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Best Restaurants Close By Us? (Chandler, AZ)

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Recently moved here from Denver, a friend referred me to this site. We live in Ocotillo, and last week some friends took us down to Downtown Chandler. We went into "98 South" and didn't like it much. Overpriced wine, just had a couple appetizers and left. Had some decent beer at "Santan Brewery", very nice place. Went to a wonderful little Thai restaurant called "Latitude Eight", it was excellent. One of the nicest Thai restaurants I've ever been to. Our friends told us to try "Sushi Eye" next - I guess it's just a short walk from those restaurants. We also want to try "Murphy's Law" - it was a bit too crowded for six of us that night.

What are some other small, independent restaurants in the area. Chandler Mall is FLOODED with chain restaurants, ack! Santan mall in Gilbert is much the same.

Any other suggestions?

Thanks,

Scott

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  1. Welcome to Chandler, Scott.

    You mgight want to add the city name to your heading on this thread.

    If you search on Chandler you'll see lots of discussions. You'll be happy to know it's not a complete wasteland here and there's actually a pretty decent mix of independent places in this area.

    Is there a particular type of food you'd like to find?

    1. I just moved out of the Ocotillo area recently after living there for 6 months. Here are some places around the area that I like:

      Tortas el Guero (Arizona Ave. & Galveston) for lots of different types of tortas
      Morenos (Arizona Ave. & Galveston next door to Tortas el Guero) mexican food
      Honmachi (Alma School & Queen Creek) for sushi and teppanyaki
      China King (Ray Rd. & Alma School) for dim sum
      Tokyo House (Alma School & Warner) for teriyaki chicken/beef bowls
      Tao Garden (Alma School & Warner) for chinese food
      Lee's Sandwich (Dobson & Warner) for vietnamese sandwiches
      AJs Fine Food (Alma School & Chandler Heights) for a quick lunch- sandwiches, pizza and salad.
      Aloha Kitchen (Alma School & a little south of Guadalupe) for hawaiian plate lunch
      Patsy Grimaldis (Alma School & Queen Creek) for pizza

      Hope that helps.

      1 Reply
      1. re: vibrant

        Thank You!!!

        We went to Murphy's Law last night, it was fun. 20+ beers on draft, yay! We went to Honmachi and didn't love it, but it was decent and no line. Gonna try China King for dim sum this weekend!

      2. Robo_Scott,

        The Southwest board covers about 10,000 sq. miles of territory, or maybe more. When posting here, you might want to add "[PHX]," or similar.

        BTW, welcome to the "Valley of the Sun."

        Hunt

        1. I'd also suggest you try La Stalla in downtown chandler. We used to live nearby and enjoyed their pizza and pasta's regularly. Also look for chino Bandito - search for it here to get a description.

          1. Perhaps you could try Shimogamo for sushi? Great experiences there several years back.

            -----
            Shimogamo
            2051 W Warner Rd # 14, Chandler, AZ

            4 Replies
            1. re: azhotdish

              I love Shimogamo, and we go to China King fairly often. A couple more not mentioned yet: Cyclo is great for non-pho-place Vietnamese. Swaddee Thai is a little farther away from you, but I like it a lot. Guedo's Taco Shop is also a favorite-- a little more expensive than the dive-type taco places, but I really like the pork and fish tacos. Espo's has been around forever and is good for old-fashioned greasy Sonoran-style Mexican (I like the carne asada), and El Zocalo for newfangled non-Sonoran Mexican (pretty good mole, and avocado tortas). Finally, I've heard good things about Tina's Ethiopian Cafe, but never been there.

              -----
              Swaddee Thai Cuisine
              5055 W Ray Rd Ste 8, Chandler, AZ 85226

              Tina's Ethiopian Cafe
              479 N Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ 85225

              Cyclo Vietnamese Cuisine
              1919 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85224

              Espos Mexican Food
              3863 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85226

              El Zocalo Mexican Grill
              28 S San Marcos Pl, Chandler, AZ 85225

              Guedo's Taco Shop
              71 E Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85225

              1. re: bortukan

                Pretty sure Tina's closed a couple years ago.

                No one mentioned Cork, it is S. Chandler's shining star of fine dining. I've only been to happy hour, but there are many postive reviews on this board. For special occasions we also do Roy's and Fogo E Brasa when we don't want to drive to Phx or Scottsdale.

