Everybody knows Phoenix is a city full of fab resorts and spas, championship golf courses and spectacular natural beauty.
But the urban capital of the Sonoran Desert is also a destination that dishes tasty experiences for the foodie traveler. From quirky to proudly local, these delish aha moments are sure to leave you with a good taste in your mouth
Veggies from Maya's Farm at the Old Town Scottsdale Market — Photo courtesy of Shelby MooreFood Truck Fridays: Despite being in the middle of a desert,the sustainable food movement is alive and well in Phoenix. Arizona weather allows for crops to be grown year-round, even in the blistering summer heat. There are 10 thriving farmer’s markets in town, but be sure to catch food truck Fridays (11 a.m-1:30 p.m.) at the Phoenix Public Market (721 N. Central Ave.) from 11am-1: 30 pm. You’ll find local artists and crafts along with food trucks selling everything from grilled cheese sandwiches and smoky BBQ to Asian fusion.
Authentic Neopolitan style pizza is on the menu at Pomo Pizzeria in downtown Phoenix — Photo courtesy of www.visitphoenix.comPizza downtown delicious: Chef Chris Bianco started the trend with Pizzeria Bianco in the shadow of the downtown sports stadiums. Bianco has company these days, with the recent opening of three gourmet wood-fired pizza joints downtown. Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, Cibo Urban Pizzeria Café and La Piazza Locale all earn high marks for using pristine ingredients like house made mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes atop a perfectly blistered crust.
Chef Paul McCabe brings new verve to dishes like this whole roasted sea bass at T. Cook's in the Royal Palms resort — Photo courtesy of Royal PalmsA new day at T. Cook's - T. Cook’s in the intimate Royal Palms Resort has been a favorite dining destination for locals since the place opened some 20 years ago. Treated to a stem to stern redo in 2013, the brightened space is now home to talented chef Paul McCabe, last of L'Auberge Del Mar in San Diego. The former top toque at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona and L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills, McCabe’s modern Mediterranean cuisine favors local ingredients and unfussy presentation. Locals are all abuzz about this chef – you’ll know why when you taste his stone seared foie gras with huckleberry jam.
The Desert Botanical Garden, home to Chihuly in the Garden through May 18, offers fun cooking classes — Photo courtesy of Beth D'AddonoDesert Botanical Cooking: This stunning desert garden is a wow anytime of year, with its 55 beautifully landscaped acres and exhibits like the current Chihuly in the Garden through May 18. Besides offering classes like sunrise yoga and beginning bonsai, you can take cooking classes on topics including savvy cooking with citrus and growing cocktail ingredients.
Add a cooking class to your visit to Desert Botanical Gardens — Photo courtesy of Desert Botanical Gardens
Awesome farm burger made with local beef at Joe's Farm Grill — Photo courtesy of Beth D'AddonoAgritopia – This place is a trip. Homesteaded in the 1930s, the farm was purchased by the Johnston family in 1960. After 40 years of farming, the family, led by eldest son Joe, created Agritopia, a city farm and community designed to preserve urban agriculture. Come for a real deal farm-sourced lunch at Joe’s Farm Grill– a Jetsons-like 60s-style eatery built from the family’s original home. Take a stroll to see chickens free ranging in the citrus groves, some 450 homes with front porches and community green space. A downtown hub called the Epicenter is in the works, a mixed use residential and shopping experience with the emphasis on locally grown agriculture and artisanal products. Free ranging chickens among the citrus trees at Agritopia — Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono
Barbecue by the pound comes with a side of bull riding at the Buffalo Chip Saloon — Photo courtesy of Buffalo Chip SaloonBuffalo Chip Saloon: located north of downtown in an area called Cave Creek, The Buffalo Chip is a seminal Phoenix experience. Where else can you see live professional bull riding (Wednesday and Friday nights) order pit smoked brisket, ribs and pulled pork by the pound and take a spin on the dance floor to live western music? It’s quirky and fun, the crowd is friendly and the flavors conjure up a wagon train out on the range.
Proof, An American Canteen at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale serves comfort food and spirits sourced in all 50 states — Photo courtesy of Four SeasonsProof positive: Four Seasons resorts are famed for VIP treatment and luxe surroundings. Funky restaurants? Not so much. Proof is the exception to the rule. Newly opened at the Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon North – a place on every golfer’s bucket list – Proof is an American-centric canteen with patio dining overlooking the mountains. With its décor of floor-to-ceiling windows, reclaimed woods, and menus covered by car license plates from all 50 states, the setting is casually chic and comfy. Same goes for chef Jesse Hanson’s menu of approachable Main Street fare, from the zippy buffalo chili to chicken and waffles and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Add a juice bar, soda fountain, 50-plus American-centric beer and craft cocktail list and it’s a good thing this place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You won’t want to leave.
Queen Creek olive oil is made and pressed by the Rea family less than 50 minutes from Phoenix — Photo courtesy of Visit MesaThe Queen of Olive Oil: Locally grown olives pressed into rich extra virgin olive oil is the beauty behind Queen Creek Olive Mill, a family owned company that brings olive oil from their farm to your table. Spend $5 on a 30-minute “Olive Oil 101" class to learn why Arizona is the perfect place to grow olives and sample the product. The olive oil may taste Italian, but this place is western to the core – you can even ride your horse in and park at a brand new hitching post with a watering trough while you tour and shop. Take a 30-minute Olive Oil 101 class at Queen Creek Olive Mill — Photo courtesy of Visit Mesa
Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza cooks from her own family recipes at Barrio Cafe — Photo courtesy of Barrio CafeBest Mexican restaurant in town: Those might be fighting words, but you won’t get too much push back for calling Barrio Café the best place for authentic Mexican food in Phoenix. Chef Silvana Salcido Esparaza and her partner Wendy Gruber preside over this funky and usually crowded downtown eatery specializing in food from central and southern Mexico. Don’t miss the flavorful Sopa de Chile Morron: a simmer of roasted sweet peppers, white wine, butter and heavy cream, garnished with fresca cheese and sliced avocado. Everything is good.
Royal Coffee is one of the local foodie stops at Union Biltmore — Photo courtesy of http://www.visitphoenix.comUnion Biltmore – Located on the east side of swanky Biltmore Fashion Park, Union is a locally-owned independent mecca of boutiques and food shops great for finding interesting gifts and souvenirs. From local Queen Creek olive oil and bath and body products to the KAK Shop for artsy confections and Juic’d Life for freshly made juices, Union is an anti-mall shopping experience. If you’re hungry, stop by the Queen Creek Olive Mill Trattoria for savory sandwiches and salads.