The Unvegan

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Scottsdale Culinary Fest 2018

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.

Hand Cut and Half Off

Best steak ever?

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.

Sticky Fingers at Farm + Craft

Don’t lay a finger on my sweet potatoes.

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.

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.

Battling Withdrawal at Rehab Burger Therapy

The p, the b and the j.

In the short time I’ve spent living in Phoenix, I’ve had me a few burgers, but I until heading to Rehab Burger Therapy, I had not yet made my way to a place specializing in those delicious ground beef and bun combinations. I arrived in Old Town Scottsdale thinking I was going to go to town on some meat on meat action, but my meal took an unexpected turn.

Brew and a Burger at Two Brothers Brewery

Looking classy.

Is there anything better in the world for two brothers to do than to build a brewery? Well, that’s what one pair of brothers thought (allegedly) when they put together Two Brothers Brewery, a microbrewery with locations mostly around the Chicago area, but also one in Scottsdale because Chicago places seem to feel welcome here.

A Big Ass Burger at Roaring Fork

It starts with queso.

There are a few things that you can always assume I will want to try. One is cheese dip and another is gigantic burgers (among other things). So, when I heard that a place called Roaring Fork in Scottsdale had something called the Big Ass Burger, it didn’t take much convincing to get me there. Getting me to eat outside in the middle of the desert summer, on the other hand, was a different story. But such is life when you want to take advantage of what is one of the best happy hours in the Phoenix area.

KK’s at Lo-Lo’s Chicken and Waffles

Exactly as it should be.
Exactly as it should be.

Chicken and Waffles isn’t just for Roscoe’s. In fact, in the Phoenix area it’s pretty much synonymous with Lo-Lo’s. Lo-Lo’s House of Chicken and Waffles, that is. For a place with “Hood Classics” as a section of the menu, Lo-Lo’s is surprisingly nice and clean inside, compared to the old beat up diner style of Roscoe’s. Nonetheless, there was plenty on the menu calling my name.

Chowing Like a Cowboy at Cowboy Ciao

Damn you arugula.
Damn you arugula.

Over in Old Town Scottsdale is a spot that has Scottsdale written all over it. It’s called Cowboy Ciao and is kind of a blend of the cowboy-ness of the area and the hoity-toity as well. After a quick look at the menu, I realized that with a few slight changes to the menu I would love to eat just about everything. That is, because just about everything had a hint of vegetable to please the “ciao” crowd in addition to the “cowboy” crowd.