fbpx

According to Webster – Grand Prix Phoenix Dining Guide

So where/what do you want to eat?

A phrase heard all too often after a long day playing Magic. Such a basic question can be so difficult to answer depending on various factors, most often influenced by the time of day and number of people eating. Once you’ve managed to jump over those hurdles, you’re left trying to figure out a suitable restaurant while watching the battery life on your phone slowly dwindle away one scrumptious benedict photo at a time. Decisions can be hard, but fear not, for there is a helpful guide to light the way to satisfaction.

All too often I’ve found myself in a city for the first time, hungry, with a bunch of friends, and everyone is looking at me for a “sweet place to eat.” I’d somehow acquired the reputation of being a foodie. I’m not really sure how that happened, but in any case, there may be a few other people who may be able to relate. Regardless of how much you love food, you may find yourself visiting Phoenix for the upcoming Grand Prix, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ll probably have to eat at some point along the way.

There are limiting factors that will greatly influence where you decide to eat: distance from your location, hours of business, and cost, although not necessarily in that order. At a Grand Prix, Saturday night is the most difficult to find a meal for, mainly because the Swiss rounds often last for quite a while, and you will find yourself looking for food after 11 pm if the event didn’t run as smoothly as it should have, which is quite hindering considering a lot of restaurants close at that time. Saturday and Sunday morning are also similarly difficult, respectively so, if your planeswalker status isn’t legendary enough to grant you byes or you are fortunate enough to make Day Two, thus being doomed to return bright and early to the event hall at 9 am. Knowing what the nearby options are, both early morning and late night, becomes critical in maintaining your status as the food guru of your clique. However, all of that knowledge takes time to acquire, and that’s a luxury depending on what your schedule is like. Thankfully, there are some people willing to make sacrifices for the greater good of their fellow planeswalkers.

The following list was compiled with an excessive amount of walking, mostly done by my fingers, to help ensure that you wouldn’t have to. Every restaurant is roughly a mile or less from the Phoenix Convention Center and ordered within each category by distance from the venue. Be warned that these places are popular and may require waiting in a queue for a table. Planning ahead by calling or making a reservation, where available, is a good idea. Brunch restaurants are especially notorious for 30-45 minute waits during peak hours, so consider yourself warned.

Before you dive head-first into the deep end of this guide, here are a few answers to some terminology questions that may come up as well as a few other tidbits:

I see a lot of descriptions as “New American.” What exactly does that mean?

New American is a style of food, and is generally based around the concept of seasonal, local ingredients, sourced from farms with sustainable, natural growing practices. Much more focus is put into the presentation of each dish, and there is generally more creativity overall.

How did you come up with the prices in the guide?

The low end is what you should expect to pay (after tax/tip) if you were to get one of the least expensive options, with only water as a drink, and be satisfied with that portion size as a meal. The high end incorporates more of the expensive entrees, a soup/salad, and perhaps a shared starter or two; a more lavish meal.

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH

Cartel Coffee Lab
Price: $5-15
Hours: F-Su: 7am-4pm
Distance from venue: 0.3 miles
The food menu is smaller here than most restaurants, but is still a fair amount of options including breakfast burritos, sandwiches, salads, and various baked sweets to go along with your single-origin coffee. Cartel Coffee Lab has multiple locations, and this one serves as their bakery headquarters, so you’re likely to find irresistible aromas of freshly-baked pastries.

Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
Style: New American
Price: $10-30
Brunch hours: Sa-Su: 9:30am-3pm
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
Classic offerings with playful twists are the theme of the brunch menu at Blue Hound Kitchen. Some of the highlights are lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry syrup, brioche French toast with blackberries, yuzu curd, & whipped mascarpone, aged cheddar biscuits with red bean sausage gravy, and shrimp n’ grits with roasted cherry tomato, pancetta, & hot sauce.

Province Restaurant
Price: $15-30
Hours: F: 6am-11pm, Sa-Su: 7am-11pm
Distance from venue: 0.4 miles
Breakfast includes the standard offerings of breakfast sandwiches/tacos, egg dishes including multiple benedicts, pancakes & waffles, and house specials including huevos rancheros. The brunch menu adds more savory dishes to it including chicken/beef skewers, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and pizza.

