Arizona spring training food guide.

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.

Tempe (Angels):

* 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.

Mesa (Cubs):

* 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.

Phoenix (Oakland):

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.

Maryvale (Milwaukee):

* Are you out of your mind? Don’t go to Maryvale.

Goodyear (Cincinnati/Cleveland):

* 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.


  1. Thanks for this, Klaw! My GF and I are planning a Phoenix trip in late March, and this guide is definitely going to come in handy. One question: do you have any notes about gluten-free options in any of these locations? As a non-gluten person, I’d be interested in any info you have.

    Thanks again!

  2. You have to try Oregenos in Tempe and Bandera in old town Scottsdale. My two favorites.

  3. Hi Keith,

    My friend (Surprise resident) sent me the following message after reading this great piece:

    “I need to update him on Surprise, we have a couple of good spots now. He is right on Amuse Bouche. Another really good spot is Vogue Bistro. Irish Wolfhound is a pretty good Irish pub with classic pub fare.”

  4. What are your favorite Chandler/Gilbert spots?

  5. Keith, gotta try Cowboy Ciao in Old Town Scottsdale for dinner. The chopped salad is legendary.

  6. Tony: Not sure, as I don’t have anyone GF in my family. I know there’s a small pizza chain out here called Picazzo’s that specifically targets restricted diets (including GF) and concerned eaters (they are, or were, largely organic).

    Kyle: I know folks out here love Oregano’s, but from what I’ve read and been told, that’s not my kind of pizza.

    Andrew: Thanks, I will check those out. The pub sounds like a great spot for me.

    Max: There’s not much down where we are (seriously, let’s grab coffee once I’m driving again, maybe at the Starbucks at Gilbert & CH?), but we love The Olive Mill in Queen Creek, Liberty Market in downtown Gilbert, Joe’s Farm Grill over on Ray, Pho Chandler on Arizona by Home Depot, Cyclo at Chandler & Dobson, angel sweet also at Chandler & Dobson, Blu Burger at CH & Alma School, Grimaldi’s at Santan Village. Otaku on Gilbert is average sushi, not quite good enough for the prices, but good enough if you have a craving and don’t want mediocre chain sushi like Ra. My wife loves Joe’s BBQ, but I thought it was fringy, and I really don’t like their shredded, over-sauced pork. I like Swaddee Thai over in west Chandler at Rural and Ray. Had breakfast at the Farm House in Gilbert once and it was solid-average with a great family-diner atmosphere.

  7. I highly recommend Posh in Scottsdale. Just North of Old Town, Chef Josh Hebert creates very unique tasting menus. It can be pricey, but the experience is tremendous.

  8. I’ve heard great things about Posh and FnB, but 1) I’ve never been to either and 2) I thought they might be too expensive to recommend. I talk about restaurants a lot but I rarely drop more than $30 on myself for one meal, including liquor, tax, and tip.

  9. Keith, love reading your reviews of the area. FYI – I’m almost positive Bonfire has closed as they have a ‘For Lease’ sign out front, I haven’t seen it open in a couple weeks, and their phone number is disconnected. Glad you’re back on your feet.

  10. There is also an Angel Sweet Gelato at Mesa Riverview. Good stuff.

    I had attacked the majority of your list from Arizona (Pizzeria Bianco, Hillside Spot, Rancho Tia Rosas, Barrio Cafe, Zinburger, Culinary Dropout, Soi4, Wildflower Bread Company, Grimaldi’s, Gelato Spot, and Mangos) with my favorites being Bario Cafe, Pizzeria Bianco, and Soi4. Also thought that Angel Sweet toped Gelato Spot.


    Recently moved to Silicon Valley and don’t know where to eat. Any recommendations out here? I’m near Palo Alto.

  11. Yep, Bonfire closed four weeks ago. Food was good, but I think they overpriced it, or just didn’t offer the right balance.

    Fixed Angel Sweet reference – I thought it was in Tempe Marketplace, but it’s in Mesa Riverview across 101.

