A signature dish is a restaurant’s calling card; an item that distinguishes its culinary vision. In Phoenix, a diverse landscape of restaurants offer their own signature tastes that not only evoke their distinctive flavor and style, but also capture the essence of the city itself. Here are five signature dishes that have endearingly become the face of Phoenix’s culinary scene:

Chiles en Nogada at Barrio Café

chiles en nogada at barrio cafe
Photo by Mark Lipczynski

The three colors of the Mexican flag are proudly represented in Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s popular take on the regional dish of poblano, fruit and cream sauce. At Barrio Café, the roasted poblano pepper is filled with chicken, apple, pear, dried apricot and pecans in a delicate almond cream sauce, and finished with cilantro (green), queso fresco (white) and pomegranate seeds (red). While you enter through the back door at Barrio Café, the upscale Chiles en Nogada are worth the culinary walk to the front of the house.
 

Sticky Buns at El Chorro

el chorro sticky buns

Many establishments have attempted to conquer the breakfast sweet roll, but El Chorro has raised the sticky bun bar with its leavened pieces of dough served with each entrée at any time of day. Customers young and old have sought out the basket of sticky, sweet treats made traditionally with sugar, butter and ground cinnamon and smeared in a caramel topping for decades. While the stunning views of Camelback and Mummy Mountain at the historic Paradise Valley restaurant are a major draw, it’s undoubtedly a hankering for sticky buns that keeps guests coming back for more.

 

Rosa Pizza at Pizzeria Bianco

rosa pizzeria bianco

James Beard Award winner Chris Bianco’s Rosa pizza has everything one expects in a celebrated pizza consistently profiled by foodies across the country: a simple, straightforward dough and fresh ingredients, sans the marina. The iconic pie, which put Pizzeria Bianco on the map years ago, is crafted with a protein-rich, nutty wheat crust and topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano, onion, rosemary and pistachios. It’s no surprise the unusual, but sumptuous Rosa is a bestseller and has a pie cult following among locals, visitors, food critics and celebrities in search of the ultimate pizza.

 

Beef Brisket Little Miss BBQ

brisket little miss bbq
​Photo by Mark Lipczynski

When your award-winning brisket is served on grease-soaked pink butcher paper, no one is going to mess with your (Central) Texas spin on barbecue. Little Miss BBQ cooks its meat in a massive, custom-made R&O offset smoker fired with Arizona oak and pecan. The use of high-grade beef results in a mouth-watering, moist brisket that features regular and spicy in-house barbecue sauce. The ribbons of tender beef brisket is a meal on its own, but you also can add sides like ranch style beans, jalapeño cheddar grits, potato salad or coleslaw to round out Little Miss BBQ’s throw down adventure.

 

Sonoran Dog at Nogales Hot Dog cart

sonoran hot dog
​Photo by Mark Lipczynski

You’ll have to get in line at the food truck if you want a Sonoran Dog, a familiar street staple at the Nogales Hot Dog counter located at 20th Street and Indian School Road. The makeshift wiener mobile opens up only in the evening for those who want to satiate their late-night munchies in Sonoran style. The south-of-the-border, roadside signature is cradled in a fluffy white bun, wrapped in bacon and served with mayo, tomatoes, beans, onions and guacamole. Plus, you can top off your dog craving with cheddar cheese, queso cotija and spicy salsa verde with a side of picked jalapeño from the condiment stand.
 

This is part of a series of guest posts from our friends at Bite Magazine that explore the food and drink scene of Greater Phoenix.

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