I know there are tons of posts for Phoenix. I am getting a good list going since I'm there approximately 10 times a year for a weekend on business. I'd love a list of favorites in Tempe (since that's where I am this weekend)... Any type of food is fair game.
I work in Tempe so here's a list of my favorite stuff: Classic Italian Pizza for an antipasto platter and pizza; the Cornish Pasty Company for a pasty and a beer; Khai Hoan for spring rolls, pho, and any grilled beef; Haji Baba for baba ghanoush, gyros, and walnut baklava; The Original Hoagie Shop for a cheese steak; Tokyo Stop for yakisoba (best with some sriracha); El Pollo Supremo for Mexican barbecue chicken; and Mucho Gusto for pozole, carne asada torta, and steak ranchero.
I second House of Tricks. Perfect time of year for them.
Also, I suggest Cafe Lalibela on West University. This is a very good Ethiopian restaurant that a bunch of us chowhounds met at for dinner this past July. We all enjoyed it very much!
Enjoy your stay in Tempe!
The thing is, Tempe is such a narrow city, that if you're able to get around at all, you might as well venture into the surrounding boroughs. There are great eats to be had in Scottsdale, Chandler, and Phoenix as well. But here's my crack:
* About the only place I consider worthwhile on Mill is Caffe Boa. In fact, last weekend I had one of their specials, an osso buco over porcini agnolotti that was just out of this world. Good wines, nice patio, and serviced by well-meaning, attractive young people assumably from ASU.
* Maybe not a chow place per se, but Casey Moore's on 9th & Ash is a great place to sit out on a weekend afternoon and hang with some friends over beer.
* House of Tricks for the patio, wine list, and any of their self-pecan-smoked items. Decent bistro fare with imaginative twists here and there.
* Pita Jungle for healthy, tasty noshing skewed to the middle eastern side of things. I just noticed that the menus vary by location, which is too bad -- the Chandler stop, with the lakeside patio, is the one that carries the lamb shank. Braised perfectly tender in cinnamon, coriander, and cumin; served in a stacked napoleon of crisped garlic lahvosh over lemon-coriander scented lentils and rice. It's a $15 entree that would cost you $26 if you ordered it in Scottsdale, I'm guessing.
With this kind of weather, I'd have to include House of Tricks. Food is quite good, setting lovely, wine list terrific and reasonably priced. If they could get their service up a notch, I'd love the place.
Wang's Chinese on Baseline. Not near downtown Tempe, but just on the eastern border. Great NY style chinese food. Remember to ask for the 'other' menu.
Istanbul Cafe used to be one of my faves, but I admit I've not been since they moved to their new digs on Apache (now called Istanbul Cafe & Market). I'd sure be interested in a report, since I can't recommend Byblos anymore since my last very disappointing visit.