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Favorite "Unknown Restaurants" - Phoenix

I see the same places popping up again and again on here....which is probably because they're great places. But I thought it would be fun if everyone named one restaurant that they think the rest of us have never heard of....those off-the-beaten path places that you would only go into if someone else tolf you how great it was.

I'll start: Frasher's, on Scottsdale/Oak. Serves many of the favorites of St Louis, my hometown, including St Louis Style pizza (extremely thin, cut in squares, unique Provel cheese), toasted raviolis and gooey butter cake. Not fine dining by any measure, but a real taste of home and something different for the rest of you.

Anyone else want to jump in?

Frasher's Restaurant
2122 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

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  1. Andreoli's Italian Grocer 90th and Via Linda

    I helps if you speak italian here. This place is the real deal, little deli style place, everything made onsite, has great Panini sandwiches, grilled calamarie to die for, in the evening he does a few fish specials and pasta specials. Opened april 2007

    1. Voltaire in Scottsdale. A quite French restaurant that serves classic French cuisine with tableside preparations of Crepe Suzette and Cherries Jubilee. It has the best French Onion Soup in the Valley and two can eat quite handsomely for about $100 including appetizer, entree, dessert and a glass of wine.

      8340 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

      1 Reply
      1. re: Seth Chadwick

        So glad that you mentioned Voltaire. What I love is the whole gestalt of the place: the widely separated tables that give privacy; the quiet of the dining room; the classical guitar playing in the background; and the professionalism of the servers. And then we can discuss the food which is, abnd has always been, consistently good.

      2. You really never hear much about Razz or Atlas Bistro on this board. They have been two of my favorite places. Razz is at the corner of Shea and Scottsdale Road, Atlas Bistro is through the AZ Wine Co. at about Thomas and Scottsdale Road.


        It is especially nice to request seats at the chef's bar, then order his tasting menu. He will fix as many small plates as you desire. Lots of fun watching Razz cook and listen to his stories as you sip some wine.


        Atlas is unique in that it is a byob restaurant. Bring your own bottle or shop at the AZ Wine Co. on the way to the door to the restaurant and pickup a reasonably priced bottle to enjoy with dinner. They have very nice three and four course fixed price menu's, beautiful food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: duck833

          Razz is a good friend and definitely one of our favorite restaurants in town....he never disappoints!

        2. I really enjoy Fusion - its tucked away on a side street close to Scottsdale Fashion Square.

          3 Replies
          1. I like Italian Grotto in Old Town Scottsdale, never seems to be too busy, but great Italian food and friendly service. Best Chicken Picatta I've had in a long time. Always a fun vibe going on since the small bar is integrated into the dining room.

            1. Well, here comes my list.

              My Florist for the light food and the pianist who is one of the music world's undiscovered treasure. My Florist opens for breakfast and stays open late (hurray, there is one!) which makes it a find after theater or some event downtown. The food is sandwiches, salads, and improbably a full bar.

              No one seems to mention Kinkaid's in the Collier Center. Not gourmet but not unsatisfactory, it seems to be the only upscale game in town prior to events at Symphony Hall.

              Basis in Phoenix is a relatively unknown treasure. The menu is creative; the food delicious; the place has a very pleasant buzz and the staff is attentive. Try this one for sure.

              Kincaid's Fish Chop/Steakhouse
              2 South Third Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004

              1 Reply
              1. re: Yummye

                I definitely agree about Kincaid's. It's underappreciated.

                As for My Florist, I've heard rumors that the restaurant does not have a stove! If so, that would explain why the menu is sandwiches, salads, etc. all day. I've always found My Florist satisfactory for lunch, but would really prefer some hot entrees for dinner.

                My Florist Cafe
                534 W McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85003

              2. I'll mention an east valley one I frequent that never gets much "air time"

                Buritto Azteca - casual, .99 cent tacos, cold beer, great salsa bar and family owned. Menudo & posole on weekends. LOVE IT

                1. I'm going to nominate two favorite places in west Mesa. Both are overlooked because they're in a half-empty shopping center in an area torn up for light rail construction.

                  Asian Cafe Express is great Cantonese food and, despite its name, is not fast food. Instead, it's a full service restaurant with a menu ranging from familiar Americanized entrees to exotic dishes not usually seen on local menus. In fact, the most interesting dishes served are not on the printed menu, but instead on hand-written signs on the wall.

