15 Phoenix restaurants we cannot wait to open this year

Posted at 12:49 PM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2017-01-11 19:02:01-05

During the second half of 2016, more than 50 restaurants and bars opened their doors for the first time in Phoenix.

That included Grand Blue, a seafood concept from the founders of Pita Jungle, two popular Chicago-based pizzerias, and an underground tiki-inspired bar!

So, what can we expect in 2017? It's early, but we already have nearly a dozen eateries on our radar, including another popular Chicago deep-dish pizzeria and the launch of a new spot from Fox Restaurant Concepts.

Scroll down to check out the list and see when these eateries plan to open around the Valley.

Know of a restaurant opening soon? Send an email to and let me know!


The Halal Guys is a popular Middle Eastern restaurant based in New York City. It began as a hot dog cart in 1990 and served chicken, gyro and falafel. In January, The Halal Guys are expected to open their first Arizona location in Tempe. It will be located at The Wedge, a restaurant-retail space, off Rural Road. Read more.

Update: On Jan. 11, The Halal Guys announced that its Tempe location would open on Friday, Jan. 27. 


In 2016, three big-name Chicago pizzerias announced their plans to open stand-alone restaurants in Arizona. Gino's East was one of those restaurants. The pizzeria built a 4,400-square-foot restaurant in Arcadia near 36th Street and Indian School Road. It is expected to open in January, although a specific date has not yet been set. Read more.


Doughbird is the newest concept from Valley restaurateur Sam Fox, of Fox Restaurant Concepts. The menu will focus on rotisserie chicken and pizza. It will be located at the Arcadia Gateway shopping center near 44th Street and Indian School Road. At last report, it is slated to open sometime this spring. Read more.


Valley native and country singer Dierks Bentley will bring his gastropub and music venue to downtown Gilbert next year. The 8,000-square-foot country-themed restaurant will have a large outdoor patio with cornhole and ping-pong, a dance floor and dining area. An opening date has not been announced, but representatives say they're hoping to be open in February. Dierks has two other locations in Tempe and Scottsdale. Read more.


Sneak peak of @galloblancocafe 2.0 . Thank you @hollystreetarchitects for putting it together. 2017

A photo posted by Gallo Blanco Cafe (@galloblancocafe) on


When Gallo Blanco closed its doors at the Clarendon Hotel in 2015, it was heartbreaking for Chef Doug Robson, as well as the restaurant's loyal customer base. The good news is that Gallo Blanco is returning. Gallo Blanco 2.0 will be located within the old "American Way Market" near 10th Street and Pierce. Robson is renovating the market. No hard opening date has been set, but the goal is sometime this year. Read more.


A photo posted by welcomediner (@welcomediner) on


If you live in downtown Phoenix or consider yourself to be a foodie, chances are you've been to (or at least have heard about) Welcome Diner. It's a small restaurant housed in a 1940s Valentine Diner near 10th Street and Roosevelt. They serve sandwiches, salads and burgers and use local ingredients. They're opening a second Welcome Diner that will be located across from Gallo Blanco's new restaurant. Read more.


Chef Matthew Carter's The Mission, which serves modern Latin cuisine, is opening a second location at Scottsdale Kierland. It's not known yet when it will open, but construction is underway. A "sneak peek" was shared on their Facebook page in December. Carter opened a new restaurant, Fat Ox, at the end of 2016.


Silk is a new restaurant expected to join the Valley's culinary scene in 2017. It will specialize in "modern Asian tapas." Silk is the dream of James Xie, who has worked in restaurants and now wants to own his own, according to a December announcement about the restaurant. It will be located near Scottsdale Road and Shea Blvd. and right now is scheduled to open in fall of 2017. One interesting caveat to the announcement is that the owner started a Kickstarter hoping to raise $50,000 from the community.


Valley restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin, the man behind St. Francis, is bringing the Phoenix Public Market Cafe to Tempe. The Tempe Public Market Cafe will feature a similar menu as the Phoenix Cafe, focusing on simple and healthy sandwiches, salads, slow-cooked meats and desserts. The 3,200-square-foot restaurant will be located near Rural and Warner roads. It is scheduled to open sometime during the summer.


Poke, a Hawaiian dish, became a popular food trend in 2016. That looks to continue in 2017 with the expected opening of Ocean Poke Co. The Poke-focused eatery will serve signature bowls, filled with sushi-grade fish and other toppings, as well as rolls, similar to a sushi roll. According to its website, it will be located near 36th Street and Indian School Road. It is expected to open either late February or early March.


Hurts Donut is a gourmet donut shop that is opening a location in Tempe sometime next year. Right now, it is slated to open either in January or February, according to updates posted to its Facebook page. Other locations are open in Midwest states like Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa. The donut creations are intense: donuts topped with Twix, peanut butter cup, cookie dough, and other insane designs.


The Park is a new restaurant concept coming to Phoenix in 2017. The Park is a food court and beer garden that will feature menu items from popular Valley restaurants and food trucks,  and local beers. Paradise Valley Burger Company, Frosted Frenzy, Pho King, and Mustache Pretzels are some of the trucks that have partnered with the park. The Park is expected to open in January and will be located at the Collier Center in downtown Phoenix.


The fast-casual create-your-own poke eatery joined the Valley's culinary scene in 2016 and was a quick hit. The first location opened in Scottsdale with a second opening in Chandler. In 2017, three more Ahipoki Bowl locations will join the Valley -- one in Tempe near Rural and Lemon (close to ASU), one at CityScape in downtown Phoenix, and a third near 7th Street and McDowell.

Editor's note: This entry was updated on Jan. 3, 2017 with updated information about Ahipoki Bowl's new restaurant announcements.


Chef, restaurateur and Chopped judge Scott Conant's latest culinary adventure brings him to the desert. Mora Italian will serve "a strong line up of shareable plates, handmade pastas and dynamic craft cocktails," according to its website. The 5,100-square-foot modern eatery is expected to open early 2017 and will be located near 7th Street and Montebello Avenue.


The farm-to-table eatery is focused on "gourmet, scratch-made goodness" and will open its first Arizona location in 2017. Modern Market will be located within the Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center.

Editor's note: This story was updated from its initial version to add "The Park", "Ahipoki Bowl" , "Mora Italian" and "Modern Market."