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Jun 24, 2012 11:02 PM

in phoenix on x-country food trip - BEST MEAL NEEDED

hey all,
my gf and i are trekking across the country searching for the best food. we plan on stopping in phoenix for 2-3 meals (mid-week). right now we have bianco lined up for a lunch or late dinner pizza, but wanted to know your thoughts on the other meals.

if you had 1 meal in phoenix, what would it be? not just the restaurant, but the specific dish we need to order.
price is not the driving factor, but we are not looking for an amazing dining experience (just got back from napa), we are simply looking for the greatest FOOD. it could be in a gas station. or a strip mall....i guess we are looking for everyones "death row / final meal" in phoenix. (sorry to make it morbid)

we are going to post a similar thread in each of the other cities we are going to, and will make a google map with the results (and share it with everyone of course)....and then of course come back to share the experiences.

fyi, here are the other cities: albuquerque, denver, kansas city, st louis, louisville, columbus, philadelphia, nyc.

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  1. If you're going to be here Tuesday July 10 then for sure the best meal will be at Kai, where they're having a special fixed-menu six course meal with wine pairings from one of the best Arizona wineries. Kai has these special wine-pairing meals four times in the spring-summer from April - July. I've been to a couple and they were both outstanding. Kai is located on an Indian reservation south of the city (not far from where I-10 south and loop 202 intersect, at the Wild Horse Pass Resort).

    If you can't make that particular date or don't want to drink a lot of good wine with your meal then Kai has a reasonable "Summer Special" three course meal for I think $65 -- an appetizer (I think gazpacho), their famous buffalo tenderloin dish plus a dessert. Kai is the only Forbes 5* restaurant in Arizona.

    If you can't make Kai then Binkley's is probably the best option. You mentioned Napa ... chef Binkley worked at French Laundry for a while and you can see the influence in his dishes.

    Note that both places close for parts of the summer. I think Binkley's closes in early July and Kai stays open thru July but closes for August and maybe early Sept (too lazy to look it up but those are roughly right). So they may not be open when you are passing thru.

    1 Reply
    1. re: willyum

      damn it. that sounds awesome! unfortunately, we are going to be in phx this wednesday, so no tasting for us. bummer.
      will definitely take a look at binkleys and kai.

    2. Just FYI ... Pizzeria Bianco is closed July 2-7.

      If you do go to Bianco, I'd recommend doing so at lunch. The wait times are shorter, or non-existent.

      I will second the rec for Kai. It's hard to find haute Native American cuisine anywhere else in the U.S.

      For something off beat, try Caffe Sarajevo (get a sausage sandwich or veal hot dog) or Chino Bandido (get whatever piques your interest)

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        ya, we will probably go for lunch on thursday. luckily they will still be open.
        im actually obsessed with pizza, so this will be a bit of a mecca trip. i know chris doesnt work the oven any more, but ive been using his tomatoes and love his technique....i actually just built a monster computer controlled pizza oven that has furnace blowers to stoke the wood fire up to 1300 degrees, 60 second pizza!
        very excited for this trip.

      2. The three restaurants, that come immediately to mind:

        Kai - so long as they are open - heard that the pre-fixe is not in the cards, but do not let that hold you back.
        Binkley's - so long as they are still open, this time of year.
        Pizzaria Bianco - you have that.

        Some additional spots:
        T. Cook's at the Royal Palms
        Lon's at the Hermosa - the weather will not allow for the patio, but inside is nice.
        Deseo at the Westin Kireland Commons - interesting Hispanic/Caribbean take on cuisine, and fun.



        1. another idea would be Shinbay chef tasting menu which they chef will pair with sake for each course if you like

          equally as good as Binkley's IMO and have not been to Kai to compare

          5 Replies
          1. re: Dapuma

            Hey, looks like we underestimated the traffic leaving la today. We won't get to phx until after 1030. This probably leaves off Kia and binkleys. Regardless, I think they may be a little pricey for the first dinner of 20 :)
            We are looking at the low key late night eats around phx and posting arcadia and Cornish pasty popped up. Any other ideas?

            1. re: avidan

              I can't help you for tonight, but if you're still looking for something in the next couple of days that won't break the bank, I'm going to throw The Mission out there as a possibility (Old Town Scottsdale). I prefer the dinner menu. The duck carnitas empanada are nice, and for dessert, you have to get the pumpkin bread pudding - at only 6 bucks, it's one of my two favorite desserts in the city. Not sure if it's a "death row" meal - maybe you should go to Texas for that.

              1. re: avidan

                Try Gallo Blanco. Delicious tacos and lots of locally sourced food!

                1. re: avidan

                  Check our Richardson's or Rokerij for unique to Phoenix and open late (both until midnight). Or Carlsbad Tavern and Delux Burger are open to 2 am (Delux isn't unique to Phoenix but good food, open late, and 40 beers on tap).

                  1. re: avidan

                    Delux is open until 2am - good burgers / fries and 30 or so beers on draft
                    Carlsbad Tavern - new mexican style food - their kitchen is open late on the weekends, for today you might want to call ahead
                    Postino's is good for bruscetta, however I am not sure how late they are open

                2. If you are a pizza geek Pomo is also worth checking out.