Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Phoenix >
Nov 1, 2008 10:13 AM

Cheap, good ethnic North Central Phoenix?

I just moved back to Phoenix after decades of living in L.A., but visiting Phoenix regularly. I already miss L.A.'s huge variety of cheap ethnic food. That's about all I'll miss except maybe the weather.

I'm in the area around Northern and Central in Phoenix now and am looking for cheap, clean and good ethnic restaurants around here -- any ideas?

My family used to go to Greekfest and that other Greek restaurant, maybe Greektown? I get them confused.

We also love Carolina's Mexican -- in fact I just went there this morning to get a machaca burrito fix. I also picked up a Special (chorizo, beans and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla - yummy) for dinner. The Carolina's on Cactus is open at 7AM except for Sundays when it's closed completely.

And we eat at Thai Rama on Camelback regularly. I think it compares with a lot of good Thai restaurants in L.A. but I wouldn't call the food extraordinary. The green curry with chicken is yummy.

So here's what I'm looking for, and I don't go for the ambience, just for the food:

* great Korean BBQ anywhere in the Phoenix area -- does anyone know Soot Bull Jeep or Buffetland in Koreatown in L.A.? That's what I'm looking for.

* great Vietnamese ditto -- I used to go to that Viet. restaurant on Camelback and 17th Ave. but don't know if it's still there.

* great border Mexican besides Carolina's in North Central Phoenix, but hell, Carolina's is so good I'll probably always just go there.

I just tried Stumpy's on Northern around 13 St. Loved their French Dip au jus, and my nieces swear that the pizza is the best -- has anyone eaten there and what else should I try?

Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Davang south of Camelback on 19th Ave is pretty good Vietnamese. They are spartan and have improved a bit on cleanliness over the past few months.

    Pho Bang is the place you are thinking of at 17th Ave. I was never impressed on my visits but I haven't been back in 3 or 4 years. They are still there, though.

    Davang Coffee Shop
    4538 N 19th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85015

    Pho Bang Restaurant
    1702 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85015

    1. I live not far from your location. I consider NCP a great place to live, but not so great for international restaurants, which are often located in more diverse parts of the Phoenix Metro area. Here are some of my nearby favorites.

      Korean -- I've been to the Jeep in LA. There's nothing quite like it here. I think that local fire codes make the type of open coals used in Koreatown off limits. Most places here use gas instead. The best local Korean restaurants are on Dobson Road in the East Valley or on the west side. I'm not up-to-date on the specific restaurants, though, because they come and go.

      Border Mexican -- El Bravo on 7th St. in Sunnyslope and Pepe's Taco Villa on Camelback just west of 19th Ave.

      Interior Mexican -- Los Reyes de la Torta -- just up 7th St. from El Bravo


      -- Super Dragon at 12th & Northern; if you crave something not on the menu, just ask; it might be on the secret Chinese menu

      -- Wah Sun @ 19th Ave & Northern; no liquor license and very casual, but great food; located in a shopping center anchored by Sprouts and Bookman's

      -- The Prime @ Central & Camelback; small place with smart decor and good food


      -- Hana @ 7th Ave & Missouri -- excellent sushi, noodles, etc.

      -- Mr. Sushi / Akaihana -- on Northern just east of I-17 -- reasonably good neighborhood sush joint


      Sabor Cubano Buffet -- Camelback just west of 19th Ave

      El Bravo
      8338 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85020

      Hana Japanese Eatery
      5524 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

      Super Dragon Restaurant
      1212 E Northern Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020

      Pepe's Taco Villa
      2108 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85015

      Prime Chinese Restaurant
      24 W Camelback Rd Ste H, Phoenix, AZ 85013

      Los Reyes de la Torta
      9230 N 7th St Ste E, Phoenix, AZ 85020

      Sabor Cubano Buffet
      2030 W Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

      Akaihana Sushi Bar & Grill
      8041 N Black Canyon HWY Ste 112, Phoenix, AZ

      2 Replies
      1. re: silverbear

        Thanks for that! I'll definitely try a lot of these.

        What would you suggest to order at Super Dragon? And at Sabor Cubano Buffet?

        My family's been going to Pepe's for a very long time, but when I visited last year I thought that the food was changed and was now mediocre. One thing that I love about Pepe's is the garlicky refried beans. The prices had also gone way up. I love their hot sauce but hate how much they charge for extra if you take-out.

        I've never liked El Bravo, but I haven't been in years. There's also a sit-down Mexican place up on Central north of Dunlap that I used to like. I can't remember the name, but I'm sure I'll be driving by there soon.

        I went to DaVang years ago and was not impressed, but I'll give it another try. I used to like the griddle dish (the meat and shrimp one cooks at the table) at Pho Bang, and the pho. I also liked the chao gaio.

        L.A. spoiled me in terms of fantastic, cheap and easily available ethnic, but on the bright side I'll probably lose a lot of weight...

        1. re: ValleyGal

          Via de Los Santos is the Mexican restaurant on Central in Sunnyslope.

          Super Dragon favorites: sizzling shrimp & scallops, snow pea leaves (not on regular menu), sizzling rice soup, shrimp with walnuts

          Sabor Cubano -- It's a buffet, so there's always a lot available. The ropa vieja is always good.

          Via Delosantos
          9120 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020

      2. There's is no Phoenix equivalent of Soot Bull Jeep (and don't even think about looking for something akin to Park's BBQ here in Phoenix, you'll die of starvation while looking). Heck, there's not even anything in Phoenix that'll come close to the pedestrian Korean joints like Chosun Galbee. If you want good Korean BBQ, make the trip to LA.

        There's also a lack of good Vietnamese options (and certainly nothing like Pho 79, or Pho Minh in LA), but you can get pretty decent Pho at Maxim (near 19th Ave. and Osborn). There's a Vietnamese Banh Mi place that just opened up at Mekong that looks sort of promising.

        The Chinese places in Phoenix are all pretty pitiful. Nee House and Lao Ching Hing are both good, but nothing to write home about. Asian Cafe Express has some good dishes, but it's not in NE Phoenix (it's in Mesa, near Main and Dobson, close to Mekong Plaza). I'm still waiting to check out MyLynn and Taiwan Express in the new Mekong Plaza, so those may yet still hold promise.