4 Arizona Food Spots Among The 50 Best Restaurants In America

By Dani Medina

September 22, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

If you're looking to add a new restaurant to your rotation, pay attention!

The New York Times just revealed what restaurants it's most excited about in 2022 in its "50 Best Restaurants In America" list. Here's what the news outlet said about its prestigious list released this week:

We traveled widely and ate avidly as we built the annual list of our favorite restaurants in America. From Oklahoma City to Juncos, Puerto Rico, to Orcas Island off the coast of Washington State, our food reporters, editors and critics found revelatory Ethiopian barbecue, innovative Haitian cooking and possibly the most delicious fried pork sandwich in the United States. While we love to see a dynamic new dining room open its doors, we’re equally impressed by kitchens that are doing their best work years in. So while some of our picks debuted just this summer, others have been around for decades. The one thing they do have in common: The food is amazing.

In Arizona, four restaurants made the top 50. Here's a look at them:

Bacanora, Phoenix

Here's what the NYT said about Bacanora, which opened in February 2021:

At this corner restaurant lit up in neon, the caramelo stands apart. It’s a nontraditional take: a corn tortilla grilled until crisp and piled generously with salsa, queso fresco, plump pinto beans and shreds of carne asada. But this place is hardly a one-hit wonder. There are practically no misses on the short menu of Sonoran food, anchored by a large grill (there are no ovens or stoves) and the chef Rene Andrade’s uncanny ability to balance brightness, salt and acidity. He’s the kind of cook who puts as much care into a side of beans as he does into a special of grilled yellowtail collar glazed with tangy chamoy — and it shows.

Kabob Grill N' Go, Phoenix

Here's what the NYT said about Kabob Grill N' Go, which opened in May 2020:

Pick a skewer, any skewer. At Kabob Grill N’ Go, large cases display swords of lamb, beef, pork ribs and chicken, each marinating in a different blend of spices — cayenne, sumac, black pepper — the flavors rooted in Persian and Armenian cuisines. Once you’ve made your choice, the co-owner Tony Chilingaryan, who does the butchering himself, will grill your selection over mesquite wood to order, basting the meat with his secret sauce. Expect to wait at least 20 minutes, but you’ll be rewarded with kabobs that are juicy beyond belief. Douse everything in Mr. Chilingaryan’s pepper-forward take on chimichurri, and you’ve got what may be one of the best lunches in Phoenix.

Thaily's, Chandler

Here's what the NYT said about Thaily's, which opened last April:

Sometimes love stories yield exceptional food. In this case, that story belongs to Thai and Lee Kambar. After the two were married, Ms. Kambar, who is originally from Cambodia, learned to cook Iraqi dishes from Mr. Kambar’s parents. Soon, she started combining those Iraqi flavors with the Cambodian ingredients of her childhood — lemongrass, prahok, coconut milk. The blended dishes are the best ones at Thaily’s, like a special of lemongrass beef that Ms. Kambar cooks in an air fryer and wraps in garlic naan. Or a chicken curry flavored with palm sugar, fish sauce, makrut lime leaves and warm seasonings like cumin and cinnamon. These aren’t haphazard mash-ups; it’s thoughtful, intentional cooking that feels like a revelation.

Tito & Pep, Tucson

Here's what the NYT said about Tito & Pep, which opened in November 2018:

The chef and owner, John Martinez, is a third-generation Tucsonian, and he is re-examining the ingredients of his childhood with cooking that is understated and remarkable. Take his seafood stew, inspired by chilpachole, from Veracruz. It starts with a deeply savory tomato broth infused with tostadas; shrimp and plush masa dumplings float throughout. Other dishes center on grilled meats, often served with not much more than a brightly seasoned salsa, local vegetables and herbs. How did he get something so straightforward to taste this remarkable? Often, the best restaurants are the quiet ones.

Check out the full report.

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