Here's my Valley of the Sun rundown:
Restuarant Mexico:http://www.getoutaz.com/dining/review17.shtml was my favorite in the Valley. Food from the Mexican interior. Green corn, white cheeses, great stuff and cheap.
Lovejoys Kansas City BBQ-The real thing from real KC'ers. They import hickory for the RIGHT taste. Scrumptous peach cobbler. 19th Ave. by Greenway.
Don & charlie's and the Pink Pony-Baseball hangouts in downtown scottsdale. Hit the happy hour free buffet at Don & charlie's. Tons of Cubs junk abounds. Pink Pony- the bar for players during spring training.
Iowa Cafe- the place to get your pork tenderloin in the Valley.
Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe-soul food in downtown Phoenix. For a place with few real southerners, this place is a gem by any standard, not just for Phoenix.
Ted's Hot Dogs-A western NY stand with an outlet in Tempe! http://www.tedsonline.com/
Los Dos Molinos- for a lot of people, the signature AzMex place, even though the owners call it New Mexico style. http://www.losdosmolinos.com/index2.html
also one of THE very best places to get true AzMex/Sonoran food. It's wonderful stuff, but not in an "upscale" part of town.
Phoenix is a weird, synthetic version of a real American City. Wherever people move from, they attempt to recreate a copy in Phoenix. It makes for good eats, but a mutant population. Think: Alice Cooper, model citizen.Yikes! And Ed, that Knowing Mexican food comment would have the residents doubled over in laughter. California to Arizonans means the state where their summer resort, San Diego, is located. They figure you guys put sprouts on your burritos. The real food fight in AZ. is vs. the hated New Mexico mexican food advocates. They feel that's the only competition to AzMex food.
All these dives are east of Central except for Lovejoy's, which is worth the drive up I-17. It's right off the freeway at greenway.
Also-if your boyfriend/SO is an Frank Lloyd Wright fan, Taliesin West http://www.franklloydwright.org/index.cfm?section=tour&action=taliesinwest
is a worthy stop, along with a visit to the Arizona Biltmore for nice visuals.