I have lots of dish posts on food in the Valley, searchable via the search box above or by location tags like Phoenix, Scottsdale, or Mesa. But with spring training games about to begin, I thought it might help to put together one cheatsheet with some recommendations sorted by spring training stadium. I’ll add to this post over the next few weeks if I try anything new or realize that I’ve forgotten a good spot.
I should mention that Chandler and Gilbert both have a number of good options, but they’re not that convenient to any of the ballparks. If you find yourself staying in either place, search the dish archives or throw a question in the comments below here and I’ll offer some recommendations.
I do not have a comparable list of recommendations for Florida, because spring training in Florida is awful and I don’t want to accidentally encourage any teams to stay there.
* Hillside Spot, Ahwatukee (Phoenix). My favorite place to eat in the Valley, right off I-10 at the corner of Warner and 48th. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I recommend the pulled pork sandwich, the chilaquiles, the grilled corn appetizer, the house-cut French fries, the pancakes (best in Arizona), and the coffee from Cartel Coffee Lab. The Spot sources as much as they possibly can from local growers or providers, even providing four local beers on tap, and you can get out for under $15 including tax and tip. I’ve written about it more than once; here’s one of my posts, which talks about that pork sandwich.
* Cornish Pasty Company, Tempe. Just what the name says – large, hearty Cornish pasties with dozens of traditional and non-traditional filling options. I’ve eaten one for lunch and then skipped dinner. Second location in Mesa isn’t too far from the Cubs’ park and is bigger with more parking. Convenient to the A’s ballpark.
* Four Peaks Brewery: One of our best local microbreweries with surprisingly solid food as well. You’ll see their beers all over the place, but the restaurant is absolutely worth hitting. Parking is very difficult on Friday through Sunday nights, though. Also very convenient to the A’s ballpark.
* Cantina Modern Tequila, Tempe. In the Mill District shopping/dining area. Only ate here once, for lunch, and found the ‘street tacos’ to be solid, although pricier than actual street tacos. Vibe was weird – trying to cater to a business lunch crowd (which wasn’t buying, at least on that day), but the place looks more like a nightclub that serves food during daylight hours.
* angel sweet, Mesa: The best gelato I’ve had out here, and some of the best I’ve had in the U.S. Three words for you: Super dark chocolate. It’s in the Mesa Riverview outdoor mall, just across 101 from Tempe Marketplace.
* Rancho de Tia Rosa: A bit east of the ballpark, Tia Rosa has a large, upscale yet family-friendly Mexican restaurant with a smaller take-out taqueria located on-site as well. I wouldn’t call it high-end, but it’s expensive relative to the typical crappy chain faux-Mex restaurants that seem to be everywhere out here (Macayo’s, Arriba, Garcia’s … avoid all of those).
* Mango’s Mexican Cafe: Right on Main Street in Mesa, they’re open for lunch but close at irregular times. I’ve been once, loved their fish tacos, liked the shrimp tacos, really liked the aguas frescas. Cash only, and their website seems to be defunct.
* Pros Ranch Market: A Mexican/Latin American grocery store south of the ballpark (at Stapley and Southern) with a large quick-service department offering some of the best burritos (including, hands-down, the best carnitas) I’ve had in Arizona. The enchiladas are solid, my daughter loves their quesadillas, they make great aguas frescas in eight to twelve flavors, and there’s an extensive selection of Mexican pastries. You can stuff yourself here for under $10. There’s another location near the A’s ballpark in Phoenix as well.
Everything in Tempe is pretty close to here as well, and you’re not that far from Old Town Scottsdale either.
* Pros Ranch Market: Mentioned above in the Mesa section – from the Oakland park, just hop on the 202 west, get off at 24th, head south (left), right on Roosevelt. Also very close to the west exit from the airport – my old Fall League tradition was to get off the plane and head right here for lunch before going to my first game.
* Honey Bear’s BBQ: Just under the highway when you head west from the ballpark, they offer solid smoked meats but below-average baked beans. There’s not a lot of good Q out here – the best I know of is Bryan’s in Cave Creek, which is a hike from the closest stadium – so Honey Bear’s gets a little overrated.
* Barrio Cafe, downtown: About 15 minutes west of Phoenix Muni via the 202/51. Best high-end Mexican food I’ve had out here, edging out Los Sombreros in Scottsdale. Table-side guacamole is very gimmicky (and, per Rick Bayless, suboptimal for flavor development), but the ingredients, including pomegranate arils, are very fresh. Great cochinita pibil too.
* Pizzeria Bianco, downtown: Most convenient to Chase Field. Best pizza I have ever had in the United States. No reservations, closed Sunday-Monday, waits for dinner can run to four hours, but they’re now open for lunch and if you get there before twelve the wait usually isn’t too bad. Parking is validated at the Science Museum garage. I’ve never been to Nobuo at Teeter House, which is in the same complex as Pizzeria Bianco, but it is apparently one of the best sushi places in the state.
