Unsure where Phoenix's insiders are eating and drinking? It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to uncover which local businesses have been most discussed this month.
To find out who made the list, we looked at Phoenix businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increase their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.
Read on to see which spots are worth exploring, right now.
El Pollo Loco
Open in its current form since March, this fast food Mexican spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Mexican" on Yelp.
Citywide, Mexican spots saw a median 3.3 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, but El Pollo Loco saw a 57.9 percent increase, with an upward trend from a 2.5-star rating a month ago to 3.5 stars today. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis, El Pollo Loco's review count increased by more than 1,100 percent.
Located at 5009 W. McDowell in Maryvale, El Pollo Loco offers family sized dinner entrees which include anywhere from eight to 16 pieces of chicken and sides, seafood and chicken tacos, enchilada platters and more.
NPX - A Neighborhood Joint
Paradise Valley's NPX - A Neighborhood Joint is also making waves. Open since July 2018 at 4717 E. Bell Road, the sports bar and traditional American spot has seen a 15.2 percent bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 2.9 percent for all businesses tagged "American (Traditional)" on Yelp. Moreover, on a month-to-month basis NPX - A Neighborhood Joint's review count increased by more than 170 percent.
NPX - A Neighborhood Joint offers a variety of weekend brunch, lunch and dinner fare made from scratch including its cheesesteak eggrolls (stuffed with prime rib, green peppers, onions, pepper jack cheese and chipotle aioli), barbecue burger (topped with pastrami, bacon, swiss and coleslaw on a brioche bun) and Asian chicken salad (composed of mixed greens, mandarin oranges, shaved red onions and julienne peppers). Check out the spot's full list of offerings here.
Over the past month, it's maintained a healthy four-star rating among Yelpers.
King Wong Chinese Food
Camelback East's well-established King Wong Chinese Food is currently on the upswing in the seafood category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as "Seafood" on Yelp saw a median 2 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, this Chinese spot, which offers seafood and more, increased its by 4.7 percent—and kept its rating consistent at four stars. Review counts increased by more than 180 percent on a month-to-month basis.
Open for business at 2545 N. 32nd St. since 2013, the business offers economically-pleasing daily lunch fare, including spicy orange chicken, shrimp and chicken chop suey and Mongolian beef.
Start your meal off with some chicken wings, crab puffs or potstickers. A plethora of protein-centric entrees are on offer any time of day, as are rice and noodle plates. (Here's the menu.)
MATCH Restaurant & Lounge
Open since 2016, this popular cocktail bar, lounge and New American spot is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "American (New)" on Yelp.
Citywide, businesses tagged "American (New)" saw a median 2.3 percent increase in new reviews over the past month, but MATCH Restaurant & Lounge saw a 6.5 percent increase, maintaining a healthy four-star rating throughout. It gained 3.0 times more reviews than expected based on past performance, significantly outperforming the previous month.
Located at 1100 N. Central Ave. in Central City, MATCH Restaurant & Lounge offers Breakfast, Weekend Brunch, Lunch and Dinner menus. Score a plate of avocado toast or the MATCH Breakfast (two eggs any way, potatoes, fruit with bacon or sausage) in the morning; buffalo cauliflower and the Phoenix Club Sandwich (turkey, applewood bacon, tomato, sprouts,cucumber, Havarti cheese and honey dijonnaise) for lunch; or a 12-ounce New York strip steak served with roasted red potatoes and seasonal vegetables for dinner. Reservations are recommended.