                As you've already found, the Downtown Chandler area has a lot of good options. Do try Sushi Eye, it's my favorite local sushi. I like Mikado Sushi better than HonMachi at Alma School and QC.

                A bit to the north of Downtown Chandler has a great concentration of Mexican places, such as Tortas al Guero, as vibrant noted. And then the best part of living in Chandler IMO is the asian corridor around Lee Lee's market at Dobson and Warner, lots of pho, dim sum, you name it.

                I am also a big fan of all Joe Johnston's places, Joe's Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia, they are a little farther into Gilbert, but not too bad of a drive.

                More cheap eats/lunch places:

                -----
                Pita Jungle
                1949 W Ray Rd Ste 28, Chandler, AZ 85224

                Pitta Souvli
                1940 S Alma School Rd Ste 5, Chandler, AZ 85286

                Saigon Pho
                1381 N Alma School Rd # 3, Chandler, AZ

                Chino Bandido
                1825 W Chandler Blvd # 2, Chandler, AZ

                Venezia's New York Style Pizza
                1080 E Pecos Rd, Chandler, AZ 85225

                Sauce at Ocotillo
                2551 W Queen Creek Rd, Chandler, AZ

                1. re: yamalam

                  tina's is closed? that is a bummer! i never got to try it.

                  1. re: yamalam

                    YESSS all of these are fabulous!
                    Our favorite spot for special occasions is Salt Cellar in Scottsdale.
                    Favorite place for Italian is Rigotony's on McClintock and Warner!

              2. Robo_Scott,

                We also moved here from Denver (Aurora, actually) after 20 years in the Mile-High City. Since we've been in PHX for 10 years, some of your favs. in Denver, might not have existed, when we lived there. Still, what were some of your favorite restaurants in the Denver Metro Area? I might be able to connect a few dots for you, though have to admit that I do not get down to Chandler that much. Still, might be able to make some "similar" recs. for Metro PHX.

                Hunt

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  Thanks all. Gonna hit DT Chandler again, wife if making me go to the Chandler Mall so we'll stop by there afterwards. Probably do Latitudes Eight and my friends are going to El Zocalo after. Excited to try this place.

                  I wish I could change the title to Chandler, but I don't know how.

                  Thanks for all your help!

                  1. re: robo_scott

                    dropping in place link for El Zocalo...

                    -----
                    El Zocalo Mexican Grill
                    28 S San Marcos Pl, Chandler, AZ 85225

                2. For Korean BBQ, Chodang Tofu & BBQ (closed Tuesdays) -- great set of appetizers served with every meal. For great gyro's and lamb kebabs Spices Mediterranean Kitchen; casual atmosphere, very good food.

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

                  Chodang
                  501 N Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ 85225

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Hombre

                    The falafel, lamb and chicken schwarma at Spices are all excellent. But for gyros have to give the nod to Gyro Express at Dobson and Chandler. These are the best gyros we've found anywhere around here.

                    -----
                    Gyro Express
                    1900 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85224

                    1. re: ziggylu

                      We dropped into Cork last night (near AJ's on Alma School and Chandler Heights). It was wonderful. We sat at the bar, expecting to just grab a bottle of wine but saw the menu and it was fantastic. We had an amazing meal, ordered 5 items and a few glasses of wine each. The bartender was VERY awesome, he sampled us on a few things we've never tried.

                      We now have a few standby places down here - pretty happy. Cork is probably my favorite restaurant down here so far, Latitude 8 is probably my wife's. We had a decent experience at La Stalla about a month ago - it was nothing amazing but for Italian in Arizona is wasn't bad. We really enjoy the downtown area.

                  2. All good suggestions. Cyclo has a national reputation and Chino Bandido has been on the Food Network. Lee's Sandwiches is great and very inexpensive. Stick to the Vietnamese Sandwiches and ask for extra meat. I believe it is 75 cents more. Lee's is a pretty interesting operation to say the least. It is a chain out of Southern California but go adnyway.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Poerz

                      There's an area of great food on Dobson between Chandler and Warner. At Dobson and Chandler you have Cyclo and Chino Bandido on the SE corner and Thai Rama on the NW corner.

                      I've had some hit-or-miss experiences at Cyclo lately, particularly at lunch, so I'd advise going at dinnertime instead. I've been a fan of Chino Bandido since I was in high school, but they're very newbie-friendly and will let you sample a number of things from their menu before you order. Thai Rama is always reliably good Thai food, and the location in Chandler has a drive-through pickup window if you call in your order in advance.