* Zinburger: I’m pushing it a little, as this isn’t all that close to the A’s park, but it’s a damn good burger, especially the namesake option (red zinfandel-braised onions, Manchego, mayo), along with strong hand-cut fries. Located in a shopping center across the street from the Ritz.
* Matt’s Big Breakfast: Not really close to any ballpark except Chase Field, but if you’re staying downtown or are crossing the city it’s one of the best breakfast places in the Valley. Tiny, however, so expect a wait.
Scottsdale/Old Town (San Francisco):
* Citizen Public House: The pork belly starter is phenomenal, among the best things I’ve eaten in the state. I’ve only been once so far, but everything I tried there was superb from ingredients to execution. Full review.
* Culinary Dropout: My go-to recommendation for this area, because the menu is broad, everything I’ve had here was good (although I’m told they cut the short rib pasta from the menu – damn them!), and it’s very convenient if you’re staying right in Old Town. They don’t call it a gastropub, but I think that’s the best description. The chicken truffle hash and the turkey pastrami are both very good.
* Arcadia Farms: Farm-to-table breakfast dishes and sandwiches. Not cheap, but you are paying for quality and for a philosophy of food. I have been there twice and service, while friendly, was leisurely both times.
* ‘Pomo Pizzeria: Authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza. Not as good as Bianco, but better than anything else I’ve had around here. Toppings include a lot of salty cured meats designed (I assume) to keep you drinking … not that there’s anything wrong with that. Full review.
* Grimaldi’s: Local chain, related to the Brooklyn establishment of the same name. Very good (grade 55) thin-crust, coal-fired pizzas, including nut-free pesto, and similarly solid salads in generous portions. Not terribly cost-effective for one person, though.
* Scratch Pastries: Amazing high-end sandwiches on bread so good it nearly overshadows what’s between the slices. Full review.
* Echo Coffee: Rivals Cartel Coffee Lab for the best coffee I’ve had out here. At Echo, they grind the beans and brew the cup in a cone filter after you order it. Worth the extra few minutes. Full review.
* Iruna: Tapas place also very close to the ballpark; food was very good but the Spanish-heavy menu was pretty limited for a tapas bar. (The menu on their website is out of date.)
* Gelato Spot: The third-best gelato in the Valley, still pretty good considering how far we are from Italy. There’s one right in Old Town and another way up in north Scottsdale near where the Greenway hits 51.
* Los Sombreros: A bit of a drive south of Old Town into the only part of Scottsdale that you might call “sketchy,” Los Sombreros does high-end authentic Mexican at Scottsdale-ish prices but with large portions and very high quality.
Scottsdale central/north (Arizona/Colorado):
* Soi4: upscale Thai and Thai-fusion, very close to the park. Owned by the same family that runs Soi4 in Oakland. Full review of my first visit; I went back and had the pad see ew, which was outstanding.
* Wildflower Bread Company: I’d say “think Panera,” but this place is so much better than Panera in every aspect that I hate to even bring that awful chain (which now owns the Paradise Bakery chain) into the discussion. Wildflower is a small chain, but their salads are very fresh and filling, and the sandwiches are solid.
* Butterfields: The lines are crazy on the weekends, but if you want pancakes or waffles this is one of the better options in the Valley.
* ShinBay: I’ve never been, but it has a real cult following that lasted during a multi-year hiatus which ended with the sushi-ya opening this new place under the same name in a different part of town.
* Are you out of your mind? Don’t go to Maryvale.
* Raul and Theresa’s offers very good, authentic, reasonably priced Mexican food, really fresh, always made to order. The guacamole is outstanding. It’s south of the stadium and doesn’t look like much on the outside, but I would call it a can’t-miss spot if you’re going to a Cincinnati or Cleveland game.
Glendale (Dodgers/White Sox):
I have nothing out here, as the stadium went up before there was much around it but a few crappy chains. Two places I’ve heard decent things about that are nearby are Arrowhead Grill and La Piazza al Forno. Because I have to cross Phoenix to get here, I usually stop somewhere like the Ranch Market or In-n-Out (fries well done!) on the way.
* It’s a wasteland of chains out here; the best options I know are both very good local chains, Grimaldi’s and Blu Burger. The latter is one of our favorite places out here, since there’s another location almost down the street from us; they offer several kinds of burgers, including Wagyu (American Kobe beef) and Black Angus, with an impressive list of build-your-own options. My daughter loves their grilled cheese; I think she’d have a hard time choosing between theirs and the Hillside Spot’s for the best in the Valley.
* I know of nothing other than chains out there, although there is a new French bistro called Amuse Bouche that has gotten some positive reviews, offering high-end sandwiches and salads at lunch (priced accordingly), then switching to a small dinner menu of higher-end entrees that sound French-inspired rather than straight French. They also do Sunday brunch. It’s west of the ballpark on Bell Road, just past the 303. If your main destination out in Arizona is Surprise, consider staying somewhere closer to the highway, either Peoria or Glendale, for food options but also ease of getting out to other ballparks. Surprise Stadium is wonderful, but the area around it is an antiseptic nightmare.