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Ethnic in Gilbert, AZ

We're moving to Gilbert, AZ. I was getting depressed after visiting and seeing a desolate looking place loaded with tons of chain restaurants and shops. Does anyone know if there are any good Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, or local only restaurants. Also, are there any places to go besides shopping besides the obvious hiking. Man, getting really depressed.

There seem to be lots of "...berto" type places in Phoenix, but I haven't seen a single one in Gilbert.

I hope the city tries to get more local spots. Please help.

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  1. Well, within Gilbert itself is the schizophrenic Lily Bowl Chinese Bistro which serves Americanized Chinese food, but also may be the only authentic Chinese dumpling restaurant in the Phoenix area. More significantly if you hop over the western border into Chandler you'll be in the heart of the primary Asian food axis in the Phoenix area. The local Asian community is centered around the Lee Lee Supermarket at Dobson and Warner, and there are numerous authentic Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants in the general vicinity throughout Chandler, as well as Mesa and Tempe. These would include Tao Garden, Phoenix Palace, C Fu and China King in Chandler; Best Hong Kong and Asian Express cafe in Mesa and Hong Kong Diner, Wong's Place and China Max in Tempe.

    1. Gilbert itself is chain restaurant suburbia. The further you get towards Queen Creek, the worse it gets. For Mexican, there's one that's been there for at least two decades called Lulu's Taco Shop, on Gilbert Road south of Guadalupe. I haven't been there for years, but it didn't change a bit over the several years I did eat there, I'd imagine not much has changed since. Just up the street is Siam Orchid for your Thai fix, in an unassuming strip mall on the NE corner of Gilbert and Guadalupe. The Hawaiian BBQ joint a few doors down is pretty good, but I don't remember what it's called.

      There is a Middle Eastern place on the NE corner of Gilbert and Baseline called Flaming Kabob Cuisine; I was duly impressed, even if it is rather unsettling to eat Middle Eastern in what used to be a 5 & Diner. On the same corner, there is an Indian restaurant (called Khan?) on the other side of the strip mall. By the LONG history of that space, the food is probably going to be terrific, but they'll close up in a year because nobody can see it back behind the bank and Trader Joe's. I keep hoping someone will make that space work, it's been so many different things through the years.

      Siam Orchid
      50 E Guadalupe Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234

      Lulu's Taco Shop
      610 N Gilbert Rd Ste 302, Gilbert, AZ 85234

      Flaming Kabob
      2252 E Baseline Rd, Mesa, AZ 85204

      1 Reply
      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        I believe that the Indian Restaurant at Gilbert & Baseline you're referring to is now called "Guru Palace". It received a good review in the Republic recently, although I haven't made it over there yet to try it.

      2. Chef H at Lindsay / Pecos is a mix of American / Mediterranean favorites. I've read some positive reviews on it, but have never been personally.


        1 Reply
        1. re: azhotdish

          Chef H is very good......he waits on every table and he's so passionate about his food, he's just charming.

          Pita Jungle is also awesome! (Ray / Val Vista)

        2. Strip malls, ubiquitous in the SE valley, hide and house many ethnic gems. The uglier the signage, the more likely you are to find some good eats.

          I made a list here:

          Also, Tempe is not so far away and home to tons of mom-n-pop holes in the wall.

          Unfortunately, fine dining is a different story.

          Don't be depressed, the Phx suburbs are a giant scavenger hunt. Anyone can have fun in say, NY, or San Francisco, but it takes someone really cool to have fun here. You'll like downtown Phx, and closer to home downtown Chandler has things to do, and good eats.

          1. It's all true, Gilbert itself is pretty depressing in ters of chow food. To the spars offerings already noted, I'll add Temari, a reasonably good sushi joint at Guadalupe and...Val Vista, I think. You'll have better luck in neighborhing Chandler.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Alice Letseat

              Gilbert has several good indies. Flancer's is fantastic for creative sandwiches; chef Jeff Flancer is a culinary school grad.

              Romeo's Euro Cafe has excellent pasta and a zillion other great dishes on his lengthy menu, and the ambience is cozy and hip.

