8 of the Best Restaurants in Mesa, Arizona - Simply Wander (2024)

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Mesa is one of the most diverse cities in the Phoenix area and it is reflected in its food scene. Whether you’re looking for a new place to try for date night, a girl’s lunch, or a sweet treat with the kids, here are some of the best restaurants in Mesa AZ!

8 of the Best Restaurants in Mesa AZ

8 of the Best Restaurants in Mesa, Arizona - Simply Wander (1)

Table of Contents

  • Bobby Q’s
  • República Empanada
  • Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken
  • Happy Bao’s
  • Organ Stop Pizza
  • Two Hands Korean Corn Dogs
  • Jalapeño Bucks
  • Worth Takeaway
  • Pho Thuan Thanh

Bobby Q’s

Bobby Q’s is formerly known as Bobby McGee’s, but it has come a long way since the ’80s dive bar and nightclub that it once was.

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The newly remodeled Bobby Q’s in Mesa first opened its doors in 2016 and has been serving up some of the best barbecue in the Valley ever since!

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Not only is it one of the best restaurants in Mesa, it is also home to the ‘Best Fried Chicken in Arizona’!

The menu features tender smoked ribs, mouthwatering prime beef brisket, juicy pulled pork, creamy mac & cheese, crispy onion rings, tangy slaw, and so much more.

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The complimentary cornbread cakes that are brought out to each table are seriously to die for!

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And to top it all off, you’ll even get complimentary mini homemade donuts after your meal.

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You can see the donut machine in the lobby by the hostess stand. It cranks out these little delightful puffs that are delivered hot and fresh right to your table. Be sure to order extras to-go!

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Not only is the food incredible, but the ambiance is just as inviting. The interior has a rustic eclectic feel with so many unique features, but our favorite is the chic outdoor patio.

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The whole exterior is shrouded in palm trees and blooming plants, you would never guess that you’re in the middle of the desert.

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There are actually two other Bobby Q’s locations in the valley, one in Phoenix and the other at Biltmore Plaza, but we love the vibe at the Mesa location!

República Empanada

República Empanada is located inside of a cute mid-century modern building in the heart of Mesa’s Southside Heights neighborhood.

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This small family-run restaurant is the pride and joy of the Meraz family who have poured their hearts into making the best homemade empanadas in the valley!

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Empanadas are a turnover pastry that originated in Spain and are popular in countries across Latin America.

The pastries are stuffed with a variety of savory or sweet fillings and are either baked or fried.

República Empanada offers over 20 different varieties of empanadas to choose from and they make their pastry dough fresh from scratch daily.

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For the savory empanadas, I would recommend the Cubana, El Capitan, Boricua, or the Pernil. Be sure to get the green sauce to dip it in, it’s divine!

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For the sweet empanadas, try the Banana Cream Pie, Nutella Banana, or the Dizzy Fig.

The Dizzy Fig is stuffed with locally grown figs, mozzarella, and homemade dulce de leche. It sounds like an odd combination, but it totally works!

Owner and chef, Jinette Meraz, is from Costa Rica and they have incorporated a few other traditional Costa Rican dishes into their menu.

You’ll find dishes like Arroz Con Pollo, Chicken Torta, Tostones, and Papas Fritas.

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It reminded us so much of our trip to Costa Rica!

You can even see bits of Costa Rica infused in the artwork, like this mural depicting a traditional Costa Rican oxcart.

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The oxen are carrying agave plants that are symbolic of her husband, Edmundo’s, Mexican roots.

We actually had a chance to chat with Edmundo and he is so kind!

The cozy dining area is small and intimate with limited seating, so expect a wait if you visit on the weekend.

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But trust me when I say it’s worth the wait.

República Empanada was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and is even a favorite spot of the band Jimmy Eat World when they’re in town!

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Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Gus’s Fried Chicken had a humble beginning.

Over 60 years ago, Napolean “Na” Vanderbilt and his wife Maggie began selling their fried chicken sandwiched between sliced white bread from the back door of a tavern in Mason, Tennessee.

The sandwiches quickly gained a reputation for being the best around, and the community rallied together to help Na and Maggie build a freestanding restaurant.

In 1973, Maggie’s Short Orders was opened. The original building still stands and still continues to serve the best fried chicken in Tennessee.

Na and Maggie’s son, Gus, inherited the secret family recipe and continued the family legacy.

Over the years, the popularity of their famous hot and spicy fried chicken grew and they began opening stores across the nation.

Arizona is lucky enough to have two locations here in Phoenix and Mesa!

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The deep-fried chicken is fresh, never frozen, and perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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The plates come with a side of slightly sweet baked beans and slaw to offset the spicy chicken. The sides are also made using Maggie’s secret recipes.

Each plate is also served with a slice of white bread as a nod to the original sandwiches served by Na and Maggie.

We also loved the fried green tomatoes and mac & cheese!

Dining at Gus’s is like eating dinner with family. The casual eatery is filled with tables covered in checkered tablecloths and the fried chicken is served up on paper plates.

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The staff is also just as friendly, I guarantee you’ll want to come back for more!

Happy Bao’s

Happy Bao’s is located inside the Mekong Plaza, an Asian market and food court.

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They serve a variety of Asian dishes made with handmade noodles, including Beef Noodle Soup, Dan Dan Noodles, and Beef Chow Fun.

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They are especially known for their signature handmade soup and bao dumplings.

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In fact, they have been voted as the best dumplings in Phoenix for the last 2 years by Phoenix New Times.

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It is a popular shop with limited seating, so expect a wait.

While you are at Mekong Plaza, check out some of the other stores and restaurants. Tea Snow serves some of the best boba smoothies in the valley. We like the Ube and Pina Colada flavors.

