Carolina’s Mexican Food
We know the building sure may not look like much from the moment you first pull up, but we promise that those who do venture inside (and there are quite a few who do) are rewarded with the most incredibly delicious authentic paper-thin tortillas, burros, and chimichangas. And don’t let the low prices fool you, either, because these dishes, with their fresh red and green chile sauces, are chock-full of flavor, proving you don’t have to spend a small fortune to experience the real deal when it comes to Mexican fare. And make no mistake, this is as authentic as it gets. Established by Manuel and Carolina Valenzuela in 1968, Carolina’s Mexican Food has been satisfying the Valley’s fix for the famed Oaxaca Special, filled with chorizo, beans, potatoes, and cheese, ever since.
Carolina’s Mexican Food is located in Phoenix and in Peoria; closed Sundays
Food-savvy Phoenicians who crave good dim sum turn to Phoenix Palace in Chandler to quell those hunger pains. In business since 1995, this Chinese restaurant serves up a number of Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese and Asian seafood specialties. The appetizers alone will have you salivating for your main dish, as you feast on Shanghai Juicy Dumplings, Crab Puffs, and Asian barbecue-style sliced pork. If you like spicy food, put the Kung Pao San Yan on your must-try list, but if you prefer sweet, the pork chop with the honey-garlic sauce is divine. Vegetarians will find more than enough options on the menu here, as there are plenty of yummy tofu and steamed and stir-fried veggie combos. And if you’re a seafood lover, well, your options aren’t narrow, either, but we’d suggest the clams with spicy wine sauce. And of course, there’s the dim sum: deep-fried walnuts with mixed vegetables, braised sea cucumber with sea scallops, shrimp, and sliced cuttle fish, traditionally cooked garlic spareribs and oh so much more …
Phoenix Palace is located at 2075 N. Dobson Road in Chandler 480.855.4047
Fans famously wait for hours for the opportunity to claim a table at the restaurant of pizza maker extraordinaire Chris Bianco. Since he and his business partner opened the pizzeria’s original location in 1994, the James Beard Award-winning chef personally oversaw every pie to come out of the ovens until this past February, when doctor’s orders forced him to step out of the kitchen, asserting that the oven’s smoke and the flour dust were worsening his asthma. But Bianco will forever remain the city’s “Prince of Pizza,” as he is often called, and the quality of the fare certainly hasn’t changed, thanks to the chef’s continued involvement in the menu and sourcing of ingredients. The Sonny Boy, topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, salami, and Gaeta olives is our favorite work of art at this tried-and-true Valley staple.
Pizzeria Bianco is located at 623 E. Adams Street in Phoenix 602.258.8300
La Grande Orange Grocery
A weekend ritual for many Central Valley residents goes something like this: Wake up early Saturday afternoon, hike Camelback Mountain, head straight to La Grande Orange Grocery for breakfast – or brunch, depending on their level of ambition that day. Part grocery shop and part cafe, this cute little joint continues to be a hit among health enthusiasts thanks to the many fresh and tasty breakfast dishes, salads, and sandwiches. Re-fuel on organic oatmeal with flax and brown sugar, organic fresh fruit, or the housemade granola in the early hours. They also make eggs to order and the ever-popular Daybreaker Omelette, made with egg whites, roasted turkey breast, and tomato-avocado salsa, or the Commuter Sandwich, with an English Muffin for a “bun.” This is a great place to grab a bite and go, as the service tends to be very quick, but it’s best enjoyed as a place for a leisurely nibble.
La Grande Orange Grocery is located at 4410 N. 40th Street in Phoenix 602.840.7777
Known to be one of Phoenix Suns Channing Frye’s favorite locales (he likes the ravioli best), Tutti Santi has been wowing residents of Arizona for more than a decade. This is the place to go for fine Italian dining if you love rich sauces, homemade pasta, and flavorful parmigiana (the eggplant is extraordinary). You’ve never had mussels marinara quite as savory as these, sauteed to perfection in a white wine garlic sauce, or in a tomato marinara sauce, depending on your preference. Our favorites include the homemade gnocchi and spaghetti bolognese, but how could you ever go wrong with a good lasagne? Here, the answer is, you absolutely can’t.
Tutti Santi is located in Glendale, Phoenix, and Scottsdale