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Eastern Delicacies

Written by M.V. Moorhead Category: Food Reviews Issue: June 2017
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Photo by Wenhui Dong

Tommy Pastrami

Northeastern and Midwestern transplants relish the winter months here in the Valley, but often look longingly upon their old haunts come summer. If circumstances don’t allow you to summer back East, you can at least eat like a snowbird. Displaced New Yorkers, for instance, have this Big Apple-style deli in Downtown’s Collier Center. It has the slick look of a chain place, but it’s one of only two – the other is in Santa Ana, California. The smartest introduction to the ridiculously over-piled sandwiches is the deli sliders combo ($8.45), a slightly more modest portion of pastrami and corned beef – both nicely lean and not greasy – with a side and a drink. If you do care to go for broke with a full-size sandwich, the NY Reuben ($13.50) will provide all but the heartiest appetites with at least two meals, though the formidably seed-filled rye bread may leave you in need of a toothpick. How a deli treats its tuna is often a good indicator of how reliable it is, and with the albacore tuna “Halfer” ($7.25), Tommy P’s passes the test.
Must Try: Probably nothing on Tommy’s menu will transport you back home as effectively as the matzo ball chicken soup ($7.25) – enhanced, for an Italian touch, with bowtie pasta.
201 E. Washington St., 602-222-3354,

West Valley
Gyros Palace

The Valley sometimes seems like Chicago West, and there’s no shortage of joints that cater to homesick Windy City expats. Judging from its skyline mural, this pleasant Greek grill is clearly one of them, paying homage both to the City of the Big Shoulders and the birthplace of democracy. Tellingly, the menu includes a Chicago-style hot dog ($4.49), a Vienna Beef frank dressed up with pickles, tomatoes, onions, spicy sport peppers, mustard and that science-fiction-luminescent green relish. Another Second City fave, executed perfectly, is the Italian beef ($7.99) on two slices of French bread that turn divinely mushy under the influence of the juicy meat. The gyro ($6.49) also claims to be Chicago-style, but since it consists of gyro meat, tomatoes, tzatziki and onions like pretty much every other gyro I’ve ever had, I would guess that Chicago-style is the same as New York-style or Phoenix-style. In any case, it’s delicious.
Must try: The pastrami burger ($8.99) – with plenty of the former piled on the latter – is described as a “meat lover’s dream.” Good luck sleeping after eating one.
8378 W. Thunderbird Rd., Peoria, 623-486-2160,

Cave Creek
Harold’s Cave Creek Corral

At a glance, Harold’s looks like any other ramshackle Arizona cowboy bar. But Rust Belters who look closer will feel gladdened by the “YOU’RE IN STEELER COUNTRY” banner, and inside, the walls are adorned with nods to the Terrible Towels and a framed “Mean” Joe Greene jersey. The surprisingly extensive menu also includes choices that take you back to Da ’Burgh. From the appetizer menu, try the jumbo Bavarian pretzel ($8.59), a hot, soft specimen accompanied by sublime Franziskaner Hefeweizen cheese sauce. From among the sandwiches, try the Strip District Steak Sandwich ($10.79), with beef, provolone, slaw and french fries, all stuffed right between the slices of bread. For an extra buck, you can have it “yinzer way,” with a fried egg. We highly recommend.
Must Try: Though hardly Pittsburghian, the peach cobbler ($8.99) is great – essentially a personal-size hot peach pie, à la mode.
6895 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, 480-488-1906,

East Valley
High Tide Seafood Bar & Grill
What if you’re a Bostonian but can’t get back to the Union Oyster House this summer? This refined yet casual fish market (a 2015 PHOENIX Best of the Valley winner for “Steam Kettle Cooking”) is heavily Cajun, but serves up some mean Boston-style chow as well. My server’s accent reveals her unmistakably as a New Englander, and she recommends the “clam chowdah” (five dollahs for a cup; eight dollahs for a bowl), superbly thick and creamy but not gloppy. The lobster bisque (same price) is less Beantown, maybe, but no less delicious. I followed this with a beer-battered halibut sandwich ($15): two firm fillets encased in crisp batter stacked on a bun with a tartar-like remoulade. The fish and chips ($15) come with a lovely peach and cashew slaw, and if you spring three extra bucks you can replace the cod with shrimp or big, juicy oysters. I tried the last. Wicked good.
Must try: Follow your meal with house-made key lime pie ($7) for a Floridian touch. After all, Sox spring training is in Florida.
2540 S. Val Vista Dr., Gilbert, 480-821-9950,

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