It’s hard to make BBQ trendy. It is inherently something that people have very specific expectations for, and anything “new” and good is almost always a minor tweak that makes a real difference. So where can innovation come from? Booze. At least that’s what Bootleggers BBQ in Phoenix was thinking, offering a pretty snazzy modern divey bar that also serves up BBQ. It’s like a gastropub meets a BBQ spot and I was eager to see how the meat would hold up.
There was a weird time in history when revolving restaurants became popular. Only one of these, at least as far as I understand, also was a Playboy Club back in the day, and that was the Compass Arizona Grill on top of the Hyatt in Downtown Phoenix. Today, it serves as kind of a throwback steakhouse, there to remind you how cool rotating restaurants once were, while trying to adapt to the modern palette.
Like in LA, food trucks are a thing in the Phoenix area. And it makes much more sense here because everything is so damn spread out. Pasadena spoiled me. But I digress. The good news is that my office is all about bringing food trucks in every month (not for free, of course) to mix things up and to keep us from driving literal miles to the nearest food. This last time, it was Sweet Magnolia Smokehouse, serving up BBQ.
Good food is always made better if it’s found in a strange place. You know, like the Cheetos you find in the couch cushion. No, but seriously, like BBQ at a gas station. Such is Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale. And while it may be more of a restaurant that happens to have a gas station attached than the other way around, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is literally a gas station and BBQ place.
The movie What the Health? has been blowing up lately. Even so far as pushing NFL left tackle Trent Williams to become a vegan. I haven’t yet seen the movie, but I do know that movies or other pieces of media show up like this here and there, only to have copious responses trying to debunk them and whatnot. I’m above all that, but when Trent Williams came out to say he cannot continue his vegan diet, I was ready to jump on it.
It’s easy to get stuck in a bubble no matter where you live or work. It doesn’t matter if neighborhoods and towns are separated by rivers, mountains or arbitrary delineations, it is almost inevitable to find a comfort zone and stick with it. But when you have a meat blog, you owe it to the world to get out of that bubble, and I did so with a journey to Mesa to check out Worth Takeaway.
My lack of any sort of need for dessert has been pretty well-chronicled on this blog by now. Yet, there is one dessert that I have a hard time passing up and that dessert is pie. So, when I found out that Arizona’s best pies were on the way to Prescott before taking a quick trip to, uh, Prescott, I knew we had to make a stop at Rock Springs Cafe in Black Canyon City.
In all that time I lived in Pittsburgh, it became apparent that hot dogs are super important. And it’s not just about the classic Dirty O or D’s Six Pax & Dogz, which is one of the hot dog spots ever. It’s about all the liquor stores that are allowed to sell booze because they also sell hot dogs because of stupid Pennsylvania alcohol laws. Yet, there’s no real signature hot dog. Enter: Wimpy’s Paradise in Chandler, Arizona.
Green hatch chiles may be known as a New Mexican thing, but they are unquestionably popular in the Phoenix area as well. Case in point – Jalapeno Inferno. Despite the name, the restaurant is totally willing to bring in other peppers and the deliver on this with their annual Hatch Chile Harvest, in which they bring in hatch chiles from New Mexico and incorporate them into some special dishes until they run out. Unlike the green chiles in a can, these carry some burn.
Phoenix may not seem like a pizza town, but it unquestionably has some great stuff. There’s Pizzeria Bianco, of course, but also a number of other pizza places that have made Phoenix their second homes. Call them snowbird pizzas if you want. Humble Pie is one that has seen success in the area with a few locations. I headed to the one at Desert Ridge to see what it was all about.