                      Moving north, Pesto's Pizza, Pasta, and Calzone is on the NE corner of Dobson and Ray. Pesto's has a good selection of wine, and we've enjoyed everything we've ordered there - both pasta and pizza. It's a great place to have a nice night out with friends.

                      And at Dobson and Warner, you have Lee's Sandwiches on the SE corner. Lee's Sandwiches makes great Vietnamese banh mi, and it's ridiculously cheap - just remember to bring cash. They don't take cards. I also recommend taking home a fresh baked baguette. They're constantly making the bread fresh on the premises. I like the BBQ pork sandwich or the Vietnamese meatball sandwich (not what you may be used to, but delicious). They come with jalapenos, cilantro, onion, carrot, and daikon radish as garnishes. They also make some unusual smoothies, though I don't really care for those as much.

                      Across the street, on the NE corner of Dobson and Warner, you have the great Lee Lee Supermarket. It isn't a restaurant, per se, but it's a can't-miss experience. Super fresh fish and meats, a huge selection of dry and canned goods organized by what country they come from, and great produce that's cheaper than most other stores. In the same strip mall, you can find Gelato 64. Their basic gelato flavors might not be as good as other places in town, but it's the only place I've found their fantastic sour cherry. They also have exotic flavors like Chocolate Chili (spicy!), black sesame, taro, etc.

                      -----
                      Thai Rama Restaurant
                      1221 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013

                      Cyclo Vietnamese Cuisine
                      1919 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85224

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

                      Thai Rama (Chandler location)
                      2040 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85224

                      Pesto's Pizza Pasta & Calzone
                      1960 W Ray Rd Ste 4, Chandler, AZ 85224

                      Gelato 64
                      2095 N Dobson Rd Ste 5, Chandler, AZ 85224

                    2. Hit Cork again last night - amazing meal. Best Fioe in town. Been enjoying Scottsdale for the last couple months, exclusively on business. Some very fine restaurants here, but it seems like the excellent ones are very spendy. Difficult to find inexpensive, smaller, quality independents. Please don't get upset (locals) but so far we're somewhat underwhelmed by the dining options in Phoenix. Just surprised how many "bad" restaurants there are for such a large city. Also surprised at the lack of fine food lovers around here. Nothing like other large cities I've lived in/frequently travel to. Just makes finding the good ones more rewarding I suppose.

                      Earlier in the week we tried a burger joint called Blue Burger (?), also in Chandler. Just OK. Bella Vino - not so good. Mexican/Italian ... hmmm ... This evening we're hitting Downtown Chandler, we may try 98 South again. Experiences there haven't been great. But I'm willing to give it another shot. Hopefully they're wine list has improved.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: robo_scott

                        Welcome to AZ, roboscott! I bet Denver is beautiful this time of year, sigh... Anyways, if you live in Ocotillo and expect to find a LOT of inexpensive independents I just have to kind of chuckle... I'm almost a lifelong resident of the Chandler area and you have to realize that it was an agricultural place not too long ago. Esp. Ocotillo! I grew up picking peaches and apples on the farms around here b4 they built all the houses.

                        Anyways, there ARE great places to eat in PHX but you have to be willing to drive. It IS a sprawling metro area, after all. I completely agree w/you that there aren't enough good indie restaurants. Tons of chains for all the young families and snowbirds. PHX is basically a giant suburb.

                        I guess my point is, if you want better eats, you gotta go to PHX and Scottsdale. You can find lots of links on the boards here - NOCA, CherryBlossom Noodle Cafe, Binkley's, etc.

                        1. re: Baxterita

                          El Zocalo sounds good. Is it comfortable dining or very casual? Any thoughts on good Southwestern food that is not necessarily "fine dining" but is comfortable sit down place (not the fluorescent lit dining room). We may opt for super casual Mexican from some other recs but a "nice" southwestern would be good as well. We're from the Bay Area so not a lot of good Southwestern there. Btw - we're staying in Chandler so somewhat in that area would be great.

                          1. re: teejaymoore

                            Pho Chandler is awesome! The Pho Thai is a fantastic light meal and enough for two.

                            -----
                            Pho Chandler
                            4055 S Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ 85248

                          2. re: Baxterita

                            And of course, Kai. One of the best meals I've had in my 2yrs in the valley.