Phoenix Public Market Café
Price: $10-30
Hours: Fri-Su: 7am-10pm
Distance from venue: 0.6 miles
Breakfast is served until 3pm and consists mostly of egg dishes along with a few others like chickpea pancakes with bananas, Arizona pecans, & agave syrup. The lunch and dinner menu starts at 11am with soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and house specialties like lentil curry coconut soup, pork chile verde pot pie, roasted salmon, and wood-fired rotisserie chicken.

Matt’s Big Breakfast
Price: $10-20
Hours: F-Su: 6:30am-2:30pm
Distance from venue from site: 0.7 miles
Breakfast is served all day while lunch starts at 11am. Both classic American menus are short but have a core of options sufficient enough to make everyone happy.

Jobot Coffee
Price: $5-15
Hours: F: 7am-Sat, Sa-Su: 24 hours
Distance from venue: 0.8 miles
The menu at Jobot doesn’t care what time of day it is; anything is fair game. The main categories are scrambles, breakfast sandwiches and other biscuit-related offerings, sweet & savory crepes (including the #6: house-roasted garlic herb turkey breast with mozzarella, spinach, & roasted walnut pesto), salads, tortas, even more sandwiches, and sweets, all along with a healthy dose of caffeinated options.

Welcome Diner
Price: $10-20
Hours: F-Su: 10:30am-12am
Distance from venue: 1.1 miles
A Southern flare is evident throughout the menu at Welcome Diner with a portion being dedicated to biscuit sandwiches; classic comfort food components such as grits, po’boys, cracklins, and beignets are also everywhere. There is also a dinner menu with additional options.

Vovomeena
Price: $10-20
Hours: F-Su: 6:30am-1:30pm
Distance from venue: 1.8 miles
This whale is more out of the way, but is worth trekking out to if you have the time. The menu is basic but shows enough creativity to make it interesting with dishes such as pain perdu: banana bread French toast, whiskey caramel, & choice of meat and Mexican benedict: poached eggs, chorizo, tomato, cilantro, & hollandaise on sopes with spuds, and johnnycakes: two corn & chile cakes, prickly pear maple syrup, sweet rice, & choice of meat.

OPEN LATE (after 11pm)

Hanny’s
Style: American, Bar
Price: $15-30
Hours: F: 11am-1am, Sa-Su: 5pm-1am
Distance from venue: 0.3 miles
The standard categories of appetizers, larger plates, sandwiches, and salads in addition to pizza show the Italian influence on the menu. Offerings include Tuscan steak, pork Milanese, the porchetta sandwich, and four cheese pizza. Beer, wine, and cocktails accompany the food menu (which is served until 1am).

Bonjour Vietnam
Style: Vietnamese
Price: $10-30
Hours: F-Sa: 11am-12am, Su: 11am-10pm
Distance from the venue: 0.3 miles
Appetizers, spring rolls, Vietnamese sandwiches (served on fresh baguettes with jalapenos, cilantro, crispy shallots, cucumber, pickled carrots & daikons), salads, Vietnamese noodle soup (pho), and larger entrees (including braised pork belly caramelized with a fish sauce reduction, seasonal vegetables, and steamed rice) make up the traditional offerings here. If you’ve never had a chance to try Vietnamese cuisine, stop here and take a look.

The Rose and Crown
Style: British, Pub
Price: $10-30
Hours: M-Sa: 11am-2am Su: 10am-2am
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
This classic British pub offers a wide range of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches & burgers, and larger plates such as bangers & mash, fish & chips, shepherd’s pie, bourbon & brown sugar salmon, and bacon-wrapped filet. There is a broad selection of draught and bottled beers along with a sparse house wine list. There are various specials, including all-you-can-eat fish & chips on Fridays along with new weekend brunch specials.

Squid Ink Sushi
Style: Japanese
Price: $15-40
Hours: F-Sa: 11am-2am, Su: 10:30am-12am
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
Classic offerings of sushi, sashimi, assorted rolls, appetizers, soups, salads, rice bowls, noodles, and inventive grilled entrées (including the Kobe burger with Havarti, bacon, arugula, caramelized onions, & spicy aioli and Pan seared butterfish with grilled asparagus, fried onions, & strawberry miso) make up the main dinner menu at Squid Ink Sushi. There is also a lunch menu with specials featuring various rice bowls, sashimi platters, and reduced prices on house rolls. The drink menu includes various lager beers, sake, and cocktails. Sunday brunch is until 2pm; unfortunately the menu is somewhat elusive.

