Best New Restaurants 2022 – PHOENIX magazine

Find them all in this globally oriented salute to the year’s 10 most spectacular culinary bows in Greater Phoenix, plus honorable mentions, best-in-show picks and more.
By Nikki Buchanan, Marilyn Hawkes & Craig Outhier
BNR Criteria
• Must have opened between November 2021 and October 2022 in Greater Phoenix.
• Must be locally conceived and owned. No out-of-state imprints.
• Must be amaaaazing. 
3491 W. Frye Rd., Chandler
480-534-7178, feringhee.com
Opened: June 2022
Tucked away in a nondescript strip mall, Feringhee (“foreigner” in Hindi) is the year’s most exciting new restaurant in the Valley, a sleeper worthy of big-city buzz for its jaw-dropping, genre-bending Indian food. Talented chef Karan Mittal firmly plants one foot in India’s deep culinary traditions, the other in the modern world. Little wonder Food & Wine named him a Rising Star in 2018 for his cooking at Michelin-starred Ananda in Dublin, or that he brings a similarly elegant sensibility to this East Valley venture, reimagining regional classics and using cutting-edge techniques to create food that’s extraordinary. Take his chaat – India’s favorite snack food – transformed by a shimmering orb of yogurt mousse foam dusted with dried raspberry powder and supported by crisp-fried shiso leaves. Or his amsol-glazed pork belly, arranged with jewel-like toppings of golden pineapple kut, green garlic chimichurri and bright red pomegranate. Everything is too beautiful to eat, too delicious to leave a crumb on the plate. 
Did You Know?
Feringhee is the first East Valley restaurant to win Best New Restaurant of the Year in the 11-year history of the award.
— Nikki Buchanan
1534 E. Bethany Home Rd., Phoenix
602-607-5240, aftermathphoenix.com
Opened: November 2021
When longtime friends and Zinc Bistro alums Charles Barber and David Bowman opened Aftermath last fall, their intent was to create a chill but polished hangout for their discerning North Phoenix neighborhood, and they’ve achieved that goal in a dozen small but important ways: garage doors that bring in fresh air and friendly, knowledgeable servers who enjoy their work, to name two. Meanwhile, Barber’s pretty cocktails are right on trend, and Bowman’s approachable New American menu belies its sophistication. Sure, they sell a boatload of Velveeta-gooey burgers, but Bowman also ferments peaches, pickles sultanas and glazes his short ribs with green harissa. We should all be lucky enough to have an Aftermath in our neighborhood. 
Did You Know?
Green harissa is related to the spicy, smoky red harissa of Northern Africa, but its flavor profile is lighter and more herbal, making it more like the zhoug of Yemen.
— Nikki Buchanan
123 Main St., Mesa
480-398-8129, espiritumesa.com
Opened: January 2022
Like its English analog, “espiritu” means spirit, like the kind you drink, but also soul, genius and energy, all words that embody the intention and vibe at this spirited bar-restaurant, a dark, slender beauty owned by Armando Hernandez and Nadia Holguin (Tacos Chiwas) and Rene Andrade (Bacanora). The kitchen is helmed by Andrade’s talented cousin and former Ghost Ranch kitchen-mate Roberto Centeno, whose seafood-centric menu offers vivid, chile-sparked ceviche and aguachile, shrimp taquitos and a terrific dry-aged burger. Whole red snapper, fried to a glorious crunch and offered as a special, is reason enough to honor Espiritu. Meanwhile, the balanced cocktails are impressive, and the hilarious menu that describes them, rife with jokes and hand-drawn sketches, is worthy of its own award. 
Did You Know?
Aguachile, which originated in the mountains of Sinaloa, was first prepared with machaca before it migrated to Mazatlán, where the beef was swapped out for shrimp.
