Leah LeMoine, Author at PHOENIX magazine

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Photo courtesy Pronto   All the news that’s fit to nosh.  Taco the Town: Love the customizable menu, fast service and efficiency of Chipotle, but long to support a local restaurant over a chain? East Valley institution Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants has a new fast-casual concept for you. Pronto will open in Serrano’s Tempe location (6440 S. Rural Rd.) this fall. “We’ve learned a lot over the past two years, and we know that fast-casual concepts have experienced significant recent growth,” says CEO Ric Serrano. “Our Pronto concept will offer...

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THE SCENE I almost can’t believe my eyes when I walk into CHAR Pizzeria Napoletana in Peoria. There’s a sleek, clean and downright Euro feel – silvery tin tiles on the ceiling, modern black light fixtures, gleaming wood and metal chairs congregated around marble-topped tables, brown leather banquettes and booths, a contemporary wooden bench and a clean white counter.   I grew up in the West Valley and went to high school just minutes away from this pristine pizzeria at the corner of Lake Pleasant Parkway and Happy Valley Road. Let me tell...

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Spicing It Up: Hot on the heels of its partnership with Mark Tarbell on a citrusy vodka (which we awarded a Best of the Valley editor’s pick for Best Spirits Collaboration, NBD), Blue Clover Distillery is shaking up another collab. This time, owner/distiller Weston Holm has hooked up with the folks at Scottsdale liquor hot spot Trevor’s. The booze enthusiasts created a private-label Mango Habanero Vodka, available exclusively at Trevor’s for $19.99 for a 750-mL bottle.    Raising a Toast: Wine Spectator recently released its esteemed “Best...

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THE SCENE  I am a lot of things, but two things I certainly am not are a beer drinker and a vegan. I often wish I could be both! Life – especially concerts, dive bars, festivals and my alcohol budget – would be so much easier if I loved beer. While I can find merit in a porter or stout redolent of chocolate, coffee or caramel, or in a fruity light beer like Papago Orange Blossom, I’d always rather skip the brew in favor...

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All the news that’s fit to nosh.  Calling Subs: Tucson transplants, the day has finally arrived: eegee’s is opening its first metro Phoenix location this week. The Gilbert outpost of Tucson’s most beloved fast-food sandwich shop opens this Thursday, July 15, at 3535 E. Baseline Road. To celebrate the grand opening, the eatery will offer one eegee’s sticker designed by Valley artist Timmy Ham per order (while supplies last). A limited number of special stickers will award recipients with free eegee’s for a year. Fox Restaurant Concepts...

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Photo by Camerawerks   Can’t get enough of our Great 48 honoree chef Scott Conant? Neither can we! Here’s an extended cut of our interview for that feature, for your chef-crushing pleasure.    We are so excited you’re up for being featured as one of our Great 48. It’s our way to highlight interesting people in the Valley, and after watching you on Food Network for years, I was so excited for you to be part of the Valley. Can you tell me about how that came to be?...

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Photo courtesy Fairmont Scottsdale Princess    A barman perches squat vessels shaped like boater hats atop a row of freshly stirred old-fashioned cocktails. He fires up a kitchen torch and lights each one, letting them smolder for a few moments before lifting the tops to release the sweet perfume of smoke and whiskey. A chef swabs a massive tomahawk steak and a pile of cipollini onions and mushrooms with a butter-drenched sprig of rosemary. She lights a nest of hay resting beneath the feast and covers the whole shebang with a rectangular metal cloche....

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plantain latkas | Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE STOP. Stop driving by restaurants and shops you’re curious about. Pull in, park and go inside. Try as many new things as you can. At worst, you’ll spend a little money and be disappointed. At least your curiosity will be satisfied, and you’ll know not to go again.   At best, you could discover a new favorite – a neighborhood haunt, a regular spot for meals with friends, a haven with your kind of people, art, vibe, food and drinks. You...

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All the news that’s fit to nosh.   Suns Mania: The Valley is rallying, indeed – with food and drink specials inspired by the Phoenix Suns’ arrival in the NBA Finals. Grab these deals while they last:  PHX Beer Co. released a limited-edition craft brew called Shazaaam! West Coast IPA, in honor of beloved Phoenix Suns announcer Al McCoy’s famed catchphrase. Notes of mango and papaya energize this beer, which is available as a four-pack or on draft.  Humble Pie and Humble Bistro are offering a “baller deal”...

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Avocado and tomato bruschetta | Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE My love for The Hermosa Inn and its stunning on-site restaurant, LON’s, is no secret. I love it so much I broke my pandemic “dining-out” fast there in April, when my partner and I celebrated our anniversary on its perfect patio. I’ve rhapsodized about it in print and in this very happy hour blog, where I wrote about LON’s Last Drop’s happy hour two years ago.  Ah, but the times, they are a changin’ – and so is the happy hour...

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All the news that’s fit to nosh.  Coffee Boom: Two new coffee shops are slated to open by mid-July in Downtown Phoenix. Kähvi Coffee + Café is the latest concept from serial restaurateur Julian Wright (Pedal Haus Brewery, Luckys Indoor Outdoor). The coffee bar and café is inspired by the coffeeshops of Tulum and Scandinavia and will also offer beer, wine, kombucha, sandwiches, salads and pastries from Hope’s Artisan Bakery. Kähvi is set to open on July 12 in the monOrchid building in the Roosevelt Row Arts District. Meanwhile, commercial...

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THE SCENE Oh, I forgot how wonderful it is to visit a new restaurant. To sit down at the bar and really drink the place in. To try a smattering of dishes to truly get a sense of the chef’s headspace. To actually feel the vibe, not just observe it from the takeout counter before rushing home.  I rediscovered this pleasure this week at a media happy hour at the week-old Campo Italian Bistro and Bar, the newest incarnation of James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Stratta’s space in The Village at...

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All the news that’s fit to nosh.  Seeing Green: Things are getting minty fresh at ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho. The restaurant’s monthly “Show Stopper” Shake is The Jolly Green Mintser, a vanilla-mint shake crowned with a stack of cream cheese brownies, milk crumb, mint ganache, Andes mints and fresh mint leaves. Order the over-the-top treat from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. at ZuZu. It costs $20 but can easily be shared by multiple people. Plus, $1 from each shake sold in June will benefit Desert Botanical...

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THE SCENE Is anyone else having crowd anxiety as we return to restaurants? I can’t be the only one. It’s simply natural to be a little jittery around gaggles of people after the past year and a half of social distancing, quarantining and fearing the physical proximity of others, lest we infect each other with a horrific virus. It’s challenging to rewire your brain and body to accept closeness – especially for someone like me, a social introvert who thrives in small groups but is easily...

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