The Unvegan

Featured Reviews

Merging Cultures at Chino Bandido
Back to Asia with Taiwan Food Express
A Big Ass Burger at Roaring Fork
Feeling at Home at Detroit Coney Grill

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A Kick in the Gyro at Saba’s Mediterranean Kitchen

More like Sabuffalo’s, right?

I grew up spoiled when it came to Greek food. I mean, Detroit even has a Greektown and I’m not sure you can say the same for any other city anywhere. Recently, though, I found myself picking up some Greek food from Saba’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Phoenix and and was intrigued not just by the classic stuff, but by the unique twists I found there.

I Say a Ling & Louie’s

Shockingly good calamari.

Americanized spins on Asian food scares me. There. I said it. Maybe it makes me seem like a spoiled brat, but I need the real authentic stuff. So, with much trepidation I made my way to Ling & Louie’s in Scottsdale. But, what makes Ling & Louie’s different is that they own up to the fact that they know they are not authentic and fully embrace making food that is more of a fun spin on Asian-inspired than any real attempt of authenticity.

Whose Box? Herb Box.

Shrugging bacon.

It’s not hard to appreciate a burger. And like many fine restaurants before it, The Herb Box in Scottsdale’s DC Ranch made the wise decision to include a burger on its menu surrounded by dishes like steak and free-range chicken. Often, the burger represents a cheaper alternative, but with the burger running $17 at The Herb Box one could hardly be called cheap for ordering it.

Cheese with a Side of Cheese at Ajo Al’s

Open-faced quesadilla.

I love old school greasy Mexican places. The types that have been around from years, have a stable menu and don’t try to introduce something crazy to the menu (I mean I like those too, but there’s a special place in my heart for the former). Ajo Al’s in Scottsdale is one of those old school places. Maybe it hasn’t been around since some of Phoenix’s older spots, but it opened in 1986, which is like 100 years ago in Arizona years.

Just a Cheeseburger in Paradise Valley Burger Co.

Those onions.

Sometimes a burger comes along with an innovation worth screaming from the mountain tops. Or, at least from a meat blog. This time, that burger can be found at Paradise Valley Burger Co., which is in Paradise Valley, which is some sort of a hybrid of a neighborhood thingy in Phoenix. The spot can be found in mini mall reminiscent more of Los Angeles than your typical Phoenix and is divey enough to have been visited by Guy Fieri.

Old Western Lasagna at Italian Grotto

Layers and layers.

Once upon a time there was a sub-genre of movies called Spaghetti Westerns. They were Western movies that were produced by Italians, making them look and feel different from your more traditional Westerns. Old Town Scottsdale is kind of set up to look like the old west. And in Old Town Scottsdale is an old school Italian place called Italian Grotto. It’s like spaghetti in the west, but there is good, bad and ugly about it.

Old Meets New at Kingo Bowl

Tender is the meat.

The Mekong Plaza in Mesa is a great place to get real, authentic Asian food to bring people back to their roots or at least to get them away from crappy Americanized Asian food. And among those more traditional restaurants is something that doesn’t fit the mold at all. It’s called Kingo Bowl, and it has taken the concept of rice bowls with molecular sous vide.

It’s a Pita Jungle Out There

Seeing green.

I’ve probably never thought that Middle Eastern food is the type of food that needs innovation and modernization. Give me some well-executed schwarma nearly any day of the week and I will be a happy man. Yet, Pita Jungle not only exists in the Phoenix area, but it has multiple locations that demonstrate a pattern of success. Oh, and it just oozes modern Middle Eastern.