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Fast, high-quality food in Phoenix

I'm looking for a gem in Phoenix. Is there anything fast, clean, cheap and delicious that can be recommended? Or maybe some where that's just impressive to see? Chains as well as Mom and Pops are welcome.

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  1. Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix has the best pizza I've ever tasted, along with great salads and good wine. It is fast (assuming you get there before the line forms), clean, cheap (although not cheap compared to Pizza Hut pizzas), and delicious. It is a gem.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Dallas Alice

      Chris Bianco is one of the proponents of the Slow Food movement. His restaurants aren't fast; that's one reason why he gave up serving lunch at the pizzeria several years ago.

      1. re: misohungrychewlow

        actually chris and chrysa kaufman from rancho pinot started slow food phoenix...

        but that doesn't have anything to do with whether or not it will take awhile to eat your food ;) the name 'slow food' came as a reaction to the attempt to put a mcdonalds at the roman steppes. carlo petrini, the founder, said 'we don't need more fast food, we need more slow food', and thus the name was born.

        1. re: winedubar

          I don't think miso is claiming that Bianco founded the local convivium -- just that he's been affiliated with the movement, a claim which a quick Web search along the lines of "chris bianco" "slow food" confirms.

          I agree that there can be slow-foodish places that serve quickly, though. Essence Bakery Cafe (in the old Sabuddy site in Tempe) is one of them. Essence's food is quite good, although it may not satisfy the OP's criterion of cheap. Personally, I find it overpriced, but those willing to pay a premium for local and organic might not feel the same way.

          Essence Bakery Cafe
          825 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

          1. re: silverbear

            i think its pretty well known that he's involved/co-founder of the convivium.if memory serves he puts our logo - the snail - on his menu. don't quote me tho - i always get the wiseguy and spiedini so i don't usually look at the menu. im such a creature of habit :D

            my intention was just to explain what slow food meant. there's a common misconception that slow food means food cooked slowly or food that has to be eaten slowly, or leisurely paced meals.

            i was simply hoping to explain that the whole slow food movement is a reaction to the proliferation of fast food at the expense of local food traditions and culture.

            sorry for the thread hijack!!!!

            1. re: winedubar

              This is true -- regardless, watch them make sandwiches at Pane Bianco or pizzas at the pizzeria. The work is always done at a deliberate pace, no matter how many people may be waiting. The people in front work the same way. If you're the only one there, you will get your sandwich in about 5-8 minutes. If there are a few people in line, or if you hit the rush, you will be waiting. You will never see anyone hop or sprint or burst about in a Bianco establishment.

              1. re: misohungrychewlow

                Good point. Pane Bianco is a fast option at off-peak times, but the wait to be called back to the counter to pick up an order can be noticeable during the lunch rush.

                1. re: silverbear

                  I've always gone to PB just a few minutes before 11, wait outside Lux and am back in my car by 11:05 with my lunch.

      2. re: Dallas Alice

        While Pizzeria Bianco definitely does not meet the OP's criteria, Pane Bianco, the owner's sandwich shop, probably does -- except perhaps the criterion of cheap. Nevertheless, I do find Pane Bianco's somewhat high prices are offset by portions generous enough for sharing.

        Pane Bianco
        4404 N Central Ave Ste A, Phoenix, AZ 85012

      3. for me 'clean, fast and cheap' is usually cherry blossom noodle cafe...ALMOST healthy ;)

        for 10 bucks you can get some sushi and a salad and miso. their iced green tea is good too

        or switch. just don't go at lunch because there's a line out the door. dinner or weekends? not so much

        1. My faves in my usual territory of Central Phoenix and Tempe:

          Yasda Bento -- quick, tasty Japanese food Downtown on Adams Street.

          Suenos New Mexican Cafe -- New Mexican and Mexican specialties on Washington Street just east of Downtown

          Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli -- The name says it all. On 16th St. b/w Osborn and Thomas

          Focaccia Fiorentina -- Sandwiches and pastas Downtown on Central between Adams and Monroe

          Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli -- Sandwiches and pasta dishes on Roosevelt at the north end of Downtown Phoenix.

