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PHX - Places that have never let you down

A lot of restaurants seem to be hit or miss. Great one visit, middling or worse the next. What are some of the places that never seem to let you down? The ones I for me are:

1. Shish Kabob House. It's almost always empty when we go, yet the food has been excellent on every visit. The hummus alone usually brings us, but the gyros and koubedah are also first rate.

2. The Farmhouse. There's always a line and the wait is usually longer than it takes to order and eat. Outstanding scrambles, great bacon, and those cinnamon rolls... Caloric heaven.

3. JP Pancake. Again, another busy breakfast place that has a line, although here it takes longer to order and eat. But the food is worth it. The cinnamon French toast is my favorite, after the Frosted Flake-crusted French toast at the Phoenician. The wait staff is fun, too. Rachel gets pretty feisty, especially if you don't ask for no butter before she sets your plate down. If you've seen it, you know what I mean.

4. Welcome Diner. Simple menu, great food. My favorite hot dogs. Not for the claustrophobic. Semi-uncomfortable stools.

5. Tokyo Lobby. My favorite sushi place. The food has always been amazing, both in taste and presentation. I've been for dinner and lunch, and both were done to the same standard. Even the basic rolls seem to have a little something extra. Like the cinnamon in the shrimp tempura. I love the Monkey Brains. Don't ask, just order. :)

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    1. In no particular order:
      Restaurant Mexico
      Caffe Boa
      Los Sombreros
      Such is Life/Asi es La Vida
      Filito's (RIP)

      1. NEVER let me down? Hmm ... That's a Wrap -- hundreds of lunches there, all good -- specials, regular wraps, soups, all fabulous ... Akaihana, Sushi Ko, Kampai and Dozo -- excellent sushi, every time, many, many visits ... Pizza Town in Tempe, one of my faves since 1983 (haven't been there for a year or so -- still around? Please advise) ... Pane Bianco -- outstanding every time. The three regular sandwiches are superb, yet the daily market sandwich is frequently just too good to pass up.

        Oh, yeah -- Blue Fin, Central Avenue ... dozens of wonderful lunches, with everyone one served up fresh, hot, reasonably priced, and with warmth and friendship. Love the lightly char-broiled chicken and fresh steamed vegetables over brown rice, and the curry bowls.

        7 Replies
          1. re: abbefaith

            I'm not sure of the address, but I think Seth reviewed it at some point, so his site probably has the address in the review.

            1. re: abbefaith

              This seems accurate.

              That's A Wrap
              800 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

            2. re: misohungrychewlow

              That's a Wrap is on the west side of 7th Street, north of Palm Lane, south of Monte Vista, slightly south of a Coco's. It's in a ramshackle old house with a small parking lot and a big sign out front.

              That's A Wrap
              800 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

              1. re: misohungrychewlow

                Damon Brasch, owner of That's a Wrap, also owns the vegan restaurant "Green" on McKellips and Scottsdale Rd. I love almost everything I've tried there!! (Salads, apps, sides, rice and noodle bowls, sandwiches, pizzas, and desserts.) Fantastic little place.

                1. re: starlightjulian

                  Yeah, I haven't seen Damon around much at That's A Wrap lately, but kudos to him and the staff for maintaining a high quality vibe and great food experience at a nice price. I haven't been to Green yet, but even though I'm an omnivore, I have little doubt that I'll find good eats there.

                  1. re: misohungrychewlow

                    Do yourself a favor and visit Green soon! Their chicken substitute is very good-just don't order the Buffalo chicken wings (they're made of mushrooms and are very stringy). The jerk salad and the spicy peanut salad are great!! I've tried the mock chicken and the crispy tofu... sublime!! Though I haven't tried it, yet, I've been told by many that the "No harm chicken parm" is delicious. Honestly, I've tried most of the menu items with delicious results, with only a handful of misses, thus far.

                    Please let me know what you think!

                    2240 N Scottsdale Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281

            3. Durant's
              Pepe's Taco Villa
              Fry Bread House
              Red Devil (McDowell location)
              Pedro's (Glendale)

              1 Reply
              1. re: Seth Chadwick

                I forgot Red Devil on my list, although I'm not a fan of the atmosphere at the McDowell location. The Bell Rd. restaurant makes me happier for some reason.