                  Grill El Quetzal serves Guatemalan food. Think lots of seafood, thick corn tortillas, and rice. The food is flavorful but not spicy. Every time I go to this place, my party are the only customers; I don't know how the restaurant stays in business, but its food is consistently excellent. A liquor license is pending, so beer may be available starting in January. Service is quite friendly, although a little Spanglish may be helpful in ordering.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: silverbear

                    Place links for my choices:

                    Grill El Quetzal
                    1933 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201

                    Asian Cafe Express
                    1911 W Main St, Mesa, AZ 85201

                    1. re: silverbear

                      You've mentinoed Grill El Quetzal before Silverbear...I've got to get there soon! I think that should be one of my January resolutions to finally get up there and try it...I remember you suggesting it after we'd been to Maya Quetzal in Tucson for the first time earlier this year...we're not really drinkers and our spanglish is pretty decent so we should be in good shape!

                      We really like Spices at McClintock and Ray. Little counter service Israeli place that opened earlier this year. Run by the nicest guy and serving fantastic falafel and hummus among other tasty goodies(the haloumi salads and the chicken schwarma are other favorites)

                      1. re: ziggylu

                        Oh yes, I can't say enough about Spices...labor of love for a family and the food is very, very good.

                  2. I am glad this thread finally took off; I felt like a real loser when I lobbed it out there and got no response! :-)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: ejs1492

                      Nah - some of us simply can't remember the name of that divey little taco shop or no frills place we stop in from time to time when running about!

                      1. re: tastyjon

                        speaking of which: i could go for a good carne asada burrito today. Any ideas?

                        1. re: ejs1492

                          El Molino in Old Town has been growing on me. It's a tad overpriced for a plastic fork place, no free chips/salsa, but their green chile burrito hits the spot if you like "hotter" burritos.

                          1. re: ejs1492

                            America's Taco Shop on 7th street just north of McDowell and Los Taquitos on Eliott in Ahwautukee have the best carne asada in Phoenix. There is an extensive thread on carne asada elsewhere on this board.

                            1. re: Poerz

                              I would incude Gallo Blanco on with those two. In fact, they make the best carne asada taco I have eaten anywhere.

                      2. A few faves I don't often see much about: That Italian Place (formerly MaryAnn & Richie's) in Ahwatukee has superb lasagna and bolognese, and they're doing Sunday brunch now, too. Just omelets, sandwiches, etc., but the ingredients and preparations are top-notch. Mary Ann and Richie sold it, but she is still in the kitchen and I think it's even better. Also, A Touch of European Cafe in downtown Glendale has amazing Polish food. I also like Bista's Deli on Happy Valley just east of I-17. Dooby's Grill Cafe in Mesa rivals Spices for Middle Eastern/Mediterranean.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: 1wino

                          MaryAnn and Richie's changed hands? Huh...we'll have to try it again...we've been a few times and really wanted to like it but were always put off by the attitude of the owners.

                          We like Dooby's a lot as well...particularly for the lentil soup which I really like there..but since Spices opened have to give them the nod in this part of town as being a bit better for falafel and hummus(I prefer the lamb at Dooby's however). Do like the fact Dooby's offers table service though and we still get up there as well...usually when we need to pick stuff up next door at Giado's...

                          1. re: ziggylu

                            Wow, I'm surprised that you got a bad attitude at Mary Ann & Richie's. That's too bad. Angelo is still the maitre d', but I always had great service from him. And the daughter is still at the bar, and she's always smiling and friendly. Anyway, the new owner, Larry, is a great host, so I don't think you'll have a problem. Give it a try. Call ahead to see if Mary Ann's making bolognese; I think you will like it.

                            1. re: ziggylu

                              I too am surprised that you got poor service and attitude at Mary Ann and Richie's. I moved here from New York City last year and had been hankering for some good "NY Italian" for a long time, and this is a relatively unknown treasure. Excellent lasagna, great service. The family is from Brooklyn originally and I had a fabulous time at their restaurant reminscing. By the time we were walking out the door, Mary Ann's daughter was giving us hugs. I can't wait to go back. I just hope that the food is the same because of the sale!

                          2. Cornish Pasty Co in Tempe. The pasties are very good and they have a ridiculous number of choices, some pretty unusual. Casual place, very small... definitely not the place to go with a group because you won't be able to sit together! They have a great beer list, too.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: jcoz23

                              thanks for the pasty kitchen. I didn't think you could get pasties here. Too bad they're so overpriced.


                              1. re: danimal57

                                $6-7 for a lunch that leaves me stuffed? Not my definition of overpriced.

                                1. re: danimal57

                                  Not mine either. Of course, I have no idea of what pasties cost in Cornwall, but the prices at CPC are certainly comparable to other lunch options along University Drive.

