When I left LA to move to Phoenix I had one major concern. No, it wasn’t the heat in the summer, it was the lack of ramen. You see, LA spoils you with a lot of Asian food, but ramen is easily one of the best of them. People go through life only knowing ramen from a dry cup and I feel terrible for those people, but is it better to have ramen and lost it than to never have had ramen at all? Lost or not, ramen has returned to my life in the form of Ramen Hood in Scottsdale. I headed out for the grand opening to see if it would fulfill my needs.
I’m going to say something unpopular. Bloody Marys are the worst. Tomatoes suck, celery sucks and there’s just something weird about spicy drinks. But I must say that I am glad that Hash Kitchen has made the big bucks off of having an incredible Bloody Mary bar. Why? Because it has enabled them to expand out to Chandler for their latest Grand Opening. And because I got to snag a bunch of the meats and cheeses from the Bloody Mary bar to decorate my beer. It may be frowned upon normally, but at the Grand Opening anything goes. As expected, the bacon was the best.
Where I come from, microbreweries are known to have good food. But, as I have learned, many parts of the country (perhaps all except Oregon?) are much newer to the micro or craft brewery concept and have focused much more on the beer than the food. Arizona, though, while new to the union and pretty new to brewing seems to have struck the right chord. Perhaps it’s because there are so many damn people here from Michigan, but whatever the case I was eager to get myself a non-media meal at SanTan Brewing Company ( you can check out the media one here).
Some BBQ places have a reputation that precedes them. Others, you just kind of drive by a bunch and decide it’s time to pay a visit. Porkopolis in Scottsdale is the latter, and I finally decided to pay that visit. I was greeted by possibly the friendliest waiter a BBQ restaurant has ever seen and the scent of smoke and meat juices.
You probably wouldn’t expect Phoenix to be the most Italian of cities. After all, there is not Little Italy and the Mafia is more of an East Coast thing. Yet, Phoenix definitely has some homegrown Italian favorites and Babbo is one of these. Babbo invited me out to its Scottsdale location for a hosted dinner and I took them up on the chance to check it out.
I’ll be the first to admit that long ago I wrote off Kona Grill as a generic bar and grill kind of spot with reheated food for yuppy types. Yet, when my coworkers and I ventured out for lunch one day and found ourselves at Kona Grill in Chandler, I didn’t protest because it still deserved a fair shot and who would I be to not give it one?
Scottsdale goes on forever. I mean, like, you drive north and north and north and you think you’re in Flagstaff but you’r still not even at the end of Scottsdale. Somewhere up there is Local Bistro, which recently was named one of the 25 Best Burgers in Phoenix. Thus, while the menu had some intriguing options, I knew the burger had to be mine.
Sometimes burgers build up a reputation. Whether by winning awards or word of mouth, it happens. This happened to Aioli Burger in both ways. Yeah, it won some burger battles, but also people told me about it and that doesn’t happen as much in Phoenix as it did in LA and Pittsburgh, so I figured it had to be real. Plus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I got a taste of Aioli Burger at the Scottsdale Culinary Fest earlier this year. Basically, the hype was real.
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.
Everyone knows that the best pasta in the world is gnocchi, but what about the best pasta sauce? Sure, pesto is great and bolognese makes a strong claim, but can anyone actually dispute the supremacy of carbonara? It is perfectly fit for an unvegan, and when I paid a visit to Picazzo’s in Phoenix, I couldn’t think of ordering anything else.