              The Farmhouse serves up hearty breakfasts. Country Cottage recently moved to Gilbert; it's mostly soups-salads-sandwiches, all nicely done (outstanding sweets, too). Mint Thai has been there forever and has good curries.

              Joe's BBQ is a longtime local fave, and Joe's Farm Grill out at Agritopia quickly established itself as a "worth the trip" joint for foodies Valleywide. The locavore owner of those two places, Joe Johnston, is re-opening Liberty Market in downtown Gilbert on Oct. 14 as a gourmet grab-and-go/grocery/cafe along the lines of Phoenix's perennially popular La Grande Orange, complete with wood-fired pizza oven and wine/beer.

              Gilbert Pizza is another personal favorite, run by a lovable family of former New Yorkers (the calzone is one of the best in town). Nearby, Streamer's is excellent, particularly if you have kids -- it's set up as an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, but they have wonderful burgers and sandwiches, too.

              Have I convinced you yet that it's not the culinary wasteland you thought it was? As the other poster notes, neighboring Chandler is also well-regarded for its long list of indies and ethnics. Don't worry; you won't go hungry!

            2. I heartily endorse the options already mentioned, and want to mention Phoenicia as well. It's right next to Gilbert Pizza, just south of Gilbert and Warner. It has the best hummus in the valley in my opinion, and the only chicken schawarma that comes close to the stuff I learned to love in Detroit (I despise Pita Jungle's and resent anyone who doesn't make real garlic sauce and makes me ask for the pickles).

              I haven't been to Sahara Cafe at Val Vista and Baseline for a couple years, but it was really delicious. Need to go again.

              Sakai Sushi just up the road at Gilbert and Southern is our favorite sushi place in town. Not what you'd get in San Francisco, but still very good.

              Bar Tepo at Baseline and Val Vista had some really amazing sandwiches. All of the food sounded good, but the sandwiches seemed to be the best deal.

              We live in Gilbert, and though we eat out regularly, I can't remember the last time we went to a chain. Like mentioned above, not fine dining, but certainly delicious dining.

              4 Replies
              1. re: modthyrth

                Do you know any place that has hummus topped with sauteed lamb and pine nuts, like in Detroit?

                1. re: johnseberg

                  I know that Phoenicia has lamb on their lunch buffet, and they certainly do a hummus platter topped with gyro meat. Both the owners of Phoenicia and Flaming Kebab are from Detroit originally and are worth checking out. I don't care for the hummus at the Flaming Kebab, but otherwise, it has a very cony island type atmosphere and menu.

                  1. re: johnseberg

                    Middle Eastern Bakery & Deli:

                    Topped with sauteed seasoned ground beef and lamb, onions and pine nuts, served with white or wheat pita. ($3.99 sm, $5.99 lg)

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

                    1. re: johnseberg

                      Spices at Ray & McClintock.

                      Spices Mediterranean Kitchen
                      4040 W Ray Rd Ste 12, Chandler, AZ 85226

                  2. Wow, I can't believe so many people diss Gilbert, or the East Valley. If you look hard and try, you'll find some great ethnic places around town. For your "berto" question, there are 2. Elliot and McQueen, and Baseline and Val Vista will get you Filibertos. Try it... Mint Thai on Gilbert Rd. is descent. Cyclo in Chandler is awesome for Vietnamese. And I mean awesome. Tempe has a couple of Middle Eastern places that are pretty good. Although right now their names escape me. Flancer's cafe is great. Joe's BBQ Rocks!! Corelli's Pizza at Higley and Baseline is the best NY pizza. A little known or visited Mexican place is Rio Rico, it is connected to a Animal Hospital, so you figure that, is good, it's Guadalupe and Val Vista I think. There's a sushi place on Higley and Guadalupe that is Great. Always packed Friday and Saturday. Don't get depressed, a little time driving around and asking the regulars you see will tell you where to head! Good Luck..

                    1. This just in: Rancho de Tia Rosa's is planning a second location next year in Gilbert at Higley and Guadalupe roads.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: 1wino

                        I guess good things are coming to Gilbert. Thanks. Really appreciate the finds. It would have taken a lot of driving to find some of these places. Keep the recommendations coming.