It's hard not to stop and stare at the bright, neon-lit sign annoucing "Gadzooks - Enchiladas and Soup." Venture into this modern, sleek fast-casual restaurant and you'll be reward with exactly what the sign promises: pretty darned good enchiladas and soup. The main attraction here are the enchiladas, which you can customize with your choice of gourmet meats (including a very popular Modelo beer-braised bison) and veggies, fresh Mexican cheeses, and assorted salsas and other toppings. You can also choose your choice of tortillas (all of which are made in-house in front of your eyes). The custom dishes are brimming with fresh ingredients and unique flavors, making Gadzooks one of the best places to enjoy a local take on Mexican food.
Recommended for Take Out because: Gadzooks offers a fun, custom take-out experience that is brimming with fresh ingredients and authentic Mexican flavors.
Patricia's expert tip: Don't miss the beer-braised bison enchiladas, which are usually available for lunch. Come early, because sometimes they run out of bison during the dinner rush.
What could be more "southwest" than a killer burrito? That's the house specialty at the PHX Burrito House, a mom-and-pop cafe tucked away inside a charming bungalow off 7th Avenue. The homemade burritos manage to be both hefty and delicate, with fresh, pillow-y tortillas wrapped around succulent meats, veggies and cheeses. One of the house specialties is the winning shrimp burrito, stuffed with grilled shrimp served with avocado, lemon juice, cabbage, pico de gallo and hot sauce. Other burrito options include grilled chicken, pork carnitas, steak, beef, and shredded beef. Not in a burrito mood? The eatery also dishes out tasty quesdillas, tacos, and salads.
Recommended for Take Out because: When fast food won't cut it, check out the Phoenix Burrito House, which features a huge selection of homemade, gourmet burritos.
Patricia's expert tip: Love seafood? Try the awesome shrimp burrito.
Chino Bandido seems like a culinary curiosity: a local Chinese-Mexican restaurant that blends the two cuisines in a seemingly elaborate design-your-own meal menu format. In reality, blending two of Arizona's favorite cuisines turns out to be a great idea, and ordering is much easier than it seems like at first. There are 14 meat items that you can mix and match with rice, beans and other sides, resulting in a custom meal that combines the flavors of Mexico and China. You can order a Jerk Chicken burrito, for instance, or a Jade Red Chicken quesadilla. Every meal comes with a snickerdoodle, a baked-fresh daily cinnamon sugar cookie.
Recommended for Take Out because: Chino Bandido is a true Phoenix original, a popular restaurant and take-out destination that blends Mexican and Chinese cooking with tasty results.
Patricia's expert tip: Try the volcano, a chocolate fudge version of the house snickerdoodle, sold every other weekend.
This small, neighborhood take-out joint has been the recipient of numerous local food awards for its luscious, wallet-friendly Mexican take-out food. The streamlined menu at Rito's Market and Mexican Take Out features a a tasty selection of burritos, tacos, tostadas, enchiladas and side dishes. The food is simple, but made from scratch. You'll want to try the green chile burrito with the enchilada sauce, a house favorite. Other menu stand-outs include the avocado tostadas and cheese enchiladas. Sides include rice, beans, chips, sour cream, and guacamole. You can even take home a dozen of Rito's soft, pillowy tortillas for a couple of bucks. Although there is some outdoor patio seating at Rito's, this is decidely a take-out restaurant.
Recommended for Take Out because: Rito's Market and Mexican Take Out is a hidden gem offering down-home, budget-friendly Mexican take out dishes.
Patricia's expert tip: Try the green chile burrito made enchilada-style, a simple yet decadent meal.
Family owned and operated for over 30 years, Romanelli's Deli in Phoenix specializes in classic Italian deli food. You can't go wrong with anything on the deli sandwich and deli menu, which features classic excellent sandwiches like the Italian Stallion, made with ham, capicolla, pepporoni, genoa salami and provolone cheese. Another great choice is Robert's Special, layered with roast beef, pastrami, provolone, tomato, mayonnaise and onions, served hot. Romanelli's also makes top-notch homemade pizza, pasta dinners, specialty salads and great Italian pastries. Romanelli's also has an in-house bakery and small grocery store. The deli even sells an assortment of t-shirts and Italian-themed novelties.
Recommended for Take Out because: Romanelli's Deli in Phoenix offers the comforts of a neighborhood deli with authentic, high quality Italian dishes.
Patricia's expert tip: Make sure to stop at the bakery counter for a great assortment of homemade Italian desserts.
Mouth-watering noodle dishes from around the world are the star of the show at the Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe in central Phoenix. From Japanese yakisoba to pad thai to traditional Italian noodle entrees, the Cherry Blossom Noddle Cafe covers the spectrum of the world's pasta and noodle dishes. Appetizers include a gyoza pan-fried pot stickers. The Asian noodles menu includes a winning gomoku yaki udon made with pork, shrimp, mushroom, calamari, kikurage and udon noodles. The cafe also dishes out excellent salads, sushi, and ramen and rice dishes. The cafe's popular Happy Hour features exotic drink specials every Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 6 pm.
Recommended for Take Out because: The Cherry Blossom Noodle Cafe in central Phoenix offers authentic noodle dishes from around the world made with quality ingredients and served with flair.
Patricia's expert tip: Great lunch specials available Monday through Friday from 11 am to 2:30 pm.
Phoenix has a lot of barbecue joints, but Pork on a Fork stands out from the crowd for its dedication and passion to complex, succulent chicken and beef brisket, pulled pork, and smoked ribs. High quality meats are shipped in from the owner's family farm in Nebraska, and all meats are slowly cooked over pecan wood. Fall-off-the-bone meats are complemented by a small but delicious selection of side dishes. This independent barbecue restaurant is tucked away in a small business park in north Phoenix, but it is well worth seeking out when you're craving some of the city's best barbecue.
Recommended for Take Out because: Pork on the Fork is the place to go for friendly, fast service and some of the juiciest barbecue in Phoenix.
Patricia's expert tip: Try the pulled pork sandwich, a favorite of local barbecue aficionados.
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 Take Out because: Pane Bianco is central Phoenix's favorite gourmet sandwich spot.
Patricia's expert tip: Stop by for Happy Hour and bar bites from 3 to 6 pm Monday through Friday.
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 Take Out because: Carolina's Mexican Food is central Phoenix's favorite take out place--fast, friendly and delicious.
Patricia's expert tip: The hot, pillowy flour tortillas at Carolina are legendary. Make sure to take a dozen home with you.
Ingo's Tasty Food is an Arcadia original. The foodie hot spot features a menu that is as delicious as it is unpretentious. The restaurant, which describes itself as "a gourmet food stand," features an eating counter and picnic garden seating - perfect for an outdoor dining feast, or for gourmet take-away that won't break the bank. The menu features some of the best grass-fed beef burgers in Phoenix, as well as specialty salads, sandwiches, and even a juicy steak-and-salad combo. The drink menu features a small but excellent selection of wine, blush sangria, and three craft draft beers. Everything on the menu is available to go.
Recommended for Take Out because: La Grande Orange has a high reputation for fresh, creative cuisine in a hip, foodie-friendly setting.
Patricia's expert tip: Don't miss the homemade ice cream.