10 Things in New York City the Phoenix Food Scene Will Never Have

Categories: Top Lists

Village Voice
Mamoun's has been a favorite cheap meal of New Yorkers for more than 40 years.

Arizona has an up-and-coming food scene, and there's a lot to be proud of, for sure. But when Chow Bella published a list of things that make Phoenix a better food town than New York City, I just had to laugh. The difference in size alone makes the two incomparable. Since moving back to New York six months ago, I've come to miss the food at Phoenix haunts like Short Leash Hot Dogs, La Tolteca, St. Francis, and -- quite obviously -- dessert at top restaurants like Cowboy Ciao. But, by comparison, I still miss a lot more from the food scene in Portland, Oregon, where I lived for four years. So for me, Phoenix is small potatoes, but to give the Valley something to shoot for, here are 10 food favorites New Yorkers take for granted that Phoenix will likely never see.

See also:
- 9 Things That Make Phoenix a Better Food (and Drink) Town than New York City
- Cobbler on Quack at Cowboy Ciao

Cheap Food After Midnight (that's not greasy Mexican fare)
When I first lived in NYC in 2004, this was one of the attributes that hooked me on the city. If you want off-hours food in Phoenix, you'd better be in the mood for a burrito, quesadilla, or a few tacos. The salsa bars at these late-night hubs for greasy Mexican food can be surprisingly good, but overall, the options in the Valley are really lacking after regular dinner hours. Not so in New York. Near Washington Square Park, the original Mamoun's -- first opened in 1971 -- sells $3 falafel and $6 shawarma until 5 a.m., a college kid's dream come true. Even where I live now, in a residential part of Bushwick, there's a cheap restaurant on the corner, OMG Pizza, selling staples like falafel, salads, and burgers until 3 a.m.

Bodegas, Bodegas, Bodegas
I miss being able to drive my car to a giant grocery store, à la Fry's or Safeway, but it's a fair trade to be able to run to my choice of countless bodegas or dollar stores when I'm in a pinch. Need ice cream after the grocery store is closed? A six-pack with no detour on the way home, no matter where you're coming from? A single stamp so you can stick that letter in the mail right away? Best of all, a lot of bodegas have healthy options for snacks and sandwiches, including organic juices and protein bars. Most also will make a sandwich on the spot, slicing meats and cheeses from a fully stocked deli case.

Location Info


Short Leash Dogs

, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

La Tolteca

1205 E. Van Buren, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Cowboy Ciao Wine Bar & Grill

7133 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

St. Francis

111 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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In New York City, one can basically find a restaurant that serves any food from all over the Earth. No one else on Earth, except for maybe London can compare to New York City. Not only that, one can get most any food they want anytime they want.

Phoenix is a huge city, but does not have near the total global diversity New York City has.


@JohnQ.Public Of course there are negatives, but this list was about positives in the NYC food scene. Thank you for your comments, though, as you made some great points (particularly #1). But one issue is definitely moot: over-priced food in bodegas. They're more like convenience stores, where ice cream is often $6 a pint.

And, while I can't judge this objectively, I don't think anything in this list can be called "incessant whining." As a food writer, of course I indulge in perusing menus for hours (even when I'm not planning to eat), hunting for restaurants I've overlooked, and prolonging the decision-making process to daydream about the possibilities. I had the exact same habit in downtown Phoenix only I already knew all of my options and had to drive 10–20 minutes to pick up the food. So, whining aside, NYC still wins that one by a long shot.

Since I'm already remarking on your personal comments (and since you apparently care way too much about my personal life), you might care to know I order food maybe twice/month. I freely admit that I hardly cook for myself, but hey, I bake from scratch all the time. Plus, I'm an aerial acrobat, so I'm pretty sure I can be lazy whenever the hell I want.


@dominiquechatterjee I am so sorry.  I didn't realize that you were an aerial acrobat.  Now that I know, I realize that your judgment is beyond reproach and I understand that I had no business questioning you in the first place.  Please, feel free to denigrate my town all you want, as an aerial acrobat you're opinion is indeed correct - New York is awesome*infinity and Phoenix is the shit you scrape from your shoe.  I'm deleting my original post because, being that you're an aerial acrobat, I obviously had no business posting it in the first place.  Please accept my most humblest apologies.


 @JohnQ.Public Wow, someone really loves jumping to extremes, huh? Denigrate Phoenix? I pointed out several of my favorite restaurants there and have written many positive things in the past about others. The point was never to say that Phoenix has nothing of culinary note, just that by comparison to other cities, like NYC, the food scene is very small. That gives Phoenix lots of opportunity to expand and be experimental, so it's not entirely a bad thing. But it is true.

And of course being an aerial acrobat is relevant when you call me lazy (which you did, deleted or not). To the rest of the conversation, that obviously means nothing. But you're the one making it personal, so sure, I'll toss out some facts about me to counter your random insults that have zero basis.

You know, I've enjoyed some of your comments on Chow Bella in the past, which is why I originally replied, but there's no reason to take this discussion beyond the topic at hand. I'm not insulting you, or Phoenix, or anything else. Your petulant responses say much more about you than they do about me.

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