PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- The Food Network is known for finding the top dining spots (and best-kept food secrets) all around the nation. This month, Food Network focused on the Valley of the Sun, releasing a list of the best restaurants around the Phoenix area. Here's a look at some foodie favorites you need to try.
[WATCH: David Tyda - The man behind the list]
1. CRUjiente Tacos (Phoenix)
Crujiente means "crunchy" in Spanish, and the four crunchy tacos offered on the menu are refined renditions of the classic Mexican street taco. This Arcadia hot spot is a modern neighborhood taqueria with a chef-driven menu that features Latin-inspired cuisine and shareable small plates.
2. Ghost Ranch (Tempe)
This Tempe "haunt" claims to bring "the untamed flavors of the Southwest to south Tempe." The modern Southwest restaurant is led by Rene Andrade and Roberto Centeno, both Nogales natives who were instrumental in the original menu creation. Food Network recommends we try the enchiladas with their crunchy, hand-pressed corn tortillas.
3. Kai (Phoenix)
Kai at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass was recently recognized by La Liste 2020, a global restaurant-ranking system that celebrates the top 1,000 dining destinations in the world. Kai is Arizona’s only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant. The menu is rich in creativity, history and Native American culture. Try the Great Plains Bison, Cocoa and Mesquite-Cured Duck Breast, or Foie Gras & Waffles.
4. The Larder & The Delta (Phoenix)
The motto at The Larder & The Delta is "Essences of the South with a touch of smoke." Chef Stephen Jones offers classic Southern dishes, including the Hoppin’ John salad, brussels sprouts with shishito peppers or Nashville-style hot chicken. For dessert, try citrus pound cake or Tetilla Spanish cow's milk cheese.
5. Chula Seafood (Phoenix/Scottsdale)
Established in San Diego, these family owned & operated restaurants serves up fresh-off-the-boat seafood in AZ. Poke bowls, fresh oysters and sashimi platters keep things light, while a shrimp po’ boy, swordfish burro and fish & chips show off the heartier side of the menu.
6. Century Grand (Phoenix)
This turn-of-the-century-inspired, train station-themed venue just opened last fall in Phoenix near 36th Street and Indian School Road. This art deco restaurant features multiple bars, innovative cuisine and a bottle shop. Sample from the tea sandwich menu, with choices like pistachio butter with sun-dried strawberry preserves or crab salad with yuzu koshu mayo and cucumber. Or, pick some small plates to share, like the brown butter hazelnuts with apple cider gastrique, or sweet potato dumplings with farmer's cheese, pumpkin seeds and pomegranate molasses.
7. Arizona Wilderness (Phoenix/Gilbert)
Arizona Wilderness offers a Gilbert-based craft brewpub and a downtown Phoenix beer garden. Food Network recognizes these spots for their Arizona grass-raised beef burger and duck-fat French fries, all paired with Arizona-centric beers. The state-inspired scratch kitchen serves up shareables (think Bavarian pretzel sticks with beer cheese) and tempting regional flavors like the honey hot pulled pork sandwich and the jalapeno popper sandwich.
8. Little Miss BBQ (Phoenix)
At Little Miss BBQ, people will wait for hours in a line to get their barbecued meats. This Phoenix landmark is hailed as one of the top barbecue spots in the country. A second Sunnyslope location dishes out the same quality of smoked meats and traditional sides, but also serves huge barbecue burritos. People Magazine has recognized this spot for having the best pie in Arizona.
9. Across the Pond (Phoenix)
This little sushi joint and cocktail spot is located across the breezeway (or pond) from its parent restaurant, Clever Koi in Phoenix. Savor delicate nigiri or sashimi, crispy tempura shrimp, or a roll like the spicy salmon or softshell crab. Accompanying cocktails feature some interesting mixes from the Clever Koi like the Enabler, the Lemongrass Swizzler, and the "Almost Always Bad News."
10. Trapp Haus BBQ (Phoenix)
Pitmaster Phil Johnson, aka Phil the Grill, has been dubbed the "Jay Z of barbecue." He's a veteran of the competitive barbecue circuit and food-truck world. Johnson's first brick-and-mortar restaurant brings his distinctive take on smoked meats to downtown's Roosevelt Row Arts District. Try the "burnt ends" (charred tips of a smoked brisket,) house-smoked pastrami for Reubens, "Philly Crack Wings" and the "Phil ‘Em Up Fries" (seasoned waffle fries covered in cheese sauce, BBQ sauce, and pico.)
11. Ocotillo (Phoenix)
12. Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup (Phoenix, Tempe/Gilbert)
Gadzooks, a fast-casual restaurant that "redefines the enchilada," has several locations around the Valley. Each enchilada is built to order in a clay dish and finished off in a pizza-like oven. Check out hearty fillings like Modelo braised bison or spicy potato hash (vegan) or tasty toppings like scratch-made crema and blended habanero lava.