— Nikki Buchanan
218 E. Portland St., Phoenix
602-675-0522, lomwongaz.com
Opened: March 2022
From their cozy, brick-walled space in Roosevelt Row, culinary couple Yotaka and Alex Martin take customers on an eye-opening culinary journey through Thailand, celebrating the cooking styles of the country’s diverse cultures and regions. Hand-pounding their own curry paste and hand-squeezing their own coconut water, they make beautiful, labor-intensive food, the recipes culled from family and friends in Northern Thailand and from the Andaman Sea in the south. Here are nuanced dishes we rarely if ever encounter in the Valley, dishes that burst with fresh flavors – but aren’t measured on a one-to-five heat level scale. Try the Kaeng Phet Charinda, a light, brothy red curry chunky with eggplant, or a perfectly balanced green mango salad, juicy with coconut milk, and you’ll know this is the real deal. Head barman Nuthapong “Thunder” Vance makes fantastic cocktails, incorporating ingredients such as makrut lime, lemongrass and even curry paste. Venture beyond the familiar and you’ll be rewarded with some of the city’s most alluring Thai food.
Did You Know?
Much of the Lom Wong menu was inspired by the food of the Moklen, a seafaring community in south Thailand. One example: yum sabia, a seaweed salad with prik gaeng (curry paste), cilantro, toasted coconut and anchovies.
— Nikki Buchanan
1649 S. Stapley Dr., Mesa
480-702-0367
Opened: December 2021
If you love the regional, street-food-inspired Thai cooking at Glai Baan in Midtown Phoenix, chances are you will be comparably delighted with this East Valley strip-mall gem. Crafting versions of family recipes originating in the northeastern region of Isan, chef-owner Thomas Samuel captivates with small-plate oddities like goong (breaded shrimp doughnuts) and sai krok san (morcilla-like sausage with pickled ginger) that you rarely, if ever, find on typical Thai-American menus. Even the dishes that are familiar – for instance, bone-in chicken thighs simmered in massaman curry and topped with toasted shallots, lending the delicious coconut-milk-enriched brown gravy an extra dimension or two of flavor and texture – are slightly unorthodox here. Or is it more orthodox? After all, the great, unifying appeal of new-look Thai restaurants like Mae-Khong, Glai Baan and Lom Wong on Roosevelt Row is their revival of tradition, not defiance of it.
Did You Know?
Bordering Laos, Isan is Thailand’s largest but least visited region, accounting for only 2.9 percent of the country’s tourism income in 2017, according to the Bangkok Post.
— Craig Outhier
5538 N. Seventh St., Phoenix
602-675-1852, neighborlypublichouse.com
Opened: November 2021
Chef and veteran restaurateur Chris Collins of Common Ground Culinary has cranked out a slew of restaurants over the past 10 years – Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, Twisted Grove, Wally’s American Gastropub, The Collins, to name a few – but none more appealing or sophisticated than this welcoming Modern American eatery in North-Central Phoenix. It’s a corporate restaurant without the corporate vibe, possessing every quality essential to a great neighborhood hangout, including deep booths, ultra-comfy bar stools, a big rectangular bar for ample people-watching, creative cocktails and an endorphin-inducing happy hour. In the afternoon, natural light floods a room that, by evening, is never bright enough for surgery nor dim enough to preclude menu-reading. Meanwhile, the menu offers something for everybody, including discerning foodies. Think excellent oysters Rockefeller, plump crab cakes, a fat burger, baby back ribs, skillet cornbread and Brussels sprouts so caramelized they qualify as candy. With a kids’ menu that extends beyond chicken tenders and an award-winning coconut cream pie for dessert, Collins covers every angle.
Did You Know?
Oysters Rockefeller was created at the famous New Orleans restaurant Antoine’s in 1889 in response to a shortage of escargots, and its creator, Jules Alciatore, took the recipe to his grave. All subsequent recipes were reverse-engineered.
