The top restaurants in the West Valley of Phoenix in 2021

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Too often the West Valley dining scene is overlooked. Well not anymore. Thanks to newer restaurants that offer some of the best grills and tacos in town – not to mention some Food Network favorites in Old Towne Glendale, an incredible mall food court and gas station favorite, western cities could be argued the Phoenix metro offer some of the more varied restaurants in town.

Falafel House

6730 West Cactus Road, Peoria

Located in a gas station at this intersection called Simon Xpress, Casa De Falafel is a Mediterranean grill that serves authentic Arabic street food. A menu with promising falafel sandwiches, beef kebab plates, salads and falafel rings is displayed on electronic screens above the preparation station. In addition to the falafel wrapped in saj, the lentil soup is a favorite. The shop was opened in 2016 by Ali and Madda Shakir from Iraq, who only called it Casa De Falafel because the Falafel House was taken over. (So, no, this isn’t a Mexican-Mediterranean fusion restaurant.) Both Casa De Falafel and the gas station have a retro feel to them, with green and pink plastic cabins, dark green tiles, neon signs, and a peppy We’re Here for the Atmosphere to use.

Fat breast plates are streaked with fat and colored with a vibrant smoke ring.EXPAND

Fat breast plates are streaked with fat and colored with a vibrant smoke ring.

Chris Malloy

Eric’s family grill

12345 West Indian School Road, Avondale

Would you like a keyword in the West Valley? The meat smoked in salvaged propane tanks behind Eric’s is the best you’ll find. Eric Tanori smokes the old-fashioned way without the help of gas, a labor-intensive method that raises the ceiling on how good marquee cuts like brisket can be. In its spacious cafeteria-style dining room and on a homestyle-style terrace, this brisket adorns almost any platter. Slices come out thick, wide folds, sharp from the deep smoke of the mesquite. This is one of the best brisket and one of the most impressive grilled dishes in the valley. Low-key side dishes and desserts like banana pudding and cheese-dusted elote are reminiscent of the backyard barbecues from which Eric’s was born.

Get a schnitzel and a bottle of beer at Murphy's house.EXPAND

Get a schnitzel and a bottle of beer at Murphy’s house.

Lauren Cusimano

Murphy’s house

5739 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale

Chef and owner Brett Hoffman’s cozy, classic restaurant in Glendale has served authentic German cuisine for a quarter of a century. (You might have seen it on the Food Network.) House Murphy’s is known for its original Oktoberfest pretzel, sausage sampler, juicy sausages, homemade sauerkraut and a whole range of schnitzels (including a one-pounder). We are also keen on the potato quark gnocchi, the house goulash in a bread bowl and goulash fries. The German aesthetic naturally extends to the bar, which offers huge bottled beers that you can enjoy under strung lights on the vaguely European terrace – a beautiful piece of the Old World in the West Valley.

La Bamba Mexican grill restaurant

12102 West Thunderbird Road, El Mirage

The entrance to La Bamba is under no sign in a strip mall suite between a laundromat and Discount Tire in the deep west valley. Inside, the extremely friendly chef Edson Garcia is multitasking creating next level tacos, sauces, horchata and aguas frescas. Garcia – who said he was homeless a few years ago – started his restaurant career as a dishwasher, worked his way up to the line chef and then opened restaurants in this suburb of Phoenix. In a recent review, our restaurant critic made a big claim: The Al Pastor Tacos at La Bamba in El Mirage are the best in the valley. Garcia uses pineapple vinegar and pork belly and serves these tacos on flour tortillas topped with onions, cilantro and homemade salsas. It is a haunting example of the level of Mexican cuisine our city has to offer.

Offers from The Best Barbecue.EXPAND

Offers from The Best Barbecue.

Lauren Cusimano

The best barbecue

6522 North 59th Avenue, Glendale

Southwest of Old Towne Glendale, La Mejor Barbacoa is between an auto repair shop and a transmission repair shop. Blink and you may not find it at all. Good thing there is a sign and three flaky banners promoting barbacoa, menudo, and micheladas. This golden yellow restaurant greets you with neon beer signs, worn but elegant tables and chairs, oversized houseplants, and friendly, family-like staff. The barbacoa deserves its place on the sign, but so do the consome, pozole and menudo. Most items contain homemade tortillas, a green sauce, and a slow burner of red sauce (which a staff member will personally warn you about). Do you fancy something sweeter? Flip the two-sided menu for mango con chile, ice cream, fruity shaved ice, and aguas frescas.

