*Thank you to the Tempe Tourism Office for sponsoring this blog post!
Over the last few years, I have dived into the culinary scene in Tempe, AZ. After discovering and experiencing several restaurants, I made up my mind on the best foodie spots. This is your ultimate foodie’s guide on where to eat in Tempe– whether you’re looking for the top brunch, dessert, lunch, dinner, romantic or ethnic restaurants. For the latest food and travel updates, make sure you’re following me on Instagram, @HappilyPinkBlog.
Before we get started, I want to point out that restaurants are doing their best to pivot. Most have adapted to a smaller menu. Please follow Tempe and business guidelines to keep everyone safe.
Where to Eat in Tempe
This “Where to Eat in Tempe” guide is something that I’ve been wanting to create since 2019! However, I felt that I wanted to try more restaurants before releasing my recommendations. In November 2020, I finalized my list when I worked with the Tempe Tourism Office! In each of the six categories on where to eat in Tempe, I break down a brief description of what you can expect from my 15 recommended businesses. I also included my favorite menu items as part of this foodie guide. At the end of this post is an interactive map to help you plan out your eating adventure.
The Best Brunch Spots in Tempe
Brunch is one of my favorite meals! It’s later in the morning and gives you the opportunity to be productive or sleep in before you indulge in outstanding food and cocktails. These two locations have different specialties, price points and ambiance styles– depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Voted the 2020 Best Hotel Restaurant in Phoenix, Alter Ego is located inside the newly-established Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown. Executive Chef Ken Arneson leads the hotel’s signature restaurant with an elevated fusion cuisine that reflects his Polynesian heritage and 13 years of culinary experience. You can expect to taste many locally and regionally-sourced ingredients.
If you can only get one entree then get the Fro. The Fro is a large teppanyaki-style omelet, filled with pork fried rice and garnished with an Asian pear salad. It is insane! And don’t forget to order this S’mores Please cocktail: CaraMellow Salted Caramel Whiskey shaken with double chocolate liquor and sweet cream, garnished with a blow-torched marshmallow dipped in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. For my complete recommendations, check out this Instagram post from my visit!
Alter Ego | 602-612-7871 | 108 E University Dr.,Tempe, AZ 85281
Crêpe Bar offers modern sweet and savory crêpes, small plates, cocktails and specialty coffees. Jeff Kraus, the owner and head chef behind Crêpe Bar, mindfully sources seasonal and the high-quality ingredients from the valley. These crêpes take a step outside of your typical French pancake. For a savory option, order the Chilaquiles. The base for the Chilaquiles are crêpe chips, topped with: chorizo, black beans, cotija, cilantro and avocado. On the sweeter side, I recommend the Vanilla Bean Custard crêpes. In addition to the vanilla bean custard filling, these dessert crêpes feature marinated strawberries, rich caramel and candied Spanish peanuts.
Crêpe Bar | 480-247-8012 | 7520 S Rural Rd, Tempe, AZ 85283
The Best Restaurants for a Quick Lunch in Tempe
Usually when I’m traveling, I like to grab a quick bite then continue my explorations. With these two options, I offer you the best of both worlds: artisan pizza and nutrient-dense food!
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza
I jumped for joy when I heard the news that one of my favorite NYC pizzeria’s would be opening in Tempe! During a summer internship in Manhattan, I quickly fell in love with Artichoke Pizza. Their crust is unlike any other pizza and offers a different approach on the New York classic slice. As you may have guessed from the name, Artichoke is known for their famous Artichoke slice. This slice will change your life with its rich spinach-cream sauce and artichoke hearts. After dining in their Tempe location, I can confirm that it’s just as good as what I enjoyed in New York! Newcomers should order the Sampler, a trio of three large slices that are cut in half for $15-16. In addition to the iconic Artichoke slice, you should order the savory Crab and the Margherita. Alex’s favorite is the Staten Island.
Artichoke Basille’s Pizza | 480-590-5830 | 1120 E Baseline Rd, Tempe, Arizona 85283
Sometimes you just want something healthy to balance out your indulging, and for that I recommend CoreLife Eatery! Not only is this Tempe restaurant fast but it also serves nutrient-dense food that consists of simple and fresh ingredients. You will find a variety of salads, rice bowls, tacos and scratch-made soups that only use grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free chicken and pork, and cage-free eggs. I was impressed with the flavor, quality and speed. There’s also the option to build-you-own bowl, which is what I did.
CoreLife Eatery | 480-912-8282 | 1840 E Warner Rd Suite 108, Tempe, AZ 85284
The Best Restaurants for Dinner in Tempe
As we continue our journey on where to eat in Tempe, we explore the best restaurants for dinner. This category is great for a night out with friends or family, or even a date night! These three are well-recognized in the valley and have received various awards. One restaurant was even recognized by the Food Network! P.S.: For more date night options on where to eat in Tempe, view my romantic restaurant list below.