— Nikki Buchanan
2502 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
602-704-1171, obonsushi.com/obon-bisutoro
Opened: March 2022
You could be forgiven for initially mistaking this Biltmore-area Japanese bistro for just another Obon, a high-end sushi-ramen eatery based in Tucson, now with three Valley outposts. But it ain’t. Set in a gorgeous, enveloping space full of walnut paneling and exotic flora, and with an original emphasis on Asian cocktails and robata grilling, it deserves distinction as the sleek new Obon flagship and simply one of the best Japanese restaurants in town. The fusion delights are plentiful – e.g. a novel “Mikado” Caesar with butter lettuce and hints of soy, punctuated with little desiccated furikake capers – as are more traditional treats like the plump wheat-flour noodles in a bowl of duck udon, featuring perfectly pink morsels of roasted duck breast in a salty, savory broth. If you love French onion soup, it will inspire a Ratatouille moment. Factored with on-point sushi and raw fish creations, plus a lavish selection of Wagyu and other premium beef cuts, our visits compel us to rank this Obon alongside Roka Akor in the pantheon of elite quasi-corporate Japanese dining palaces in the Valley. No faint praise, that. 
Did You Know?
Obon is a traditional spirit festival dedicated to family and loved ones past –
essentially a Buddhist version of Día de los Muertos.

— Craig Outhier
4041 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix
602-768-7894, phoenixcoqui.com
Opened: April 2022
Starches rule at this cute, colorful Puerto Rican restaurant, owned by Alexis Carbajal and Juan Ayala. Named for Puerto Rico’s nocturnal tree frog, the business began as a food truck in 2017, moving to the building that formerly housed longtime gyro shop Crazy Jim’s this past spring. At lunchtime, Coquí is slammed with customers bewitched by Ayala’s comfort food, all based on the recipes of his abuela. It’s hard to pick a favorite among flaky empanadillas, garlicky mofongo and dreamy pastelón, but one thing is certain: crunchy alcapurria (fried yucca fritters stuffed with picadillo) and soft, doughy quesito (cigar-shaped puff pastry, filled with cream cheese and glazed with sugar) will curl your toes. 
Did You Know?
West Africans introduced Puerto Rico to fufu, a dish that morphed into mofongo – a smash of fried green plantains with garlic, olive oil and chicharrón – when Taíno and Spanish flavors were incorporated.
— Nikki Buchanan
1025 N. Second St., Phoenix
602-254-6378, sottisephx.com
Opened: December 2021
TJ Culp and Esther Noh of Restaurant Progress and Progress Wine Shop bring the café and brasserie culture of Paris to Roosevelt Row, turning out wonderful French classics (croque madame, escargots, melty baked Camembert and salmon rillettes) and an ever-growing selection of global dishes (oysters topped with steak tartare, trout roe with truffle chips, octopus conserva) that bear Culp’s inimitable stamp. There is so much to love here, including the vintage house itself and its country-chic décor, the dining porch overlooking a verdant lawn, an excellent wine list offering a range of prices, fun cocktails and a turntable spinning the retro sounds of bossa nova and Nina Simone – served up without a whiff of pretension.
Did You Know?
Marcel Proust, the modernist French author who tripped out on madeleines in Remembrance of Things Past, also memorialized the croque monsieur, whose name means “gentleman’s bite.” 
— Nikki Buchanan
JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
5350 E. Marriott Dr., Phoenix
480-293-3636, tiacarmendesertridge.com
Opened: May 2022
Celebrity Chef Angelo Sosa seamlessly melds Modern Southwestern and Latin cuisines at this gorgeously minimalist resort restaurant, and in doing so achieves the near-impossible – i.e. makes hotel dining sexy and fun. Sourcing local and indigenous ingredients, Sosa creates dishes that bear the heft of time and place. Cocktails crafted with local spirits and artisanal ingredients lubricate an evening built upon dishes ranging from the traditional (homey Dominican guisado, courtesy of Sosa’s Tía Carmen) to the playful (an umami-packed beef and bone marrow tostada). Truth is, Tía Carmen deserves an award for these three life-altering dishes alone – a rich, ember-roasted purple yam blanketed in queso sauce; a brooding vegetarian “menudo” made with meaty, tripe-shaped cordyceps mushrooms; and next-level flan, a surprisingly wonderful mash-up of custard, tequila caramel and Manchego cheese. 