                                  Cornish Pasty Co
                                  960 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

                                  1. re: danimal57

                                    Overpriced? Quite the opposite! These are quite large, and considering the quality I would consider it a top runner for Best Bang for the Buck in town.

                                2. Tandoori Village on 43rd Ave. & Bell in Glendale (or is it Phoenix?). We seem to have a mini-explosion of Indian restaurants in the area, which makes us very happy, but so far Tandoori Village is our favorite. The service is spotty indeed, but the food is flavorful and very reasonably priced.

                                  1. This is a tough one because it's hard to assume that many of the yummy places I've encountered are unknown to this chow-savvy crowd, but ... to name a few ... Calabria Grocery on Roosevelt at 3rd Ave. for very good Italian sandwiches ... Blue Fin on Central at Willetta for tasty rice bowl lunches ... Niccoli's Deli on 16th near Rose Lane for pizza and other Italian specialties ... Tokyo Stop at Priest and University for rice bowl-type lunches ... A Slice of Sicily, 38th and Indian School, for home-style checkered tablecloth type fare ... That's a Wrap on 7th north of Palm for wraps and fantastics soups, which are often vegan ... Kokopelli Grill at 20th and Highland for above-average fresh assembly-line burritos ... Dozo on Miller at 6th Ave. for excellent sushi and Japanese specialties ... Golden Wok on Cactus near Tatum for well-executed Chinese ... Chico's Taco's for solid fast gringo Mex, 7th St. and McDowell ... Back East Bagels, McClintock & Southern ... Mu Shu Asian Grill at 15th Ave. and Thomas for terrific assemble-yourself fresh stir-fry bowls ... La Tolteca, Van Buren near 12th St. for a broad range of Mexican fare -- also a market and a bakery ... Best of Philly, cheese steaks and other fast food, Central south of Thomas, next to Honey Bear's ... El Portal, 2nd St. and Grant, for cocido.

                                    1. Adrian's Parkplace at McQueen and Elliot...it's a little hole-in-the-wall that has great breakfast, and for lunch they have the best tuna melt I've ever had (along with tasty homemade potato chips).

                                      1. And a few more places to add: Pasta Brioni, Nick's on 100th and Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., and although it is a chain, Butterfields' for it's down-home type breakfasts.

                                        1. I'd have to go with Al-Hana @ Baiz Market for their kafta kebab and beef shawarma and also Elie's Deli for their lentil soup and beef feta gyro.

                                          Baiz Market
                                          523 N 20th St, Phoenix, AZ

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: azhotdish

                                            Placelink not working for Elie's Deli for some reason...

                                            Elie's Deli
                                            4502 E Thomas Rd
                                            Phoenix, AZ 85018

                                            1. re: azhotdish

                                              Second for Al-Hana. The chicken schwarma sandwich is my favorite.

                                              1. El Conquistador is a great little Mexican place on 32nd Street between Bell Rd. and Paradise Lane. It's in a seedy strip mall next to a Fascinations store, but the food is awesome and the friendly owners are always there. Get there early - they close around 8 p.m. most nights. If you're looking for an alternative to Postino in the North Central area, a new place called Bomberos just opened - it's in an old fire house instead of a post office. It's a great gathering place if you live in that neighborhood.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Beaver Street

                                                  Beav, where is Bomberos? That sounds great.

                                                  1. re: ajs228

                                                    east side of Central @ Alice (just south of Dunlap)


                                                    I've been hoping for reports from Phx hounds, but so far I've only found some Yelp reviews. If the SO is interested in going, maybe I'll check it out for myself this weekend.

                                                    1. re: hohokam

                                                      The food is definitely pretty simple (ala Postino), but that area of town is starved for places like this and it makes a great place for a quick lunch or a drink after work - plus there is a fun band on Saturday nights that has a great local following.

                                                2. Salerno's Pizza in east Gilbert for real Chicago pizza joint pizza and old-fashioned red sauce italian.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: zebcook

                                                    Agree with Aztec Burrito and Gril El Quetzal in Mesa. I would also add Rincon Peruano on Alma School for good Peruvian and Shaharzad Mediterranean Grill on McDowell and Scottsdale Rds. Even their lunch buffet is outstanding.

                                                    1. re: zebcook

                                                      We ate at Salerno's once. Pizza was good. My wife had a pasta dish which she said was bland. After I tasted it, we figured out that they had cooked the pasta with no salt. After talking to the owners, they confirmed this. Who cooks pasta without salt in the water??? Wierd.