          In Season Deli -- In the courtyard shops on the 400 block of Mill Avenue in Downtown Tempe

          Med Fresh Grill -- Turkish and Meditteranean food, also on the 400 block of Mill Avenue

          Based on my experiences, all meet your criteria of fast, clean, cheap, and delicious. Pizzeria Bianco (mentioned above) is certainly clean, delicious, and reasonably priced, but it's hardly fast, no matter how early one arrives.

          Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli
          1001 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003

          In Season Deli
          414 S Mill Ave Ste 111, Tempe, AZ 85281

          Yasda Bento
          18 W Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85003

          Suenos New Mexican Cafe
          1010 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

          Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli
          3052 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

          Focaccia Fiorentina
          112 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

          Med Fresh
          414 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

          1. D'oh! How could I forget these gems:

            Fry Bread House -- Better than at the State Fair and available year-round. On the bendy part of 7th Ave just above Indian School in Midtown.

            Ranch Market Food Court -- Mexican treats inside the big supermarket at 16th St. and Roosevelt

            La Tolteca -- All sorts of Mexican treats on Van Buren east of Downtown

            Carolina's -- Great burrtios in South Phoenix near the airport rental car center. It doesn't look clean, but it gets regular gold and silver awards.

            Super L Ranch Market -- Good Chinese, especially Taiwanese, eats at the food court inside this supermarket on 44th St.

            Knock Kneed Lobster -- Fish and chips; unbelievably good hush puppies at 32nd St. & Washington on north side of Airport

            Phoenix Ranch Market III
            1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

            Carolina's Mexican Food Restaurant
            1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

            La Tolteca
            1205 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

            Super L Ranch Market
            668 N 44th St, Phoenix, AZ 85008

            Knock Kneed Lobster
            3202 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

            Fry Bread House
            4140 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

            1. Great lists. I will also add That's A Wrap on 7th street. Who can go wrong with a wrap with a fun name like "Prince of Thai’s" or "Tipper And Alba-Gore Tuna".


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

              1. While I do love Pizzeria Bianco and Fry Bread House, I don't think they can qualify for the "fast" requisite.

                5 Replies
                1. re: mamamia

                  I definitely agree about PB. It's a full service restaurant, it's notorious for its long wait for tables, and its proprietor has been active in the Slow Food movement. Those characteristics disqualify it from "fast" status in my thinking. I'm curious, though, about your statement regarding FBH. I always get my food within five or ten minutes of placing an order at the counter.

                  1. re: silverbear

                    I second carolina's, excellent tortilla's. You should also try el molino on buckboard in Scottsdale.

                      1. re: johnseberg

                        Is this the same El Molino that was long ago (in the '90s) in a freestanding shack on Scottsdale Rd?

                    1. re: silverbear

                      I don't. When I think, "Let's grab a quick bite...: FBH never comes to mind.

                      This doesn't mean that I don't love it, it's just not what I would call fast. Furthermore, frybread, posole, and green chile are not foods I would want to eat fast. So from my perspective there's nothing fast about it.

                      Maybe it's in the interpretation of the OP's request. I read it as "I don't have a lot of time to grab a bite. Give me some ideas so I'm not stuck in the drive thru line or Subway."

                  2. FoodBar in Old Town Scottsdale

                    Similar to a high end Deli, you select from a variety of breakfast or regular meal choices at a counter then grab a seat. Within a few minutes you're chowing down on good quality fare, much of it organic and/or local (except for the Mexican Coke!)- and all made fresh daily.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tastyjon

                      FoodBar is closed for the summer. It says for reconstruction, but I've heard its due to profits. They're re-opening for the season.

                    2. Kokopelli Grill @ 20th & Highland meets your criteria. So does La Mesa BBQ downtown on Adams between Central and 1st Ave. I'd also include Yoshi's on Central at Indian School, which I think is better -- and less expensive -- than Yasda Bento downtown, which used to be a Yoshi's. For a sit-down place, Restaurant Mexico on Mill in downtown Tempe is qucik, clean, friendly and tasty. The Wildflower Bread Co. stores are pretty quick in putting together some very nice sandwiches; several are scattered across the valley.