Did You Know?
Cordyceps – a chewy, mild-tasting mushroom species that thrive, zombie-like, on insects – are  famous for their healing properties.
— Nikki Buchanan
Chef Danny Grant’s Scottsdale Quarter companion piece to Maple & Ash generally hit the mark for dining critic Nikki Buchanan – she loved the rustic white beans “served in a soupy broth brightened with conserved peppers and Dijon” – but the overall experience fell “somewhat short of foodie nirvana.” 15301 N. Scottsdale Rd.,
Scottsdale, 480-939-4444, ettarestaurant.com
Reviewed in this issue (page 204), this Liberian-owned restaurant was the best of three West African eateries visited by Buchanan. Try the “insanely good red snapper, fried to a glorious crunch and served whole with pepper sauce, crispy plantains and couscous-like attieke.” 3543 W. Dunlap Ave., Phoenix, 480-532-5512
“Don’t let your possibly shaky understanding of the Balkan Peninsula keep you away from this immaculate café,” Buchanan urged in a September review. Winners include the pita-like lepinja stuffed with a spicy burger patty and cheese, and lamb shanks “smothered in spice-perfumed gravy and set atop creamy mashed potatoes.” 21043 N. Cave Creek Rd., Phoenix, 602-283-5360, cafebalkanaz.com
Among the year’s great culinary surprises was this upscale brunch-and-lunch spot in Laveen, where Buchanan found unlikely delicacies such as bone marrow bruschetta and “ultra-crunchy fish taquitos served with spicy aioli and pickled red onions.” 6115 S. 51st Ave., Laveen, 602-237-7665, Instagram: @almuerzorestaurant 
We expected an energetic scene at this kitsch-embracing Modern Mexican hot spot from restaurateur Joey Maggiore. (Fire-eaters are known to appear on weekends.) What we didn’t necessarily expect: a nuanced, chef-driven menu featuring masterful seasonal salads, well-structured birria and dreamy sea bass ceviche in a light bath of citrus and serrano chile oil. Rock on, Mexicano. 4801 E. Cactus Rd., Phoenix, 602-812-2100, themexicano.com
Outtakes, additions and best-in-show performances from this year’s crop of new restaurants.
Admired for his intimate pop-up dinners, 20-something indie chef Ivan Jacobo partnered with Valley wine collector Ryan Ansell to open Anhelo Restaurant in the summer of 2019, offering artful salads and upscale lunch fare in the Heritage Square space formerly occupied by The Rose & Crown. And then, Anhelo quietly disappeared behind a cloud of COVID and uneven word-of-mouth. Just as quietly, the restaurant reopened this summer in a snug storefront under a high-rise in Downtown’s Monrovia district, transformed into an immaculate fine-dining restaurant with a captivating five-course tasting menu and hand-picked, idiosyncratic arsenal of surprising French and Italian wines. It’s not quite like anything you’ve seen in Phoenix before. It’s the swank, citified hideout we’ve always wanted. 114 W. Adams St., Phoenix, 602-596-7745, anhelorestaurant.com
No matter how we stretch it, Flagstaff just doesn’t qualify as an outlying suburb of Phoenix, but it wouldn’t be fair to ignore one of the best new restaurants to open this year just because it’s 120 miles away – especially when chef-owner and 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist Rochelle Daniel has spent most of her career in Phoenix (Zinc, Fat Ox), as have her beverage czar Connor Barrett and pasta whisperer Steven “Chops” Smith. Together, they create a mind-blowing, utterly urbane dining experience that includes the airy, modern room itself, pretty cocktails, the best house-made bread and cultured butter in the state, breathtaking presentations, oysters chilled or grilled, dainty light bites, elegant platters for two and creative pastas to rival any in Greater Phoenix. Case closed. 103 N. Leroux St., Flagstaff, 928-440-4377, atriarestaurant.com