                                                    2. Some new places we have enjoyed in the west Valley and that have very good food include Royal Gyros, 8275 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy. Peoria. You order at the counter. The food is freshly prepared. They have Mediterranean food including souvlaki, chicken gyros and also burgers.
                                                      Gelato Matto 20260 N 59th Ave, Glendale has great homemade gelato.
                                                      Tutti Santi by Nina, 19420 North 59th Ave, Glendale opened there less than one month ago. It is the fourth restaurant owned by the same family. At least one of the other restaurants is in Scottsdale. The food, decor and service were all very good. The restaurant with white table clothes, is pretty enough for a special evening out yet friendly and casual. All entrees include soup or house salad and are resonably priced. The ravioli, lasagna, and gnocchi are homemade. Cappellini del Dottore- capellini pasta with sauteed shrimp, spinach and topped with pine nuts is $18.95. Veal saltinbocca with mascarpone cheese, prosciutto with spinach and fettuccine alfredo is $23. The tiramisu is wonderful.

                                                      1. Why Cook? Restaurant and Bakery, SWC of Dobson & Guadalupe in Mesa.

                                                        Great Filipino food- try the Lumpia Shanghai, Lumpia Gulai, Diniguan, and Pancit Cantonese. They also do catering and lechon - whole roast pig - very well.

                                                        1. El Pollo Supremo (Tempe). Looks scary on the outside...just a little restaurant (sits maybe 20), but has the best grilled beef/chicken I have ever had in the valley. Everyone that I have ever dragged in there becomes a lifelong customer.


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: steveo_p

                                                            Oh, man. How could I have forgotten about that place?

                                                            That's some real finger-lickin' good chicken. :-)

                                                          2. Sophie's French Bistro
                                                            2320 E. Osborn Rd.

                                                            Fellow culinary student worked there and turned me on to it. Notoriously picky Wife just loved the place: food, atmosphere, everything. Fellow Student even noted that "a certain state high elected official" was a regular.

                                                            Sophie's French Bistro
                                                            2320 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                                                            1. I found this tiny little eatery in a brand new strip mall on Lindsay and Pecos in Gilbert called CHEF H Restaurant and Grill. It's brand new and virtually unknown, but it is wonderful! Mostly Mediterranean food, I picked a Mix and Max lunch special of chicken kabob, hummus and tabouli, but Chef H brought me a sample of all their sides to try. In the land of chain restaurants, I am really pleased that there is a place by my house like this. I will definitely be a regular.


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: ggdinero

                                                                Thanks for the recommendation! I tried this place for lunch today and it was great! I too got a free sampler plate upon my arrival. Delicious hummus, baba ganoush, Israeli salad, tabouli, beans with pineapple and some good couscous and saffron rice. I also ordered the Mix and Max for $8.99 and tried the Kafta. It was well cooked, well seasoned and very tasty! The word must be spreading because at one point a couple had to wait for a table. I loved how involved the chef was with the clientele - at one point he sat down at my table for a chat. I'm definitely putting this place on the rotation.

                                                              2. I am here from out of town for a few months. I come from an area that has exceptional and traditional Japanese food(not to mention that my wife is also Japanese). I used to live here and it was very hard to find a real Japanese restaurant, owned and operated by Japanese. Most of the ones we have tried locally had low quality sushi/sashimi. But I am happy that Sushi Ken (located in Ahwatukee I believe, Chandler Blvd and 40th or so). They very authentic Japanese dishes, for those that don't like the raw fish idea they have many other authentic items to choose from. Some of my favorites is Gyudon (beef), Chashu ramen (pork and noodle), Gyoza (pork dumpling) and Korokke (kinda like a large tatter tot). The sashimi is the best I have had in the Valley, very fresh and good quality. The waitress' are very friendly and speak English and Japanese very well. Sometime it gets busy and they don't seat you right away but it is still worth it. The pricing is very fair (about $8.50+ depending on what you have) considering some of the other places charge you more for lower quality. Their prices are very comparable to the prices at home but we get less quantity at home.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Sashimiguru

                                                                  This restaurant is located at 4206 E. Chandler BLVD. Phoenix

                                                                  1. re: Sashimiguru

                                                                    And here's the handy place link ;-) Sushi Ken is indeed a wonderful place, very very Japanese.

                                                                    Sushi Ken
                                                                    4206 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85048

                                                                2. This is a great idea. I'm lived in St.Louis from high school through college, and man... I really miss the restaurants (especially the stl style pizza). I can't wait to try Frasher's.

                                                                  I just moved here from Los Angeles, so I can't contribute much. ...Although there's this place called Sweet Home Chicago next to my workplace in Glendale (59th and Union Hills) that has awesome burgers. It reminds me of 'The Fatted Calf' in downtown Clayton next to the Radisson Hotel. Now if I could only find a place that's similar to Llywelyns Pub in the Central West End. I'd like a steak sandwich with pepper cheese and some home made potato chips.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: roy_be

                                                                    Would love to connect. I'm a Wash U guy. How can I contact you directly?

