Phoenix Metro area
- Lux - formerly this Central Phoenix destination was strictly coffee and pastries. Now it is in a bigger location and offered 3 meals a day, pastries, coffee, craft beers, and fine cocktails. You may have an instinct to be intimidated by the crowd of hipsters on Apple products, but don't worry, they're as scared of you as you are of them.
- Citizen Public House - on the same street as Dos Gringos is an inauspicious location for one of the better bars and restaurants in the Valley. Stop by for happy hour to get a great deal on barrel-aged cocktails, stay for some dinner (the duck breast is one of my all time favorite meals); stop by for the late-night menu once the weekend is on the horizon. If you're really in the mood for a unique experience with mind-blowing cocktails, see if you can find the 'speakeasy'...I'm not saying anything more because half the fun is finding it.
- True Food Kitchen - locations at the Biltmore and Scottsdale Quarter. It's not health food, it's healthy food. Lots of organic, local vegetables; meat and fish sustainably raised or harvested. Stop by for brunch on weekend mornings and be treated to an expanded menu of options. I recommend the Johnny Cakes (substitute honey for syrup) with a side of turkey sausage patties. Also, almost everything on the menu is available in half-servings if you want to do more of a tapas style meal and have a selection for sharing.
- Lululemon - locations at the Biltmore, Scottsdale Quarter, and Chandler Fashion Center. They have high-quality athletic and casual clothing that looks great and friendly, attractive employees to help you find everything you need. The best thing about this store is that they offer multiple free exercise classes each week--typically yoga, run club, and 'funfit.' Google the store closest to you (i.e. "lululemon chandler") to find their location specific schedule.
- St. Francis - this Central Phoenix restaurant has a great relaxed atmosphere, despite being right on Camelback Rd. I've had a beer at their outside bar looking at the cars go by, but the tall landscaping grass and the wooden bar made me feel like I was beachside. Or maybe it was just a really strong beer. The food is fantastic. Don't miss the roasted potatoes or the pork chile verde (get a side of polenta to mix in). I've never had enough room for desert.
- Postino - I don't know if they were the first to start the bruschetta toast craze in the Phoenix area, but they're certainly the titans of that niche. Happy hour is daily from 11-5 and features $5 wine glasses. The Monday and Tuesday night special ($20 for any bottle of wine and a full board of bruschetta) isn't a deal, it's a steal. Brunch is also excellent. There are two locations in Phoenix - Arcadia and Central, and one in Downtown Gilbert.
- Best of Italy
- Chelsea's Kitchen
- America's Taco Shop
- Diablo Burger