Sky-high plates of chicken and waffles in Youngtown. Crispy catfish po’boys in south Phoenix. Bites of Hoppin’ John that would transport you to the muggy outdoor cafe tables in the French Quarter. The Valley is lucky to have a wide variety of black-owned restaurants offering incredible food in vital spaces.
We have many suggestions. Here are several restaurants in greater Phoenix we recommend for today and well beyond.
Jupiter Rings Wings and More
4700 North 12th Street
If you’re looking for a new restaurant, try Jupiter Rings Wings and More. Jason Higgins came to Phoenix with just a buffalo sauce recipe. He has since created a popular vegan version and opened a restaurant — and will soon be selling his product in grocery stores nationwide. Check out thoughts from our first taste in June 2020.
Jason Higgins and his son Rashaad operate the new Jupiter Rings Wings and More restaurant.
Rag’s Real Chicken & Waffles
12242 North 111th Avenue, Youngtown
Tucked away in the northwest Valley city of Youngtown, Rag’s Real Chicken & Waffles is a small, family-owned restaurant that plates sky-high chicken and waffles — truly, the dish has to be about six inches tall off the surface of the table. Aside from the huge portions, there is much more to appreciate here — like the sides, the live music, and the BYOB policy.
Mingo’s serves a variety of po’boys, including the classic catfish po’boy.
For some seriously, seriously good wings, go to ATL Wings. Many wing options in Phoenix are pretty good, but these are some of the best. If you love a good dry rub, ATL Style should definitely be your order. Each piece, drum, or wing is hefty and evenly coated with that heavy, oily blend of herbs and spices. It’s no surprise they won a Best of Phoenix award in 2018. (Personal note: I’ve eaten myself sick on ATL Wings many times.)
Get them ATL style.
Honey Bear’s BBQ
Many restaurant owners have stories, but not all can recall a time they catered the crew of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s true. Honey Bear’s BBQ owner Mark Smith remembers the first time this group of highly energetic and friendly young people walked into his barbecue restaurant in 1987. The next three months would be filled with some excellent adventures. Also, you can drink the sauce here, and many do.
Dare we say, the same kind of pulled pork sandwich eaten by Keanu?
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café
808 East Jefferson Street
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café is one of the city’s top restaurants. Named for founder Elizabeth White, it serves utterly timeless food. The writing on the wall literally informs you this 50-year-old restaurant is where you’ll find one of Phoenix’s most famous Southern dishes: the golden brown Southern fried chicken (with suggested sides of cabbage and black eyed peas). Mrs. White has spinoffs everywhere, including her grandson, Larry “Lo-Lo” White’s spot, Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles.
Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café is one of the top restaurants in town.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
the Larder + the Delta
200 West Portland Street, #101
Operated by chef Stephen Jones, the Larder + the Delta is also one of Phoenix’s top restaurants. We reviewed the restaurant in 2018, and we stand by it. The restaurant’s second location is in sleeker digs, but the menu is still killer Southern fare. Entrees include pork ribs and chicken fried chicken, but smaller plates are the main draw here. The cauliflower is made with sauce from Cutino Sauce Co. (another black-owned business), the Hoppin’ John makes you feel like you’re in NOLA, and the crispy pig ears are dusted in Cheetos. We could write a poem about the chicken skins.
Stephen Jones of the Larder + the Delta in the permanent location.
Stacy’s Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food
1804 West Glendale Avenue
We think Stacy’s Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food has some the best soul food in town. In addition to offering a well-decorated (but not yet opened) dining area, this casual soul food restaurant serves “ole fashion” barbecue, fried chicken, and chitterlings, and has Kool-Aid on tap. That crispy fried chicken is some of the best in town; it comes from a secret recipe concocted by owner Stacy Phipps himself — who most likely will be in the restaurant when you visit. We also gave it a Best of Phoenix award in 2019 for its food in general.
Stacy’s Off Da Hook BBQ and Soul Food in north-central Phoenix.
849 West University Drive, Tempe
Metro Phoenix has several standout African restaurants and coffee shops. But one is a cut above, and we’ve deemed it one of the Valley’s top restaurants. Located in Tempe, the husband-and-wife-run Café Lalibela is a cozy Ethiopian restaurant that has occupied a strip mall suite for decades. The eatery specializes in vegetarian dishes, though several meat items are on the menu like the key sega wat. Injera, or a crepe-like sourdough bread made with teff, is served with most meals.
