Jess Harter’s MXSW Top 100 favorite restaurants in the East Valley

Source: Jess Harter |

The MXSW Top 100 is a collection of our 100 favorite restaurants in the East Valley. It is not necessarily a ranking of the 100 highest-rated restaurants, although many of these are frequent award-winners. These are where we eat – day in and day out – and often recommend to others.

You won’t find many chains on this list (unless they’re Arizona chains) because we support local, independent restaurants.

Restaurants are listed in alphabetical order. The list is constantly under revision.

Price key
$ = entrees under $10
$$ = entrees between $10-$20
$$$ = entrees between $20-$30
$$$$ = entrees over $30


24 Carrots Natural Cafe & Urban Juicery

What began as a small juice bar using local and organic ingredients has grown a full-fledged vegan cafe and bakery. Don’t forget to check out the dessert case. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Friday and Saturday. 1701 E. Guadalupe Road, Tempe (map), 480-753-4411. $-$$


Alessia’s Ristorante Italiano

This quaint, family-run restaurant’s strip-mall locale belies the authenticity of its Italian fare. Close your eyes and you easily could be convinced you were eating in Venice or Rome. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday. 5251 E. Brown Road, Mesa (map), 480-396-2888. $$-$$$


Asian Cafe Express

If you’re willing to put up with the often-slow service at this nondescript storefront, you’ll be rewarded with superb old-school Hong Kong cafe fare. There are two menus – an “Arizona” one and a “Hong Kong” one. Lunch and dinner daily. 1911 W. Main St., Mesa (map), 480-668-5910. $


ATL Wings

The most addictive chicken wings in the Valley come in 18 flavors, from ATL’s dry-rub to extreme honey-habanero. Add some honey biscuits and a glass of Kool-Aid. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, and lunch only Sunday. 70 W. Warner Road, Chandler (map), 480-722-9464. $


AZ Food Crafters

Mike Caliendo and Eddie Castillo’s sweet and savory hand pies are so popular at Valley farmers markets the pair opened a small shop that also sells handcrafted soups and salads to-go or dine-in. Breakfast and lunch Monday-Saturday. 961 W. Ray Road, Chandler (map), 602-692-4129. $


Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co.

Expect a line during peak hours – and even off-hours – at Gilbert’s first brewpub, named the world’s best new brewery in early 2014. The kitchen keeps it simple with mostly burgers and sandwiches. Lunch and dinner daily. 721 N. Arizona, Ave., Gilbert (map), 480-284-9863. $-$$


Baci Italian Bistro

If you like Chicago-style Italian food, look no further than this eatery from chef-owner Frank Greco, an Italian immigrant by way of Illinois. All the entrees are pasta dishes. Lunch Tuesday-Friday and dinner nightly. 8830 E. Germann Road, Mesa (map), 480-988-1302. $$


Backyard Taco

Yes, owners Ruben Alvarez and Maricella Reyes actually sold their wonderful tacos al pastor out of people’s backyards for seven years before finally opening their humble taco hut in 2012. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. 1524 E. University Drive, Mesa (map), 480-464-8226. $


Baja Joe’s Mexican Cantina

More than 75 seafood items, including awesome fish tacos, dominate the menu of this Mexican restaurant, but the carne adobada is killer, too. An adjoining cantina offers TV sports and live music. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 1927 N. Gilbert Road, Mesa (map), 480-655-1828. $-$$


Barrelhouse American Kitchen & Cocktails

A chef-driven menu of made-from-scratch New American cuisine is complemented by a well-curated list of signature cocktails, wines by the glass, and craft beers. Lunch Thursday-Saturday and dinner Monday-Saturday. 2050 N. Alma School Road, Chandler (map), 480-857-8877. $$-$$$

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Liberty Market’s annual Burger Daze

Source: Jess Harter |

Post image for Billionaire Burger with filet & lobster tail highlights Liberty Market’s annual Burger DazeLiberty Market is readying for its fifth annual Burger Daze. Every day in August, the downtown Gilbert restaurant will offer a different speciality burger.

On of the highlights will be the Billionaire Burger with an 8-ounce patty topped with 4-ounce filet, lobster tail, and caviar on brioche toast. It will sell for $25 on Aug. 30.

Globally inspired burgers include a Thai Burger (Aug. 12), Croque-monsieur Burger (Aug. 15), Italian Burger (Aug. 24), and Mu-Shoo Burger (Aug. 26).

There even are some vegetarian burgers, such as Portobello Quinoa (Aug. 4) and a Fafafel Burger (Aug. 25).