                            Welcome to Chandler, roboscot. Sounds like you've been hitting all the usual spots. Do give 98S another shot. My wife and I are big fans of the ever changing menu and the innovative cocktails. Adam, the GM, is always bringing in new wines and trying new cocktails. Chef Ferguson prepares food that is simple but very flavorful, imo.

                            Didn't like El Zocalo at all. The food was corporate and bland (particularly the peanut butter infused mole). I have to give Murphy's Law another shot, especially when I heard they have Lost Abbey beer on tap. yum.

                            Urban Tea Loft is fun for teatini cocktails and dessert. Haven't tried their food yet though.

                            Cork....love it there!

                            A bit of a drive from Ocotillo but well worth trying is The Deli in QC. All farm fresh food, excellent soups and sandwiches, each night they have 2 entrees plus sandwiches, soup, pizza, salads. So it's casual but really good quality, fresh ingredients.

                            Pho Chandler at AZ ave and Ocotillo (Home Depot lot) is pretty good too.

                            1. re: BillB656

                              I like El Zocalo, personally-- it's the only Mexican food I know of in Chandler that's neither Sonoran food heavy on grease and yellow cheese, nor a taco/torta place. Yes, there are several places I like better that fit those qualifications, but they are all at least 45 minutes away. Despite how good some of the nearby tacos and tortas are, sometimes we like a casual but sit-down place for Mexican food, and their patio is nice. (Maybe it's just that I like peanut butter in mole, though!) The family who owns it also has 3 other East Valley restaurants, but compared with the chain restaurants much of Chandler is populated with, that hardly seems to count as corporate.

                              Most of Chandler just hasn't been around long enough to develop a very large base of high-quality independent restaurants that also have nice dining rooms, in my opinion-- places like that exist, but you have to drive to older parts of town to get to many of them. Chandler has already come a very long way since we moved here 11 years ago though, I think there's hope for us yet! Most of it was farms when I was a teenager, and it's not that surprising that giant chains were the first things to move in when the suburban sprawl appeared.

                              1. re: bortukan

                                I'm not a big fan of El Zocalo. I do like the patio a lot and we'll go to enjoy that. The food isn't awful but I also think it's not that special and a bit on the spendy side for what it is.

                                Not Mexican but New Mexican, we do like Si Senor(Alma School at or around Galveston). I do ask for them to go easy on the cheese everytime I'm there as they do qualify what I call a "cheese palace." Not anywhere along the lines of Los Sombreros or Barrio Cafe(which aren't New Mexican anyhow) but good solid food for a really reasonable price. Don't miss the Hatch sauce. mmm...good.

                                1. re: ziggylu

                                  Ziggylu, you're spot-on regarding Si Senor. The Hatch and the spicy bean dipping sauce are delicious. At first I was disappointed with my combo plate (swimming in sauce and cheese), but man was it tasty. Great green and red chili, good beef taco, solid beans and rice. The enchilada just got lost in the sauce. Next time I go back, I'll ask them to go easy on the cheese and sauce.

                                  1. re: ziggylu

                                    El Zocalo is definitely not noteworthy for the food although the restaurant has nice ambiance with music on their outdoor patio and a small band typically inside (singles scene type atmosphere inside.) The food is not bad, but the ambiance is the reason that I would visit.

                                  2. re: bortukan

                                    You are right, bortukan. There is hope for us! 8-) My wife is a Gilbert native (not many of those around) and she can't believe she is living way out in southeast Chandler where there was nothing to come out here for unless you were on your way to Queen Creek to visit the relatives.

                                    I might have to give El Z another shot. I wasn't implying that it was a corporate restaurant, only that the food tasted that way to me, in a bland non-descript sort of way.

                                    Another regular place for us is Red White and Brew on Gilbert and Chandler Heights. It isn't tremendously great food but it's decent enough and we like Freddy Duran playing guitar on Thurs nights.

                            2. Has anyone tried Kiley's Grill yet? It is independent with a chef on staff, and since its just down the road from my house, I so want it to be good... but I'm scared off by the menu. The scope alone seems to preclude quality. Does anyone really do breakfast, Italian, burgers and Mexican all in one place and do it well?

                              Located on Alma School Road between Warner and Elliot, replacing the Garcia's that was vacant for many many months.
                              www.kileysgrill.com

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: contemporaryscarlett

                                Kiley's is terribly disappointing.

