Know where to find the East Valley’s best pizza? Have a favorite place for Happy Hour? See your picks below.
Plucky little place located in the City of Mesa building serves up fresh, hot, inexpensive mainstays of the first meal. Most of the breakfast items have catchy names, like the Beeline (biscuits and gravy), the Chief Mendoza (burrito with egg, cheese, gravy and shoestring potatoes) and the Stapley (egg sandwich).
20 E. Main St., Mesa
“Portions are generous, food is fresh and phenomenal!”
“Unique breakfast choices, great ambiance.”
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This Valley staple has been around since 1947 and goes by the motto: “Pete’s sells three things, price, quality and service.” Well, Pete’s serves a lot more than that, dishing out reasonably priced items like fried shrimp, crab, oysters and chicken nuggets, as well as the Triple Monsterburger that goes for just $3.75.
22 S. Mesa Drive, Mesa, and 1017 East Apache, Tempe.
(480) 964-7242 (Mesa) and (480) 968-6265 (Tempe)
“Inexpensive comfort food. I’m going there RIGHT NOW!”
“A family tradition. They’ve been making fish n’chips perfectly for generations.”
“Outstanding fish, onion rings to die for, great burgers...Overall menu is excellent...wonderful service.”
The relaxing vibe, the ever-changing wine list and a menu that features everything from grilled pizzas to wild boar lasagne to filet mignon make D’Vine a perfect spot to celebrate with friends or that special someone in your life. There are also free wine tastings (Tuesday in Mesa and Wednesday in Chandler) that can help get the special occasion going.
2837-101 N. Power Road, Mesa, and 3990 S. Alma School Road, Chandler
(480) 654-4171 (Mesa) and (480) 782-5550 (Chandler)
“Food, atmosphere, service, live music, & wines are all amazing.”
“Live music every night, great wine list and food, great setting especially by the fire pit on the patio.”
Overwhelming pick in this category, Jimmy & Joe’s has really made an impression on its customers with its tasty pies. You can order by the slice (which is huge) or by the whole pie. Either way, you are going to be satisfied.
3950 W. Ray Road, Suite 1, Chandler, and 1960 W. Baseline Road, Mesa
(480) 963-6633 (Chandler) and (480) 398-4848 (Mesa)
“Ingredient selection, staff, location and most of all TASTE. My whole family loves it and the favorite is pepperoni, garlic and feta cheese!”
“Best crust!!! Use the best ingredients. Will make any way you want it.”
“Best pizza I have ever had. Cannot ever beat a serious slice of buffalo chicken pizza and drink for five dollars!!! Staff is awesome, friendly, and make perfect pizza.”
There's a reason this longtime Tempe restaurant is a regular on "best" lists around the Valley. Its outdoor space remains the standard we can't help but compare all others to.
An idyllic spot made lush with daisies, geraniums, ferns and grapevine-covered arbors, Tricks' spacious patio connects two historic bungalows that house the restaurant's kitchen and dining rooms.
Those eating al fresco will find fresh flowers or a candle on their table, as well as twinkly lights, a fountain, a fire pit, a fish pond, heaters, misters and mature trees that provide so much shade you'll wonder if you've stepped through a portal and out of the lower Sonoran Desert.
A covered outdoor bar serves up a selection of wines twice granted Wine Spectator's "Award of Excellence."
The restaurant's acclaimed contemporary American fare changes with the seasons. Dinner prices make it a bit of a special occasion place, but lunch and the daily "hours of tranquility" -- a laid-back take on happy hour with prices as relaxed as the cats occasionally spotted sunning themselves in the garden -- are affordable entry points for first-timers and the lunchbreak and after-work crowds.
Location: 114 E. Seventh St., Tempe
Contact: (480) 968-1114
This family-owned business has expanded since the first restaurant opened in 1953, but still serves up the classics. The menus vary slightly, but both locations serve up Mexican comfort food like albondiga soup, chile relleno and steak fajitas.