  12. I think there’s a Palo Alto post in the archives, and I had dinner with three readers at Reposado (Spanish, some tapas, some larger plates) in Palo Alto two weeks ago, which was very good.

  13. Keith, have you ever been to The Mission in old town Scottsdale? If so, what do you think of it?

  14. How you can have Culinary Dropout anywhere near this list is beyond me. The concept is solid; the execution, sourcing, and service? It ends up like you’re eating at a chain. FnB, right down the block, is what a great restaurant is all about. Seasonal ingredients, knowledgeable service, and creative, well-executed dishes in a pleasant environment. Along with Bianco and Four Peaks, it is one of a very few AZ restaurants that would survive in a real food city.

  15. Brian in ahwatukee

    Love the Maryvale comment. Funny. Have you met the fox restaurant folks? You’ve got a lot of their stuff on here. Interesting people.

  16. Starbucks at Gilbert and CH works for me. Just let me know when, and also if you need any contact info from me. Looking forward to it!

  17. What are your thoughts on La Grande Orange? We always enjoy it for lunch. Also any thoughts on Frashers or Italian Grotto in Scottsdale? Giants players (assuming they get free food) and local Bay Area media tweet about these places. I am tempted to check out Distrito also.

  18. Hey Keith, one thing I came across out near the Glendale wasteland, especially convenient for those staying in one of the numerous hotels along that stretch of the 17 in North Phoenix is a little spot called Rocket Burger (named for the Moon Valley High School Rocket’s next door) that is a bit gimmicky but surprisingly well made fresh burgers with a ton of “gourmet” sodas and drinks in it’s 10-12 cooler cases. As a bonus, it’s VERY inexpensive with a cheeseburger combo running $4 with a fountain soda.

  19. Keith,

    Nobuo is insanely good, definitely worth checking out for the non-sushi items alone. I’ve wanted to hit one of the Roka Akor/Chef Nobuo collaborations (one coming up next Monday) but like you mentioned, not really looking to drop $100 on dinner…but if I was going to talk myself into it, this one would be an easy sell.

    Last summer they did some Japanese BBQ events on Friday night at Teeter House, and was very reasonably priced and a nice taster of what they do (small plates, $4-6 each, casual)

  20. Keith, love the post. Thanks for the information.

    Going to be staying around Paradise Valley late March, but open to going anywhere, since the games are all around town anyways. Any vegetarian/vegan restaurants (at least with options) come to mind? I would think the local farm-supplied eats would provide something of that sort, but just curious if anything comes to mind?

  21. I visited a few Reds games last year in Goodyear and came across a place called Manuel’s, which serves Mexican food. I believe it’s a local chain, but the food was real solid, the prices fairly decent and they had a good Happy Hour selection for after the games. It’s a little sports bar-sy, but a nice selection overall. My wife really liked the spinach enchiladas (vegetarian), and I remember the skirt steak being real good as well. Not too far from the Dodgers’ facility at Camelback, where I intend to go this year, in addition to seeing my Reds again at Goodyear.

  22. I totally agree with the recommendations of the Fox restaurants. I admit to some bias, having met some of their team, but they have assembled some top local culinary talent and really do a good job overall. When in doubt, they are a far better option than some large chain.

    As a 40-year old Arizona native, I remember being thoroughly puzzled when the Brewers were looking at Maryvale for their facility. A few years ago, the AZ Republic printed stories about how the Brewers were disappointed because they didn’t have the successes of the other new facilities in Peoria, Surprise, even Glendale, and especially Salt River, and thought the City of Phoenix had sold them a bill of goods. But had the Brewers done ANY market research, or asked ANY local baseball fan like myself (or even just any local, period), they would have immediately realized that most of us won’t even drive through Maryvale, let alone stop there. They didn’t do their homework, and they are now paying the price. Caveat Emptor. I hope their baseball operations people are a bit more thorough.

