Boston is definitely known as a melting pot of a city. But I didn’t know the same could be said for Salem, a town much better known for witches than food.. That was, of course, until I made my way to Village Tavern. I figured it would be like a typical village tavern, but this one had a little something hidden up its sleeve.
Last week the Phoenix area hit 100 degrees for the first time this year and it was the fourth earliest date on record. Thus, one would think that the season for outdoor events would be coming to an end. One would be wrong, as this past weekend brought in the Scottsdale Culinary Fest and the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, an outdoor Taste of Chicago-esque festival showcasing food from all over the area and of all types.
Some were household names with tons of locations around the Valley of the Sun, like Grimaldi’s and Zoe’s, but others seemed a bit more special and I sought them out (along with some booze, of course).
The Italiano – Aioli Burger
I’d been hearing murmurings of how great this place was for a while now, and its victory at Burger Battle 2018 further cemented my desire to get there. This burger wasn’t perfect, nor would I expect it to be in such a situation, but the combination of mozzarella, bacon, basil garlic aioli, balsamic reduction and a discarded tomato made me more eager to seek out the real deal.
Coffee shops have come a long way since the days of Friends and Seattle grunge. Now, they serve different teas, crazy concoctions and a bunch of quickie foods. And that’s just the chains. The indie spots take things a step further, like Brew Box in Salem, Massachusetts. And it’s not just hippy dippy and hipster stuff, they even had food fit for an unvegan like me.
Some time in the ’90s it became cool (kewl?) to replace the letter “S” with the letter “Z.” Finz in Salem, Massachusetts arrived at the tail end (get it?!) of that decade, so they still get a pass. And while the ambiance could not be further from the divey lunch that day, the them was the same – seafood.
Some people really like lobster rolls. I don’t get it. What’s the fun of chowing down on cold, slimy lobster loaded up with mayo? But then there’s lobster grilled cheese. See, that’s the good stuff, doing everything right with the lobsters. So, upon arriving in Salem, Massachusetts, we made our way to a divey spot called Longboards that allegedly knew what to do with lobster.
Steaks aren’t cheap. At least, that’s the tale we’ve all been told. But what if I told you that the beautiful ribeye steak to the left there was only $18? Well, it’s the truth. Because Tuesdays in Scottsdale are apparently not the most popular nights to go out, so Hand Cut Burgers Burgers and Chophouse offers its steaks for half off. Thus, on a night that I had been intending to order a burger, I found myself ordering that ribeye instead.
Once again, I found myself at one of the Phoenix area’s seemingly endless supply of breakfast/brunch spots. This time it was a place called Scramble in Scottsdale. Scramble is one of those places where you order at the counter, which is all good and well until there’s only one person at the counter with a line out the door and a bunch of empty tables inside. But I digress, as even with that wait to order it probably took just as long to get my food as it would have if I had sat down and ordered at the table.
I’m a sucker for gnocchi. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know this. You also know that I will even forego meat to get some delicious gnocchi. Thus, I was happy to find that Stone and Vine in Scottsdale had itself some gnocchi on the menu. It was called Gnocchi Pomodoro, which obviously means that it had tomato in some way (in this case sauce), but also came with fresh mozzarella.
Old Town Scottsdale is basically the touristy mecca of Scottsdale. And while touristy doesn’t often translate into delicious food, there are a few gems among those crowded streets. On the outside, Farm + Craft seemed like such a place with a great open concept and an “order at the counter” or “order at your table” that seemed to depend on the whim of the workers that day.
In my mind, you can’t have a good microbrewery without good food. It just can’t work. Therefore, I headed to Arizona Wilderness in Gilbert, a brewery with a rustic theme getting a lot of regional traction, to see if it could churn out food on par with the its beer reputation. But of course, I had to start of off with a beer before diving into the menu.