Lauren Bailey's 5 Best Hidden Food Gems in Metro Phoenix
The countdown to Best of Phoenix is on. Mark your calendar: This year's issue will be on newsstands September 26. What better way to warm up than by asking some local "experts" to list their own personal bests? This week, Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects shares her favorite hidden treasures in town.
Jackie Mercandetti The noodle stretch at China Magic Noodle House.
By Lauren Bailey
We've all said it until we are blue in the face: Phoenix's food scene is every bit as gratifying as other major markets out there. Maybe it's the convenience this city affords us that makes it all the more challenging to get out, but dig in and you will be handsomely rewarded, especially if you know where to look. Some of my favorite hidden gems are below.
Tab Sylvester Spring rolls from Pho Thanh.
Hidden in a somewhat-scary strip mall is an authentic Vietnamese pho house. Favorites include bi cuon, spring rolls served with crisp lettuce, thai basil, mint, and sprouts ($2.25); pho tai nam, noodles with sliced beef and beef brisket served with a heaping plate of sprouts, thai basil, mint, lime, and jalepeño. The broken rice and bahn mi are also delicious!
Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket & China Magic Noodle House
Heather Hoch It's easy to spend an afternoon wandering the aisles at Lee Lee's.
This is one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon perusing aisle after aisle of amazing imported products from all over Asia as well as South America. The produce section boasts mile-high stacks of beautiful baby bok choy, chinese long beans, and a stunning lineup of fresh Asian herbs. The butcher's section is not to miss either with hard-to-find fish, and specialty cuts. After you are done, you can head right around the corner of the market and hit up China Magic Noodle to watch these guys hand-stretch your noodles to order in the window in their kitchen. My favorite is #34, beef with fried noodles in XO spicy sauce.
Carniceria La Pinos
The tiny deli sells the best carnitas by the pound . . . I always grab a pint of the guacamole, salsa, and mini tortillas for a quick lunch or dinner.