This might surprise you: Chefs have a personal life outside their restaurants. They have favorite places to grab a late-night bite after work, they have go-to spots to wine and dine out-of-town friends, and they have strong opinions on who serves up the best Mexican food. In short, ask a Greater Phoenix chef about local restaurants, and you’ll get an insider’s dining guide to the metro area.
Here are four noted chefs who are deeply enmeshed in the local dining scene and their recommendations.
The James Beard Award-nominated chef and Food Network's Iron Chef America winner is the owner and chef of Tarbell's.
Silvana: Any Mexican restaurant on the west side on a Saturday night. They’re packed. People are dancing to bandas. It’s like walking into Mexico.
Justin: The Parlor Pizzeria. The interior of the mid-century building is beautiful.
Nobuo: Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain. You’re in the middle of a farm, and you forget the city.
Mark: For views, elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain.
Silvana: Chris Bianco because he’s true to his craft. Christopher Gross because of his longevity and tenacity.
Justin: Josh Hebert of Posh (Note: Posh is now closed) for trying a concept that was nonexistent, and Kevin Binkley for sticking to his guns.
Silvana: Tacos from Taqueria Los Yaquis, a food truck.
Mark: Wow—the omakase menu at Nobuo at Teeter House.
Justin: Cafe Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant. It’s all about stewed flavors, and you get to eat with your hands.
Nobuo: Pho 43 Express, for Vietnamese food.
Mark: I like Mexican places like La Salsita, Los Reyes de la Torta, Mariscos Playa Hermosa, El Norteño and so many more.
Silvana: Pepe’s Taco Villa. It’s economical, they have great menudo, and it can feed a few carfuls of Salcidos.
Justin: Oregano’s is definitely a favorite with our kids. They get to play with dough there. We also like Federal Pizza.
Nobuo: We’ve been going to a Vietnamese restaurant called Da Vang with our kids for years. It has healthy, delicious and interesting food.
Justin: The Parlor Pizzeria for its ambiance, food and decent menu after 10 p.m.
Nobuo: Pho 43 Express. It’s like they serve comfort food for me, with the mix of herbs and spices.
Sillvana: The west side. It has serious potential. It’s not trendy, and it’s ethnically diverse. This is the next place where Phoenix will flourish.
Justin: Tortas El Guero. I could eat two or three of their cochinita pibil tortas.
Content is edited from a piece written by Nora Burba Trulsson. Originally printed in the 2015 Phoenix Official Travel Guide, published by Madden Media.