(Pictured: Last year’s Tater Tot Burger)

As in past years, any customer who eats 10 different burgers in the series will receive a $25 gift card. Anyone who eats all 31 will get a $100 gift card. (Must bring in receipts by Sept. 7 to pick up gift card.)

All burgers feature 8-ounce Niman Ranch ground beef patty unless noted and come with potato chips.

Burger Daze schedule:

  • Aug. 1: Baked Bean Burger with baked beans and candied bacon ($12)
  • Aug. 2: Truffle Mac Burger with American cheese and truffle mac ’n’ cheese ($13)
  • Aug. 3: Street Corn Burger with roasted corn, cotija, Mexican crema, pico spice, cilantro, and lime wedge ($12)
  • Aug. 4: Portobello Quinoa, a portobello stuffed with quinoa, tomato, arugula, and basil-cashew cheese ($12)
  • Aug. 5: BBQ Pork and Potato Salad Burger with pulled pork, BBQ sauce, potato salad, crispy onion straws, and pickles ($14)
  • Aug. 6: Black and Blue Burger with Cajun seasoning, blue cheese dressing and grilled red onion ($12)
  • Aug. 7: Jamaican Jerk Burger with Jamaican jerk sauce and mango salsa ($12)
  • Aug. 8: Liberty Mac with two 4-ounce patties, American cheese, lettuce, pickles, onions,and secret sauce ($14)
  • Aug. 9: Game Burger with elk patty, wild mushrooms, and grated parmesan ($14)
  • Aug. 10: Pasta House Burger with linguine, marinara, parmesan, and garlic bread bun ($12)
  • Aug. 11: Stuffed Chipotle Burger with chipotle cream cheese, roasted poblanos, lettuce, and tomato ($13)
  • Aug. 12: Thai Burger with rice noodles, bean sprouts, carrots, crushed peanuts, and red curry sauce ($13)
  • Aug. 13: 6 Alarm Burger with roasted jalapenos, roasted Thai chiles, habanero aioli, and pepper jack ($12)
  • Aug. 14: Fried Pork Tenderloin Burger with fried pork tenderloin, whiskey sauteéd onions, and lemon aioli ($14)
  • Aug. 15: Croque-monsieur Burger with cheesy bechamel, ham, and gruyere ($14)
  • Aug. 16: Poached Pear Burger with poached pear, fig, blue cheese, and balsamic ($13)
  • Aug. 17: Weekender with Liberty potatoes, cheddar cheese, bacon, sunny side up egg, lettuce, tomato, and ketchup ($15)
  • Aug. 18: Elvis Burger with peanut butter, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and pickle ($13)
  • Aug. 19: Philly Cheesesteak Burger with peppers, onions, provolone, and shaved roast beef ($14)
  • Aug. 20: The Classic Burger with Canadian bacon, shredded cheddar, diced white onion, BBQ sauce, and butter bun ($13)
  • Aug. 21: Lamb Burger with ground lamb patty, jalapeno jelly, and brioche bun (TBD)
  • Aug. 22: Bean Dip Burger with bean dip, cheddar, pickled jalapenos, diced onions, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and fritos ($14)
  • Aug. 23: Garlic Mash/Red Wine Burger with garlic mashed potatoes, sauteéd onions, red wine demi, and onion bun ($14)
  • Aug. 24: Italian Burger with pepperoni, provolone, marinara, pepperoncini, and fresh minced garlic ($13)
  • Aug. 25: Falafel Burger with falafel patty, tabbouleh, tomato, red onion, and tahini sauce ($12)
  • Aug. 26: Mu-Shoo Burger with hoisin sauce, shredded pork, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and bean sprouts ($12)
  • Aug. 27: Gorgonzola Slaw Burger with coleslaw and gorgonzola crumbles ($12)
  • Aug. 28: Oktoberfest Burger with sauerkraut, Swiss, pastrami, sauteéd onions, pretzel bun, and spicy beer mustard ($13)
  • Aug. 29: Poutine Burger with French fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy ($13)
  • Aug. 30: Billionaire Burger with patty, 4-ounce filet, lobster tail, melted butter, and caviar on brioche toast ($25)
  • Aug. 31: Eggs Benny Burger with English muffin bun, poached egg, Canadian bacon, Hollandaise, and tomato ($14)

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New Dish – Skomakarlåda!!! at BeaverChoice in Mesa

Food - Swedish Stew - Skomakarlada at BeaverChoiceSkomakarlåda!!!

Literally translates to “Shoemaker’s Box”. This Traditional Swedish stew is a great meal for the winter. Sliced Sirloin, Mushrooms, Leaks served with Homemade Roast beef Gravy.