Moira Sushi
Style: Japanese
Price: $15-40
Hours: F: 11:30-2pm 5pm-2am, Sa: 5pm-2am, Su: closed
Distance from the venue: 0.5 miles
Moira offers traditional Japanese dishes categorized into izakaya (small plates), sushi, sashimi, and makimono (rolls) along with other Asian entrees (including kurobuta chaha: Japanese Berkshire pork sausage, scallion, soy, avocado, & fried vegetables and bun bo xao: lemongrass-marinated angus beef, rice vermicelli, cucumber, mint, peanuts, & fish sauce).

Bliss ReBAR
Style: New American
Price: $10-30
Hours: F: 11am-2am, Sa: 10am-2am, 10am-12am
Distance from venue: 0.7 miles
The menu is divided into appetizers, salads, sandwiches & burgers, mac-n-cheese, and comfort specialties including The Roosevelt (a savory chicken breast served with cheesy grits, bourbon-glazed carrots & a tangy dijon sauce) and shrimp n’ grits. Any menu that needs a category for the variations of macaroni and cheese that it offers must be doing something right, right? The weekend brunch menu lasts until 3pm and includes all the usual suspects. If you’re in the mood for drinks, there is a modest selection of wine, beer, and mixed drinks, along with the standard sodas, juices, and coffee/teas.

Carly’s Bistro
Style: American, Bar
Price: $10-20
Hours: F: 11-2am, Sa: 10am-2am, Su: 10am-12am
Distance from venue: 0.7 miles
Mediterranean-influenced appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches & wraps make up the late-night menu at Carly’s Bistro and include tomato bisque, artichoke dip, an antipasto plate, bruschetta, and the classic reuben. The weekend brunch menu is fairly sparse and focuses mainly on sandwiches in various forms. If you’re looking for a drink to accompany your meal, there happens to be a reasonable selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.

The Vig Fillmore
Style: American, Bar
Price: $15-30
Hours: F: 11am-12am, Sa-Su: 10am-2am
Distance from the venue: 0.9 miles
Appetizers, salads, sandwiches & burgers, and special dishes (including Deconstructed Fish Tacos with mahi-mahi, jicama slaw, pineapple, edamame, corn, black beans, sour cream, guacamole, & pico de gallo and Carne Asada on a Potato Pancake) show off the south-western influence on the menu. Weekend brunch ends at 2pm and includes chilaquiles, corned beef hash, French toast among other classic options.

RESTAURANTS WITH NORMAL HOURS

District American Kitchen and Wine Bar
Style: New American
Price: $15-50
Hours: F-Su: 6:30am-9:30pm
Distance from the venue: 0.1 miles
Located on the first floor of the Sheraton hotel, the breakfast menu has the typical buffet option, along with other entrees such as a crab benedict, huevos rancheros, corned beef hash, and pumpkin muffin top French toast. Lunch continues with soups, salads, sandwiches, and other entrees including golden fried calamari, mac n’ cheese, and sweet shrimp tacos. The dinner menu flexes is creative muscles with options like duck confit quesadillas and braised short ribs with jalapeno cheddar grits, stout demi, & locally grown heirloom carrots.

Nobuo at Teeter House
$30-60
Style: Japanese
Hours: F-Su: 11am-4pm, 5:30pm-10pm
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
Nobuo is an Izakaya, a place to drink where food is also served to accompany it, somewhat like a gastropub. Food is generally meant to be shared and is divided into a few categories at Nobuo: appetizers, cold dishes, and warm dishes. Highlights include tako age: fried octopus with yuzu aioli; grapefruit & hamachi with avocado & white truffle ponzu oil; big-eye tuna tataki, seared with roasted beet puree; sashimi of the day; warm duck salad: soy & zinfandel duck, grilled greens, & yuzu vinaigrette; and the Washyugyu short rib with local asparagus and fried egg.