              2. Shish Kabob House -- is that the place next to Restaurant 28? I've always wondered if that was any good.

                4 Replies
                1. re: grrlscout

                  I don't know Restaurant 28. Shish Kabob House is the SE corner of Olive and 51st Ave. Don't let the nearly empty restaurant fool you. It's got some great food, especially the hummus.

                  1. re: Firenza00

                    That's the one! I'll have to check it out sometime. Hummmmmmmmus.

                    Check out Restaurant 28 for some soul food, if you dig that sort of thing.

                  2. re: grrlscout

                    Yes, Restaurant 28 and the Shish Kebab House are located in the same ugly strip mall. I've never tried 28, but SKH is quite good. The hummus, rice, and kebabs are consistently high quality. The only thing we haven't liked is the falafel, which we found dry, crumbly, and bland. My experience has been that falafel is consistently good only when served in Israeli, Lebanese, or Egyptian restaurants. In Persian, Turkish, Greek, and other peripherally Middle Eastern restaurants, the falafel generally suffers. A lot of these restaurants offer falafel because customers expect it, but they don't do it justice. Enjoy SKH by sticking to the more Persian parts of the menu, as well as Middle Eastern staples such as hummus that are hard to prepare badly.

                  3. Cornish Pasty Company never disappoints!!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: ggdinero

                      Almost never. The one time I was a little let down was the Chicken Alfredo. It was just utterly bland. Other than that one time, though, I'm totally with you.

                      1. re: ggdinero

                        Love the pasties at CPC, but they take so da*n long to cook!! (They're pre-made and frozen, and cooking times are close to 20 minutes. Special orders require at least an hour, but you really should call 80 minutes ahead.)

                        1. re: starlightjulian

                          It's better than them being precooked and reheated.

                          1. re: kindofabigdeal

                            Don't get me wrong, I'm all for fresh food!! I was just very annoyed that, after my calling in my order an hour beforehand during a break at work and arriving ten minutes late, I still had to wait another 15 minutes for my food to arrive to my table. I then had to wait ANOTHER ten minutes for the pasties to cool off so that I could eat without burning my mouth! I get very cranky when hungry, and I get even crankier when I have to wait for food that was supposed to be ready half an hour ago... I guess I wouldn't do well as a guest in Ramsay's The F Word... :)

                      2. In random order:
                        Cowboy Ciao
                        Caffe Boa (on Mill)
                        Sportsman's (for wine and cheese)
                        Drive-thru Berto chains for bean & cheese burritos
                        Mastro's and Ocean Club

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                          I will pirate half of Kirsten's list:
                          Cowboy Ciao
                          Caffe Boa (on Mill)

                          and add a few of my own:
                          Sea Saw
                          T Cook's
                          Coupe des Tartes

                        2. Never?

                          Vincent's at Camelback
                          Pizza Bianco

                          Then again, I'm from Pittsburgh and we don't have decent upscale SW/Mex or pizza in these parts, so I tend to make a point of visiting those two places when in town.

                          1. As Romeo Void said way back in the 80s (dating myself here): "Never say never."

                            In other words, the better a restaurant is, the higher my expectations rise and the more sensitive I become to minor slips. I think Tarbell's, T. Cook's, and Durant's, to name three examples, are all excellent restaurants. Nevertheless, I've experienced minor slips during meals at all three. None were incidents that would cause me not to come back; in fact, they were all minor mistakes that were corrected promptly and graciously. Still, I guess I'll never experience perfection because outstanding performance at a restaurant always raises my expectations for the future.

                            With that in mind, the restaurants listed in my Chowhound profile are those that come the closest to never letting me down:

                            T. Cook's
                            Pita Jungle
                            Super Dragon
                            Cafe Lalibela

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: silverbear

                              I've only been to T. Cook's once. Loved it, but having taking way too many engineering classes, I can't really use that as a good statistical sample. :) Lon's was on a roll until this last Valentine's Day, otherwise it would have made my list.

