-fire Mexican pork in town.

Read more about Taqueria El Fundador →

This small, cozy bistro means serious business when it comes to good food. The kitchen at Carly's Bistro may be small, but the menu impresses with its dedication to locally-sourced ingredients and freshly made panini sandwiches, wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads. The appetizer menu at Carly's is excellent. Start with the brie cheese wedge, or the cheese and fruit plate. From the panini menu, the Cuban, made with thinly sliced ham, turkey, & swiss with grainy mustard and pickles on ciabatta, is always a good choice. Carly's also has a large wine and craft beer menu, and a popular brunch on the weekends.

Recommended for Best Value because: Carly's Bistro is a Roosevelt Row staple serving fresh dishes featuring locally-sourced ingredients.

Patricia's expert tip: Stop by for the popular brunch, featuring live music and great atmosphere.

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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.

Recommended for Best Value because: Taco Chiwas is a reliable spot for well-crafted, Chihuahua-inspired Mexican food, and it definitely won't break the bank.

Patricia's expert tip: The Deshebrada Roja and Deshebrada Verde are a must try.

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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.