Phoenix's Best Restaurants & Bars For Food Lovers

In Phoenix, the food scene is heating up—and now is the perfect time to visit

When it comes to cities with incredible natural scenery, few can compare to Phoenix. With mountainous desert preserves both in and around the city, you're never far from an Instagram-worthy view. Though the stunning scenery is a big draw for this desert city, there's another reason to visit: its rising culinary scene. From a three-and-a-half-hour dining experience from a James Beard Award-nominated chef to a classic Mexican spot, here's a bite-size sampler of everything Phoenix has to offer.

Roland's Cafe Market Bar

Three isn't a crowd for the creative talents behind this all-day restaurant, founded by three renowned Phoenix restaurateurs: Nadia Holguin and Armando Hernandez of Tacos Chiwas and Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco fame. Located in the century-old Roland's Market building, you can pop in as early as 7 a.m. to dine on regional cuisine inspired by the founding trio's cultural roots.

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Housed appropriately in the former Arizona Prohibition Headquarters, this Downtown Phoenix bar and resto is nationally recognized for its award-winning cocktail program by owner and barman Ross Simon. Get ready to imbibe on fairy-tale-inspired drinks found in the 20-page "liquids" menu, but get there early. This spot fills up fast.

Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva

Locals flock to chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's Barrio Café—and you might recognize that name from the bustling Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where the celebrated café has an outpost. But Barrio Café Gran Reserva offers a more intimate experience, from a thoughtful tasting menu right down to a two-seat bar overlooking the kitchen. They close for the summer after June 5, but get in line for the fall reopening.

Taco Chelo

One of the newest additions to Phoenix's Roosevelt Row Arts District, this Mexican restaurant pays homage to chef Suny Santana's roots (he named the restaurant after his mother's nickname). Local restauranteur Aaron Chamberlin (of Phoenix Public Market Café) is a partner at this spot that serves classics like carne asada tacos and guacamole.

Mora Italian

Owned by celebrity chef Scott Conant, this restaurant is proof that incredible Italian food can be found beyond the Northeast (or your home city's Little Italy section). Go home-style Italian with polenta with porcini sugo, or sample boundary-pushing creations like black campanelle pasta with clams and Fresno chiles. You won't find a single "Old World"-style mural here, either—the dining room has a tailored, modern aesthetic.

Binkley's Restaurant

You'll want to clear an entire evening for this beloved Phoenix upscale dining destination. You won't just be enjoying a meal, but a potentially life-changing dining experience created by James Beard Award-nominated chef Kevin Binkley that'll run three and a half hours.

Cloth & Flame

City rooftops have nothing on Cloth & Flame, a series of pop-up dinner parties held in some of Greater Phoenix's most dramatic outdoor settings. From the desert to the wilderness, these events have become a hot reservation due to their rarity. They're held only a few times a year in the Greater Phoenix area (they also host dinners in other parts of Arizona and the Southwest), though Cloth & Flame could always plan your next private event if you truly can't wait.

Helio Basin Brewing Co.

Not satisfied with typical bar snacks, chef Tamara (Tammy) Stanger created a menu of contemporary Southwest cuisine that's earned Helio Basin Brewing Co. top honors at the local Devour Culinary Classic. Of course, the beer is equally as well-crafted—try the Kohi Imperial Coffee Stout, an oddly refreshing stout made with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee beans.