Desert Digest

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Italian meatballs | Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE Sometimes it’s nice to reconnect with an old friend. I surmise I’ll be doing a lot of that as the vaccine rollout speeds up in Arizona, and I’m looking forward to seeing old pals in person – especially when those pals are restaurants.   North Italia is one such friend. I remember visiting its West Valley location (since shuttered) for the first time in high school. I was besotted by a deconstructed chicken lasagne on the menu at...

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We’re forever on the hunt for food that looks as good as it tastes. These four delectable dishes from Valley dining destinations are picture perfect.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by The Gladly (@thegladly) The Original Chopped Salad from The Gladly You’ve likely seen pictures of this colorful dish on your Instagram feed. The famed #OGChoppedSalad features smoked salmon, couscous, arugula, pepitas, asiago cheese, currants, sweet corn, tomatoes and avocado...

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Photo by Aaron Kane   Phoenix beverage industry veterans Sheldon Wiley and Eric Burdick have recently teamed up to launch Becky, a new hard seltzer that’s also known as “personality in a can.” Available in four flavors – pink lemonade, passion fruit, mango and tropical cherry – Becky might help you “turn on that fun gear and have a good time,” Burdick says. “We all have a Becky inside of us.” Do you consider Becky...

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Photo courtesy Evolve PR and Marketing   No well vodka and V8 here. Everyone’s favorite boozy breakfast beverage gets a major makeover at these Valley eateries. We’re talking top-tier flavored vodka, gourmet garnishes, innovative ingredients and other twists on the traditional bloody mary. Hash Kitchen Haven’t you heard? Hash Kitchen is the place to get your boozy brunch on, thanks to its build-your-own bloody bar. Here’s the 411: For $13, start with vodka and house-made...

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Photo courtesy of CRUjiente Tacos   All the news that’s fit to nosh.  New Pasta-Bilities: Pop-up favorite Saint Pasta, late of Linger Longer Lounge, is one of two high-profile food concepts moving into the architectural gem in the Coronado Historic District long occupied by Valley fave Tuck Shop, which has sadly shuttered. The other restaurant, we have just learned, is vegetarian mainstay The Coronado PHX, which will decamp from its longtime home on 7th Street (just a few blocks away from the new...

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  Photo by Leah LeMoine   THE SCENE  Have you ever put off trying a restaurant because you thought it was far from your house? No? Just me? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, my partner is loath to leave the 5-mile bubble he’s mentally constructed around our house, even for good food. I will drive damn near anywhere for a delicious meal – and I do, in “normal times,” trying new places all around the Valley with foodie friends. During the pandemic, though, I’ve found myself...

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Driving, hopping on the sober-curious trend or otherwise foregoing booze? You don’t have to belly up to the bar and bashfully request a soda. Sip in style with these six cocktails sans alcohol from celebrated Valley eating and drinking establishments.   Photo courtesy Hula’s Modern Tiki   Hula’s Modern Tiki Hula’s tropical mocktails feature traditional tiki flare minus the booze. Earlier this month, the posh Polynesian-inspired eatery introduced four new non-alcoholic cocktails including the citrusy...

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Sick of the pandemic? Ready to party? No, not like the idiots on spring break in Florida and Texas but in a responsible, socially distanced sort of way? Well, so is chef and “local-boy-makes-good” Aaron May, and he’s throwing his own outlandish outdoor bash called Aaron May’s Big Boy Cook Club Cookout on Sunday, April 25th from 2-7 p.m. at Walter Sterling’s Ocotillo Restaurant in Central Phoenix, which will strictly adhere to CDC guidelines for...

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Marcellino Ristorante gnocchi | Photo courtesy Knife & Fork Media Group   Arizona Restaurant Week is coming back! From May 21-30, the Arizona Restaurant Association’s premier event will present some of the best dining options the state has to offer. Participating restaurants, which range from established five-star restaurants to small, locally owned hidden gems, will offer three-course prix-fixe menus in addition to their regular offerings. Each tasting menu will be priced at $33 or $44...

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Photo by Nikki Buchanan    As the pandemic drags on, resourceful chefs and restaurateurs are opening ghost kitchens (delivery-only restaurants) at a clip this year, and Food Network star Guy Fieri, host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, is right there riding the trend. In recent months, the spiky-haired, red Camaro-driving reality TV icon has launched Guy Fieri’s Flavortown Kitchen in 26 states, opening three virtual operations within Bucca di Beppo restaurants here in metro Phoenix...

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Photo by Aimee Smith   Stoop Kid is a new concept housed in The Churchill in Downtown Phoenix. It offers bagels in the morning and burgers in the afternoon and evening. The menu is short, but you’ll still have a hard time choosing between options like the Money Shot (spicy bacon jam shmear, marinated tomatoes, Tillamook cheddar, soft scramble and a hash cake on an asiago bagel), Egg Thee Scallion (scallion and Parmesan shmear, soft...

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Preparing a Passover seder (festive holiday meal that includes a retelling of the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery to freedom) can be an overwhelming task. While recounting the story, participants taste certain foods that symbolize parts of the journey. For example, matzah represents the bread that the Israelites ate while fleeing slavery. All that to say, there are a lot of moving parts and different foods to prepare. Most grocery stores carry the basics, but if you’re...

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Last week, Pancho was taken from Chino Bandido.   It wasn’t a robbery – the 7,500-pound black granite bear statue was moved from the legendary Chinese-Mexican-Jamaican fusion eatery’s original location at 19th Avenue and Greenway Road to its new home at Bell Road and Third Avenue. After more than three decades in the same building, one of the Valley’s most beloved holes-in-the-wall is relocating.  “After 31 years, I knew it was time for a change,” says Eve Lee Collins, who opened Chino Bandido in 1991 with her husband, Frank...

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Mojave Records + Coffee | Photo by Madison Rutherford   We often opt for a quick coffee run, but sometimes we want to sit, sip and stay awhile. These dual-function java joints and cafés located inside local businesses are perfect for leisurely lounging – or browsing through records, scoring some killer vintage or getting your hair done while you get your caffeine fix. Gypsy Cup This cute coffee bar is located inside MELT by Melissa,...

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