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The 12 Hottest New Restaurants in Phoenix

Where to eat in the Arizona capital

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Today, Eater returns to Phoenix, Arizona to focus on 12 new bars and restaurants that are garnering some serious buzz. Once again, Eater has asked local food journalist and Pen & Fork editor Gwen Ashley Walters to select the buzziest openings of the past 12 months.

Among her picks are two new restaurant-bars that have become destinations in their own right (Bar Bianco and FnB Bar). There's also a high-minded tasting menu from a James Beard Award finalist (Binkley's), the latest from Beard Award-winner Chris Bianco (Tratto), and a humble taco shop that stands out from all of the others (Tacos Chiwas). Here now, presented in geographic order, the Eater Heatmap for Phoenix.

UPDATE 4/8/17: Leoni's Focaccia is closed; it is relocating to downtown Phoenix. This map will reflect the new address pending reopening.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Barnone

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An eclectic mix of entrepreneurial small businesses make up this destination “craftsmen community,” including two restaurants, a craft brewery, and a quirky fermented-fruit microwinery. Housed in a refurbished former barn, Fire & Brimstone cranks out wood-fired pizzas, while the Uprooted Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch with a grain- and vegetable-driven menu. For drinks, 12 West Brewing Co. taps around a dozen brews, and Garage-East, in a separate building next door, specializes in small-batch wines and experimental wine cocktails.

Leoni's Focaccia

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By night, chef Danielle Leoni mans the stove at downtown Phoenix’s Jamaican-inspired Breadfruit. By day, she crafts an artisanal love letter to her Italian heritage with a handful of first-rate sandwiches at Leoni’s Focaccia, which opened last April, making it just eligible for Heatmap consideration. At the central Scottsdale lunch spot, salted, fresh-baked focaccia is the vehicle that delivers primo ingredients, be they mortadella, mozzarella, prosciutto, tuna, or bresaola. [UPDATE 4/8/17: This restaurant is currently closed, and will reopen in downtown Phoenix in the fall.]

To label the latest effort from chef Matt Carter (the Mission, Zinc Bistro) just another Italian restaurant would be a mistake. This boisterous, see-and-be-seen spot takes classics — tableside Caesar salad, handmade pastas, bistecca fiorentina — and brushes them with broad American strokes, including healthy portion sizes with prices to match.

Connected to award-winning FnB restaurant inside what used to be the small retail market Bodega, the 15-seat FnB Bar adopts monthly travel themes — think Austria or the Loire Valley — with curated wines and a handful of cocktails designed by local libation guru Travis Nass. Hungry? Order farm-to-table fare from the full FnB menu, or just pop in for a drink before heading elsewhere in dining destination Old Town.

This elegant, under-the-radar fine dining destination is appropriately tucked among high-end art galleries in Old Town. Choose from a four-course tasting menu or order a la carte from a variety of artistically plated contemporary American fare that’s neither outrageously avant-garde nor totally predictable.

UnderTow

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Descend the stairs under a Polynesian canoe inside Sips Coffee & Beer Garage and you’ll find yourself inside an inspired recreation of a 19th-century clipper ship’s hull. This basement bar might feel kitschy, if the rum-based drinks weren’t so well-balanced. It’s not unusual to find novices and ardent tiki fans huddled together in the matchbox-sized space, sipping classics and original creations out of retro-tiki barware. Reservations are recommended.

Binkley's

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Kevin Binkley, a multi-year James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Southwest, closed his first iteration of fine dining restaurant Binkley’s on the northern boundary of the Valley, only to open a new multi-course tasting-menu “dining journey” in the heart of Phoenix. Inspired by three-Michelin-starred Basque restaurant Azurmendi, Binkley puts his own intimate spin on the ultra-expensive tasting menu that invites diners to taste courses throughout the restaurant space.

James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco always wanted a cozy trattoria, and now he has one, right next door to his Town & County pizzeria. An open kitchen smack dab in the middle of the intimate 35-seat space serves rustic Italian-American fare. The cocktail program is just as noteworthy, and includes house-made vermouth to whet the appetite.

Mora Italian

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Celebrity chef Scott Conant teamed up with the local Pomo Pizzeria team to open this flashy Italian eatery in an area that is quickly becoming known as north Phoenix’s restaurant row. Expect high-energy dining accompanied by old-school Italian dishes dressed up with some modern flair. The lengthy wine list leans toward familiar Italian varietals.

Tacos Chiwas

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Taco shops are a dime a dozen in the desert, but this one is different. The flavors of Chihuahua, Mexico, shine at this humble storefront — think meat, especially beef and pork; lusty red chile sauce; and bold, house-made salsas. Fresh corn tortillas cooked to order for tacos are the star, but don’t miss the rajas flour gorditas or the smoky frijoles charros.

Bar Bianco

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Erin Vargo, a longtime Bar Bianco employee, has taken the reins from chef Chris Bianco. Vargo and her husband spruced up the space, making it a destination bar, not just a holding pen for the ever-busy Pizzeria Bianco nextdoor. (The Bar Bianco team has even adopted the hashtag #notjustforwaiting to drive home the point.) Look for a clever cocktail program that incorporates Arizona ingredients, an expanded craft beer and wine program, and more bar nibbles to nosh.

