11 Hottest Restaurants in Phoenix/Scottsdale

By Farah Fleurima  |  July 17, 2014
Credit: Farah Fleurima

Although the nationally recognized foodie mecca Pizzeria Bianco first drew eyes and palates to Arizona more than a decade ago, in recent years, the dining environment — in Phoenix/Scottsdale in particular — has evolved into an electric, multifaceted scene, thanks to a treasure trove of chefs cooking well outside the Southwestern box. These dining destinations are among the buzziest in the sister cities and worth a Sonoran desert stop.

  • Southern Rail

    Why It’s Hot: Tucked into a rehabbed historic space called The Newton and adorned with kitschy reclaimed decor, chef Justin Beckett’s spin-off of Beckett’s Table dishes up elevated Southern food. Small plates, entrees and sweets highlight influences from ‘Bama to NOLA.
    Don’t Miss: Daily specials like Wednesday-night fried chicken and Tuesday barbecue, as well as the coconut cake with coconut pudding, strike the right home-cooking chord.

    300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix; 602-200-0085

  • Crudo

    Why It’s Hot: The menu’s simple inventiveness — with four categories: crudo, cotto (cooked), mozza and griglia — makes it easy to sample a number of dishes, from butterfish to burrata.
    Don’t Miss: By day (on the weekend), brunch jars (soft-boiled egg, sausage, truffle, arugula); and by night, the horseradish ahi tuna with green garlic.

    3603 E. Indian School Rd., Ste. B, Phoenix; 602-358-8666 

  • Nobuo at Teeter House

    Why It’s Hot: This intimate converted house in downtown Phoenix cultivates a reserved air during lunch and teatime hours, takes on the bubbly vibe of an izakaya (lounge) by night and serves some of the city’s best sashimi and other fancifully presented Japanese delicacies. Chef Nobuo Fukuda is a James Beard Award recipient.
    Don’t Miss: The tasting menu, only available on weekends (with a reservation).

    622 E. Adams St., Phoenix; 602-254-0600

  • The Gladly

    Why It’s Hot: The folks behind Scottsdale’s vibrant and popular Citizen Public House launch a contemporary cuisine haven in the Camelback Corridor. Diners down a selection of upscale comfort food alongside handcrafted beverages or any of the more than 200 whiskeys on hand. A summerlong cocktail class is also stirring up new fans.
    Don’t Miss: Starters like chile-flecked lamb riblettes and roasted Brussels sprouts nestled on corn grits, and rotating house specials like crispy skin-on barramundi with herb risotto.

    2201 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix; 602-759-8132

  • Pizzeria Bianco

    Why It’s Hot: More than 20 years and a couple of additional locations later, Beard Award winner Chris Bianco’s thin-crust pizza empire is still sizzling after garnering nationwide buzz as hot as his pies’ charred crust. You can still expect a wait at prime dining times.
    Don't Miss: The Wise Guy, with fennel sausage.

    623 E. Adams St., Phoenix; 602-258-8300

  • Sweet Republic

    Why It’s Hot: The coolest of the hottest, Sweet Republic specializes in scratch-made ice cream in creative yet familiar flavors like IPA, sweet corn and strawberry-buttermilk. Cookies, sorbet, shakes and sundaes in varieties like pecan turtle and toffee banoffee (pictured) flesh out the wonderfully sweet menu.
    Don’t Miss: Specialty ice cream flavors like I Love Bacon and Chocolate Guinness and sorbet such as basil-lime and Cabernet-pear.

    9160 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale; 480-248-6979

  • ShinBay

    Why It’s Hot: The James Beard semifinalist restaurant and chef Shinji Kurita will make you think Scottsdale is prime oceanfront real estate with the freshness of the seafood at the heart of the Japanese fare like seafood shabu-shabu and chirimushi (steamed fish in dashi broth).
    Don’t Miss: Go all-in and submit to the house specialty, the six-course omakase (chef’s choice).

    7001 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale; 480-664-0180

  • Bink’s Midtown

    Why It’s Hot: Head of a local restaurant mini-empire and James Beard-nominated chef Kevin Binkley set his sights on crafting dazzling dishes with an emphasis on local and seasonal produce.
    Don’t Miss: The deep-fried babyback rib appetizer and the french fries with three dipping sauces, including truffle ketchup.

     2320 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix; 602-388-4874

  • The Henry

    Why It’s Hot: It’s the latest in a long line of bespoke, conscientiously sourced eateries Valley diners have been spoiled by from Fox Restaurant Concepts, based in Phoenix. The Henry boasts a coffee bar, craft-cocktail bar and entrees ranging from health-minded (kale and apple salad) to devil-may-care decadent (fried chicken) in a handsomely decorated space.
    Don’t Miss: The cheddar popovers with smoked-ham butter.

    4455 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix; 602-429-8020

  • The Local

    Why It’s Hot: Chef Chris McKinley’s flair with modern American eats spans from lunch to late-night, making the eatery a new downtown Phoenix hot spot.
    Don’t Miss: Roasted bone marrow topped with onion jam and lamb bacon. Roman-style gnocchi, served piping-hot in a crock brimming with bufala cheese, makes it easy to forget the desert heat.

    1011 N. Third St., Phoenix; 602-441-4333

  • Otro Café

    Why It’s Hot: After chef Doug Robson's success at Gallo Blanco, the cuisine at this bright neighborhood spot reflects even more of his Mexico City-flavored influences. Tacos and tortas are on offer here, but paella and housemade mole are among the dishes that show off his love of south-of-the-border classics.
    Don’t Miss: Paella Mexicana, starring pork, chicken and chorizo, and the grilled chicken draped in mole negro.

    6035 N. Seventh St., Phoenix; 602-266-0831