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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Eating a Dinosaur at Naked BBQ

I dig dinos.

There are certain aspects of the Phoenix area that are tough to get used to. Not in the sense that they are bad in any way, just that they are different. You see, I spent much of my life thinking that good food is a pretty rare find in a strip mall or as a standalone building in the parking lot of a strip mall. But, when a city is basically all strip malls, the good food simply has to be there. Thus, while my expectations of BBQ spots are generally a bit less pristine than a strip mall, I couldn’t pass up the chance to check out Naked BBQ in Scottsdale.

Chomping Down on Chompie’s

Three meats, please!

Creating Jewish deli meat is like a perfect combination of art and science. Some delis have found the ideal balance, while others are more content to satisfy the science part of it all and move on from there. I paid a visit to Chompie’s in Scottsdale to see how it would measure up against my admittedly high standards for Kosher-style delis.

All the Meats at Bootleggers BBQ

Just one look.

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.

Spinning Around Compass Arizona Grill

Round stuff.

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.

Drowning in Sweet Magnolia Smokehouse

Wet.

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.

Fueling Up at Tom’s Thumb BBQ

Everything you could ever ask for.

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.

Worth the Trip to Worth Takeaway

Yeah, I’m eating this. What of 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.

Pie-ing Hard at Rock Springs Cafe

This way for pie.

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.

Back in the ‘Burgh at Wimpy’s Paradise

Yinz dog!

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.