Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Southwest >
Nov 9, 2006 05:18 PM

Must Eat places in PHX?

I lived there for a short time, but went to mostly inexpensive chain-types close to my apartment.

Visiting with a friend who's never been there, so I wanted more unique places.

Thinking Sam's Cafe and Rustler's Rooste - and want to try Pizzeria Bianco - is it really as good as they claim?

Would appreciate some suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Sam's Cafe is fine if one is shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park or attending a downtown event, but I would not make a special trip for it. As for Rustler's Rooste, I see that as a tourist destination. I have been there only when attending events designed for business associates who have flown in from elsewhere and have generally cringed in embarrassment during the whole experience (I'm not much of a cowboy.).

    As for Pizzeria Bianco, see this thread for a variety of opinions:

    As for other suggestions, how about posting a bit more about where you'll be staying, your price range, your food preferences, etc.? That would allow for some helpful recommendations to emerge.

    4 Replies
    1. re: silverbear

      Our price range is probably about mid range - not too expensive, but not fast food. We'll be all around the Phoenix Metro area, so that isn't limiting, either.

      1. re: christylynn

        Thanks for the detail. In addition to the numerous excellent suggestions below, I would add the following for your consideration:

        Sierra Bonita Grill
        Phoenix City Grille
        Cafe Boa
        Blue Adobe Grill
        Lola's Tapas
        Trente-Cinq 35
        Pita Jungle

        These are some of my favorites from recent months in the moderate price range. All are somewhat different than the mainstream chain and tourist-oriented restaurants. Search with those names here and on the Web for reviews and more information.

        1. re: silverbear

          Others to consider:
          Coronado Cafe

          1. re: El Dupree

            absolutely on zest and padres. i was underwhelmed by coronado cafe. if was good, but not outstanding.

    2. First and foremost please don’t take this as a bashing – but Rustlers Rooste is for gullible tourists. Resort influenced, overpriced and not very good food or service. If your intent is some sort of “Western” experience there are many options available that will give you a better combination of food, atmosphere and value. Off hand I would consider the Buffalo Chip in Cave Creek, Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse or event the recently moved Rawhide. Heck – I think I would even say go to Monti’s La casa Vieja in downtown Tempe. If you want to enjoy the view from Rustlers Rooste, plan for a late afternoon drive up to the top of South Mountain, pack a little vino and enjoy the sights then head back into town for a good meal. Leaving South Mountain Regional Park, you could hit Durant’s downtown – old school steak house or many an alternate fine steak house.

      Is your thought’s about going to Sam’s a desire to do a more upscale Southwestern feel & menu? If that is the case then swap Sam’s out for Barrio Café in Phx (16th Street ~around Thomas??) or Los Sombreros which is in south Scottsdale, close to Osborn and Scottsdale Rd.

      Others may have many an alternate suggestion – but thought I’d pitch these as a few thoughts.


      1. In no particular order:

        Pizzeria Bianco
        Barrio Cafe
        La Grand Orange Pizzeria
        Phoenix Ranch Market Food Court

        For fine dining:

        Coup des Tartes

        1. For a true "Phoenix" experience try "El Chorro Lodge","Lon's" at the Hermosa Inn,"The Stockyards"or "Monti's La Casa Vieja".
          For Mexican try "Los Dos Molinos" or "Rosita's Place"

          1. When it comes to advice for visitors, I'm always torn by "great food" vs "unique to Arizona experiences." Good foodies will be happy to stare at a parking lot or train tracks if the nosh is nice. But for trippers, they want to take pics and tell tales of their unique travels.


            1 Reply
            1. re: tastyjon

              Seth Chadwick is dead on the money for Phoenix Ranch Market. It's as close as you can get to taking a trip to Mexico without driving for hours. There are two different dining options there, both are stellar. Inside the store is the food court Seth mentioned, where you can get tons of killer chow for some of the best prices in town. Adjacent to the store is Tradiciones, a full-service restaurant. It's worth your time to at least stroll the courtyard here, it's a really beautiful space. If you go to Tradiciones, stick with menu items written mostly in Spanish. If the description is entirely English, it will be pretty boring food. My favorite so far is La Parrillada, a giant platter of freshly grilled meats with all kinds of grilled veggies on the side, along with guacamole, rice, charro beans, and freshly made tortillas.