The Unvegan

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‘Fries’

Feeling Like the Bee’s Knees

Pull that cheese.

Traveling for work can sometimes take you to big cities with tons of food. And sometimes it can take you to places like Idaho Falls, Idaho. It’s a place with a surprising amount of options considering the airport only has three gates, but, I mean, still. So on my first night there I went straight to a restaurant within a hotel, which is usually not a good plan, but I had read good things. It was called Bee’s Knees.

Mexican Fries at Armando’s

What lies beneath?

The Phoenix area is wealthy in greasy Mexican fast food. These places generally have drive-through and are open 24/7. Moreover, they quite simply make the world a better place. Take Armando’s in Deer Valley, for example. I was hankering for something good on the way to northern Arizona, and Armando’s stood out like a shiny beacon calling for me.

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.

Into the Arizona Wilderness

Flying Wild.

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.

A Fried Greek Lunch at Pitta Souvli

But why the tomatoes?

It is a very rare occasion in which I make a meal out of fries. It is even more rare that this happens at a Greek restaurant. Yet, when Pitta Souvli in Chandler offered up a special called Chipotle Gorgonzola Cheese Gyro Fries, I couldn’t resist. There was just one problem: nowhere in the description of the fries were tomatoes mentioned. And yet, as you can tell by the picture to the left, there were obviously tomatoes involved.

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.

Arizona State Fair 2017

Freedom in leg form.

There’s something about state fairs that brings out the best America has to offer in terms of food creativity. Screw molecular gastronomy, I want to know what the latest in fried, bacon-wrapped and Flaming Hot Cheetos is in the world. And while the Arizona State Fair isn’t known as well as some others, there was still room for some interesting bites. One thing I didn’t bite, by the way, was a turkey leg, because, well, booooring.

Feeling at Home at Detroit Coney Grill (CLOSED)

Lit.

EDIT: This location is a goner, but you can still find Coney Grills in Tempe and Phoenix.

My wise wife once said, “You can take the man out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the man.” When I was living in LA, one of the most exciting things to happen was the opening of Coney Dog, a Detroit-style chili dog spot. Due to probably a number of circumstances, that business failed. In Phoenix, however, a spot called Detroit Coney Grill seems to have made all the right decisions because it now has THREE locations in the area. And for some reason the Tempe location closes at 7:00, so I made my way out to Mesa to try it out for myself.

Gourmet but not at The Stand

Burger. Fries.

Restaurants come and restaurants go. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a restaurant come and go as fast as TLT in Pasadena’s Playhouse District. Fortunately, there was almost no delay in replacing it with The Stand, a burger concept that already had a few locations around LA and Orange County. The burger options were pretty unique and at a reasonable price, so I had a hard time choosing.

Feeling South Beach at Burger City Grill

Miami gets sloppy.

Did you know that May is Burger Month? Well, in all my burgerness it slipped me by, but fortunately Burger City Grill was there to remind me and to invite me out to try a burger, fries and a drink. I decided to take them up on the offer and headed to the location in Downey to see what Burger City Grill was all about.

What I found was a fast casual sort of burger spot along the lines of a SmashburgerHook Burger and Burger Lounge (sorry, but Shake Shack is in a class of its own). There were some interesting takes on burgers, fries and the required milkshakes and beers. After much thought, I chose the Miami Spice Burger and Sloppy Fries.