10 Best Things to Eat and Drink While Visiting Metro Phoenix
So Phoenix may not quite be a culinary destination, like New York or Chicago, but that doesn't mean we don't have plenty to offer the wandering food lover. In fact, there's so much to eat and drink in this town, we'd argue that there's simply no way you could get to it all without simply putting down roots here and deciding to stay.
Nikki Buchanan The Marinara Pizza from Pizzeria Bianco
But we do want you to make the most of your time here in the Valley of the Sun, so to ensure you have the most fulfilling dining and drinking experience while you're here, don't miss these essential dishes, drinks, restaurants, and chefs while you're visiting Phoenix.
Eat Chris Bianco's Pizza
Back in the day, the only way to get a bite of Chris Bianco's world-famous pizza was to wait up to four hours sometimes at Pizzeria Bianco in downtown Phoenix. Thanks to the fact that the restaurant now serves lunch and that there's a second location in Central Phoenix, at Town and Country Shopping Center, you shouldn't have to wait nearly that long. At the original Pizzeria Bianco location, you can have your choice of six signature pies (we like the Wiseguy and the Biancoverde) as well as a few small plates and salads. But at the second location, you also can order sandwiches, pasta, and (during dinner) dishes like braised lamb and chicken. If you're there, be sure to save room for dessert, which are made by Francesco Bianco -- that's Chris' mom. There's also Pane Bianco, the sandwich shop where you can catch Chris' brother, Marco, baking the bread used at all the Bianco restaurants.
Dine at Barrio Cafe
Alex Rodriguez Enchiladas suizas at Barrio Cafe.
Since 2002, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has been serving some of the best modern Mexican cuisine in the country at this cozy Central Phoenix restaurant. The food at Barrio Cafe blends the traditional flavors of southern Mexico with Esparza's own creative flair. She's known in particular for her cochinita de pibil, a dish of tender pork marinated in achiote and orange, then wrapped in banana leaves and cooked overnight. The chiles en nogada is another of the chef's signature dishes -- a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with chicken and topped with an almond cream sauce. But whatever you order, don't skip the guacamole. It's made tableside and features diced tomato, red onion, jalapeño, lime juice, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds -- which might sound like an overly complicated take on an otherwise simple dish, but in this case, more is more. While you're in the neighborhood, be sure to take in the Calle 16 mural project, Esparza's program to turn the neighborhood around the restaurant into a center of pride and culture for Mexicans living in Arizona.
Experience Kevin Binkley's Cuisine
Katie Johnson Chef Kevin Binkley
Kevin Binkley is about as big a name as you'll find in the Phoenix food scene. The chef has been a semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest award by the James Beard Award foundation each of the past three years (unfortunately, he hasn't won yet) and is credited with making "molecular gastronomy" a familiar phrase for Phoenix food lovers. You can head up to Cave Creek to dine at his original namesake restaurant, Binkley's Restaurant, where the chef serves exceptional four-, five-, and six-course tasting menus on par with the food at Thomas Keller's French Laundry, where Binkley once worked. But for a more casual dining experience that won't break the bank, Binkley has a collection of other dining establishments to choose from. There's Cafe Bink in Cave Creek, an accessible eatery serving French-inspired fare, and the sister restaurants Bink's Midtown and Bink's Scottsdale, where you'll find a veggie-heavy menu of bistro fare.
4743 N. 20th St., Phoenix, AZ
4404 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ
2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ
260 S. Alma School Road, Mesa, AZ
2401 S. Wilson St., Tempe, AZ
36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ
6920 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, AZ
2320 E. Osborn Road, Phoenix, AZ
15745 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ
1945 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ
, Phoenix, AZ
7125 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, AZ
3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ
7111 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale, AZ
9160 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