While visiting Rim Country, I yelped best coffee in Payson and this little gem popped up. I pass through many times a year and didn’t recognize the name Common Grounds. I figured I give a local place a shot instead of going to the nearby Starbucks in town. It is a fairly new coffeehouse that neighbors nearby Expedition church (who actually started it). Common Grounds seeks to establish meaningful community in the Payson area. The coffeehouse is cozy and very welcoming. The bar is made of a beautiful dark wood and the décor consists of historical photos and a wall with a large painting of the Arizona flag. Outside is a nice shaded patio area with plenty of seating. On the menu, they have a nice selection of coffee, espresso drinks and tea. They also have pastries on hand and free wi-fi. We stopped in for a bit and really enjoyed our time here. The staff was friendly and our drinks were made just right. One of things I like about this place is that they donate their profits to local charities and organizations within the Payson area. They are all about giving back to the local neighborhood and I’m always a huge fan of businesses that invest in their surrounding community. I love that their cups say “neighborhood coffee house” on them. My only gripe was that we came on a Sunday afternoon and parking was very limited because of church going on. But overall this is a really nice addition to the Payson area.
I am such a fan of the Phoenix location and St. Francis that I was pretty stoked to hear that chef Aaron Chamberlin was putting a location in the East Valley (closer to home for me). I thought the decision to put a location in a quiet residential part of southern Tempe with no restaurants within a mile was pretty bold for them. They are essentially sending a message that they are going to own this area and be a cafe for the surrounding neighborhoods. I’ll be honest that my first couple of visits during opening month had its issues. The lines were super long and the customer service was working through many kinks. But after a few months, Tempe Public Market is quietly settling in and becoming a staple in this area. The patio area is dog friendly and very spacious. They have plenty of misters for the hot summers and a killer fireplace for the colder winter evenings. I like that beverages (non-alcoholic) are self-serve. They have counter service for ordering your food and seating is open. These are some of those things that makes this place feel like home. So far I’ve had breakfast and dinner here now. The Blue Corn Pancake is fantastic. It’s pretty large but not too filling for a pancake. The Steel Cut Oats are good but a little on the pricey side for me for oatmeal. They also do a community night for dinner on some nights. It’s a 3-course dinner for around $13 that includes salad, entree and dessert. Overall I can see this as a regular stop for me (especially in the mornings on that patio). I love the Farmer’s Market at the Phoenix location and hope that is something that gets incorporated here someday.
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.
Quality Crafted in Phx
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 just found out recently that this Portland-based coffeehouse opened in Chandler. In fact, we currently have three locations in AZ. Black Rock Coffee offers a variety of drink options, from drip coffee to mochas to espresso to hot tea. So what makes this coffee chain different from other ones? They really strive on connecting with people and creating an atmosphere to craft those stories. This location is very spacious and located in the southern part of Chandler. They have both walk-up and drive-thru service. The latte I got was pretty good and I thought the staff was really friendly. Black Rock seeks to build connections with the local community and were donating their proceeds of the day to a family of a local teacher that had been killed recently. I love hearing stories of local businesses seeking to make a difference and thought I’d stop in and show my support.
The Color Run, also known as the Happiest 5K on the Planet, is a unique event that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality. Now the largest running series in the world, The Color Run has been experienced by over 7 million runners worldwide in 40+ countries.
This was a fun run I got to do with Cornerstone Young Professionals. The Color Run comes to Phoenix every year and does these crazy 5K’s where you get doused with colored powered. Then you run through bubbles at the end. This tour was their Dream Tour and it was held at Rawhide Western Town in Chandler. I wore my multi-colored wig and had fun doing this 5K with good friends.
Well … my rookie year of being a Yelp Elite is officially behind me. This event was a great way to kick off the new year for all of us Yelpers that got badges for 2017. This was also my first time checking out Bevvy and they did a great job of hosting us. I grew up in Scottsdale and can’t believe how much this area has changed over the years. Bevvy is in the heart of the downtown area. They are a neighborhood gastropub run by Evening Entertainment Group (RnR, HiFi Kitchen + Cocktails) and one of the only licensed off-track horse racing betting pubs in AZ. I really enjoyed their spacious patio area, leather booths, wood-paneled walls and the variety of TV screens and yard games throughout the bar. My only knock is that they are the headquarters for the New England Patriots during football season. I attended quite a few Yelp events last year and made a lot of new friends. So this event for me was about getting reacquainted with everyone and congratulating them on their 2017 badges. It was nice to see most of my Yelp family all under the same roof. They had Yelp backdrops for us to take photos in front of and Yelp Geofilters for us to post on Snapchat. Props to the photo booth guy for killin’ it as always, to Chandon for the champagne, to Bevvy for hosting and providing bacon popcorn and of course to our awesome Yelp staff for the fun evening out!