1033 N. Dobson Road, Mesa (Matta’s Grill & Cantina), and 1105 N. Higley Road, Mesa (Matta’s Mexican Grill)
(480) 964-7881 (Matta’s Grill & Cantina) and (480) 655-8646 (Matta’s Mexican Grill)
“Staple in Mesa for multi generations of family. Great atmosphere and great food in perfect combination.”
“I have been going there since I was a baby. I think it’s the best!!”
“Great salsa & chips, excellent red & green sauce, big servings, good service!”
It’s the place everyone wishes was right around the corner. The pasta servings at Oregano’s are huge (and tasty) and you can get all of your favorites, from lasagna to pesto penne to shrimp scampi. While the pizzas are first-rate, few can resist the charms of the Original Pizza Cookie dessert.
523 W. University Drive, Tempe; 1130 S. Dobson Road, Mesa; 328 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert.
(480) 858-0501 (Tempe); (480) 962-0036 (Mesa); (480) 882-9336 (Gilbert)
“Best of everything and the Pesto Penne Pasta is out of this world!”
“There’s an extensive menu, great atmosphere and service, and their pizza cookies are amazing.”
If you’ve never been to Punjab state in India, The Dhaba is as close as you can get in the East Valley. The small, ornately decorated restaurant serves up an extensive menu, with exotic dishes like the Dhaba Chicken Curry, the Lamb Boti Kabob and the Sikandri Jhinga Saag (fresh spinach cooked with shrimp). It’s a unique experience.
1872 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe
(480) 557-8800 and (480) 446-2824
“Home-style Indian food at its best. No buffets. Fresh, wholesome, great ambience.”
“The only real Indian restaurant.”
Chuckbox will always be charcoaled and cheaper. SanTan Brewing Company serves Chandler well. Giant Hamburgers and Lobby's are tough to top when the local dive-without-dirty craving comes, and Gilbert's "Triple Alliance" of Joe's Farm Grill, Real BBQ and Liberty Market are really good at almost everything they touch.
It's still tough to beat the Peaks. Turns out the East Valley's sovereign of suds is also a beacon for burgers.
The key in all this, however, is to forgo the normal bun (which is good) and ask for any of their seven burgers (turkey burger, veggie burger or chicken sandwich are available substitutes) in their homemade beer bread.
Same rule applies for all sandwiches. It's an additional 50 cents, but you won't find a pay phone or toll booth to spend those spare quarters anyway.
Four Peaks is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Happy hours are 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to close.
Location: 1340 E. Eighth Street, No. 104, Tempe
Contact: (480) 303-9967
What started out as one restaurant in Scottsdale in 1997 has expanded to 26 locations from California to Maryland. Ra features a wide variety of options for the sushi lover, but a good place to start is with one of their specialty rolls like the Viva Las Vegas Roll, the Crunchy Shrimp Tempura Roll or the King Crab Roll.
1652 S. Val Vista Drive, Mesa; 411 S. Mill Ave., Tempe;
(480) 632-9500 (Mesa); (480) 303-9800 (Tempe)
“They always do a wonderful job and the food is great.”
“Date-Night Sushi, with a hip crowd.”
Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s definitely doing something right, judging by the lines outside nearly every Valley location on the weekends. The Cheddar Bay biscuits are a great starter to any meal and the menu includes items for everyone. Red Lobster is always hauling up fresh menu items in its nets, like the new wood-grilled selections.
1403 S. Alma School Road, Mesa; 6149 E. Southern Ave., Mesa; 3845 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert; 7240 West Ray Road, Chandler.
(480) 610-8701 (Alma School Road, Mesa); (480) 830-6877 (Southern Avenue, Mesa); (480) 726-7199 (Gilbert); (480) 783-9060 (Chandler)
“I like grilled fish and theirs is better than other restaurants.”
“Consistent, variety and not too expensive!!”
“I love lobster and shrimp and they are great, good atmosphere.”
