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.
$ = entrees under $10
$$ = entrees between $10-$20
$$$ = entrees between $20-$30
$$$$ = entrees over $30
What began as a small juice bar using local and organic ingredients has grown a full-fledged vegan cafe and bakery. Don’t forget to check out the dessert case. Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Friday and Saturday. 1701 E. Guadalupe Road, Tempe (map), 480-753-4411. $-$$
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. $$-$$$
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. $
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. $
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. $
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. $-$$
If you like Chicago-style Italian food, look no further than this eatery from chef-owner Frank Greco, an Italian immigrant by way of Illinois. All the entrees are pasta dishes. Lunch Tuesday-Friday and dinner nightly. 8830 E. Germann Road, Mesa (map), 480-988-1302. $$
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. $
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. $-$$
A chef-driven menu of made-from-scratch New American cuisine is complemented by a well-curated list of signature cocktails, wines by the glass, and craft beers. Lunch Thursday-Saturday and dinner Monday-Saturday. 2050 N. Alma School Road, Chandler (map), 480-857-8877. $$-$$$