I have visited Shake Shack in Boston, Chicago and now Phoenix. Shake Shack got their start in 2004 in NYC and has expanded to over 130 stores in under 15 years. Sometimes when these restaurants explode like that they lose some of the qualities that originally made them so great. I actually had a nice evening at this location. This Shake Shack is in the downtown Phoenix Uptown Plaza which is becoming a little mini foodie paradise with all the killer eats moving in. I went with my go-to item the SmokeStack burger. You can’t go wrong with a burger topped with cherry pepper relish, applewood smoked bacon and yummy ShackSauce. They use 100% all-natural Angus beef and are served on a non-GMO Martin’s Potato Roll. I love the crinkle fries and got mine with cheese sauce on it. Shake Shack makes a killer burger and the shakes and concretes are pretty amazing too. Tonight I got great customer service and lots of welcoming smiles from the employees.
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.
Avocado Toast is becoming a popular thing these days. I love avocados and I try to incorporate them into as many meals as possible. Here is a recipe I found for avocado toast. I added a few things for my own spin on it.
- – from Food Network
- One 8-ounce ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
- Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices whole grain or whole wheat bread
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter, softened
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
- Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Mash the avocado with a fork in a shallow bowl until chunky. Season with fine salt and black pepper. * – I also added lemon zest
Toast the bread until browned and crisp. Lightly rub 1 side of each slice with the cut side of the garlic until fragrant; discard the garlic. Lightly brush the toasts with oil, and season with fine salt and pepper. Divide the mashed avocado evenly among the toasts, and top with more flaky sea salt, more black pepper and red pepper flakes if using. * – I added a layer of sliced radishes for more crunch and topped it with scrambles eggs and chives.
I’m really bummed to see another local favorite closing it’s doors. Pizza People Pub has been operating out of this location across the Phoenix Public library since 2013. They have a great story of a family owned business starting out of a food truck and eventually opening their own restaurant. Their menu consists of their signature made-from-scratch 10 inch artisan pizzas and a variety of pub favorites like wings and their always popular mac & cheese. I always got a kick out of some of the pizza creations that they have (and the names) – Date Me, The Hulk, Testosteroni, Popeye, Fun Guy, The Hottie, etc. Even though I love their pizzas, I usually came here to try one of their many mac & cheeses. Some of my favorites have been the Smokey Paprika Mac, the Jalapeño Mac and the Truffle Mac. They load their mac & cheese with lots of cheese so they are nice and gooey. I wish they had a mac & cheese flight so I could sample them all. I stopped in tonight to have a last meal here before they close shop. I enjoyed hearing my bartender share stories of how much he enjoyed working here. It’s always sad to hear of local restaurants going out of business. I wish them the best.
- – since I wrote this post, new owners have given Pizza People Pub a new lease on life and are keeping things the way that made Pizza People so popular. They will be re-opening in August!
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!
* – from Food & Wine
- 2 pounds peas in the pod, shelled, or 2 cups fresh peas
- 1 medium red onion, cut into dice about the same size as the peas
- 1/2 bunch fresh mint, leaves removed and torn into 2-3 pieces each
- 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Combine the peas, onion, and mint in a medium bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and serve, or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to bring out the flavors. (The peas can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before serving.)
- Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or 13×9″ shallow baking dish with foil. Soak breadcrumbs in milk in a large bowl until ready to use.
- Pulse onion, celery, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. (Alternatively, you can finely chop by hand.)
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion mixture, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in Worcestershire, and scrape into bowl with breadcrumb mixture. Add beef, pork, eggs, 1/4 cup ketchup, and remaining 1 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper, then mix with your hands to combine.
- Form meatloaf mixture into a long, well-packed, approximately 5″-wide loaf shape on prepared baking sheet. Brush top of loaf with 1/4 cup ketchup. Bake meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 155°F, 60–75 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before slicing. Serve with more ketchup alongside.