Add The Keg to the list of great Canadian imports, along with Justin Bieber and hockey. The Keg has a growing reputation as an ideal spot to fill your craving for meat. There are all of the classics -- New York Strip, Top Sirloin and Filet Mignon -- along with the Keg’s signature prime rib.
3065 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler; 2240 East Williams Field Road, Gilbert; 23 S. McClintock Drive, Tempe
(480) 899-7500 (Chandler); (480) 821-1500 (Gilbert); (480) 557-5552
“Perfect steaks and service upscale all the way.”
“The steaks are tender and juicy and the service is excellent.”
“Great filet mignon and twice baked potato.”
With a name like Canteen Modern Tequila Bar, you better know your tequila. And at this trendy spot on Mill Avenue, they certainly do. Canteen Modern Tequila Bar, which opened Oct. 7, features 87 tequilas ranging in price from $6 to $60 per pour, and can be used in any of their margaritas.
When we asked for their best margarita priced at $10 or less, Bill behind the bar (who really knows his tequila), brought us a Serrano Mango Margarita. "You'll either love it or hate it, depending on your taste," Bill said. "But it's unique."
We loved it.
The 100 percent Blue Agave Blanco Tequila is infused with serrano peppers, filtered and then paired with mango juice and fresh squeezed lime on the rocks in a half-salted rim. The serrano flavor really pops in your mouth and makes this drink the perfect Arizona margarita. It's strong and has a spicy kick to it, which in our book makes it 6.5 ounces of deliciousness.
If spicy isn't your thing, there are plenty of other options. The house margarita also features Blue Agave Blanco Tequila, fresh squeezed lime juice, triple sec and their simple syrup. The Sonoran is their most popular margarita and we also enjoyed the Paloma made with organic grapefruit soda and grapefruit zest. If you're up for a shot of tequila, forget the salt and lime and try their pineapple tequila shot.
Canteen Modern Tequila Bar is owned by longtime Mill Avenue restaurateur Julian Wright, who was also behind La Bocca Pizzeria and Urban Wine Bar, among others. Open only five months, it's still not as widely known as other Mexican-themed bars and restaurants in the East Valley. But with their margaritas, that won't be the case for long.
A downtown Gilbert institution, Joe’s Real BBQ is a place for slow-cooked barbeque and some wonderful side dishes and desserts. Joe Johnston and his business partner, Tim Peelen, may have gotten national attention for their newest venture, Joe’s Farm Grill, but the original Joe’s has been a household name in the East Valley for more than a decade.
301 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert
“You just have to try it to understand.”
“Arizona ingredients and never a bad piece of meat.”
“You feel like you’re walking into the past when you walk through the doors. Great atmosphere and the best sauce....and the Jumbo Baker topped with a little of their awesome pulled pork is the best.”
Family meals are typically pretty messy things and that’s perfectly fine at Uncle Bear’s, where you can toss your peanut shells on the ground and no one will look twice at you. The food is consistently good and while you’re there the kids will enjoy looking at all of the pictures of dogs that are everywhere in the restaurants, while the adults will enjoy playing trivia or watching sports on the plethora of televisions.
9053 E. Baseline Road, Mesa; NW corner of Rittenhouse & Ocotillo, Queen Creek; NE Corner of Dobson & Germann, Chandler
(480) 986-2228 (Mesa); (480) 882-3177 (Queen Creek); (480) 722-1555 (Chandler)
“Free food for kids on one night during the week and pictures of the dogs everywhere!”
“Great environment to sit and enjoy good food with friends and family!”
The Groves is tucked away in a business center that looks more like a giant ranchhouse. This neighborhood joint serves up a wide variety of foods that fill, like breakfast omelets, burgers and hot sandwiches as well as brick-oven pizzas. It also features a full bar, as well as an expansive outdoor seating area for you and many of your friends.
323 S. Gilbert Road, Suite 111, Gilbert
“Great food and friendly staff. Caters to the locals.”
“Great menu, excellent service and the beer is always ice cold.”
