Best Farmers’ Market Stand
John Cornelio sells traditional and modern food at the Uptown Farmers’ Market. He prepares Filipino barbecue, like chicken skewers bathed in banana ketchup and crushed over charcoal. He rolls out menus with items like kinilaw (scallop ceviche with a bonito-flake-and-sesame condiment called furikake), tamarind spareribs and lechon manok (spit-roasted chicken). For a taste, follow him on Instagram and order ahead: @toduken_bbq
Best Local Cheese
Goatija at Crow’s Dairy
Deserts aren’t dairy lands, but ours has some wonderful cheese makers. Goat farmer Wendell Crow might be our best. In Buckeye, he turns goat milk into cheese, some sold directly to the public, some winding up at more than 100 Valley restaurants. His “Freebird”? A goat cheese made in the salty, crumbly tradition of cotija. It makes for an unreal taco topping. 11300 S. Dean Rd., Buckeye, 623-936-3355, crowsdairy.com
Best Granola We Can’t Stop Eating
SarahBea Salted Caramel Granola
Green Valley pecans mixed with cashews, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut and sea salt headline this habit-forming granola. It’s ideal for snacking, eating as a cereal or topping a bowl of yogurt. Dip your hand into this sticky, grain-free granola bound with caramel and local honey and you’ll be smitten. sarahbeallc.com
Best Purveyor of Frozen Foods
The hits keep coming for Subash Yadav – opening a restaurant just before the pandemic, and then experiencing a kitchen fire in May after pivoting to frozen foods. Still, blessed is the eater who comes across a package of his excellent dumplings stuffed with succulent chicken or vibrant vegetables, delicacies called momos, one of Nepal’s great foods. sherpakitchenaz.com
When it comes to Community Supported Agriculture, we’re like Goldilocks. Some boxes are too big (enough to feed us for months), some too small (a handful of winter lettuce) – but Maya’s are always just right. Often the veggies are joined by a bunch of bright flowers. Sign us up. mayasfarm.com
Best Vegan Flour Tortillas on Earth
Cruz Farm Tortillas
Fourth-generation farmer Gabriel Cruz, who runs Cruz Farm in Southern Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, puts out a vegan tortilla for the ages. Made simply with flour, salt water, baking soda and vegetable shortening, the tortillas are whisper-thin, full of flavor and make top-shelf quesadillas. At farmers markets around the Valley. cruz.farm
Best Specialty Grocery
Main Street Harvest
At this tiny grocery, the stock changes all the time. John Przybyl and Amanda Abou-Eid source from dozens of artisans, just a few units from each at a time. Inside: a wonderland of fresh pasta, farm produce, jams, bean-to-bar chocolates, artisanal ice creams, local jerky, and seemingly any baked thing you can dream up, including sourdough and pastries from Przybyl and Abou-Eid’s own Proof Bread. 121 W. Main St., Mesa, 480-428-8305, mainstharvest.com
Best Mixer for Homemade Moscow Mules
Big Marble Ginger Beer
Grab a frosty copper mug, your favorite vodka, a lime wedge and ice cubes, and then crack open a brown bottle of locally made Big Marble Ginger Beer. Pour the spicy, bubbly elixir over the other ingredients and wait for the fizz to subside. Or let it tickle your nose as you gulp it down. Beats a Fever Tree. bigmarble.com
Best Farm Store
Blue Sky Organic Farms
Under the green thumb of farmer David Vose, Blue Sky grows prized produce. The on-site farm store stocks a rainbow bounty, seasonal staples like golden beets, purple cabbage, heirloom radishes and all manner of greens. The shop also carries artisanal products (Hope’s Artisan Bread, Crow’s Dairy cheese) and its own jams, pesto and other prepared foods. 4762 N. 189th Ave., Litchfield Park, 623-266-4031, blueskyorganicfarms.com
Best Farmers’ Market Find
Blue Sky Organic Farms Bunched Orange Carrots
Their sign boldly states: “Our carrots are like no others. They will ruin you for other carrots.” After trying these sweet, crispy masterpieces, you’ll never again buy limp, tasteless and woody grocery store carrots. A Blue Sky carrot’s texture is as crunchy and satisfying as eating a potato chip. We are, in fact, ruined. blueskyorganicfarms.com
Best Arizona Gift to Send Out-of-State Friends
Iconic Cocktail Co.’s Mini Mixer Pack
Iconic Cocktail Co.’s build-your-own Mini Mixer Pack includes four bottles of swoon-worthy handcrafted mixers guaranteed to delight your friends. Choose from enticing flavors like Lime Leaf Tonic, Prickly Pear Sour and Grapefruit Fleur de Sel. Each 4-ounce bottle builds four cocktails and comes with helpful recipe cards packed in a nifty brown box for shipping. iconiccocktail.com
BEST FRESH PASTA
Sonoran Pasta Co.
Check website for stockists, sonoranpasta.com
- Valley restaurant vets Brent Kille and Jasmine Brown churn out toothsome bucatini, gemelli, spaghetti and more, plus sauces to complement them.
- Gluten-free option: protein-packed chickpea pasta.
- Noodles With Neighbors program lets you earn free pasta for referring friends.
Check website for stockists, pasta-rea.com
- Catering king Tony Rea handcrafts popular pastas as well as lesser-known lovelies like conchiglie, campanelle and fusilli (special order).
- Gluten-free option: brown and white rice flour, potato flour, sorghum and tapioca.
- Try limited-edition pastas flavored with beet, carrot, turmeric, tomato, spinach and black pepper.