Hues of vibrant orange and yellow splash across the walls in Migo's spacious dining room. Guests enjoy the lively environs at a selection of tables, some of simple, rich wood, others embellished with blue and yellow tiles. Said tables are soon cloaked by platters of aromatic Mexican delicacies, including T-bone steaks, grilled seafood, and beef-filled tacos. Meanwhile, blue-rimmed glasses the size of fishbowls pack in the sweet nectar of top-shelf Migo margaritas. Friday and Saturday nights coax the sweet sounds of authentic Mexican tunes from the strings of guitars and the throats of gifted singers, and weekday happy hours boast no formal entertainment, though diners are free to indulge that one bar guest determined to dazzle friends with their impersonation of Sinatra after a tonsillectomy.
Naked Pizza hearkens back to the age of cavemen, when dense grains supplied the energy necessary to combat hours of Ice Age drudgery. The pizzeria’s kitchen chemists kept this lifestyle in mind while developing the shop’s Ancestral Blend, a conglomeration of 10 grains—including oats, brown rice, buckwheat, and quinoa—infused with prebiotic agave fiber and probiotics that promote slow and healthy digestion. Toppings are also stripped down to their simplest and healthiest form, from rGBH-free Wisconsin mozzarella to tomato sauce free of citric acid or sugar. Naked Pizza also dispenses with dinnertime secrecy by openly posting nutritional information for all to see and inviting feedback via social media and onsite semaphore flags.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
Mark Smith and Gary Clark wouldn’t be where they are today without a 50-year-old barbecue recipe. When the two childhood friends started a catering service in college to cover their living expenses, they soon became renowned for their barbecue, made with a Tennessee-style recipe passed down through several generations. Bolstered by demand, they bought a truck and a portable barbecue pit—but soon traded these for a brick-and-mortar location, a rustic storefront on East Van Buren Street. More than 25 years later, the pair are still serving smoked meats at Honey Bear’s BBQ, boosting their output with a second location on North Central Avenue and a separate catering center.
Their recipe has only improved with age, earning them accolades such as the Phoenix’s Best BBQ Sauce 2010 Award from the Phoenix New Times. Inside the Honey Bear BBQ kitchens, chefs brush this signature Tennessee sauce onto pulled pork, shredded chicken, and beef brisket, which they serve by the pound, pile onto sandwiches, or stuff into face-level catapults. They complement the mesquite flavors with traditional Southern sides such as potato salad, cowbro beans, collard greens, and tater tots. For faraway fans, they also bottle and ship their signature sauce around the country.
At La Bocca Urban Pizzeria, preparations for pizza crusts start a full day before they hit the brick oven. Chefs knead organic dough by hand, watch it rise for 24 hours, and then top the crusts with gourmet, locally procured ingredients such as Queen Creek Olive Mill olives, Schreiner’s Fine Sausages meat, and housemade pulled pork.
The rest of the Mediterranean-inspired menu proves equally indulgent. Chefs layer bruschetta planks with fig and smoked prosciutto and toss pastas with housemade sauces and meatballs molded from grass-fed beef. To grant molars breaks from the rigors of chewing, servers are happy to recommend pairings from the drink menu, which features handcrafted cocktails, European and Arizonan wines, and award-winning sangria.
Walter Salazar—chef, owner, and Lima native—staffs Villa Peru with family members who are "friendly, familiar with the food, and happy to take the time to walk you through any of the dishes," according to the Phoenix New Times in 2011. This help is especially valuable in light of the eclectic menu, which chef Salazar fills with exotically spiced meats and seafood. Inside the kitchen, chefs flame pieces of steak, hot peppers, and tomatoes in the chef's secret sauce to craft lomo saltado de carne entrees, or sprinkle fresh fish, squid, and octopus with lime to prepare their specialty ceviche mixto. Those customers who don't bring bottles of their own wine may sip hard-to-find Peruvian beverages such as Inca Kola or sweet and tangy chicha morada, an extract of purple-corn juice.