Rosa's is almost easy to miss at the end of a small, bland strip mall near the northeast corner of University and Mesa drives, but once you find it, the chips and salsa lover in you won't be sorry.
Some define good chips and salsa as a matter of variety, with an array of salsa selections. We prefer to define it as eating enough to make it a meal, usually accompanied by a sudsy, malty beverage.
Luckily at Rosa's, you can do both. The choices of salsa, made from scratch, range from red to green to hot red.
And you know chips that are so good, you're scraping the bottom of the bowl for any chips sizeable enough to dip? The chips are that good.
Location: 328 E. University Drive, Mesa
Contact: (480) 964-5451
Home of the legendary Endless Buffet, Golden Corral is a can’t miss spot if your group can’t decide on what kind of food you want. There’s everything from soups and salads, seafood, roast beef and other entrees. Also, there are enough desserts to put the kids into sugar shock.
1318 N. Cooper Road, Gilbert; 1868 N. Power Road, Mesa
(480) 507-3331 (Gilbert); (480) 985-6793 (Mesa)
“Best inexpensive buffet and down home cooking.”
“Really good food and nice variety. Good senior value.”
“For it being a buffet, the food is very good and displayed nicely, and the price is not bad either.”
The menus at Jason’s are almost intimidating. There are so many choices that the first time you step foot in the place, your head starts spinning and your mouth starts watering. But, once you make a choice, it’s going to be a good one, because everything on the menu is fresh and tasty. Plus, you get free ice cream, so what can be better than that?
3491 Frye Road, Chandler (480) 812-2892; 7230 W. Ray Road, Chandler (480) 705-9266; 1065 E. Baseline Road, Suite 101, Gilbert (480) 813-1358.
“Went there with my friends for lunch once and I instantly fell in love with their food, especially their Plain Jane Potato.”
“Great fresh food. Authentic deli cuisine. Very delicious. Wonderful for catering too!”
“The sandwiches are to die for and the chicken pot pie is YUM!”
The place serves a variety of purposes, from yoga studio to wedding location, but above all, it serves up good coffee in a relaxing environment. While getting your cup of joe, you may see Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead, a Bungalow regular, picking up his.
48 N. Robson, Mesa
“Family owned, friendly, great services and variety provided.”
“Whimsical 1920’s style bungalow, beautiful patios and courtyards and fantastic owners and baristas.”
“Most relaxing atmosphere that takes you out of the city for a few moments while sipping some of the best coffee in the city.”
“So very, very unique in terms of the buildings, yards, products, and staff.”
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant not only offers "kids eat free" meals daily with purchase of an adult entree, it offers them in style.
With colorful walls, an airy atmosphere and gaggle of kids at many tables, families will feel right at home.
What's not to like about a place where mom and dad can get something different for dinner (think yummy, thin strips of tender meat on a gyro and flavor-infused hummus) and kids can find the traditional favorites (chicken tenders and French fries or spaghetti and meatballs, to name two)?
Portion sizes are plentiful for adults (choose the tasty side salad) and kids' meals include a drink.
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant has nine East Valley locations.
Location: 6447 E. Southern Ave., Mesa
Contact: (480) 981-0010
It doesn’t take a theoretical physicist to make great bagels, but Einstein Bros have turned it into a tasty art form. You have plenty of bagel options at Einstein Bros, including blueberry, asiago cheese, potato and pumpernickel, and then you can top those choices with a variety of cream cheese schmears. It makes the most important meal of the day also the best tasting.
1919 S. Gilbert Road, Mesa (480) 539-9501; 725 S. Rural Road, Tempe (480) 303-6606; 6350 S. McClintock Drive, Suite 102, Tempe (480) 777-2203; 9880 S. Rural Road, Suite 111, Tempe (480) 705-7111; 2560-2 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler (480) 855-5955; 899 N. Val Vista Drive, Suite 107, Gilbert (480) 632-8196.
“Always the most amazing bagels you can eat.”
“The best bagels ever... always fresh and delicious.”