The Arrogant Butcher
Style: New American, Bar
Price: $10-50
Hours: F: 11am-10pm, Sa: 12pm-10pm, Su: closed
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
The menu is quite exciting and showcases a fine selection of appetizers, charcuterie, a raw bar, salads & sandwiches for lighter and modest fare (including roasted beet salad, tabbouleh salad, and the AB cheeseburger with grilled onions, pickles, and cheddar), and entrees (including crab-stuffed chicken with spinach, capers, & jus and scallops with smoked cauliflower, clementine, Brussels, and marcona almonds). Daily specials for Friday and Saturday are king crab cioppino and prime rib, respectively. In case you are looking for more, there is also a modest selection of beer along with a moderate cocktail and wine list.

Province Restaurant
Style: New American, Bar
Price: $10-50
Hours: F: 6am-11pm, Sa-Su: 7am-11pm
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
A repeat offender from the Breakfast/brunch section, Province Restaurant’s dinner menu has appetizers, soups, salads, burgers & sandwiches, and pizza along with the addition of entrees such as NY strip steak with fries and béarnaise sauce, roasted jidori chicken breast with seasonal vegetables, & thyme jus, and Sonoran seafood stew with PEI mussels, jumbo lump crab, calamari, market vegetables, San Marzano tomatoes, house chorizo, and red potatoes.

Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails
Style: New American
Price: $20-60
Hours: F: 11am-3-pm 5pm-11pm, Sa-Su: 9:30am-3pm 5pm-11pm
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
Blue Hound Kitchen reopens for dinner with appetizers, salads & vegetables, and meat, poultry, & seafood entrees. Appetizers can be split into full or half portions (a few are shisito peppers, charred pork belly sliders, and Kennebec potato fries). The entrees look quite enticing (including Swordfish, braised tomato & caper, giant white beans, & Mexican oregano, “Ahwatukee” seafood chowda with ghost chile, mussels, clams, bacon, & tomato broth, and pork butt burnt end flatbread with pickled shallots, béchamel, & charred romaine. The cocktail program features Phoenix’s largest selection of bourbon, scotch, & gin and an extensive mixed drinks menu. The wine list is fairly broad and there is also a small selection of beer.

Pizzeria Bianco
Style: Italian
Price: $15-35
Hours: F-Sa: 11am-10pm, Su: closed.
Distance from the venue: 0.4 miles
Head chef and owner Chris Bianco won the James Beard award for best chef southwest in 2003, and he has arguably changed the way many people think about pizza. His menu is small, but focused with a few, classic small plates and salads to accompany his pizza. A few varieties include; marinara: tomato sauce, oregano, garlic; margherita: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil; and biancoverde: fresh mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta, & arugula. There is also an option for extra add-ons to each pizza such as wood-roasted mushrooms, fennel sausage, and prosciutto.

The Breadfruit
Style: Caribbean
Price: $15-45
Hours: F-Sa: 5pm-11pm, Su: closed
Distance from the venue: 0.5 miles
Appetizers, soup & salad, and entrees, categorized by meat & seafood highlight the Caribbean menu. Like most restaurants, The Breadfruit sources their ingredients from local sources, sustainably caught seafood, and local natural farms. Small plates and salad/soups include highlights like the baked mango fish rolls, made with the catch of the day, pickled ginger, mango, purple cabbage, & seasonal chutney; the Appleton run sea scallops: diver scallops coated with Appleton rum & jerk rub, seared; and the jerk chicken salad, tossed with mixed seasonal farm vegetables, & house vinaigrette. Moving on to the entrées, offerings include the escovitch fish & festival: pan-fried wild whole red snapper, escovitch sauce, & festival bread; braised short rib stew with garden herbs, mashed cassava root, & roasted farm vegetables; and the coconut curried tofu with Blue Mountain curry, coconut milk, rice & peas, roasted vegetables, & ripe plantains. If you’re looking for a thematic drink to go along with your meal, there’s a decent selection of Rum-based cocktails.

Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Café
Style: Soul Food, Southern
Price: $10-20
F-Su: 10:30am-7pm
Distance from the venue: 0.5 miles
Comfort food reigns supreme at Mrs. White’s. The menu is small but filled with nothing but soul (food). Offerings include golden brown southern fried chicken, oxtails, moist succulent pork chops, juicy chicken fried steak, red beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, and potato salad among other options. Don’t forget to save room for pie.

