2 Specific Questions from DC Chowhound
We are from Washginton DC. Visiting Phoenix with wife and young son for the 5th or 6th time in the past few years. We have settled into what we like (FnB, Noca, Lons, In-and-Out!) and a few others, and we know what we don't like (Binkleys, Tarbells, Cowboy Ciao).
First Question: I really, really want to eat at Pizzeria Bianco, but I can't stand to wait in line or to eat at 4pm. My plan this trip is to land at PHX at 10:10am, get our bags, and go straight there, hopefully arriving before 12 noon. It will be 2pm our time, so we'll be hungry. Will I get a table at 11:30am on a Wednesday? Or will that still be a problem?
Second Question: Mexican food?. Franky, we probably don't even know what it is. We've been to a number of places there in previous trips, but I don't recall the names. The best was a place on the way to the airport, in a less-than-nice part of town, but when you walked in it was a very nice (forgot the name). We are busy with activities all day, so we want a place or two for dinner, that we can sit with a waitress, and that serves beer. We are staying north up Rt 51, roughly at Glendale Ave. We are open to any interpretation or version of Mex, Tex-Mex, AZ-MEX, whatever that is good. Please recommend a place, and exactly what dishes to order. Unusual dishes preferred.
Others have addressed Pizzaria Bianco, and I tend to agree, though we often gather up enough friends to snag a reservation. They can tell you about "the line."
Now, "Mexican" is a rather broad subject, as Mexico is a very large, and highly diverse country. From the Yucatan, through Vera Cruz/Mexico City, DF/Guatalajara, and then up to the border states, things can differ greatly. What is common in one place, might well be foreign in another.
With that said, Phoenix has a wealth of Sonoran Mexican, but then some other influences, such as New Mexican, where one gets a bit of Tex-Mex, but filtered through US Indian. Same for other Mexican fare in Phoenix - often a bit of Native American, though not always. Then, one gets a lot of Bajan Mexican, with a California influence. No one "style," and some Mexican restaurants tout their heritage, say Jalisco, or Vera Cruz. Those will likely differ heavily.
Personally, I favor Tex-Mex (harder to find in PHX), then the fare from Jalisco, and closely behind, the fare from New Mexico. For the latter, I loved Richardson's/Dick's Hideaway (not sure if Richardson's has reopened, after the fire, but Dick's should be going strong). For the food from Jalisco, I like El Conquistador (recently moved to 7th, and have not tried the new location). Tex-Mex is harder to find, but El Bravo (also on 7th) comes somewhat close.
There are many more, and the majority will likely be heavily Sonoran influenced, not that that is bad - it is just a sub-set of "Mexican."
Most of all, enjoy!
re: Bill Hunt
The new Richardson's is open right next door to Rokerij. Both menus available and nice new patio shared between the two restaraunts. Victor usually cooks on the Rich's side now, so we lean that way when we go in. Parking is free valet now since it is so tight. Crowds are much thinner now that the extra seating is open. This is a definite rec for the poster. Rich's is worth a drive from anywhere in the country. :)
Seconded on the wait for Bianco's- you'll be fine. Also seconded on Rokerij- not exactly Mexican, but great New Mexican (as in the state)- lots of heat!
While you're down by FnB and Noca, you may want to give the Mission a look for mexican- definitely more pan-South America, but good grub. Down the street from there is a new place called Distrito, heard good things but never been
I assume you are at the Pointe Squaw Peak. There is a serviceable Mexican restaurant basically onsite called Aunt Chiladas, nothing great but not bad. For a New Mexican twist, I would highly recommend the Rokerij/Richardsons which is within a mile of the 51/Glendale area. Try the pork tenderloin with the green and red chile jelly. Fantastic. And just a fairly short walk from the resort, if that is where you are staying. For some hole in the wall mexican food, El Bravo is not far, maybe 2 miles and Via DeLosantos is maybe a mile further. Nothing fancy, just straightforward sonoran style mexican food.
8338 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85020
6335 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ 85016
Another good Mexican option to consider in that general area is Los Reyes de la Torta. Besides the namesake sandwiches, they feature an assortment of tacos, burritos, sopes, and huaraches. One distinguishing feature is the range of fresh fruit juices and fresh fruit plates they offer--these serve as a nice foil for the otherwise heavily meat-centric fare, especially at breakfast time.
The restaurant isn't fancy, but it is bright, well-maintained, and clean. The service has been professional and friendly on my visits.
Los Reyes de la Torta
9230 N 7th St Ste E, Phoenix, AZ 85020
There's usually, at most, a 20 minute wait at lunch. Most often there is little to no wait at Pizzeria Bianco.
You will get lots of opinions on Mexican in Phoenix, but when I'm in town, I usually like to hit up one of these: Gallo Blanco, Mariscos Playa Hermosa, America's Taco Shop and Sierra Bonita.