Piazza Al Forno on Glendale Avenue.EXPAND

Piazza Al Forno on Glendale Avenue.

Lauren Cusimano

The piazza Al Forno

5803 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale

This is the classic pizzeria for lunch, except that the pizza is incredibly upscale, well known, and even excellent. Piazza Al Forno in Old Town Glendale is a pioneer when it comes to bringing wood-fired, artisanal pizza to the West Valley and the greater Phoenix area. Not to mention, that’s what’s left, but also the best of Pizzaiolo’s Justin Piazza pizza empire (thanks COVID). It’s also a certified Verace Pizza Napoletana restaurant, which means your pizza will arrive with the crispy, chewy crust and the expected San Marzano tomatoes. Oh, but it’s absolutely a great place for dinner too.

Litchfield's terrace is an added bonus.

Litchfield’s terrace is an added bonus.

The wigwam

Litchfields

300 East Wigwam Boulevard, Litchfield Park

Litchfield’s in the historic Wigwam Resort is full of surprises. At first glance, it’s just a steakhouse with a cowboy-sized “cowboy rib eye” as a show stopper. But read the menu carefully and she will sing with nuanced creations like perfectly tender Kurobuta pork cheeks, Mexican grouper with chili oil and homemade pappardelle with king’s trumpet mushrooms. The biggest surprise, however, is the wine list – a robust celebration across France, Italy, and California that transitions from whites to old-world wines, with servers trained in the finer points. No wonder it won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2020.

The perfect lunch: Pho in Little Saigon in historic downtown Glendale.EXPAND

The perfect lunch: Pho in Little Saigon in historic downtown Glendale.

Lauren Cusimano

Little Saigon

7016 North 57th Avenue, Glendale

The family-run Vietnamese restaurant moved from Christown Mall to downtown Glendale some time ago, but the aromatic bungalow looks like it opened a store decades ago. Little Saigon is discovered by the charming inner courtyard and the white fenced entrance and is brought to mind by the food. We listed it as one of the 10 restaurants that every self-respecting Phoenician should try and stand by at least once. The highlights of the menu include the spring rolls filled with prawns, the banh xeo crepe, everything that is served in a hot pot, and the shaved coconut-flavored ice cream. Classics like Pho Tai are easy to order here, however.

Sky market

7611 West Thomas Road

What was once a Mervyn department store is now Mercado De Los Cielos, a Hispanic marketplace at the south end of Desert Sky Mall. More than 200 tenants call the place their home. Although some consider the Mercado De Los Cielos primarily a shopping destination, it is also a haven for counter-service restaurants serving fresh agua frescas, tortas, quesadillas, mariscos, gorditas, and all kinds of street food. There’s a lot to choose from – almost too much. If you’re struggling with decisions (or debate), photos of almost every dish can be found above the register. And if you just want to shop at the Mercado De Los Cielos, grab a pina or mango loko at the Raspados de Frutas Naturales booth to have a sip while browsing the shelves.

French cuisine from the Vogue Bistro.

French cuisine from the Vogue Bistro.

Roman Yasinsky

Vogue Bistro

15411 West Waddell Road, surprise

The Vogue Bistro is just minutes from the White Tank Mountains and offers American food with a sharp and elegant French twist. Vogue’s menu is a testament to the Franco-American atmosphere. The award-winning meatloaf sits next to a confit duck leg with a seared duck breast. Other highlights are the Vogue Escargot and the burger from Arizona with hickory-smoked chutney, crispy onions, Asiago cheese and horseradish aioli. Wash down that French cuisine with a drink from Vogue’s extensive and creative cocktail menu. À votre santé!

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Lauren Cusimano is the Food and Drink Editor for the Phoenix New Times. She is a journalist and food waste writer in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep reading.

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