Named for their founder, a renegade radio host and showman, Bill Johnson's Big Apple Restaurants please palates with a menu of hearty American fare. Warm up your appetite with Grand Canyon nachos, which––just like the real Grand Canyon––are covered with beef, black beans, avocado, jalapeños, and more ($9). Mama's breaded pork chops ($13.50) and southern fried 1/2 chicken ($14) counterbalance a beefy selection of steaks. A six-ounce sirloin paired with endless popcorn shrimp ($15) tests the limits of appetites and pants, and a bacon-wrapped eight-ounce sirloin filet ($15) brings barnyard frenemies together at last. Guests can also make their own meaty matches with the Make Your Own Smoked Combo option ($17), which allows diners to make three selections from a smoked smorgasbord of pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork, smoked brisket, hot links, and barbecue-smoked chicken.
Donovan’s Steak and Chop House isn't out to rewrite the book on fine dining—it just tries to make sure that book is printed in the most elegant cursive possible. The restaurant largely succeeds, thanks to a few simple things it refuses to compromise on. Take, for example, the fact that Donovan’s exclusively serves USDA Prime steaks straight from the Midwest. Each and every rib eye or new york strip is wet-aged and flash-seared at 1,600 degrees to seal in the juices and leave the meat tantalizingly tender. And while beef might be the main event, Donovan’s doesn’t skimp on its non-steak menu, either, serving market-fresh Australian coldwater rock lobster and Alaskan king crab legs in a chilled seafood tower that guests can topple with their choice of a fork or trident.
Under the gourmet guidance of chef Stephen Toevs, the staff at bistro 24 transports fresh French–bistro fare to mouth mailboxes. After a standout sommelier selects a glass of wine for each diner, an organic farmers-market salad struts to tables in a dashing ensemble of seasonal greens and local vegetables layered under sherry-shallot vinaigrette and a chic sun hat. For the headliner, choose from succulent short ribs leading a hard-driving collaboration between horseradish mashed potatoes and shaved asparagus salad or sustainable pacific salmon, huddling down with cauliflower polenta and braised red cabbage. Sweet supper stoppers include a choice between chocolate cake layered with strawberry jam and peanut-butter ice cream and carrot cheesecake drizzled with tasty toffee sauce and a rambunctious clamoring of forks.
Phoenix chef Christopher Gross is something of a local legend, having pulled in a James Beard award for his upscale French cooking. At his eponymous Christophers Restaurant, the star chef plates up dishes like a lobster pot pie or wood oven pizza, topped unexpectedly with duck confit, goat cheese and figs. But even amid the sleek, upscale bistro setting with a glass-encased kitchen, he keeps things fun, peppering the menu with playful bites like an excellent burger that’s topped as you wish. At Crush Lounge, next door, the mood is sexier, with loud music, a busy bar and small plates like roasted rabbit salad or a house smoked salmon “BLT” sandwich, each to be paired with the restaurant’s list of over 50 by-the-glass wine choices. Stick around long enough and chef Gross might emerge from the kitchen himself to check in on your table with a handshake and a smile.
An offshoot of the prestigious D.C. hangout, The Capital Grille impresses with dark wood, leather and linen tablecloth ambiance, alongside smooth, professional service. The star of the menu is beef, dry aged for fourteen days on premises in state-of-the-art meat lockers. After that, the individual steaks are hand-cut, generously seasoned and grilled to order in oversize portions, with everything else offered a la carte. These first-rate meals are appropriately pricey; even the rare seafood options are flown in daily to ensure their freshness. The dark wood accents, hanging lighting and tall, soft booths help to round out a high quality meal.
Restaurant maven Sam Fox joined forces with health expert Dr. Andrew Weil, and the result is True Food Kitchen, where healthy, beneficial dishes taste like they shouldn’t be. This bustling, bright, Biltmore Fashion Park eatery shouts high fashion with its clean lines and fashionable clientele – think socialites rubbing elbows with beauty-conscious health club fanatics. Many things can be vegetarian, and dishes sing with an orchestra of flavors, like the Winter Ingredient salad: roasted cauliflower with Brussels sprouts, squash, mulberry, pomegranate and white beans in horseradish vinaigrette. Meat lovers will be happy, too, tucking into hearty turkey lasagna layered with spinach, ricotta and organic tomato. Some drinks are restorative, such as the Hangover Rx of coconut water, pineapple, vanilla and orange juice, yet there are indulgent adult drinks to be savored too, like the cucumber-citrus skinny margarita, stocked with Ixá Organic Silver tequila, lime, fresh mint and soda.