  23. Have you tried Indulge Burger at Shea and Scottsdale? Their Vesuvius Volcano burger with their garlic parmesian chips is a good meal.

  24. I recently relocated to Tampa and while I agree that it isn’t a haven for fine food, it isn’t nearly as awful as you make it out to be.

  25. Yinka Double Dare

    I know I’m one of the ones who has mentioned FnB to you. As a visitor, the all-Arizona wine list (or at least it was when I went about a year ago) is actually kinda cool too. I wouldn’t send someone there who won’t eat their vegetables though.

    Beer folks who will be around Scottsdale or Tempe should consider a visit to Papago Brewing. Their own beers were largely good and they had a good guest draft selection as well. It’s in a strip mall of the same name at Scottsdale and McDowell, couple miles south from where the Giants play.

  26. Andrew: Tried Irish Wolfhound today; kind of disappointing. I got bangers and mash, and while the sausages were pretty good (but leaner than authentic bangers), the potatoes were very weird – I don’t know if they were instant, or frozen, or what, but I’d bet good money those weren’t real potatoes, peeled and mashed in the back. But I appreciate the suggestion. I’ll try Vogue Bistro as well.

  27. Could you explain your distaste with Panera? This isn’t a criticism of you, just curious why you don’t like it. I’ve been going there for a few years now and it’s kind of a hey don’t want to spend much money kind of healthy kind of tasty fast option for us (in Alameda, CA). Thanks for this posting btw, you do a great job with reviews.

  28. Paul: Inferior inputs. The ingredients are really weak – for example, the turkey in their sandwiches is low-quality and was sliced elsewhere and shipped in. It’s not that hard to slice meat to order, and it keeps the meat fresher, allowing the provider to use better-quality meat with less added water/salt/chemicals.

  29. Surprise has a really great Mexican restaurant next to Irish wolfhound. Rio Mirage, family owed, nice. I had the steak El rico which was awesome. My friend had the puerto penasco salad which she loved. Great house margaritas, we went on Wed so we enjoyed them for $.99! It was packed tho so service was a little slow but overall we were happy. I also like the vogue Bistro which has great beef skewers & filet mignon. Drinks are pricey tho. Hope that helps!

  30. Anyone have any recommendations for Tucson?

  31. Have you tried Haji Baba in Tempe? Its a middle eastern market that also erves great food. That is always my first and last stop when I come into town. The chicken shwarma pita is to die for and the felafel, tabooli, and hummus are all quite good as well.

  32. Thanks for this list Keith, we made our first ST trip and tried several of these. Culinary Dropout (the antipasti portions were an incredible value) and Gelato Spot were everything you said, we also enjoyed Los Sombero’s; however, I got 2 bones in my taco’s which I thought was pretty poor execution to not remove those as they were rather large pieces.

  33. This was a big help, both the list and comments. Glad I squeezed in both Culinary Dropout and Amuse Bouche. The latter, note that the hours on the website are wrong (or n/a to the ST season): Tues-Sat they do breakfast from 8-11a (call to be sure), and the Benedict is right on.

  34. Thanks for this Keith…just had dinner at HIllside last night and it was awesome (shocked that their prices are so low for what you’re getting). One of the best pulled pork sandwiches I’ve ever had, and the chilaquiles is definitely unique (we’re from Boston and you don’t see those too much back east). I’d recommend the guacamole and chips…really high quality, unique and plenty to share.

  35. I like to call it the three P’s . Picazzos italian organic kitchen, Pita Jungle and Pappaduex Seafood Kitchen . They all get my vote everytime , since we are in it for the food ,right ? Picazzos and Pita Jungle definitely a little more price friendly , but food quality and service AMAZING!! I have never left any of these places dissapionted even after many visits …

  36. Pita Jungle is fine. Never been to Picazzo’s. But Pappdeax is AWFUL, a dumbed-down-for-the-masses facsimile of Creole cuisine. I’ve been once, with a group, and would never go back.