Barrio Café Gran Reserva

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Restaurant impresario Silvana Salcido Esparza’s latest venture is an haute take on her award-winning Barrio Café in a burgeoning arts district. The crown jewel is an affordable tasting menu ($55 to $59) featuring an array of ever-changing bites — think compressed pineapple topped with chapulín, or an oyster in its shell, swimming in squid ink. Mezcals, margaritas, and Mexican wines abound to pair with the playful dishes.

Barnone

An eclectic mix of entrepreneurial small businesses make up this destination “craftsmen community,” including two restaurants, a craft brewery, and a quirky fermented-fruit microwinery. Housed in a refurbished former barn, Fire & Brimstone cranks out wood-fired pizzas, while the Uprooted Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch with a grain- and vegetable-driven menu. For drinks, 12 West Brewing Co. taps around a dozen brews, and Garage-East, in a separate building next door, specializes in small-batch wines and experimental wine cocktails.

Leoni's Focaccia

By night, chef Danielle Leoni mans the stove at downtown Phoenix’s Jamaican-inspired Breadfruit. By day, she crafts an artisanal love letter to her Italian heritage with a handful of first-rate sandwiches at Leoni’s Focaccia, which opened last April, making it just eligible for Heatmap consideration. At the central Scottsdale lunch spot, salted, fresh-baked focaccia is the vehicle that delivers primo ingredients, be they mortadella, mozzarella, prosciutto, tuna, or bresaola. [UPDATE 4/8/17: This restaurant is currently closed, and will reopen in downtown Phoenix in the fall.]

Fat Ox

To label the latest effort from chef Matt Carter (the Mission, Zinc Bistro) just another Italian restaurant would be a mistake. This boisterous, see-and-be-seen spot takes classics — tableside Caesar salad, handmade pastas, bistecca fiorentina — and brushes them with broad American strokes, including healthy portion sizes with prices to match.

FnB

Connected to award-winning FnB restaurant inside what used to be the small retail market Bodega, the 15-seat FnB Bar adopts monthly travel themes — think Austria or the Loire Valley — with curated wines and a handful of cocktails designed by local libation guru Travis Nass. Hungry? Order farm-to-table fare from the full FnB menu, or just pop in for a drink before heading elsewhere in dining destination Old Town.

Sel

This elegant, under-the-radar fine dining destination is appropriately tucked among high-end art galleries in Old Town. Choose from a four-course tasting menu or order a la carte from a variety of artistically plated contemporary American fare that’s neither outrageously avant-garde nor totally predictable.

UnderTow

Descend the stairs under a Polynesian canoe inside Sips Coffee & Beer Garage and you’ll find yourself inside an inspired recreation of a 19th-century clipper ship’s hull. This basement bar might feel kitschy, if the rum-based drinks weren’t so well-balanced. It’s not unusual to find novices and ardent tiki fans huddled together in the matchbox-sized space, sipping classics and original creations out of retro-tiki barware. Reservations are recommended.

Binkley's

Kevin Binkley, a multi-year James Beard finalist for Best Chef: Southwest, closed his first iteration of fine dining restaurant Binkley’s on the northern boundary of the Valley, only to open a new multi-course tasting-menu “dining journey” in the heart of Phoenix. Inspired by three-Michelin-starred Basque restaurant Azurmendi, Binkley puts his own intimate spin on the ultra-expensive tasting menu that invites diners to taste courses throughout the restaurant space.

Tratto

James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco always wanted a cozy trattoria, and now he has one, right next door to his Town & County pizzeria. An open kitchen smack dab in the middle of the intimate 35-seat space serves rustic Italian-American fare. The cocktail program is just as noteworthy, and includes house-made vermouth to whet the appetite.

Mora Italian

Celebrity chef Scott Conant teamed up with the local Pomo Pizzeria team to open this flashy Italian eatery in an area that is quickly becoming known as north Phoenix’s restaurant row. Expect high-energy dining accompanied by old-school Italian dishes dressed up with some modern flair. The lengthy wine list leans toward familiar Italian varietals.

Tacos Chiwas

Taco shops are a dime a dozen in the desert, but this one is different. The flavors of Chihuahua, Mexico, shine at this humble storefront — think meat, especially beef and pork; lusty red chile sauce; and bold, house-made salsas. Fresh corn tortillas cooked to order for tacos are the star, but don’t miss the rajas flour gorditas or the smoky frijoles charros.

Bar Bianco

Erin Vargo, a longtime Bar Bianco employee, has taken the reins from chef Chris Bianco. Vargo and her husband spruced up the space, making it a destination bar, not just a holding pen for the ever-busy Pizzeria Bianco nextdoor. (The Bar Bianco team has even adopted the hashtag #notjustforwaiting to drive home the point.) Look for a clever cocktail program that incorporates Arizona ingredients, an expanded craft beer and wine program, and more bar nibbles to nosh.

Barrio Café Gran Reserva

Restaurant impresario Silvana Salcido Esparza’s latest venture is an haute take on her award-winning Barrio Café in a burgeoning arts district. The crown jewel is an affordable tasting menu ($55 to $59) featuring an array of ever-changing bites — think compressed pineapple topped with chapulín, or an oyster in its shell, swimming in squid ink. Mezcals, margaritas, and Mexican wines abound to pair with the playful dishes.

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