We were “meh” on this upscale Modern-Mexican restaurant near Scottsdale Fashion Square when we visited this past summer: a little too precious, a little too expensive, not enough spice. That’s why we were surprised – and maybe threatened? – when a certain daily newspaper of record effusively compared the cooking to Rene Andrade’s game-changing Sonoran soul food at Bacanora. So we went back. And… no. Splurging for the Instragram-bait-y, $60 grilled octopus over squid ink risotto, we found a massive, one-dimensional pile of umami richness without a hint of acid or culinary tension. Unless you have flippers and can balance a beach ball on your nose, there’s no way you could finish half of it. Likewise, a chiles en nogada special was abominable – all sugar and cinnamon. Final conclusion: All similarities to Bacanora stop at the ice water. 7135 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale, 480-687-8592, callhermartina.com
We were all set to name this priceless mom-and-pop in Phoenix one of our Top 10 best new restaurants of 2022 when we realized it opened in July 2021 – a few months before our November cut-off. But don’t let that stop you. Raving over dishes like oxtail stew, “its beefy, gelatinous meat so supple I pick up each piece and gnaw at the bone,” dining critic Nikki Buchanan was thoroughly smitten after visiting last March. “When you taste Martha Laurencin’s hella spicy yet comforting Caribbean food… you know you’ve found the real deal, the kind of accomplished, from-the-heart cooking that takes decades of watching, learning and practicing to acquire.” 1820 W. Northern Ave., Phoenix, 602-675-2212, facebook.com/msmarthaskitchen
We proudly discriminate against out-of-state restaurant chains here at PHOENIX magazine. Go local or go home, right? But sometimes, we have to give carpetbagger credit where it’s due. 
No, the conveyor-belt nigiri here won’t make anyone forget Hana, but it’s damn good for the price ($3-$5 per duo) and the fully automated robo-restaurant experience is a hoot. 1949 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 520-479-2888, kurasushi.com
We ripped ’em hard for demeaning (via press release) the hallowed pizza hot spot of East Phoenix, but we must admit this about the free-wheeling San Diego chain: very solid pie. 3945 E. Camelback Rd., 602-675-2774, mrmotopizza.com
Part of Southern California’s legendary Roberto’s/Valerie’s taco shop nexus, this Sunnyslope drive-thru has been killing it with fried-to-order crisp-shell tacos since opening in July. 9706 N. Seventh St., 602-612-3415, valeriescorporate.com
Then again, some “concepts” blunder into town and get what they deserve
They charge $15 for parking, and it only gets more pretentious and obnoxious from there. A pioneer of the Mexican resto/club, this Beverly Hills import probably thought it would find kindred spirits in Scottsdale, but maybe not, judging from the hilariously cruel Yelp reviews. 7301 E. Butherus Dr., Scottsdale, 800-289-9281, mamapordios.com 
Is this how they do tacos in Texas? Busy, over-thought abominations drowning in cheesy goop? Stick with brisket, cowboy. It’s cool they have a bar, though. Multiple Valley locations, torchystacos.com
You know you’re in trouble when your restaurant name sounds like a gag from South Park. Founded in Irving, Texas, but headquartered in Florida, this batter-and-fry-everything diner is making a push into the suburbs. Multiple Valley locations. cheddars.com
These in-the-works restaurant concepts are due to hit the Valley in 2023. 