Swedish Crepes!!! Food - Swedish Crepes - BeaverChoice 

Paper thin Crepes served with your choice of either Swedish Lingonberries preserve or  Polish Sour Cherries preserve. Topped of with Whip cream and powdered sugar. To make sure they are delicious we cook them in our cast-iron pan, and its always made to order!
No wonder this is a local favourite in Sweden.

BeaverChoice: 745 W Baseline Road, Suite 1, Mesa, AZ  85210

Just Call (480)-921-3137
Or email us:

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Flancer’s New Year’s Dinner to Go!

Flancer's New Years

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December 21, 2013 · 7:14 pm

Did You Know? (National Sushi Day)

June 18, National Sushi Day is the perfect time to type one of the many sushi restaurants in the Southeast Valley.


madfish grille_hungry yet

That June 18th is National Sushi Day?  There is no other place to be on June 18th than Madfish Wharf for their amazing sushi.  But you don’t have to wait until the 18th.  Go to Madfish Grille any time (Tuesday through Sunday) for lunch or dinner of the best sushi you’ve ever had.  Check out Sushi Chef Jordan holding a tray of his amazing surf and turf with steak and lobster. 

Sushi not your thing?  I went a couple of nights ago and being a perpetual seeker of the perfect burger, I had to try their’s and I have to say, it was possibly the best burger I’ve ever had.  Perfectly charbroiled and dripping with cheese and carmelized bacon and onions.  And doesn’t that softshell crab sandwich look amazing?

E.J. Lefavour

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Opening this Saturday: Barrelhouse American Kitchen in Chandler

Source: – by Jess Harter

Barrelhouse ChandlerBarrelhouse American Kitchen & Cocktails, whose owner describes it as a “neighborhood scratch kitchen,” will have a soft opening Saturday on the northwest corner of Alma School and Warner in Chandler.

The strip-mall space (shown above still under renovation) formerly was the longtime home of English pub Churchill’s and, most recently, gay lounge Lush.

Barrelhouse is the brainchild of Kenta Usuzawa, a University of Arizona grad whose restaurant experience includes stints at Tapino and Petite Maison in Scottsdale and Zin Bistro in Tucson.

Barrelhouse Chandler 1Usuzawa’s goal is a casual, chef-driven hangout that will appeal to foodies and families alike. The term “scratch kitchen” refers to everything being made fresh from scratch.

He’s still putting final touches on the menu, but promises dishes like an eight-hour, slow-roasted, hard-cider pot roast, a pork belly BLT sandwich, an Arizona Tomato Tart, and Moroccan lemon chicken.

Also on the menu: “Our Daily Farm To Table,” a scratch local farm salad of the day, and a scratch soup of the day.

Despite the upscale fare and locally sourced ingredients, Barrelhouse aims to be wallet-friendly. Lunch prices will range from $9 for burgers and sandwiches to $13 for entrees. All but two dinner entrees will be less than $20.

The full bar will offer 13 wines by the glass, focusing on smaller, family-driven labels. There will be 18 beers on tap, a mix of local craft beers (San Tan, Four Peaks, Oak Creek) and imports (Unibroue La Fin Du Monde, Ommegang Biere d’Hougoumont).

Kitchen hours will be 4-9 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.

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Trophy’s takes walk on Wild Side

Source: Jess Harter ·

Wild Side Grill

After almost four years in Queen Creek, Trophy’s is now Wild Side Grill, reflecting its transformation from steakhouse to casual neighborhood grill.

Its signature animal mounts – including the “North American 29,” all the big-game species found on the continent – remain. In fact, the decor is unchanged, save for several large TVs mounted over the five bears that are the dining room’s centerpiece.

And the bar’s 18 taps still deliver the best craft beer selection for at least five miles in any direction from Wild Side’s location on Power, just south of Pecos.

wildside SandwichLunch, something Trophy’s gave up months ago, is back on the menu, which retains fave starters like sliced elk and buffalo sliders ($8.99), pork wings ($9.99), and teriyaki tenderloin skewers ($8.99).

The popular Buffalo Burger ($11.99) – made with buffalo meat, not Buffalo wing sauce – also survives and heads a roster of nine burgers ($7.99-$11.99 with fries or slaw) and three sandwiches. (Pictured: Patty melt with steak fries, $8.99.)

Dinner entrees range from elk and buffalo meatloaf ($14.99) to smoked antelope sausage ($13.99) to sockeye salmon ($15.99). Prime rib is served Fridays and Saturdays.

Wild Side Grill is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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