                      1. Love the Chuckbox in Tempe, next to ASU on University..
                        Best burger..imo

                        1. All (well, most) of the above, and Chino Bandido Takee-Outee! It definitely takes the cake for strangest restaurant concept... mexican/chinese combination plates. We aren't talking just sweet and sour chicken with refried beans on the side. We're talking teriyaki chicken quesadillas and egg foo yung burritos with jerk chicken fried rice and Cuban spiced black beans on the side. Somehow, it works, and works very well indeed. Most notable is the Jade Red Chicken, somewhere in between sweet & sour and a General Tso's. It's really good as the filling of a quesadilla. And what's not to like about a place that gives you a complimentary snickerdoodle with your meal?

                          Of the ones that have already been mentioned, I can vouch very much for Pane Bianco, Phoenix Ranch Market (and if you need to cater a party for 50 in less than half an hour, their takeout counter can do it with the family packs), Carolina's (take home a dozen tortillas to go. You will not have 12 in the bag once you get home), and the Fry Bread House. Pizzeria Bianco is extremely delicious but just is not going to be a quick bite no matter what; either you wait out front for 45 minutes plus before they open, or wait in the bar for 90 after they open. Fry Bread House is usually reasonably quick, but is hardly ever empty.

                          And while the Chuck Box may be good, Delux is better.

                          Oooo! Just remembered! Ted's Hot Dogs! It's over in Tempe, takes cash only, and puts out a serious contender for best hot dogs in town. They char-broil them, and open up the casings so that they get some smoke. A dog, onion rings, and a lingonberry drink, and you're set. If you like corn dogs, they have some great ones.

                          Ted's Charcoal Broiled Hot Dogs
                          1755 E Broadway Rd, Tempe, AZ 85282

                          Chino Bandido
                          1825 W Chandler Blvd Ste 2, Chandler, AZ 85224

                          Chino Bandido
                          15414 N 19th Ave Ste K, Phoenix, AZ 85023

                          1. I know there will be disagreement, but I personally like Zoes. I always get the Lean Turkey Pita. I have never had a bad experience at either of the two Zoes locations I frequent. Note that there is no longer a location on Central. (I linked to the McDowell and Camelback locations in my post, but only one showed up. I went back to edit and the 'add a link' function isn't available. Guess that is why it is still in beta. ;-)

                            Zoe's Kitchen
                            521 W McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85003

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: pickychick

                              I think Zoe's is ok. We go there for dinner on Friday nights sometimes when mommy is just too beat to cook.

                              The food is basic to a point where it's almost too basic, but it's fresh and definitely quick.


                              1. re: mamamia

                                Zoe's is healthy, but is the blandest food I have ever had at a restaurant. They have taken the idea of simple, clean ingredients to the extreme... I think they don't believe in flavor. I go there when I have to, but Pita Jungle is much tastier for the type of food and speed of service.

                            2. I like Wrap N Frappe in N. Scottsdale. They are not terribly fast, though they are supposed to be. I don't think they have the speed thing down yet but they do some distinctive wraps. I read a review of the place in the AZ Republic two years ago and went on opening weekend. I have been going back ever since. The Owner is a CIA trained Chef if I remember right. They make the wraps fresh as you order on an expensive tortilla press. The Skirt Steak is great with thin onion rings. I cut and pasted their address below. It is a bit out of the way, north of 101 on Hayden but it is worth the drive from North Phoenix or Scottsdale.

                              Wrap-N-Frappe Gourmet Wraps & Smoothies
                              20511 N. Hayden Rd Scottsdale, AZ
                              480) 513-WRAP (9727)

                              In that area I also like Prickly Pear Fresh Mexican Grill. It is near Raintree and the 101. Raintree and Northsight. They make their own tortillas too. (I see a theme here). They have a great sweet carnitas burrito that my wife and friends love but I like the traditional pork carnitas. It has that crunchy salty texture of authentic carnitas. It gets a bit crowded at lunch time but they are fast. It is a little undiscovered at dinner and there is almost no wait most of the time. Oh and the desserts, especially the quatros leche are really good. You don't think of that for most Mexican places which serve friend ice cream etc.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Wandrr

                                I like Kokopelli Fresh Mexican Grill in Chandler (at the corner of Arizona Ave and Ocotillo Rd). I love their spicy chicken burrito. Mmm.