“Consistently fresh bagels and entrees.”
The offerings at Udder Delights don’t come off the back of a refrigerated truck, they are made right there in the shop, which is an offshoot of a dairy, namely Superstition Farm. The fresh-made ice cream comes in a variety of flavors (which change frequently) and even the tried and true milk shakes are a notch above the rest.
3440 S. Hawes Road, Mesa
“Local! Farm-fresh ingredients, unique flavors (like Twizzler or Farmers Market).”
“Near my home and they make their ice cream from scratch.”
“So eclectic a choice of homemade goodies, how can you not love this place. It’s kind of a one stop shop with hummus, salsa, pastries, cheese and butter available as well as the great ice cream, you gotta go!”
From the time you sit down at Uncle Bear’s, you are treated to food that mixes well with whatever drink you choose. The peanuts, served in a dog bowl, get you started, but the wings, the pizzas, the sliders, the nachos, the pastas; all are foods that pair well with cold drinks.
“The burgers and chicken sandwiches are very tasty and the french fries are to die for. All at a reasonable price.”
“I have never had a bad meal or service.”
“Gotta love the sliders in 4 different ways.”
Themed around the spirit of the owner’s legendary former dog, Bear, this 10-year-old chain of neighborhood eateries promises a “doggone good time” for the whole family. With daily food and drink deals, complimentary peanuts that come in dog dishes (and wind up on the floor), and a ba-jillion flat-screen TVs, the atmosphere is as laid-back as the cool old Lab-mix namesake himself.
(480) 722-1555 (Chandler), (480) 986-228 (Mesa), (480) 882-3177 (Ocotillo/Queen Creek)
“Good food, good atmosphere and peanut shells on the floor.“
“Lots of TVs and games on, friendly staff and everyone knows your name.”
“Great prices on beers and appetizers, not to mention the free peanuts!”
Housed in a brick creamery building dating back to 1892, this college-town brew pub is consistently packed with patrons of all ages. Voters’ highlights include the line of tasty beers, better-than-average pub grub, friendly atmosphere and historic digs. We’d add to that list the growlers, cases and kegs of beer to go and two desserts made with velvety-black Oatmeal Stout: the beer milkshake and the “stoutimisu.”
1340 E. Eighth St., No. 104, Tempe
“Crazy number of beers on tap!”
“Always good food, lots of excitement, great people, huge bar and lots of places to sit and to mingle.”
“Peach Ale. Also, cask-conditioned seasonals like a porter aged in Jack Daniels barrels. I mean, seriously.”
“Benches made out of church pews, a punk rock vibe and delicious, non-traditional food.”
“Even from the perspective of someone who cannot drink, the food is great and employees are very friendly.”
D’Vine earned Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” in 2008, 2009 and 2010. But don’t let that scare you off; we haven’t encountered wine snobs at either of the bar’s locations, and voters agreed that servers seem genuinely interested in pairing you up with a wine you’ll like. Art on the walls, live music and easy-to-share noshes are three more reasons to love the twosome.
3990 S. Alma School Road, Chandler and 2837-101 N. Power Road, Mesa
(480) 782-5550 (Chandler), (480) 654-4171 (Mesa)
“Awesome small plate food and amazing wine list. Love the atmosphere and the choices. Plus, it’s locally owned!”
“Great selection of by-the-glass or bottle at good value prices. Live music and great food also.”
“Best wine list in the state and non-pretentious atmosphere!”
“My husband does not like wine, but every time we have been there the servers pick some out for him, and he always likes what they bring and ends up ordering a glass or two. Also, the best macaroni and cheese.”
There are two things you can’t deny about Applebee’s restaurants: With 11 of them in the East Valley, they really are “in the neighborhood,” and, come late afternoon, their parking lots are absolutely packed with folks peeling off work. Daily half-off Happy Hour deals make the chain hard to resist.
“Five words: half price appetizers and drinks.”
“Easy to fill up with food and drink for under $15 a person.”