Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is a sandwich shop that started in San Francisco’s Castro District in 2007 and made its way all through the Bay area. Now we have them here in Arizona. Ike Shehadeh (whose cartoon face is plastered on every restaurant) opened his first restaurant after being nearly homeless. Ike’s are known for their variety of sandwiches that are named after well-known celebrities. They use a bread popular in the Bay area called Dutch Crunch bread (or Tiger bread). The sandwiches are unique because of “Ike’s Dirty Secret Sauce” – a creamy, garlic aioli that is baked into the bread and smeared onto the sandwiches. So far I have tried the Manage a Trois and the Meatless Mike (Vegan meatballs). The sandwiches are pretty large and the bread is very soft and moist. I have had great experiences both times I visited them. They have many vegetarian options and very order comes with a free caramel-green apple lollipop for dessert.
So I’m driving from Arizona to California and I pass by a sign in Indio that says one of the top five reviewed restaurants on Yelp in the U.S. is at the next exit. Being a Yelp Elite, I gave in to my curiosity and grabbed lunch at TKB Bakery. They began in 1991 when three kids went door to door selling their mother’s frozen cookie dough. Years later, those same kids now operate TKB Bakery & Deli (The Kids Business). The deli is a popular stop for many of the cars passing through and the company supplies many large grocery chains. The outside of the restaurant wasn’t much to look at when I first pulled up. But the inside had a spacious seating area and friendly people taking your order. I went for the Reuben Stud-er (similar to a classic Reuben sandwich with hot pastrami and coleslaw). Other popular choices include The Trump, the Mexican Meatloaf and the Chicken Chipotlé sandwiches. I gotta say, that was one pretty damn good sandwich. The jalapeño bread on the cart next to me had me salivating too. With as many trips I make to Cali, I’m pretty sure this won’t be my one and only stop here. Good story and a nice find!
This was the perfect Yelp Elite to start off the new year. Especially after two months of holiday parties. Fresh Millions is a fast-casual “eat healthy” concept food chain that has endless combinations available from their menu. They offer lunch or dinner entrees that include made-to-order gourmet salads with a variety of mix-ins, hot bowls, soups, and grilled paninis. They first opened in 2015 and locations have been popping up all over the Valley since then. People love choices these days and Fresh Millions allows you to choose what you want on your entree. You basically order on one side of the stainless-steel counter, pick your toppings, pay at the other side of the counter and take your food to a table. For bowls, you choose your base (brown rice, noodles, spinach, romaine, etc), a protein (chicken, shrimp, steak, tofu), a sauce (basil pesto, Thai peanut, green curry, etc) and four mix-ins. You can even go half-and-half base and do rice and romaine/spinach. The cooks will mix and sauté up your creation and you can watch the magic happen right over the counter as they are an open kitchen. For the little ones, they have a healthy fresh kids’ menu. If you are in a hurry and don’t want typical unhealthy greasy fast food, this is the place to go.
We had a Yelp Elite event at Fresh Millions to celebrate their grand opening location in Gilbert. I love these events that introduce me to new places around the Valley. I also love getting more aquaited with my fellow Yelp Elites as these are the people with the most knowledge of where the best eats are in the Valley. We were given sandwich and salad samples and able to create our our bowl. For dessert, we had a table full of yummy cookies to choose from. This was a fun event and I look forward to a return visit.
When I was in Chicago earlier this year, I must have ate out three times a day just so I could try all the food that Chicago had to offer. The one place that I tried to fit in but couldn’t was this little chain sandwich shop called Potbelly. Now Phoenix has opened a few Potbellys. Potbelly got its start in Chicago at an antique store off Lincoln Ave. A couple started serving toasted sandwiches there until someone bought the store and turned it into a restaurant with the idea of selling their popular sandwiches. Now there are over 200 stores in the U.S. Potbelly is also known for their shakes and showcasing musicians. A girlfriend of mine and I attended their opening week at Cityscape. The employee recommended I try their popular sandwich The Wreck – salami, roast beef, turkey, ham and swiss cheese on fresh baked bread. Of course I loaded it with peppers too and got a bowl of soup. I was really impressed! I loved that they had live music from a local artist as well going on in the background.
Brosenbrus (Bros -n- brews) is always a fun stop for me when I’m in Tempe. Sandwiches, Paninis and great coffee all make up this cool place. They also serve alcohol and are now into pulled pork. They have a great happy hour and host popular viewing events for shows like Walking Dead and Dexter in addition to sports. I stopped in before the ASU/Oregon game and enjoyed bumping into Riccardo and the gang from Redemption church. One of the part-owners Steven also attends there and does a lot of catering for the church. I tried their pulled pork sandwich and thought it was awesome! Best Iced Toddy’s in town as well!
The Farm is this unique tranquil place at the base of South Mountain that is home to ten acres of pecan trees. It is a popular place to host events and weddings. It is also home to the Morning Glory Cafe, the Farm Kitchen and the Quiessence restaurant. I took my mother to the Farm Kitchen for lunch for her birthday today. They serve up sandwiches, fresh soups, salads and made-from-scratch baked goods in picnic baskets. We had a nice quiet lunch while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
I love football season! It’s nice watching and attending games this year after missing out on football most of last year. Arizona State University had a great first game against NAU last week. Sure NAU is an easy opponent, but ASU looked great against them. Better defense and more discipline under new coach Todd Graham. Tonight they played the Fighting Illini of Illinois. I invited my long-time sports buddy Preston and his wife Christina to come along. Preston and I have attended tons of sporting events together over the past 15 years and we always try to grab some food and drinks before a game. It’s a blast being around other die-hard sports fans to get pumped up for a game. Plus I grew up in Tempe and it’s always fun to hang out there. Tonight we went to Bison Witches – a bar & deli that started in Tucson and now has expanded to three states. We had a blast at the game as ASU won 45-14.