The newest edition to downtown Gilbert is nicely squeezed in between Bergie’s Coffee and Joe’s Real BBQ. Topo is a small walk-up food stall with a huge gopher on the roof (Topo means gopher or mole in Spanish). Leave it to owner Joe Johnston to add a little something fun, unique but weird to the growing downtown Gilbert area. This place draws you in like many of the weird roadside attractions do if you were driving on the Route 66 in northern AZ. What I like most is its very simple menu – burrito, beverage and ice cream. What else do you need in life? You can order a regular burrito (chicken or pork) or have it loco style with elote corn, fritos chips, tomatillo cream and hot sauce. They offer a small bowl of elote for a side. For dessert, they have vanilla or prickly pear ice cream cones that you can dip in chocolate, lime or prickly pear. That’s it – very quick and simple. I came on opening day and it took about 15 min waiting in line to order my food (I’m sure that will decrease over time). Food came out in a few minutes. Joe Johnston greeted people in line and offered us gopher stickers. The kitchen space is small and systems-based. I noticed they weigh every burrito that is made before they serve them. There are a few tables off to the side, but most people use the larger picnic tables next to Joe’s BBQ. This place is unique and fun and opens late. They should get quite a good crowd that just want a quick bite to eat.
If you grew up in Arizona, then you have eaten at Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen. Founded in Phoenix in 1946 by Woody and Victoria Johnson, Macayo’s has been serving the Valley for 70 years. They have worked hard to create a family feel to their restaurants by making hospitality their number one priority. Many of Macayo’s recipes have remained the same as has many of their traditions. I grew up in the days of ordering an open faced cheese crisp for an appetizer (along with some yummy chips and salsa). I’m also a big fan of their chimichangas with their awesome Baja sauce. But the best deal has to be their Señor Bob or Cha Cha mugs. You purchase one of these and bring it back for a margarita refill at a great price. I have many fond memories of eating here (especially at their Depot Cantina location in Tempe) and hope to keep my own tradition going for years.