Helio Basin Brewing has become one of my favorite local breweries. Their slogan is Quality Crafted in Phx. They took residence in an old pool hall that I used to hang out at in Arcadia. Helio Basin is founded by Mike Conley and brewmaster Dustin Hazer. Chef Tamara Stanger creates the amazing food that is served here. It’s the perfect pairing of top quality brews with simple but innovating food. Many of the dishes here have some sort of representation of Arizona in it. For beers, their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. I think my favorite thing about this place is the sense of community they have created here. They have a few large tables for large parties and have the ability to open up the patio for outdoor events. From talking to many guests that I sit next to, Helio Basin had become a popular neighborhood favorite. I came here for their one year anniversary party with a buddy and my son. I ordered a beer flight got a nice variety of beers as my selection. The Robust Porter is one of my favorites. Chef Tamara put together some delicious roasted pig tacos with banana cornbread and Sonoran rice. We had a great time and enjoyed our beers and food. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and definitely check out their great happy hour and Taco Tuesdays!
I came here for a Local First AZ promoted dinner with the brew masters. I was surprised Helio Basin is taking residence in an old pool hall I used to hang and drink cheap bad beer at. It’s definitely great to see an upgrade in the beer being served at this location – lol. I had blast hearing the stories from the brew masters of how this place came about and how they make their beer. You can tell these guys know their stuff and are very passionate about serving a good beer. In fact their slogan is “Quality Crafted in Phx”. Not only do they serve good beer, but the food is phenomenon. Chef Tamara Stanger just recently won the Devoured Culinary Classic excellence award for her smoked bison taquito. About thirty of us were served a four course dinner with a beer paired with each dish. Their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. Both were very clean, crisp and delicious. But I think the Robust Porter was my favorite. It’s not too heavy and full of flavor (a nice blend of chocolate, caramel and coffee). My favorite courses were the Palo Verde Torte and the Blueberry Tamarind Pudding. Each dish was beautifully presented and had some sort of representation of Arizona in it. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and worth another stop. They have a great happy hour and I hear Taco Tuesdays is a must. Check them out!
While attending a film screening of Elementsat FilmBar for Devour week, all in attendance received a Bite Box. These wonderful little boxes of Arizona-made goods were a small sample of the Bite Boxes you can subscribe from Bite magazine. Bite Boxes share goods handpicked by local chefs and artisans. The Elements movie showcased six local chefs and they each contributed something to the box we received.
Devour week is the biggest week of the year for foodies living in Arizona. Throughout the week are events leading up to the big culinary classic. This event is in its second year of existence and was one that intrigued me. FilmBar hosted a movie screening by local filmmaker Andrew Gooi and presented by Food Talkies, Devour Phoenix, Bite and Local First Arizona. The movie is called Elements and it showcases six local chefs here in the Valley using elements from nature in their crafts. Chefs Brian Konefal of Coppa Cafe (Earth), Akos Szabo of Match Cuisine / FoundRE (Fire), Derrick Shields of The Farm at Agritopia (Air), Julie Meeker of Mother Bunch Brewing (Water), Jeff Kraus of Crepe Bar (Smoke), and Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour (Ice) were the featured chefs. Each installment was filmed individually and collected together for this movie. We got to listen to each chef talk about their craft and heard comments from director Andrew Gooi. We were also given a Bite Box to help enhance our senses for the film.
Director Andrew Gooi
Local Chefs featured in Elements
Food Talkies also has a series of films on coffee cultures in different cities called Coffee Run. This is the one that showcases the growing coffee scene here in the Valley.
Jewel’s Bakery strives to make gluten-free items taste good. They have an amazing selection of bakery delights and desserts that are just as good as any gluten item. I’ve been wanting to stop by here for some time. Jewel’s is located in the Arcadia district and is family owned. Julie Moreno started this cafe in response to her daughter’s allergic response to gluten. Today, Jewel’s is a local favorite and a place you can visit and feel at home. They have a variety of salads, waffles, sandwiches and breakfast items on their cafe menu. You can also order your food online and they offer cooking classes once a month. I ordered the delicious Santa Fe bowl along with a slice of pumpkin pie. It was a nice prelude to Thanksgiving and the customer service was awesome. I had an enjoyable dinner here and I look forward to stopping in for a pastry or one of their waffle creations in the future.
I love breakfast and one spot that has been serving the Valley some of the best breakfast since the mid 80’s is T.C. Eggington’s in Mesa. I’ve have been dining here for years and if you are a native like me, you know this place well. They are owned and operated by Thom and Kathy Coker and head chef Dean Delgado. I think what I really love about T.C. Eggington’s is the family feel environment they create in their restaurant. The decor makes you feel at home and the employees work hard to maintain friendly customer service. The food is prepared fresh and the portions are pretty generous. I usually get the eggs benedict but opted instead for their Pumpkin Walnut Pancakes – a Fall favorite of mine. I came with a bunch of friends and we had a wonderful experience. You can also check out their sister restaurant Ncounter in Tempe.
I started Arizona Restaurant Week off with a bang by eating at Southern Rail Restaurant. I had the pleasure of dining at award-winning Chef Justin Beckett’s restaurant Beckett’s Table during Restaurant Week in 2012 and really enjoyed that experience. I recently sat in on one of his cooking demos and was looking forward to eating at one of his establishments. Southern Rail is his most recent kitchen that opened in 2014. Located inside The Newton (former home of The Beef Eaters) and right off the Valley Metro light rail path, SR has become a popular dining destination for Valley foodies. The Newton is a mixed-use concept space where you can shop, read or dine. In addition to Southern Rail, there is a Changing Hands bookstore, Southwest Gardener and First Draft Book Bar.
Southern Rail is a beautiful restaurant with lots of open space. It has an open kitchen and a large size patio/bar area. Its rustic-style, nostalgic decor that gives off a warm, hospitable feel. The food has an American Southern theme to it with flavors inspired by dishes from Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi. They also have an award-winning wine list along with a selection of local craft beers. With the Restaurant Week menu, you have the option of choosing from three different menu items for each of your three courses for dinner. Because it was my first time, I went with some of their signature dishes. The cup of Gumbo Ya-Ya for appetizer, the Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin for my main course and their delicious Red Velvet cake for dessert. Also included was a local beer (I got one my favs – San Tan Kiltlifter). I was met with great service and enjoyed every bite.
Gumbo Soup Ya-Ya
Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin
Red Velvet Cake
Southern Rail was a wonderful culinary experience for me. The Gumbo soup was full of flavor and delicious. The Pork Loin was nice and tender and you can’t go wrong with the Red Velvet cake. I’m a huge fan of Chef Beckett and his influence on the growing food culture here in the Valley of the Sun. I highly recommend either one of his restaurants. I look forward to stopping in again on the popular Fried Chicken nights on Wednesdays.