As the home to Arizona State University, one of the biggest universities in the US, Tempe, AZ, has developed fun cultural attractions and a lively nightlife. When school is in session, the city exudes a vibrant atmosphere that is well worth exploring. Luckily, it also has an exciting culinary scene, which offers a break from the excitement (and great food) as you explore this college city.
Our Retirement Travelers travel guide notes the best Tempe, Arizona restaurants, from upscale restaurants to casual joints beloved by local university attendants. We’ve had the opportunity to try some of these eateries, while others are on our itinerary for our next visit. Let’s dive into some of the top options for food in Tempe!
You’ll find this eatery in downtown Tempe. It’s a gastropub that brings people together through good food, live music, and a fun atmosphere. Culinary Dropout is famous for its 36-hour pork ribs and soft pretzels with provolone fondue. This restaurant hosts events throughout the year, like Yoga in the Yard. You can also catch a game or two on their TVs while enjoying your meal. With indoor and outdoor seating available, you can visit this restaurant, rain or shine. They also focus on giving back to the community through sponsorships, volunteering, and other methods, so you can feel good about grabbing a meal here.
Tanpopo Ramen is one of the best restaurants in Tempe. It features Japanese cuisine in a cozy environment. As their name suggests, this restaurant specializes in ramen soup. They even make their noodles from scratch at the restaurant. Start by selecting the broth you’d like (ranging from seafood to ultra spicy). Then, pick the toppings you’d like in your soup. Topping options include Japanese fried chicken, squid, bamboo shoots, and more. If you’re not a ramen lover, you can try the rice dishes on the menu.
Satisfy your Italian food cravings with a visit to Vincitorio’s Restaurant. This Italian eatery offers a cozy environment for enjoying handmade pasta dishes. The restaurant also has a wine bar, making it a perfect location for a girl’s night, date night, or gathering with loved ones. Vincitorio’s Restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. The Maccheroni al Fornoand seafood ravioli are must-tries at this eatery. There are also a few vegan and gluten-free options on the menu.
RigaTony’s Authentic Italian Restaurant
This popular Italian Tempe restaurant is a local favorite, and for good reason. The prices at RigaTony’s Authentic Italian Restaurant are reasonable, the portions are large, and the food is delicious. Expect dishes like pasta jambalaya and spaghetti cacio e pepe.
On the weekends, expect to wait anywhere from 45 – 60 minutes for a table. Because of the wait times, it’s best to arrive early and snack before. If you don’t want to wait for a table, you can visit the restaurant during the week for lunch to get in more quickly.
The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Tempe
This is one steakhouse and seafood eatery you won’t want to miss. The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Tempe features a laidback yet stylish atmosphere that’s ideal for special occasions. The original Keg restaurant was opened in 1971 in North Vancouver. Since then, 100+ locations have opened throughout Canada and the United States. On the menu, expect dishes like scallops + bacon, prime rib, and Atlantic lobster tail. During the summer, this restaurant offers a special lobster summer menu, which includes all things lobster.
Cornish Pasty Co
This restaurant chain began as a single location in 2005 and has since grown to eight locations around the state. Cornish Pasty Co specializes in pasties, a savory puffed pastry dish typically filled with meat and vegetables. Initially, pasties were created as an easy way for miners to take their food on the go. Now, it’s a tasty treat with various savory fillings such as steak, potatoes, and roasted turkey that everyone can enjoy. Don’t skip the desserts here, especially the chocolate bread and butter pudding.
Four Peaks Brewing Company – 8th Street Pub
If you’re looking for a delicious meal and excellent, award-winning craft beer, look no further than Four Peaks Brewing Company. This eatery serves tasty pub food options like French onion soup and shrimp yakisoba. Four Peaks Brewing Company has two locations in Tempe, though we’re focusing on the 8th Street Pub location. This pub restaurant is found in a former creamery/ice factory and is open daily.
Top of the Rock Restaurant
Top of the Rock Restaurant is one of the priciest options on this list, making it a top choice for special occasions. It focuses on using local and seasonal ingredients to provide farm-to-table meals. Top of the Rock Restaurant has a romantic atmosphere, perfect for date nights and anniversaries. Opt for a window table if possible for the best views of the sun setting over the valley as you enjoy delicious food. On the menu, you’ll see dishes like heirloom tomato salad and ora king salmon. This restaurant is located at the Marriott Phoenix Resort Tempe, about three miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Perfect Pear Bistro
Head to Perfect Pear Bistro if you’re in the mood for healthier dishes at affordable prices. This family-owned restaurant has three locations, two of which are in Tempe. At this restaurant, you can expect American comfort food using seasonal ingredients. Every few months, expect different menu items depending on which produce is available. This restaurant has yummy options like an autumn roast quinoa bowl and a harvest sandwich. Meat dishes and vegetarian options are available here.
You may recognize Ghost Ranch from Food Network’s Best Restaurants in Phoenix list. It’s considered one of the best eateries in Tempe, AZ, as it features a delicious modern twist on southwestern cuisine. You’ll find fun desert-inspired decor and Mexican/Wild West fusion dishes here. You’ll see tacos, salads, items cooked on the wood-fired grill, and more on this restaurant’s menu. The churro ice cream sandwich is a delicious sweet treat that you won’t want to miss at Ghost Ranch.