Florencia Pizza Bistro is one of those locally owned neighborhood eateries. Ahwatukee has a lot of these little hidden gems because most of them are located in strip malls. This one has been around for quite some time and resides next door to the popular Melting Pot. They offer three types of pizza – Traditional, Olive Oil (Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mozzarella Cheese with no tomato sauce) and Pesto (Basil Pesto Sauce with no tomato sauce). You can create your own with toppings (over 40 topping choices) or choose from one of their popular specialty pizza creations. Some of the names include the Snow White, Pomodora, Valentinos, Winchester, Clevenger, Malanzane, Bo-Be and the Green-Eyed Chicken. There are many more creations to choose from and they have vegetarian options as well. The dough is house made and their pizzas are thin-crust. I’m more of a thick crust person myself but actually found their thin crust quite enjoyable. They also have panini, calzones, salads and sandwiches if pizza is not on your radar. Their appetizer menu is not incredibly large but they have a nice variety to choose from. I got the mozzarella sticks and felt they were just average. We ordered the Clark’s Classic pizza which consisted of pepperoni and chicken marinated in buffalo sauce. I was a little worried the sauce would soak through the thin crust and make it soggy but it actually held up (even eating it as a leftover the next day). There is a small bar area to the side where you can order a glass of wine or beer. The owner is a Wildcat fan (boo…) and they’ve had fun fundraisers in the past during the annual ASU/UA football game to benefit the local high schools in the area. It wasn’t very busy when I visited but service was pretty good.
I love this location because it’s always close by when I’m either running an errand in Tempe or at something related to ASU. They are about a mile south of the 202. My Dad once lived in Ashland, OR years ago and I vaguely remember going through the original Human Bean drive-thru there. That’s where this company got their start. They are known for their hand-crafted espresso drinks and fruit-infused smoothies. And of course every drink is topped with a white chocolate espresso bean. They have a program called the Farm Friendly Direct that allows them to work directly with the farming communities that harvest their beans so that they can build long-term relationships with them. This location has a double drive-thru or you can walk up to the window. You order directly from the barista and not through some intercom which I love. The baristas are usually high energy and very friendly. I haven’t tried one of their teas yet, but I really enjoyed their popular Granita drink. During the holidays they do holiday style cup that is pretty festive.
When I went to ASU back in the day, there was mostly fast food on campus. It’s nice to see some delicious eats coming to campus. Yelp gave us Elites a chance to dine at one of The Crepe Club’s locations. I love the story of this place about three brothers coming from Syria to attend ASU. They got their degrees and then started up a crepe cart on campus. It became so popular that they opened their own restaurant at the Biltmore. Recently they opened up this permanent location right next to Old Main on ASU campus. I got two mini crepes so I could try both a sweet and savory one. The creme de lemon was nice and warm and I enjoyed the delicious lemon aftertaste. The chicken florentine is packed with flavor – grilled chicken, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Super good! This location has a walk up window with an outdoor patio area with tables and shading. I got a nice visit from Maria the operations manager who offered me a yummy macaroon. The Crepe Club is a nice addition to my old digs.
The first time I visited Délice Bistro was on a walking food tour of Tempe. It’s a European-style pâtisserie (a type of French or Belgian bakery that specializes in pastries and sweets) that makes their pastries and entrees from scratch. They are located off historic Tempe’s Mill Ave near ASU campus. In addition to their wonderful parties, they serve European sandwiches, soups and salads (made fresh daily). When I came here last, I had a nutella crêpe with some coffee. They also have a variety of breakfast entrees that include omelets, croissant french toasts and eggs benedicts. But you can’t come here without trying one of their delightful desserts or hand-dipped Bouchée chocolates. Today I had a carrot cake with some coffee from Peixoto. It was delicious and made for a nice late afternoon snack.
Just recently we got Five Guys here in the Valley. Now another mid-west burger joint has made their way here. Steak ‘n Shake started in Illinios in 1934 and has been serving up burgers all over ever since. Known for their signature steak burgers and shakes, Steak n’ Shake now has a location on Tempe’s historic Mill Ave. I’ve always enjoyed visiting them when I traveled to Missouri and pretty excited to see them open one up here. The only disappointment is that we got the ‘signature’ restaurant which doesn’t include all the menu items from the original. I came here with my buddy Jeremy before ASU’s home opener and my steak burger hit the spot.
My oldest son goes to Hamilton high school in Chandler, AZ. They have one of the best football programs in the nation. They have won the Arizona Division 5A State Championship seven times in the past ten years. Last year they got blown out in the championship game. This year it was revenge time. They lost to Mountain Pointe high school to start the season off (ironically my son went to Mountain Pointe his Freshman year). After going 0-2, Hamilton won the rest of their games and found themselves in the championship game once again against the team that they lost to in the beginning of the season – Mountain Pointe. The game was played at University of Phoenix Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals) and Hamilton repeated their championship success by winning 31-16.
It ended up being a fun football weekend overall for me. The day after the Hamilton won their title, my alma mater ASU played UA in the Territorial Cup rivalry game in Tucson. It was the first meeting between new coaches Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez. ASU won “The Duel in the Desert” 41-34 in a fun turnaround year for them.
ASU has many traditions. The pitch fork sign, shaking your keys during kick-offs, the Lantern Walk and wearing gold at games are some of them. This year coach Graham has brought back some old traditions (like practice at Camp Tontozona) and some new ones. The Devils are much improved this year and on the right track to being a better football team. Tonight was the last home game and I’ve taken someone different to each game this year. Tonight I brought my long-time friend Shauna. She’s an ASU grad as well and we had fun picking on each other during the game. But we did observe this new tradition at the game people were doing in our section – parents holding up their kids as they do push-ups after every Sun Devil score. It was fun to watch. They did a lot of push-ups as ASU won 46-7 over Washington State.
College rivalries are fun. Being an ASU fan, I will admit that I can’t stand the Arizona Wildcats (or “KittyKats”) or Tucson. But today was a different day in Pac-12 football. The Oregon Ducks were coming to town and they pretty much are rolling over all their opponents. It didn’t stop me from rooting on my alma mater even though realistically I knew they were going to get beat bad. In fact, I went with my buddy from Oregon. I had a blast and really enjoyed the vibe of the game (it was a ‘black out’ game). I’m thankful he went easy on me as ASU lost 21-43.
ASU’s “A” painted black after being painted green by Oregon fans
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!
I would say that my absolute favorite place to go to before an ASU game is Four Peaks brewery. I’ve been coming here since my college days at ASU. Four Peaks brews their own beer and also has amazing food. Their Kilt Lifter Scottish ale is their flagship beer and one of my personal favorites. I took my brother and my nephew here before the ASU/Utah game in which ASU won 37-7. We got some wings and beer battered fries and had a fun time.