Babbo means "daddy" in Italian, and that sums up the food philosophy at Babbo Italian Eatery: warm, homespun Italian cuisine designed to make you feel as if you're dining with family. The expansive menu features gourmet salads, appetizers, pizza, sandwiches, calzones, and a build-it-yourself chalkboard menu. The pasta menu is full of luscious plates like a pomodoro tomato pasta; an Alfredo Supremo made with white wine, garlic and cream; and a roasted red pepper and mushroom pasta served on fettuccine. The calzones are excellent, and there is a build-your-own option with your choice of meats and ingredients. For something lighter, the salad menu offers 16 different types of specialty salads.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Babbo Italian Eatery is a regional chain dishing out gourmet Italian dishes in a casual dining room.
Patricia's expert tip: The huge menu at Babbo's makes this a good bet for larger groups or family dining. Many build-it-yourself options here.
This family-owned restaurant is the west side location of the popular central Phoenix Mexican take-out market that has been feeding local Mexican food lovers since the 1970s. The Surprise location delivers the same homespun flavors and comfort food favorites that have earned Rito's a loyal following. One of the house specialties is their green chile beef, a concoction of chunky beef drenched in green chile sauce that is more savory than spicy. Other specialties include chimichangas, tacos and cheese crips. Whatever you order, chances it will be savory, beautifully seasoned and cheesy. This is a popular take-out joint on the west side, which is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Rito's is a popular Mexican food restaurant known for its savory green chile sauce and killer burritos.
Patricia's expert tip: Try the green chile burrito.
If hot, savory comfort food grub is what you're craving, you won't go wrong with a visit to CheezHeadz. This neighborhood eatery has earned a loyal following for its consistently tasty eats and treats. The menu consists of specialty pizzas weighed down with generous portions of fresh toppings and cheeses, hot subs dripping with flavor, wraps, salads, hot wings and desserts (including the amazing house specialty, the "Cheezookie," an oversized chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream). House favorites here include the CheezHeadz Cheezsteak, The Barnyard Pizza (topped with six different meat types) and the crispy-on-the-outside, cheesy-on-the-inside Fried Cheez Curds.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Comfort food classics are done with flair at Cheezheadz, a fun neighborhood eatery with pizza and subs.
Patricia's expert tip: Craving a cheese steak? Head to Cheezheadz.
Big Buddha in Surprise offers a family-friendly spot on the west side for tasty, made to order Chinese classics. The huge menu has something for even the pickiest eaters. For starters, you'll find homemade pot stickers, juicy skewers of beef, lettuce wraps and a po po platter, a take on the classic pu pu platter. The menu is divided between chicken, beef, pork and seafood, as well as plenty of vegetarian selections. Some of the best dishes are on the special "Chef Specialties" menu, which includes homemade chicken egg foo young, Hong Kong crispy noodles, honey walnut shrimp and seafood in a crispy nest of noodles.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Tasty Chinese fare served in a family-friendly dining room is the house specialty at Big Buddha in Surprise.
Patricia's expert tip: The po po platter is always a recommended start.
The Haymaker Restaurant is a family-owned restaurant making some of the tastiest burgers on the west side. The kitchen uses 100 percent Angus chuck to craft big, juicy burgers. The Haymaker is also famous for its slow cooked ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, which come smothered in the house barbecue sauce. There are also hot dogs, gourmet sandwiches, and tasty sides like sweet potato fries, mac and cheese, coleslaw and smashed potatoes. The cafe also serves breakfast seven days a week, and there are lunch specials daily. The Haymaker also prides itself on its extensive selection of fine whiskeys, one of the best in the city.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: When you're craving a quality burger with excellent beer, head to The Haymaker for craft American fare.
Patricia's expert tip: Breakfast is available all day long.
Vogue Bistro stands out as one of the most refined dining destinations in the west Valley. The Surprise bistro describes itself as an American restaurant with French influences. Indeed, the menu offers up continental classics with a contemporary American twist. For starters, try the Vogue onion soup, or the escargot, a must-try for any true foodie. Chef Aurore de Beauduy brings classic technique to entrees like the house Vogue steak, a prime grade Black Angus flat iron steak prepared medium rare and served with a brandied peppercorn sauce and crispy fries. Other house specialties include a duck confit, rabbit civet, Chef Aurore's entree of the day.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Satisfy your foodie cravings for classic French fare with a visit to Vogue Bistro, a winning dining room in Surprise.
Patricia's expert tip: Start with the excellent French onion soup.
Luscious plates of Mexican food classics fill the menu at Rio Mirage Cafe, a family-owned eatery on Phoenix's west side that delivers big flavors and hospitality. The house motto here is "Not fast food, not fast paced," so settle in for made-from-scratch plates designed to make your tastebuds dance with joy. The menu focuses on Sonoran-style fare with unique, seasonal dishes. House specialties include steak fajitas, enchiladas del mar (seafood enchiladas), and "El Bombero Picado," or "the fireman." The dish features tender marinated top sirloin steak in thick slices, sauteed and simmered with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers. The menu also includes American food like burgers and a grilled chicken sandwich.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Mexican food served in a festive dining room is the specialty at Rio Mirage Cafe.
Patricia's expert tip: .99 cent margaritas available on Mondays and Wednesdays.
This casual bistro offers a dining experience that is casually upscale and contemporary, with dishes inspired by rich culinary tradition of France. The cafe is tiny, which lends the dining room with a cozy and romantic air that is ideal for celebrating a special occasion. Amuse Bouche has a chef driven menu with seasonally-inspired dishes, so everything is made from scratch. For starters, there is a pate du foie, a chicken live pate served with crostini. Another good option is the handmade burrata, which comes with a tasty tomato jam. The entree menu includes pan seared barramundi, duck breast and even a spicy jambalaya.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Get your fix for delicious bistro fare at Amuse Bouche, which offers an intimate and stylish dining room.
Patricia's expert tip: Amuse Bouche has a BYOB license, so bring your favorite bottle of wine.
UNI Sushi & Steak is one of the best-loved sushi restaurants on Phoenix's west side. Uni (pronounced oo-nee) is the Japanese name for sea urchin, a sushi delicacy reserved for the highest quality sushi. The thoughtful menu offers a range of Japanese-inspired small plates, entrees and, of course, gorgeously plated sushi rolls. For starters, the eclectic appetizer menu includes tuna carpaccio, garlic edamame and something called "the firecracker," a lightly fried japaleno stuffed with tuna and cream cheese. The dinner menu is filled with teriyaki-style plates, including a teriyaki grilled salmon served over a bed of rice. a full sushi and sashimi menu, and a menu of whimsical specialty rolls.
Recommended for Surprise's Best Restaurants because: Uni Sushi & Steak offers some of the most artful Japanese fare on Phoenix's west side.
Patricia's expert tip: Great lunch specials are available daily from 11 am to 3 pm.