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Roll Avenue features Thai rolled ice cream. You can watch them make this tasty treat by mixing cream, sugar, and fresh fruit.

It is then spread into a thin layer then flash frozen before being scraped into perfect little rolls. You can then pick your toppings to go with it.

You’ll even find a cotton candy vending machine at the Mekong Plaza that makes cool designs out of cotton candy!

While you are there, be sure to stop by the Mekong Supermarket where you can find some unique foods to try.

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Organ Stop Pizza

Eating at Organ Stop Pizza is more than just dinner, it’s an experience!

This unique landmark restaurant is a pizza parlor with a pipe organ. But it’s not just any pipe organ, it’s the “Mighty Wurlitzer”, the largest indoor pipe organ in the world!

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I have to admit that the idea of listening to an organ play while eating dinner didn’t appeal to me at first. When I think of an organ, I think of church or a creepy haunted house.

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However, when we finally gave it a try we were blown away!

Not only do the organ pipes take up an entire wall with mesmerizing lights and movements, but the organ player is fantastic!

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He can play almost any song by memory including mainstream pop, Disney and movie soundtracks, classic favorites, and so much more. It is a far cry from the church hymns I had imagined!

There are even baskets by the stage where guests can submit song requests creating such a fun and lively atmosphere.

Some of the songs that he played while we were there include the Friends theme song, Africa by Weezer, Fireworks by Katy Perry, the Star Wars theme song, several Disney songs, and many more.

The restaurant has tables on the main level and on the balcony overlooking the organ. We prefer the balcony seats.

Just keep in mind that the music is loud, so don’t expect to carry on much dinner conversation.

The food is average with pizza, pasta, and a salad bar. It’s not bad, but you definitely come here for the experience and not necessarily the food.

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Organ Stop Pizza is one of the best restaurants in Mesa for families. It is also a fun place to take out-of-town guests, or to celebrate a birthday.

Click the link to read more about the history of the organ.

*Related post: if you’re looking for things to do in Mesa, check out our guide 15 Fun Things to do in Mesa with Kids!

Two Hands Korean Corn Dogs

Korean corn dogs have been taking the US by storm. If you haven’t had a chance to try them yet, then head to Two Hands in Mesa.

The Koren corn dog is an interesting twist on the traditional American corn dog.

First, choose your filling, either sausage, spicy sausage, mozzarella, or a combination of sausage and mozzarella.

It is then coated in batter with the option to add potato cubes, crispy rice puffs, or panko crumbs before being deep fried.

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You’ll top off your corn dog with a sprinkle of powder and drizzled with a sauce of your choice.

There are so many different combinations to customize your corn dog, but they also have their recommended favorites.

You can’t go wrong with the classic Two Hands Dog, and I loved the Potato Dog with mozzarella in the middle and parmesan garlic sauce drizzled on the top. So good!

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Jalapeño Bucks

Jalapeño Bucks is a casual outdoor restaurant surrounded by a 100-year-old citrus grove.

It may seem like an odd location for a BBQ joint, but the accidental beginning of Jalapeño Bucks has led to what it is today.

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In the early 1970s, the Burden family purchased the 32-acre citrus grove. In addition to harvesting oranges from the oldest orange trees in Arizona, they opened up a roadside farm stand.

Duaine Burden began selling homemade BBQ sauce from the stand. As the popularity grew, he started smoking brisket on the weekends to serve with the BBQ sauce.

Burden then built the current structure out of an old shipping container and salvaged pine, and that’s how Jalapeño Bucks came to be!

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Today, the menu has expanded to include a variety of smoked meats as well as burritos and Mexican food.

On any given day, you’ll find a full parking lot and picnic tables filled with people enjoying platters of smoked meat and overstuffed burritos while the desert sun slants through the misters.

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The meat is smoked out back, the sauces and salsas are all made from scratch, the tortilla chips are fried by hand, and the produce is fresh.

These ingredients all meld perfectly together to create the best “New Wave Mexican Soul Food” around!

Jalapeño Bucks only offers walk up ordering and outside seating, so you’ll want to visit when the weather is nice. They usually close for a month or so in the summer, so check their website for updated hours.

After your meal, head next door to B&B Farms, an indoor farmers market selling fresh citrus picked right from the surrounding grove.

Worth Takeaway

Worth Takeaway is located on Main Street in Mesa and prides itself on being the neighborhood sandwich shop.

The community has fully embraced the cafe, which is evident by a 4.5-star rating on Yelp and almost 1,200 reviews.

Locals gather for lunch on the outdoor patio to catch up with friends while indulging in locally sourced craft sandwiches.

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I would recommend the Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich, seasoned fries, and banana pudding for dessert!

Worth Takeaway is also open for dinner daily and serves brunch on the weekends.

And for the best places to get a sweet treat, check out these 13 Best Desserts in Phoenix East Valley!

Pho Thuan Thanh

Pho Thuan Thanh is a hole-in-the-wall joint in Mesa that serves up the best $7 bowls of authentic Pho.

If you are not familiar with pho, it is a Vietnamese soup consisting of rice noodles, vegetables, herbs, and meat simmering in broth.

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The base of the soup is standard, but the real fun comes when you customize it with different sauces.

I keep mine simple with a chicken pho then add more soy sauce and freshly squeezed lime, and sometimes sriracha if I want a little heat.

They also have good dumplings, and the crunchy egg nest noodles are delicious too!

The floor may be sticky and the decor dated, but I guarantee you will walk out completely stuffed and satisfied!

I hope this guide has helped you discover some of the best restaurants in Mesa!

For more foodie guides, check out these posts:

  • 11 of the Best Places to Eat in Phoenix
  • A Foodies Guide to the Best Places to Eat in Scottsdale
  • 16 Best Restaurants in Gilbert and the East Valley

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