13. Fabio On Fire (Phoenix)
Fabio On Fire brings authentic Italian cuisine to the heart pf the Valley. For years, chef Fabio Ceschetti was known for his mobile, wood-fired pizza oven, cooking at private parties and food festivals. He finally opened his brick-and-mortar restaurant in Peoria 2017. Handmade pastas and perfect Neapolitan-style pizza are among the top menu items. Don't miss the bakery counter, which features a wide selection of desserts, including Italian cookies.
14. Glai Baan (Phoenix)
This central Phoenix spot bills itself as a “Very Thai” kitchen, focusing on street food and snacks that you would find while visiting Thailand. Most of the dishes are best shared and the food is traditionally spicy. The restaurant is a cozy, lantern-lit space. Try the stir-fried Chinese broccoli with crispy pork belly, the son-in-law egg and the mackerel fried rice.
15. Richardson’s (Phoenix)
Craving the flavors of New Mexico? You'll want to make sure to try Richardson’s in Phoenix. Owner Richardson Browne also operates Dick’s Hideaway and The Rokerij. Since its opening in 1988, Richardson's has sold more than one million carne adovadas (a dish with tender shreds of pork, spicy adovada sauce and side of rice and beans, served on a tortilla.) Diners can also try smoked turkey enchiladas and bacon-wrapped shrimp.
16. Pizza Romana (Avondale)
The man behind Piazza Romana in Avondale (New Jersey transplant Justin Piazza) also opened La Piazza al Forno in Glendale and La Piazza PHX in downtown Phoenix. This is the first pizzeria dedicated to Roman-style pizza al taglio (baked and sold in a rectangular tray. It looks like focaccia, but it's better!) All the dough is made by hand and the staff uses ingredients imported from Italy.
17. The Beignet Babe (Phoenix)
Beignets are similar to doughnuts, filled with airy pockets of deliciousness and surrounded by slightly crispy shells. In Phoenix, you can get your fill from the Beignet Babe, a baker who sells at local farmers’ markets, most regularly at the Phoenix Public Market on Saturdays. Get there early and order a couple of everything, because she sells out just about every week. You can also reserve an order for pickup through Instagram @beignetbabe to avoid missing out.
18. Handlebar Diner (Mesa)
Handlebar Diner is a tiny, farm-to-table, 50s-style diner in Mesa that's worth the wait. The Food Network says Chef Adam Allison dishes out amped-up takes on classic American fare. Think ribeye cheese steak, braised short rib mac & cheese, loaded Western tots and crispy cod tacos. And don't miss the brown butter rigatoni and sandwiches with catchy names like the "El Jefe" and the "Stay at Home Dad."
19. The Churchill (Phoenix)
The Churchill is home to ten small local businesses, mixing established operators with start-up entrepreneurs. It's a communal place where you can get pizza, tacos and burgers from different local restaurants. Take your pick! Hit up Provecho for tacos, Freak Bros. for Neapolitan-style pizza, and Commander Hamburger for burgers from Chef Bernie Kantak (The Gladly, Citizen Public House). You can also play lawn games, grab a beer or cocktail, or shop at local retailers.
20. Pa’La (Phoenix)
Located in a restored bungalow in central Phoenix, Pa'La balances high-end cooking with a casual setting. The menu is continually changing, and each day the chef cooks dishes determined by the best materials available. The staff posts a photo of the daily menu on Instagram. Whatever offerings the day brings, there’s always some form of the Navarro Bowl offered, with a bounty of grains and choice of seafood (often shrimp or scallops), as well as “pita” bread sandwiches.
21. Urban Phoenix (Phoenix)
This new cafe, located at 36th Street and Indian School Road, hopes to "reinvent the way Arizonans eat breakfast and lunch." Urban Phoenix offers a menu inspired by Mexican ingredients. The Food Network suggests breakfast tacos with eggs and smashed potatoes with jack cheese and bacon, or spicy breakfast bowls with scrambled eggs, poblano peppers, and locally made Frites St. French fries. Yes, fries for breakfast!
22. Tratto (Phoenix)
Tratto is white-tablecloth trattoria Located in in the Town & Country center next to Pizzeria Bianco. James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco brings together Italian and Mediterranean cooking with ingredients from local, Southwest-desert farms.You'll find handmade pasta, wood-grilled meats, fresh Chula Seafood fish, and a choice of antipasti.
23. La Grande Orange (Phoenix)
La Grande Orange has turned the intersection of 40th Street and Campbell into the epicenter of the Arcadia neighborhood. The location encompasses a general store, wine shop, coffee bar, pizzeria, cocktail bar and fast-casual restaurant that features salads and sandwiches. You can also find sushi, as well as gelato for dessert. The bake shop features a sweet selection of made-from scratch baked goods, and the cake shop sells whole cakes and pies for any celebration.
24. Topo (Gilbert)
If you're venturing into the heart of Gilbert, you can't miss the Topo food stall, which is topped with a giant gopher head! It's located right next to the well-known Joe's Real BBQ. The website describes the sculpture as "iconic roadside architecture in the spirit of the great American road trip." Topo’s menu consists of two styles of burritos with pork or chicken as the two options for fillings. You can choose a classic, with beans, cheese and salsa, or a Topo, with Fritos, hot sauce, cilantro, elote, and tomatillo crema. There's also soft-serve ice cream for dessert.