                                1. re: friedmush

                                  Thanks for the input. We ate there 10 days or so after it opened and agree entirely, but I didn't want to post a review since they might have still been getting their bearings. Sounds like its not worth another try- especially since the latest signage and advertising is all geared towards the live music and drinks, rather than the food.

                              2. You mentioned you tried the beers at Santan Brewery - I would highly recommend the food as well. While it's to some degree your traditional "bar food" they also have a lot of what I consider creative touches. The raspberry stuffed mushrooms are excellent. I always get the Santanwich (a roast beef, grilled onion and mashed potato sandwich rolled in a beer bread).

                                1. I love The Deli in Queen Creek. A little off the beaten path and hard to find but very fresh high quality food not terribly priced and very good. Some of the best sandwiches I have had.

                                  http://www.thedeliqc.com/

                                  1. Anise Vietnamese on the NW corner of Warner and Dobson. The Noodle Nest is my current favorite, but that changes every time I try something different there.

                                    -----
                                    Anise Vietnamese Restaurant
                                    2090 N Dobson Rd Ste 4, Chandler, AZ 85224

                                    1. I'd like to add another suggestion- La Famiglia Pizza & Pasta at Alma School and Warner. www.lafamigliapizzanpasta.net It's simple Italian food served by a family in huge portions to the local neighborhood.

                                      I've had the baked ziti and the spinach stromboli and would recommend either, though I think I preferred the stromboli. I loved that the ricotta was fluffy in both dishes (try finding that at those Italian chain places), and that there was actual garlic mixed in with the spinach.

                                      The food might not have a "wow" factor, but the little touches make it a place I'll definitely return to. For example, on my first pick-up visit the girl answering the phone talked me through the menu and offered recommendations with cheer and patience. Last night, after I'd worked yet another 12 hour workday, it was the twinkly eyed smile from the dad and the fact that the marinara sauce was actually warm in the plastic cup, even though they were mopping and closing by the time I got there.

                                      1. No. There is nothing. Moved to Gilbert and been here for about a year. Dying in this place. Very disappointing place to live. No good restaurants except a very few already mentioned. This area desperately needs some good local places, not chain restaurants. We just resigned to cooking at home.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: toucanan

                                          The dining public thanks you.

                                          1. re: toucanan

                                            I too have recently moved to Gilbert and yes there are alot of chain restaurants but we expected this before buying our home here. Within 20 mins or 10-15 miles we've located many chow worthy restaurants ranging from Chino Bandino/Pho Saigon to Kai/Cork and everything in between. We love living in Gilbert and it's a big change from Boston but it's fun doing research and trying new places around us. Every now and then a burger from Ruby Tuesday or a pie from Grimaldis would hit the spot. Is there some type of cuisine you were interested in?

                                            1. re: Da Beebz

                                              Da Beebz...I live in Gilbert too....maybe a chowhound lunch is in the future?

                                              1. re: tattud_gurl

                                                Heading back to Boston for a month but i'm game when we return! There's a couple places i've been eyeing around Gilbert/Mesa/Chandler so lunch would be great. Tried China Magic Noodle last night so after our lunch rush here on the resort I will post a review =)

                                            2. re: toucanan

                                              You'll need to make the drive to my hood for all the great independent spots. Try these in the PHX.
                                              St Francis at Camelback and 1st - Oh so yummy!
                                              The VIG at 40th and Indian School
                                              Chelsea's Kitchen at 40th and Camelback, POSTINO and LGO at 40th and Campbell
                                              Bertha's Cafe at 32nd and Indian School
                                              Barrio Cafe at McDowell and 16th St

                                              -----
                                              Chelsea's Kitchen
                                              5040 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                                              St Francis
                                              111 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85012

                                            3. I second El Zocalo and Cyclo. Been eating at Cyclo for years.
                                              If you're looking for Ethiopian, Tempe has a great place we go to all the time....Cafe Lalibella. GREAT food.

                                              You can't go wrong with Pita Jungle, either. They have a salad that I love. The lentil fatoush salad. YUM!

                                              Saigon Pho has really yummy pho. Try thier lobtster special. $$, but great.

                                              And Sauce has really yummy peronal pizzas and salads.

                                              Haven't tried Chino Bandido yet, but I'm planning to.

                                              Lee's has the best bbq pork sandwich in town, and at less that $4 for a 10 inch....you have to try it. The #6.

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

                                              Saigon Pho
                                              1381 N Alma School Rd Ste 3, Chandler, AZ 85224