Phoenix, AZ

Five culinary spots in Phoenix for the adventurous

Scott Murdoch
Thaily’s Restaurant/Facebook

PHOENIX, AZ — Metro Phoenix is always surprising customers with new locations to eat and drink as it continues to grow, evolve, and expand.

As the local culinary sector begins to navigate the post-pandemic era of dining, these are the new eateries to look forward to.

Lee and Thai Kamber founded one of the East Valley’s most freewheeling eateries earlier this year. Their food is predominantly Cambodian with an Arab flavor, representing the proprietors’ origins. They do, however, channel other culinary traditions with gusto and abandon.

Gyros are shaved, naan is baked, and banh xeo is folded. The Kambers create lok lak, a peppered beef salad with thinly sliced tomato, egg, and onion on the Cambodian side of the menu. They also make tamarind salaw machu tart. Pistachio baklava and Cambodian snow cones are among the dessert options.

Kabob Grill’ N Go is known for its Armenian-style meats and veggies cooked over charcoal. In Hasmik and Tony Chilingaryan’s store, loaded metal spits lean in long clusters under a glass display case before being sizzled and burned.

Deeply browned meats and craggily blistered peppers and tomatoes are served over basmati rice. The ground-pork-and-beef koobideh and shirazi salads of cucumber, tomato, red onion, and lime juice have earned this informal diner a loyal following for its family platters.

The patio of Arcadia’s Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe has been transformed into a taco pop-up that operates three nights a week. The typical suspects, such as carne asada, lengua, and al pastor cut off a sizzling trompo, are included on a limited menu of tacos and a few sides.

Pozole (made from an old family recipe, like many of the tacos) and a poblano-cream taco are among the rotating specials.

In a high facility with numerous patios and separate rooms, including a main dining chamber overlooking Camelback Road, Walter Sterling and the Ocotillo crew are preparing their interpretation of Mexican food.

Dishes take inspiration from all across Mexico and are given a unique twist. A rainbow of pickled veggies accompanies the cochinita pibil. Tacos (hard and soft), flautas, quesadillas, and enchiladas are among the many tortilla-based delicacies on the extensive menu. The cocktail menu is heavy on agave.

Kaizen runs out of the same kitchen as the Larry, a wide-ranging casual American restaurant in downtown Phoenix’s Galvanize co-working facility. Though marketed as a sushi restaurant, Kaizen specializes in raw fish in general. Chef Gustavo Munoz delves into North and South American seafood traditions, presenting octopus tiradito and scallop aguachiles with a creative flair.

On the other hand, the majority of the cuisine is authentically Japanese. It goes a little beyond raw fish preparations and into the karaage and katsu realms. Temaki, nigiri, sashimi, and specialized maki are all readily available. Order omakase to have the best of both worlds.

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