The former Kona Grill space at Scottsdale Quarter will soon house Arboleda, featuring “inspired” Mediterranean cuisine. This concept is the brainchild of San Francisco Bay Area restaurateurs Bjorn Kock and brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal. (Winter 2022)
Square One Concepts’ third location of the swank steakhouse will open at 83 Marketplace in Peoria, offering stunning mountain views and a 1,000-square-foot patio. (Winter 2022)
Cory Oppold, former executive chef at Atlas Bistro and Tarbell’s, is opening a prix fixe restaurant off Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale, where he will offer two seasonal tasting menus. He’s partnering with farmers and wineries to host quarterly Solstice dinners, and will serve a multi-course Sunday brunch. (Early 2023)
Aaron and Jared Pool, the brothers behind Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup, along with Michael Swofford, are opening dual concepts at Park Central Mall. The Green Woodpecker is a beer hall (named for a former Park Central floral/gift shop that closed in 2007) that will offer rotating beer taps and Mexican-inspired bar fare. Poolboy is a takeaway taco shop with craft cocktails to enjoy on the restaurant’s large covered patio. The use of glass, white steel and neon gives the new space a Miami Vice vibe. (Early 2023)
Seafood lovers will swoon over the new Humble Oyster at High Street in Phoenix, where guests can feast on Latin, French and European-inspired seafood dishes along with a nice selection of bubbly wines and assorted vodkas. Located next door to sister restaurant Humble Bistro. (Spring 2023)
Joey and Cristina Maggiore of the Maggiore Group, whose restaurants include Hash Kitchen and The Sicilian Butcher, will open The Italiano, described as an elegant trattoria-style Italian restaurant, at Shea Boulevard and 92nd Street as a tribute to the Maggiores’ late father and acclaimed restaurateur, Tomaso. (Early 2023)
TJ & Macee Tillman will be serving up doughnuts fashioned from croissant dough with a variety of different toppings. The Tillmans will also serve coffee and small bites and stock a full bar. Look for sandwiches made with doughnuts and doughnut ice cream cones at their restaurant on Main Street in Mesa. (Early 2023)
Gio Osso will debut a third concept in Old Town Scottsdale at Main Street and Brown Avenue with shareable plates of Italian fare, from crudo to pasta to whole roasted fish, and seating for up to 80. (Late 2023)
This Maggiore Group restaurant will feature wood-fired meats on an Italian-style rotisserie wood-fired grill. Look for porchetta, hand-crafted Neapolitan-style pizza fritte, craft cocktails and a build-your-own gelato bar. Near North Tatum Boulevard at Cactus Road. (Mid 2023)
Coming soon to the Melrose District: hand-crafted sushi and whiskey pairings in a Scandinavian-designed space, led by sushi chef Engin Onural of Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey in Palm Springs. (Early 2023)
Chef Claudio Urciuoli of Pa’La will head up a “fast-fine” Mediterranean restaurant in Gilbert’s Epicenter. (Mid 2023)
Chef Rochelle Daniel of Atria in Flagstaff will open a trio of restaurants in 2023: a basement speakeasy directly beneath Atria that will feature inventive craft cocktails and elevated bar snacks; an Irish-style pub (next door to Atria) with authentic Irish dishes and plenty of craft beer; and a steakhouse located in the basement of the Irish-style pub, which will spotlight house-butchered meats and open-flame cooking over mesquite. (Late 2023)
The folks behind Chupacabra Taproom in Mesa will open Urban Legend Beer Co. in the former Desert Eagle Brewing Co., bolstering the Downtown Mesa craft beer scene. (Early 2023)
Genuine Concepts will open a fifth location of its upscale neighborhood tavern, The Vig, at Park West in Peoria, and will feature The Vig’s first pizza oven. (Early 2023)
— Marilyn Hawkes
For more than 50 years, PHOENIX magazine’s experienced writers, editors, and designers have captured all sides of the Valley with award-winning and insightful writing, and groundbreaking report and design. Our expository features, narratives, profiles, and investigative features keep our 385,000 readers in touch with the Valley’s latest trends, events, personalities and places.

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