From Alter Ego’s dinner menu, I cannot get enough of the Banh Mi Bowl with Katsu Chicken! The bowl’s base includes healthy ingredients like ancient grains, julienned radish, sliced avocado, seared tofu, arugula and more. Then, it’s topped with a generous portion of katsu chicken with gochujang sauce and agave. For dessert order the Chocolate Tres Leches; the housemade cajeta gelato is amazing!
Alter Ego | 602-612-7871 | 108 E University Dr.,Tempe, AZ 85281
Cotton & Copper
Cotton & Copper is a cozy, neighborhood restaurant with strong roots tied to Arizona ingredients. Owner Sean Traynor crafts impressive libations that have been inspired by Arizona neighborhoods and mining towns; while Chef Tamara Stanger is known for her choice in foraged and indigenous ingredients. Inside, the ambiance feels like an elevated pub with decor that connects well with the branding. My favorite detail is the the antique, copper cash register. Right now, Cotton & Copper is offering a limited takeout menu, with plans to reopen the dining room in early 2021. I recommend checking out their Intermission menu, which is a temporary, casual menu that is inspired by streetfood and concession stands. When they reopen their dining room, order the Mesquite Roasted Duck, served with Cherokee grape dumplings. Annnd, don’t forget to save room for one of the rotating desserts by Chef Tamara.
Cotton & Copper | 480-629-4270 | 1006 E Warner Rd #113, Tempe, AZ 85284
It’s no surprise that Ghost Ranch made the Food Network’s list for one of the Best Restaurants in Phoenix. Ghost Ranch is my favorite restaurant in Tempe for Southwest-inspired cuisine! The culinary team delivers a modern approach to regional favorites from Arizona and New Mexico, with a focus on simple ingredients that create bold flavors. Much of the family-style menu includes locally-sourced goods, whether it’s the meat or the masa for their made-to-order tortillas. Their Queso Fundido is the number one thing on my mind! For entrees, I’d recommend the generously-portioned Pollo Asado.
Ghost Ranch | 480-474-4328 | 1006 E. Warner Rd. #102-103, Tempe, AZ 85284
The Best Romantic Restaurants in Tempe
These are the places that I would recommend whisking someone away for a romantic and more expensive dinner. Without having cocktails, our bill well-exceeded $100 at these two locations. However, the food was amazing and the ambiance was beautiful. One offers a metropolitan view with the city lights and a breathtaking Arizona sunset, while the other is nestled away in a historical neighborhood with whimsical, outdoor gardens.
House of Tricks
Located in the Heart of Downtown Tempe, House of Tricks is an award-winning restaurant that offers some of the most beautiful plating in Tempe! With Contemporary American cuisine, the flavors and presentation are incredible. You can’t go wrong with sitting outside in one of their three gardens that are encompassed with a canopy of trees. While enjoying your candlelit dinner under the stars, I recommend ordering the Seared Foie Gras and Balsamic Glazed Bacon-Bison Meatloaf. The meatloaf was unlike any meatloaf that we had tasted and it’s one we hope to order it again.
House of Tricks | 480-968-1114 | 114 E 7th St Tempe, AZ 85281
Top of the Rock Restaurant
Top of the Rock is your restaurant for the best panoramic views of the valley! I recommend reserving a table near the window or on the patio during sunset. After speaking with Chef Sandy Santiago, I could see how his passion is well-illustrated into his Contemporary American cuisine. He enthusiastically integrates the seasonal and local ingredients from the Southwest. Order the Seared Duck and the Chocolate Dome Ganache! The apple-blueberry mustard was deliciously unique and paired well with the savory and juicy flavors of the duck. This is the signature restaurant located at the Marriott Phoenix Resort Tempe at The Buttes.
Top of the Rock Restaurant | 602-431-2370 | 2000 W Westcourt Way Tempe, AZ 85282
The Best Ethnic Restaurants in Tempe
On Apache Boulevard is the Spice Trail, a street filled with a variety of ethnic options that span from Middle Eastern to Asian cuisines. Below are my favorites for where I like to eat in Tempe for ethnic restaurants. If you want to experience three different Tempe businesses, then stop by 1250 E Apache Blvd for xiaolongbao at Chou’s, bubble waffle and boba at Mango Rabbit, and imported Asian snacks from Neko Mart. Keep reading for more details!
