Tempt your taste buds with globally inspired cuisine in Tempe
Tempe is filled with a diverse mix of people from all over the world, and it’s quickly becoming known as a hub for truly authentic global cuisine. Apache Boulevard lies at the center of it all, encompassing a veritable spice trail of flavorful food finds clustered between Rural and Price Roads, close to Arizona State University (ASU). From dishes hailing from unique regions in China and selections fusing flavors from Pakistan and India to delicious Middle Eastern favorites and tempting delicacies from Vietnam, Tempe has it all. The menus are authentic and loaded with dishes that are rich in both flavor and tradition. Here are just a few favorites to satisfy your international cravings.
1250 E. Apache Blvd. Suite 101, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 557-8888
Chou’s Kitchen touts itself as a place that serves authentic cuisine from northeastern China where, interestingly, the staple crop is wheat. And you’ll find plenty of it on the menu at this no-frills spot. Look forward to noodles, steamed buns and handmade dumplings ranging from steamed squash and egg to chives, shrimp and pork. The menu also features plenty of Chinese-restaurant menu staples, including fried rice, vegetarian, seafood, beef, lamb, pork and chicken clay pot dishes.
1212 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 894-1276
At first glance, this spot may look like an unassuming Pakistani restaurant — but the authentic family recipes have garnered a lot of attention and proven that Curry Corner is a standout. For one example, it’s home to “some of the best chicken” Guy Fieri has ever had on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Specifically, it’s the Tandoori chicken tikka, topped with garam masala, that he prepared alongside owner Farah Khalid in episode 7 of season 17.
But that’s only the beginning of menu standouts here. The menu features savory appetizers, a selection of Tandoori options, South Indian Thali plates, exquisite vegetarian offerings and, of course, curries round out this “A Festival of Flavor.”
1872 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 557-8800
Located in Arizona’s largest South Asian shopping center, The Dhaba is a family-owned and operated award-winning restaurant specializing in the culinary customs of the Punjab region of northern India. Offering cuisine steeped in culture and tradition, you can indulge in fresh-baked bread straight from the tandoor oven; tender and savory meats, including chicken and lamb; fragrant rice dishes; hearty vegetarian selections; and deep-fried Indian street foods. The menu also offers suggestions for the perfect wine pairings with each dish. Dining at The Dhaba is more than just a fine meal; it’s a cultural experience thanks to the owners’ devotion to sharing both their culture and extraordinary cuisine.
1513 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 894-1905
Haji-Baba is a Middle Eastern restaurant and grocery store serving budget-friendly ethnic cuisine. Pull up to the counter and order from the simple yet mouth-watering menu that includes gyros, kebabs, falafel and shawarma — all served with Arabic bread. For something a little lighter, treat yourself to the house-made tahini, a plate of feta cheese and pita bread or a refreshing Greek salad. Afterward, pick up a few market items to take home, such as authentic spices, sauces, cheeses and desserts.
1537 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 829-7118
Offering authentic Vietnamese fare, Khai Hoan Restaurant has garnered a substantial reputation as one of the Valley’s best. From bun (rice vermicelli) to banh cuon (stuffed rice crepe rolls) to banh hoi (mini rice sticks), Khai Hoan has an extensive menu that has been impressing locals for years. You’ll also find an entire pho menu, featuring beef, beef tendon, beef ball, tripe, chicken and seafood. For some variety, order from the Chinese menu, which offers such favorites as fried rice, lo mein, kung pao, orange chicken and Mongolian beef.
1221 E. Apache Blvd. Suite103, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 306-4386
In Japanese, kuka means “a bite” and izakaya means “pub,” and Kuka Sushi & Izakaya invites you to experience this concept that truly lives up to its name. Starting with the “pub” aspect, you’ll find a variety of wine, sake, beer (if there’s a matcha IPA, order it!) and specialty cocktails, including the Okinawa mojito, the Japanese Old Fashioned, to choose from. Next up: Sharable appetizers — from edamame and tempura to gyoza and Ika Geso Karaage (deep-fried squid tentacles) — will tempt you. We recommend giving in to that temptation as you sip on your beverage selection. From there, the real challenge begins. Choosing between sushi, traditional tsukemen ramen, yakitori offerings, a variety of bowls, the fresh catch of the day, and classic entrees is not an easy task. What we will say, though, is that everyone’s talking about the miso pork belly!
1250 E. Apache Blvd. Suite 112, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 912-6283
Mango Rabbit is owned and operated by Peggy Huang, an ASU Alumni and lover of Tempe. Serving up a delicious selection of bubble waffles, authentic milk teas and a hefty menu of Asian and Asian-inspired drinks, desserts and snacks, Mango Rabbit is an Instagrammer’s dream. Their milk tea is a stand-out that can be customized with toppings, including boba, coconut jelly and cheese foam (a delicate sweet-salty froth). The must-have, however, is the bubble waffle, known for its over-the-top visual appeal. The namesake bubble waffle, Mango Rabbit, includes two scoops of ice cream, chocolate cookies, two Pocky sticks, a crown of berries, whipped cream and edible gold flakes. Mango Rabbit also offers limited-time items for seasonal changes, so odds are you will find yourself at the counter ordering something new every time. Check out our Mango Rabbit blog for more on this sweet store.
1212 E. Apache Blvd., #107-109, Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 590-2903
Since its grand opening in 2022, Zu & Pocha has been living up to its tag line: A modern twist on a Korean Pocha concept. In Korea, Pojangmacha, Pocha for short, refers to a makeshift pub offering booze and food. And while that’s true here, it’s only the beginning. If you’re looking for a casual-fine dining spot with an upscale-meets-chill atmosphere, this is the spot. Don’t miss the selfie op at the rose wall, under the neon sign.
Between the decor and the cocktails, you’ll be in sensory overload before even getting to the food — which is also striking. Standouts include Pollack Pasta, which is made with squid ink, lobster rolls that feature charcoal in the brioche buns and a raw bar that rotates seasonally (the lollipop roll is super fun). Other can’t-miss goodies include kimchi fries, umami bomb, roasted cauliflower, and Pat Galette (a dessert that includes red bean, honey ricotta, kinako and red wine pear).
For more, check out our visit on Instagram.
We encourage you to check out all stops on this “spice trail,” as you may be surprised to find such a well-rounded international experience located right here in Tempe, Arizona. As a bonus – all locations can easily be accessed via the Valley Metro Rail.
Did we miss one? If there’s a restaurant that should be added to this list, please let us know and we’ll be happy to add it.