Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
Every day presents a blank canvas to the chefs at Pita Cafe, who start from scratch with simple ingredients such as flour, tahini, and chick peas. They blend these together to create a full menu of Mediterranean dishes that's headlined by pita wraps stuffed with lamb and beef shaved right off the spit. When they want to get a little more creative, they sub out the gyro meat for unique fillings such as stuffed grape leaves or turkey, avocado, and bacon. Other dishes find common ground between American and Greek traditions. There are french fries layered with feta, meat, and tzatziki—not to mention pita wraps that replace the traditional flatbread with a warm American flag.
On Rare Earth Pizza and Wine Bar's outdoor patio, servers transport hand-tossed pizzas and glasses of wine in the flickering glow of outdoor fire bowls. Conversation buzzes as guests take in views of technicolor sunsets and the surrounding landscape of Pinnacle Peak. Inside, they can sidle up to the tall wooden bar to take a look at hand-chalked specials, or gather around tables to take turns singing lists of gourmet ingredients from the menu.
At The Best Ever Subs & More, a Thanksgiving meal isn’t an annual feast. Instead, it’s a sandwich served daily, in the form of a french roll stuffed with oven-roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and crispy onions. Nestled inside Danny’s Gourmet Market, the shop’s entire array of subs—from the Thanksgiving variety to a chicken, brie, and apple sandwich—come filled with the market’s artisanal meats and cheeses, which also top personal pizzas toasted golden brown in a brick oven. The signature gourmet sauce anoints pizzas and sandwiches alike and is dubbed the “best sauce ever” for its carefully balanced blend of garlic and herbs, rather than because the food it touches turns into money. The shop also bakes signature butter cookies, and a portion of its proceeds benefits the Lost Angels Foundation of Hope.
Though he worked as a chef in Europe and on the East Coast, Cafe at Desert Ridge owner Mario Kuja embraced the flavors and flair of Southwestern cuisine upon moving to Arizona. Guided by his 22 years of culinary experience, he infuses many of his dishes with classic Southwestern spices, including the Sonoran burrito and the Southwest chicken salad. However, like a rare pottery collector or a mom who's obsessed with cleaning everything in the world, he doesn't neglect American and European dishes. Mario prepares these in the form of burgers, Mediterranean paninis, and meatball pappardelle.
When Tryst Cafe opened in December 2010, Phoenix Magazine took notice, putting it on their Best New Restaurants list. Part of what got their attention?and what continues to draw in customers?is the restaurant's inventive menu. Their dishes, made with organic, local, and natural foods, range from roasted beet salads to barbecue bacon burgers to cornish hen with a cornbread grit cake, and many can be modified to be gluten- and kryptonite-free. Guests can take a bit of an adventure by ordering from the supplementary Tryst Around the World menu, which focuses on a different geographic region each month, or by grabbing a table on an outdoor patio soundtracked by world music.