                                                                    1. re: roy_be

                                                                      just wanted to let you know that the link to your blog isn't working.

                                                                    2. Best pho and Vietnamese spring rolls in the Valley is at Maxim.

                                                                      Maxim Restaurant
                                                                      3424 N 19th Ave # 8, Phoenix, AZ

                                                                      1. Chuckbox for the best charbroiled cheese burgers..across from ASU on University in Tempe..
                                                                        Durant's for the best old school steak and seafood and a good stiff cocktail..downtown Phoenix.
                                                                        Teepee on 44th for Mexican..

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                          Decent choices, but they are among the most famous places in the Valley -- not "unknown ..." ;-)

                                                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                            One man's unknown is another man's known..or vice versa.
                                                                            Had to throw the choices out there just in case.. ;)

                                                                          2. Another "unknown" is Basilico in the small shopping center at E.Via Linda and E, Mountain View in Scottsdale. Basilico just moved from smaller space in the same mall into larger quarters. They have done quite a good job in re-decorating and the ambiance is very much a trattoria. Service is good; waiters are attentive and the food comes out of the kitchen piping hot in reasonable time.

                                                                            Obviously this is still one more Italian restaurant in the Valley which surely does not need another one, but the food is excellent. I have eaten their osso buco, and on two occasions escolar tuna which was delicious. Grilled, the fish was tender and moist.served with a light balsamic sauce and served over greens, The osso buco was also done just right.

                                                                            And although this is not intended to be low-end in price, their pizza which is available at dinner time is absolutely delicious (this from my pizza-maven husband who is on a life-quest for the best pizza).

                                                                            Basilico Italian Restaurant
                                                                            10155 E Via, Linda # G Scottsdale, AZ

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Yummye

                                                                              Great tip. Question: is it "family friendly" in the sense that we could bring a well behaved two year old there?

                                                                            2. Georges Gyros ...bell and the 17.....this place is awesome

                                                                              1. www.cafecarumba.com

                                                                                Cafe Carumba
                                                                                7303 E Indian School Rd
                                                                                Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                                                                                Great food and great drinks!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: carriedushey

                                                                                  Sorry, have to disagree on Carumba - have had regularly bad service (distracted waiter, slow service) and mediocre food (that is VERY slow in coming out of the kitchen) so many times in a row (at least 3 tries) that I won't go back.

                                                                                2. I am always surprised that Michelina’s on 32nd street and Shea doesn’t get more press. The owner/chef is from Naples and besides having lovely pasta the seafood selection is fantastic. My dad is a Cioppino snob and he’s deemed Michelina’s incredibly tasty (which is a rave review). It’s not always quiet and romantic inside, especially on a busy weekend evening, but the food is worth the noise level.

                                                                                  Michelina's Italian Cuisine
                                                                                  3241 E Shea Blvd # 13, Phoenix, AZ

                                                                                  1. I have a couple that I haven't seen on this list.

                                                                                    First is Capriotti's Sandwich Shop, which is on Chandler and 48th in Ahwatukee. Great turkey and roast beef (not sliced, but pulled). Their cheesesteaks are also great (best I have had). This is a "chain", but there are only 2 in Phoenix. I started going to them in Vegas when I lived there. Definitely try the Bobbie, or the Capistrami, which are other favorites of the house.

                                                                                    Arrivederci on Scottsdale and Thunderbird is one of my favorites for real Italian food here in the valley. The prices aren't too bad, and the food is very fresh. Limited selection, but what they have is excellent. They also have great service.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: tstrebel

                                                                                      Speaking of cheesesteaks, one of the best cheesesteak sandwiches I've had in a while was at Casella's Deli. Family owned for over 20 years, their menu is simple with just a couple items but everything on their is delicious.

                                                                                      Casella's Italian Delicatessen
                                                                                      5905 N Granite Reef Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

                                                                                    2. how does it compare to Imo's? I have been SERIOUSLY craving Imo's lately...and am willing to try anything that another St Louisian recommends.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: lad1hawk

                                                                                        I'd say it's 95% correct, especially the version with sausage. Also worth getting: the toasted ravioli, they have a great salad comparable to that at Pasta House, and the gooey butter cake. And it's all better washed down with a cold Bud. St Louis cuisine in its finest; I'd venture to say that there is not a better replica west of Missouri.

                                                                                        Contact me offline (contact info is under my profile) once you've hade a chance to check it out; I'd love your thoughts.