Harumi Sushi
Style: Japanese
Price: $10-30
Hours: F: 11am-2pm, 5pm-9pm, Sa: 5pm-9pm, Su: closed
Distance from the venue: 0.5 miles
Harumi sushi is on the casual side and even has sushi to go if you’re short on time. The menu is fairly standard with basic rolls, specialty rolls, sashimi platters, appetizers, and entrees including teriyaki chicken and the spider roll with tempura soft-shell crab, masago, crab salad, avocado, cucumber, & eel sauce.

Angel’s Trumpet Ale House
Style: New American, Bar
Price: $10-20
Hours: F-Sa: 11am-12am, Su: 11am-11pm (food served until 1 hour from closing)
Distance from venue: 0.6 miles
Snacks, pizza flatbreads, and sandwiches (ranging from the Good Ole Fashioned with pickled red onion, smoked tomato aioli, seasonal greens on a toasted bun with your choice of cheese to the Matador with grilled & shaved new york strip steak, melted horseradish Havarti cheese, grilled red peppers, onion, mushrooms on pretzel bread with side of creamy horseradish sauce) litter this well-stocked beer bar. There’s also a very small Sunday brunch menu tacked on for good measure. Thirty taps and a bottle list to match will help ensure that every person has a drink they’ll like.

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana
Style: Italian
Price: $15-35
Hours: F-Sa: 11am-2pm, 5pm-11pm, Su: 11am-2pm, 5pm-10pm
Distance from the venue: 0.6 miles
Authentic Napoli-style thin-crust pizza is the focus at Pomo. They pay attention to every detail to craft pizza right down to the highly-refined organic wheat flour imported from Molino Caputo in Naples. The menu includes antipasti, salad & soup, pasta, paninis, and of course pizza which is categorized into classica, traditional, and focaccia. Some examples of pizza that is offered include the Pomo: Italian sausage, mushrooms, red bell peppers, & onions; Amatriciana: sautéed pancetta, black pepper, & sautéed onions; and the Bufala Verace: San Marzano tomatoes, sea salt, parmigiano regianno, basil, & extra virgin olive oil.

Centurion
Style: Italian/French
Price: $15-50
Hours: F-Sa: 3pm-11pm
Distance from the venue: 1.0 miles
Appetizers, salads, mussels, pizza, and entrees divide the menu at Centurion. While many of the dishes have an Italian or French background, there are other regional options such as mussels in different styles; Portuguese fish stew; foie gras, prosciutto, & blackberry pizza with a balsamic blueberry reduction; and Israeli couscous salad, tossed with cucumbers, chicken, smoked tomatoes, feta, salami, spinach, & a lemon basil vinaigrette. Other dishes include baked brie with raspberry jam, wrapped in puff pastry, served with seasonal fruit; margherita pizza; and herb-crusted rack of lamb with a cheddar-basil waffle and financiere sauce, served with manchego and chorizo risotto.

Cibo
Style: Italian
Price: $10-30
Hours: F-Sa: 11am-11pm, Su: 9am-2pm
Distance from the venue: 1.0 miles
Appetizers, salad, red pizza, white pizza, and crepes are the categories on the menu at Cibo, which strikes a path closer to traditional Italian cuisine, including options like burrata served with balsamic, prosciutto, & toasted crostini; pesto salad; diavola pizza with tomato sauce, spicy salami & mozzarella; latina pizza with mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, rosemary, onions, sliced tomatoes, & black pepper; and a nutella & mascarpone crepe, served warm, topped with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce. The lunch menu replaces pizza with made-to-order saltimbocca bread sandwiches and an overall reduced cost compared to dinner. Sunday brunch combines an assortment of omelets with a smaller selection of saltimbocca sandwiches from the lunch menu. Some examples of what they offer include the frittata campagnola: an omelet filled with smoked mozzarella & topped with tomato sauce, sautéed Swiss chard, & ricotta cheese and the saltimbocca PLT: toasted prosciutto, mixed greens, tomato, & roasted bell pepper aioli.

Downtown Phoenix has many restaurant options to go to, and there are certainly other places around the convention center that aren’t covered here; this guide highlights the better looking options to visit. The places that I’m most excited to visit include Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, Pizzeria Bianco, The Arrogant Butcher, and Vovomeena. Regardless of where you decide to go, make sure to stay safe, and enjoy the company of your friends.

Happy eating.

Discussion

Scroll to Top