Tempe – Arizona
When you think of college towns, you might not think of a diverse culinary experience. Luckily, those who visit Tempe – home to Arizona State University, the largest public university in the U.S.–will be surprised to find a variety of food other than the typical student fare. From breakfast to burgers to international favorites, you’ll have a hard time choosing from all the restaurants surrounding campus.
Tempe is a melting pot with a mix of people from all over the world, so it’s no coincidence that you find that global influences reflected in our cuisine. Apache Boulevard is at the center of it all and encompasses a veritable spice trail of flavorful food. Here you will find northeastern Chinese cuisine at Chou’s Kitchen, which serves up staples like steamed buns and handmade dumplings. Down the street is local favorite Haji Baba, a Middle Eastern restaurant and grocery store featuring house-made tahini, falafel and tasty shawarma-all served with Arabic bread. Around the corner, get a taste of Vietnam at Khai Hoan, which is reputed to have the best bun (rice vermicelli), banh cuon (stuffed rice crepe rolls) and hanh hoi (mini rice sticks). The journey along Apache Boulevard also includes The Dhaba, which celebrates the tastes of the Punjab region of India with fragrant rice, deep-fried Indian street food and perfectly spiced chicken and lamb.
As a college town, you could say craft beer is “in-grained” in Tempe’s culture. Four Peaks Brewery is a local favorite housed in a historic warehouse. Their beer bread wraps and burgers are a must and should be paired with one of their famous brews, such as the Peach Ale or Kilt Lifter. Located in Downtown Tempe, Pedal Haus Brewery offers an extensive patio with Belgian-American-inspired food. They offer award-winning brews including the White Rabbit Hazy IPA and the Pedal Haus Pils. Other popular spots to visit are the tasting rooms at Huss Brewing Company, known for their German Style Kolsch and Scottsdale Blonde, and The Shop Beer Co., which prides itself on its Church Music and Coffee Brown microbrews.
A few minutes to south Tempe, you will discover several local hot spots, such as the Southwestern borderland tastes of Ghost Ranch. We suggest their Aztec Cake, a stack of tortillas with layers of chicken, green chile, sweet corn, cheese, and crema. Nearby, you will also be delighted with savory and sweet crepes from the Crêpe Bar. This one-time food truck concept is now a go-to place for yummy breakfast and lunch.
Relive those college days with campus area favorites. The Chuckbox, is a classic burger joint serving char-broiled patties, chicken sandwiches and fries since1972. Casey Moore’s Oyster House, one of the best neighborhood bars in Tempe, offers a wrap-around patio, amazing food, and oysters.
Now that you have the food scene down to a science, check into a hotel near the ASU campus. Explore newly added hotels like The Westin Tempe, featuring the valley’s highest rooftop bar and pool, or checkout The Canopy by Hilton Tempe, a boutique and contemporary hotel with a fantastic dining experience. The Vib Tempe, a new and elevated option from Best Western, has a rooftop patio, modern interior and an in-house restaurant specializing in lobster dishes. Tempe’s mainstay, Tempe Mission Palms offers a beautiful courtyard and pool with a view of “A” Mountain.
The next time you think about traveling to Arizona, make sure to keep Tempe at the top of your list. You’ll discover it’s a food lover’s town with amazing weather, outdoor recreation, and outstanding places to stay.
For more information visit tempetourism.com
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.