James Lewis of JL Smokehouse philosophizing about wood and smoke.
Monroe’s Hot Chicken
Remember when hot chicken was all anyone could talk about around here? One place has done it extra well — but not extra well done. The sandwiches are juicy and hot at Monroe’s Hot Chicken, which we discovered in a very early visit. But we had such a good time on follow-up visits we gave the restaurant, owned by Larry White (also the man behind Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles), a Best of Phoenix 2019 award for best downtown lunch. What’s more, there’s now a Tempe location.
A mixed meat platter and armada of sides from JL Smokehouse.
1712 East Broadway Road
Our food critic, Chris Malloy, is a big barbecue fan. He’s dedicated countless hours to his series Smoke Rings. Along this journey, smoke master James Lewis claimed “I got the best pulled pork in the country.” Lewis’ barbecue joint, JL Smokehouse, uses oak and mesquite in service of exceptional menu items like the Chicago sausage sandwich, the brisket, pulled pork, rib tips, and sides like the coleslaw, potato salad, mac and cheese (goosed with smoked gouda), and beans (flavor halfway between barbecue and Cajun). Just to name a few.
Dana Dumas, owner of SugarJam Bake Shop & Bistro.
Trapp Haus BBQ
511 East Roosevelt Street
Roosevelt Row is known for cocktails, galleries, and maybe a craft beer spot, which is what makes Trapp Haus BBQ all the more worth a visit. Proprietor Phil “the Grill” Johnson is a “seasoned barbecue master,” and he plies his trade on standout items like the Jumbo Philly Crack Wings, which we gave a Best of Phoenix award in 2019. Other memorable menu items include the St. Louis ribs and Trappetizers like burnt ends and the hot chicken skins.
Monroe’s Hot Chicken has the best lunch in downtown.
Island Sensation Cuisine
830 East Indian School Road
We’re big fans of quality, inexpensive lunches, which is why we also recommend Island Sensation Cuisine. We recommend you start with the house-made ginger beer brew and then work your way down the menu. Chef Lloyd Campbell offers classically Jamaican food, which he fine-tuned in culinary school in Kingston. Plates include classic stewed oxtail with gravy and rice, jerk chicken thighs, and sides like “island” coleslaw.
The amber-hued hot sauce from Island Sensation Cuisine brings a tropical rush.
Authentic Ethio African Spices
1740 East McDowell Road
Spotted by the colors of the Ethiopian flag at 18th Street and McDowell Road, Authentic Ethio African Spices is another one of the Valley’s outstanding African restaurants. Injera is easily accessible, as is ginger-spiked chicken stew, and fresh cheeses, and vegetarian options. We also gave this cozy African café a Best of Phoenix award in 2018 after a couple mesmerizing visits.
Stewed chicken, house-made cheese, cabbage, and greens on injera from Authentic Ethio African Spices.
West Alley BBQ
111 West Boston Street, Chandler
We’ve been fans of West Alley BBQ in downtown Chandler since it opened in 2018. After attending Chandler’s Great American BBQ & Beer Festival in early 2017, owners Bardo and Christian Brantley decided to spring for a storefront in the east Valley. The barbecue joint specializes in St. Louis-style ribs, Tennessee-style barbecue, and more. It also had its own installment in our Smoke Rings series.
4825 East Warner Road
Lucky for us, soul and comfort food isn’t hard to come by in this ever-sprawling metropolis. Around since 2012, Ezekiel’s Restaurant is a mom-and-pop soul food eatery in the Ahwatukee Palms Shopping Center at 48th Street and Warner Road. We recommend the fried chicken or barbecue ribs dinner, as well as the crab cakes and sweet potato pie. We also recommend you check out our 2016 restaurant review.
Brad and Laurita Carr of Ezekiel’s give the east side an extra sprinkle of soul.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
The Original Pancake House
6840 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale
Some restaurant recommendations hardly need to be stated. If you want pancakes, The Original Pancake House in downtown Scottsdale is where you go. The breakfast chain has been around since 1953, and our Scottsdale location has been open since 1988, when the griddle was first overseen by owner Ron “The Pancake Man” Horton. The Midcentury vibe, coupled with house specialties like the apple pancake, Dutch baby, and Ron’s Special Southwest Eggs, make this place a real first meal gem. Read our 2012 ode to its 49’er FlapJack here.