Chou’s Kitchen is well-known for their handmade dumplings and authentic northeastern Chinese cuisine. The xialongbao, or soup dumplings are my favorite; I love them so much that I even ordered them when it was more than 115 degrees outside! On the menu, they’re listed as menu item Steam Juicy Pork Dumplings (P13 小笼包). As a non-dumpling item, go for the Green Onion Pancake (P04 葱油饼). Bonus– Chou’s Kitchen is a relatively affordable spot, considering that all of their dumplings are under $10.
Chou’s Kitchen | 480-557-8888 | 1250 E Apache Blvd Ste 101, Tempe, AZ 85281
This Arizona award-winning restaurant serves Punjabi-style cuisine. Something that I loved about their restaurant is how they customize the curry to your spice preferences. If you’re like me, and like to try a little bit of everything then I recommend the $20 meal: masala chai, naan, tandoori chicken, biryani, curry, yogurt, and a house dessert.
The Dhaba | 480-557-8800 | 1872 East Apache Boulevard, Tempe, AZ 85281
The Best Desserts and Treats in Tempe
If you follow me, you know I have a huge sweet tooth! So of course, I had to a category on where to eat in Tempe for the best desserts and treats. Whether you’re looking for a late-night dessert or wanting to have a specialty dessert, Tempe offers a variety of treats and snack. Or maybe you want a fun place to go to with your friends that has both tasty and Instagrammable food. Well, look no further and keep reading!
Dirty Dough is the perfect spot for when you’re craving a late-night dessert! Even as a crunchy cookie fan, I was easily swooned by the warm, thick cake cookies. You easily get your money’s worth, considering the density of the cookie! Alex and I stopped by this sweet shop after dinner, and we both agreed that the Monster Monster cookie was our favorite. This cobalt blue cookie is filled with cookie dough and mini M&Ms. If you can’t wait to visit Tempe, you can place an order for their newly added nationwide shipping! They are only located in Tempe, so definitely stop by if you get the chance.
Dirty Dough | 623-404-6471 | 1537 W Broadway Rd., Tempe, AZ 85282
Mango Rabbit is my favorite spot for adorable boba drinks and bubble waffles! Here, you will find the most Instagrammable sweets in the valley and meet K-Pop fans through the idols’ birthdays and events. Owner Peggy Huang is constantly updating the monthly drinks with new ideas and flavors. She is one of the most innovative business owners that I have met! Peggy works hard to share the same Asian desserts that she grew up eating in Taiwan. No two specialty drinks are ever alike, and everything is only made with the highest-quality ingredients.
I usually get whatever the Speciality Drink is for the month, or if I want something lighter then I will order the Strawberry Matcha Latte or Dragon Fruit Kiwi Slush. With the bubble waffles, they go above and beyond! Most recently, I made a Custom Waffle that consisted of a red velvet waffle filled with nutella, topped with strawberry ice cream and mochi, drizzled with condensed milk, then garnished with strawberries and a Hello Kitty macaron.
Mango Rabbit | 480-912-6283 | 250 East Apache Boulevard, Unit 112, Tempe, AZ, 85281
Neko Mart is a cute imported Asian snack shop that is located in the same strip mall as Mango Rabbit and Chou’s! They have savory and sweet snacks from China, Korea and Japan. I was even delighted to discover that they carry some of the same canned coffee that I bought from the vending machines in Tokyo! If you’re lucky, they might even have Ichiran’s famous ramen in stock. Look around at everything they have in their shop then make a decision. I personally tend to lean towards the sweeter side!
Neko Mart | 480-492-9942 | 1250 E Apache Blvd #106, Tempe, AZ 85281
Rango Honey made my “Where to Eat in Tempe” list because the products are something you need to take home with you and share with your friends! This business sells high-quality raw, natural honey from the Sonoran Desert. I have used the thick and creamy Mesquite Honey for my tea, oatmeal, charcuterie boards and more. They offer four different types of honey from their 1500 bee hives: Clover Alfalfa, Desert Bloom, Mesquite Honey, and Orange Blossom. There’s also a giveback value associated with the brand: by supporting Rango Honey you are supporting the Autism community. The owners have a son with Autism and established an assisted living community for adults with Autism.
Rango Honey | 480-729-6537 | 364 S Smith Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281
Where to Eat in Tempe Map
In the map below, I added the locations and categories to give you a visual of where everything is located. You can click the icon in the top left corner to view a list of the businesses and filter your interested categories.
Thank you again to the incredible team at the Tempe Tourism Office for making this blog post possible! I would also like to thank Top of the Rock, Alter Ego and Mango Rabbit for generously hosting me.
If you have any questions about these places, feel free to send me a DM to my Instagram, @HappilyPinkBlog. Comment below and let me know where you would love to eat in Tempe!