                              1. re: Firenza00

                                Your mention of Lon's is interesting to me. We loved it initally, though there were a few problems with their wine glasses. They got that under control, and we were big fans. Then, we did two events there, and they really, really dropped the ball. We changed venues for several events, until Mr Unger hosted a party, that we attended. He inquired as to why we had canceled several events, and had not been back. I told him the specifics. He asked that we give it another go, and we did. Things were good again. It would be interesting to input our experiences and look at the graph. Right now, they are riding high, but I still recall the "bad old days," so they could not make my list.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Our first visit was Valentine's 05 and great. We did a birthday dinner and that went good as well. We did the brunch last spring and it was also a good time. This past Valentines was a major let down. I think I posted about it at the time. We had 8pm reservations and didn't get seated until 8:45. Our server treated us differently than the other 4 tables around us she had. Our water glasses were empty and even after asking a couple time for refills and making eye contact with her, they stayed empty. The food was also a let down compared to our other visits. And the "it was a special event night" excuse doesn't cut it because our first visit was also on a Valentine's, and it went flawlessly.

                              2. re: silverbear

                                Yeah, NEVER is a hard word.

                                Ever the optimist, I considered places that I can't say that I ever had a bad experience and feel 100% confident sending a friend there and in fact all memories are fond, if not perfect. :)

                                1. re: silverbear

                                  It's nice to hear that you did not hold a grudge, when things went wrong. I am not quite so forgiving, though I am working on it. In Hawai`i, I had a bad experience many years ago. My wife urged me to go back to that establishment, and it's now on my top ten list on O`ahu.

                                  I had a single bad course (actually, my wife did) at a spot on the North Shore, O`ahu. They went out of their way to make up for the problem, and I am making reservations for our next trip. Things happen, and they did more than I did, or could have, asked, to make it better. It wasn't perfect, but they did much more than I expected to see that we were pleased with the total experience. See, I am learning!


                                2. Interesting thread. For ME, the list is short:

                                  Vincent's on Camelback (others will disagree, as they HAVE been let down)
                                  Cowboy Ciao
                                  elements @ The Sanctuary (again, others have had different experiences)
                                  El Bravo

                                  Beyond that, all others have been uneven on some point, or another.


                                    1. re: kittyfood

                                      I DEFINITELY second this. It's one of those places I love and will always love. The simple dinner salad is yummy and the rigatoni is fantastic.

                                    2. Richardson's
                                      Delhi Palace
                                      La Parilla Suiza

                                      I don't visit really high-end joints enough to claim to have never been disappointed. I can say Cowboy Ciao, but I've only bee there four or five times over the last five years so it's hard to develop a pattern. Does that make sense?

                                      The places I listed above have proven to me over time and frequent visits that I can show up on any given day and walk out with a happy belly.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mamamia

                                        Ooh! I forgot about Richardson's...that would be on my list too.

                                      2. cool topic - sorry ive been away for a chunk of this week :

                                        in no particular order :

                                        pane bianco
                                        pizzeria bianco
                                        matts big breakfast
                                        phx ranch market

                                        1. It's a very rare thing for a restaurant not to slip so I think the only two who haven't for me are Va Bene and Cyclo (not surprisingly two of my favorite restaurants in the Valley).

                                          1. I am going to name a few that I did not see:
                                            Barrio Cafe - PHX
                                            Tomaso's -Camelback only
                                            John Henry's -Tempe
                                            Marcellino -Phx

                                            1. Barrio Cafe
                                              Pizzeria Bianco
                                              Pita Jungle (Tempe & Chandler)
                                              El Sol Mexican Food and Bakery (Chandler)
                                              Joes BBQ (Gilbert)

                                              1. I've never been let down at Mishima Sushi on 56th St and Thomas. It's a hole-in-the-wall between Domino's and Savers, but it's fantastic and really reasonably priced. Their sushi is awesome and I recently tried the grilled chicken teriyaki, and that was great too! I go ther at least once a week for sushi.
                                                I also love Barrio - the food has always been exceptional, the atmosphere rocks, and they have this drink with grapefruit juice that is to die for!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ckone1

                                                  Try the calamari at Mishimi if you haven't had it. I know, I know, calamari, very overdone, but their version is excellent.