3015 East Thomas Road, #101
Gojo Restaurant is named after the Amharic word for hut, and the place is indeed cozy and homelike. Like most quality Ethiopian restaurants, Gojo serves a variety of flavorful stews, like doro wot (chicken), key wot (beef), and alitcha wot (lamb). It also hosts bunna — an Ethiopian coffee ceremony — on Mondays when the dining room is open. For a deeper dive, check out our piece from our 2015 visit.
The Cutting Board Bakery and Café
2235 South Power Road, Mesa
The Cutting Board Bakery and Café is one of the most welcoming spaces in the east Valley, in addition to being a vegan and vegetarian-friendly eatery. We visited early, just before its 2013 grand opening, and highlighted a few breakfast dishes, sandwiches, and juice concoctions. Today we’d recommend the Caribbean Bowl, the Chickun n Waffles, and the Bacon Lover Burger — a black bean burger with tempeh bacon, jerk barbecue sauce, and all kinds of other stuff.
A rum-heavy Dark and Stormy made with Big Marble ginger beer.
Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine
2081 North Arizona Avenue, # 132, Chandler
Around for more than 10 years, Hot Pot Caribbean Cuisine is a small restaurant inside a featureless strip mall in Chandler. But the dishes here are multiple times more eye-catching than the eatery’s exterior. Hot Pot serves a mean Brown stew chicken, plus Goat curry, Oxtails, and deep-fried Escovitch fish. For more recommendations and ravings, check out our 2017 review.
Word of Mouth’s Demetrious Makel at his smoker.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Big Marble Organics
c/o The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
108 East Pierce Street, #2051
Dwayne Allen and Danielle Leoni, owners of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, recently released their own ginger beer. The Big Marble Organics beverage was created thanks to their usual ginger beer provider going dark. Searches for a good replacement weren’t going well, and the Rum Bar stopped making Dark and Stormy cocktails, “because we were dissatisfied.” So, they made their own. And we’re fans. In addition to our informal review of this Arizona-made ginger beer, we provided a Dark and Stormy recipe given by Allen himself.
The Original Pancake House has been around since 1988.
New Times Archives
Word of Mouth Grill
7660 South McClintock Drive, Tempe
Recently, we took an extended tour of the Valley’s grilling, smoking, and saucing world in “Cafe Review: Journeying Through Phoenix’s Thriving Black Barbecue Scene.” During it, we met Demetrious Makel and his wife, Jacque Gomez-Makel of Word of Mouth Grill in Tempe. The Makels are big on seasoning but make sure there is plenty of flavor in the meat as well. We recommended his house-made sauces, of which there are 10, and the “uncommonly juicy” rib tips.
PAZ Cantina is known for its chicken tinga tacos.
SugarJam Bake Shop & Bistro
7950 East Redfield Road, Suite 100, in Scottsdale
This is a hidden gem in Scottsdale. Seriously, you’d be hard-pressed to find it without some help from Google Maps or Siri. The front facade looks like just another suite in a business park, as opposed to the lovely, intimate neighborhood bistro it is. The lush courtyard doubles as the restaurant’s patio, the inside is thoughtfully decorated, and the SugarJammin’ cookies are starting to become famous. Aside from SugarJam’s treats in the bakery case, try savory options like sandwiches, salads, barbecue, and fried chicken.
Roll It Up Ice Cream
13370 West Van Buren Street, Goodyear
The family-owned Roll It Up Ice Cream is a specialty ice cream shop using a distinct rolling process to construct its desserts. The menu changes monthly, but some popular orders include the Too Short (a strawberry shortcake-themed cup) and the Prince (Fruity Pebbles, strawberries, and bananas). Vegan flavors are also available. Just be sure to get a photo in front of the neon “Roll It Up” sign. This spot is just one of many great local restaurants in Goodyear.
The Chick’n-Less Po’Boy at Maya’s Cajun Kitchen
And a whole bunch of vegan businesses …
There is a growing number of Black-owned vegan food businesses around the country — and across metropolitan Phoenix, including new restaurants and home-based bakeries. Starting with pastries and touching on plant-based soul food, here are 10 Black-owned vegan food ventures in the Valley.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on June 5, 2020. It was updated on December 3, 2020. See what Valley restaurants are offering takeout, delivery, and dine-in services with our Phoenix Restaurant Directory.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free… Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who’ve won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism’s existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.