When traveling across the state and looking for the perfect place to do some sightseeing, one of the best ways to enhance that experience is to eat like the locals do. And, sure, dining at some fancy steak grill or the latest New American bistro that features kale on every dish can increase your sophistication quota on social media. However, sometimes eating at those questionable restaurants on the side of the road brings some tasty experiences for your mouth.
1. Brown Mug Cafe, Winslow
Did you know Harrison Ford once dined at this little Mexican restaurant? It’s easy to miss and a good reason to investigate many of the small towns along I-40. If you like your tacos crispy and your enchiladas swimming in sauce and cheese, this is the perfect place for you.
2. Carolina’s Mexican Food, Phoenix
If it weren't for the packed parking lot, this Phoenix favorite would look like an abandoned building. Good luck thinking you can make a quick lunch run; this place is always packed during lunch time.
The restaurant from outside.
3. The Fry Bread House, Phoenix
Pass by this place and you'll miss miss out on some of the tastiest fry bread in the Valley which is owned and operated by a Tohono O'odham family. The old location on 7th Avenue (where the above picture comes from) was also hidden near a bar but its new location is bigger. If you're not in the mood for an Indian taco, try the red chili stew with their signature fry bread.
Take out the sour cream and you have the perfect meal.
4. Guayo’s El Rey Cafe, Miami
If you ever happen to find yourself at the southeastern end of the Superstition Mountains, be sure to check out this place. The restaurant doesn’t look like much from the outside but be sure to show up for the tacos and salsa.
5. Karuna’s Thai Plate, Tucson
The pad thai is awesome but don’t forget to try their other dishes as well! We recommend the red curry and the coconut soup.
6. Khai Hoan Restaurant, Tempe
You’ll hear plenty of people argue over where to find the best tasting pho in the Valley but this location comes up again and again. The restaurant is found in a small shopping center near ASU and you will have a difficult time finding a dish you won’t like.
7. Laverna’s Coffee Shop, Tucson
Another restaurant within a building that looks anything but restaurant-like, however, they have some great breakfast options. Be prepared to wait though because this place gets packed fast.
8. Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe, Phoenix
Looking for some delicious Southern cooking? If you want to avoid some of the crowds at Lo-Lo's (which, by the way, is owned by Mrs. White's son, Larry), check out the original soul food location here along the light rail.
The menu wall at Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe.
9. Pizza A Metro, Phoenix
Sitting in the same parking lot as a dollar store, and a Circle K that attracts some sketchy loiterers, Pizza A Metro is a pleasant, quiet surprise in an otherwise questionable part of Phoenix. They serve an assortment of delicious Italian food and their pizzas are baked in wood ovens.
10. Poco & Mom’s, Tucson
Looking for just the right blend of Mexican-American food? Don’t drive past this modest little brick building! You can find some delicious food here, which they do New Mexican style. That means lots of green chile options but there’s still plenty of red chiles.
Have you visited any of these restaurants? Which others would you like to recommend?