Diners in Arizona City

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When the Draft House On The Reef says it’s known for chicken wings, it’s not a hollow boast. Each week the cooks coat up to 800 pounds of the savory favorites in flavors such as parmesan, jalapeño , or honey. During football season they serve more than one ton per week. To augment the pub’s menu they sling simple yet satisfying bar eats that include potato skins or pulled-pork sandwiches with pickles and onions, and bartenders slide a wide array of libations down the enormous central bar. From time to time the bar hosts pool and dart tournaments, livening up the atmosphere more effectively than bringing a T-shirt cannon to your parole hearing.

393 W Warner Rd
Chandler,
AZ
US

Black bears love strawberries. The bears of Northern California could often be seen wandering through the berry patches surrounding Mt. Shasta, an area favored by travelers since the 19th century because of the charmingly hospitable inns and restaurants found there. Bob and Laurie Manley were inspired to recreate the area’s post–Gold Rush hospitality, and they opened their first restaurant, Black Bear Diner, near those same strawberry patches. Nearly 20 years later, their brand has grown to encompass 50 different locations, each of which retains the founders’ principles of small-town charm and generosity. The menus also preserve the mom-and-pop vibe, with dishes such as secret-recipe sweet-cream pancakes, old-fashioned burgers wrapped in wax paper, and, of course, homemade bear claws. Each location is adorned with a trademark bear sculpture that has been hand-carved by Washington chainsaw artist Ray Schulz, who often grants his works with regional characteristics such as cowboy hats or taxi-hailing skills.

1809 East Baseline Road
Gilbert,
AZ
US

A delicious monument to '50s-era nostalgia, 5 & Diner dishes out a dawn-to-dusk menu of 14 specialty burgers and classic comfort fare. At the stroke of lunch, the charbroiled hamburger reins supreme, ensconced between adoring buns, draped with garlands of fixings and special sauce, and accompanied by seasoned fries, coleslaw, potato chips, or a moving argument in favor of primogeniture. Guests can bite into the Southwest burger ($8.99) flanked by a cheese-kissed side of chili fries ($5.29) or explore patty permutations with a tray of cheese-slicked slider bites ($6.99). For bunless munching, the Cadillac meatloaf presents a homemade meatberg piled with chopped bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and onion straws ($10.99).

6353 E Southern Ave
Mesa,
AZ
US

Family Cafe's artful chefs dish up home-style Midwestern eats for breakfast, lunch, and Friday dinner from within a newly opened feeding hub. Morning meals commence with the cracking of eggshells, which fuel the savory Meatlover's omelet ($8–$9.99), packed with bacon, ham, and sausage, and experimental, yolk-powered automobiles. The spicy Baja breakfast burrito ($8.99) lines a tortilla shell with tasteful scrambled egg, chorizo, and green chili wallpaper splashed with a dash of salsa and cheddar jack cheese. Lunch sandwiches ensconce fixings with more layers than an philosophy-studying onion, featuring the meatloaf sandwich made from a generational recipe and precariously piled with mashed potatoes and gravy ($7.50).

2740 S Alma School Rd
Mesa,
AZ
US

Joe's Diner

For most people, making pancakes is sort of a mindless process. But Joe Seriale isn’t most people. Though a chef at heart, Joe was determined to learn every facet of the food-service industry—throughout his career, he’s been a cook, head waiter, bar manager, traveling private chef, and has held upper management positions at food-supply companies. So when he finally got the chance to open his own restaurant, he knew exactly what he needed to do to set his diner––and its food––apart. For his menu at Joe’s Diner, he wasn’t interested in making run-of-the-mill pancakes. He created a recipe for buttermilk pancakes that convinced the Phoenix New Times to proclaim his the city’s best in 2010. The extra effort can be seen in many of Joe’s dishes, including biscuits with homemade chorizo gravy, muffulettas with family-recipe tapenade dressing, and fresh baked pies. And, of course, there's also the meatloaf first made famous at a café owned by Joe's grandma Dan, who gave him his first job at the age of 11.

Working alongside Joe is his wife, Joan, who has more than 15 years of restaurant experience and grew up less than a mile from the diner. Together, they serve breakfast and lunch in a dining room that harkens back to the diners of olden days, complete with black-and-white checkered floors, red vinyl booths, and meal orders transmitted through Morse code.

4433 North 16th Street
Phoenix,
AZ
US

Welcome Diner was built in the 1940s, but it didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 40 years later. Entrepreneur Arthur Valentine prefabricated a handful of diners in Wichita, Kansas, then shipped them across the country to aspiring business owners. With their simple design, the diners were easily moveable, and this one is quite traveled: it spent a good decade of its past life in Los Angeles, then moved to a stretch of Route 66 outside Flagstaff, where truckers could easily pop in while their trucks, too large to fit inside, sat leashed to telephone poles in the parking lot. It finally moved to Phoenix in 1980, where it sat abandoned for more than 20 years. In 2003, the building fell into the hands of artist Sloane McFarland, who revived and gently renovated the restaurant. He and his team kept most of the building's original elements intact except for one new addition to the exterior: the words "Welcome Diner" in cheery red letters. Today, the tiny eatery serves up its own brand of inventive American cuisine. The PB & B burger, for one, tops a half-pound Niman Ranch beef patty with a layer of peanut butter, a layer of bacon, and a layer of bread-and-butter pickles. The vegan po’boy, on the other hand, forgoes meat for fried avocado, kale, and a cajun remoulade. Of course, it wouldn’t be a diner without breakfast. Morning hours bring lemon-ricotta pancakes and creative biscuit sandwiches.

924 E Roosevelt St
Phoenix,
AZ
US