Topo

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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.

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Joe Johnston greets guests on opening day

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Topo Loco

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Elote

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Lime Dipped Pickly Pear Ice Cream

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Prickly Pear Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream

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Topo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Great Harvest Bread Co.

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If you want anything bread, Great Harvest Bread Co. is the place to go. They cater, take online orders or you can just visit the shop itself and grab a bite. Great Harvest handcrafts bread daily using only pure and simple ingredients and never uses any chemicals, preservatives, conditioners or additives. This place is family owned (Ward and Leslie Walston) and has been serving the East Valley for some time now. I stumbled upon this place awhile back after visiting my dentist next door and ordered a pumpkin roll for a Fall party. Now I stop in regularly here and there for coffee and a pastry (they have a coffee and latte bar). The staff is very friendly and they have little store up front where you can pick up various items like jelly, bread mixes, etc.

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Great Harvest Bread Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pizza Muffins

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Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

Having lived by Florindino Pizza & Pasta for many years, I eat their famous pizza muffins quite often. My kids love them! This family-friendly neighborhood Italian pizza and pasta restaurant offers classics like chicken parmigiana, lasagna, and antipasto salads. But they are known for their large calzones and pizza muffins. The calzones can be stuff with your ingredients of choice: pepperoni, ham, salami, bacon, broccoli, black olives, pineapple, jalapenos, and ricotta. The pizza muffins are freshly baked and stuffed with your choice of pepperoni, ham, sausage, and fresh mozzarella cheese. I love coming here and love the great friendly service they offer.

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Traditional Pizza

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Floridino’s Bread Sticks with Cheese

Floridino's Pizza & Pasta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Old Spaghetti Factory

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I grew up going to the Old Spaghetti Factory here in the Valley. I went to school in Tempe and we dined at the old location (now closed) on Mill Ave quite often. The Dussin family opened the first Spaghetti Factory in Oregon in 1969. It’s a family friendly environment with decor that includes antique lighting, stained glass displays and an old-fashioned trolley car (that you can eat in). One of things they love to boast is that they serve a complete meal that includes bread, soup or salad, and dessert with your entrée. My family came to the Chandler location to celebrate my son’s bday and we had a good time. I really enjoyed the Minestrone Soup and Toasted Ravioli (one of my favorites), but found the pasta a little bland. But being a local favorite, I will for sure come again for the family experience.

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Minestrone Soup

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Toasted Cheese Ravioli

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Chicken Parmigiana

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Spumoni Ice Cream

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The Old Spaghetti Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Floridino’s Pizza & Pasta

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Pepperoni Pizza Muffins

Best lunch specials in Chandler – I love this place! This has been a favorite stop for Chandler locals for some time. The calzones are huge and pizza is good! But the must-have is always the pizza muffins. They are amazing! I recommended a friend try them and she quoted “Pizza Muffins have changed my life!” Floridino’s has nightly specials in addition to their lunch and happy hour specials. Family nights are a great deal!

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Sausage & Olive Calzone

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Sicilian Sundae

From their website:

All too often Arizonans discuss their favorite restaurants from “back home” or what they are looking for in an eatery and can’t find in the Phoenix Valley. Floridino’s took the requests to heart and in 1996 we opened our doors with the promise to embrace family-oriented, full-service, true Italian restaurant food in Chandler.

Our menu boasts of oven-baked sandwiches, heaping salads, mouth-watering pizzas, generous portions of pasta and calzones stuffed to the brim. While that is enough incentive to give us a try, a meal at Floridino’s is hardly complete without our renowned pizza muffins or a Sicilian sundae.

2005 brought about Floridino’s unbeatable lunch specials. Starting at $4.75, the goal was to provide a full meal in a timely manner to area working people. The demand was so great, we opened a Chandler banquet facility that can seat up to 60.

Floridino’s is your local Italian restaurant that remains loyal to the community. As always, we support and enjoy giving back to community in the form of food, money and volunteer donations as well as gift certificates for raffles and the utilization of our establishment to house fundraisers.

Floridino's Pizza & Pasta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Christmas

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Our family Christmas card this year

It’s that time of year again. Turkey Day is over and December is upon us. The decorations are up and I’m excited for advent season this year. The boys and I have tons of fun things planned as well as some great serving opportunities out in the community. I’m thankful to have family and great friends here to spend time with and enjoy the holidays with. I’m also looking forward to eating some yummy food!

Thanksgiving

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I love cooking on Thanksgiving. I’ll have the Macy’s parade on in the background followed by some football games while I cook. It’s fun to plan and organize all the ingredients and what to cook first so that everything comes out hot. I just love how cheap all the food is at this time of year. Best advice I heard is to take your list of sides and cut it in half (I have a tendency to make too much). This year I had the honor to cook for several people without family, so I bought an almost 25 lbs turkey. This year I brined my turkey with a killer blend from World Market. Some of the sides I made were a green bean casserole, sausage stuffing, deviled eggs and pumpkin pie. I’m thankful my turkey came out great!

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We had over fifty people show up for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was a blessing to serve them and eat and fellowship with them. I saddens me that Thanksgiving gets overlooked because it is such a wonderful holiday. I love spending time with friends and family in community over food.

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Still a classic….

DSC04663I like to Black Friday shop just as much as anyone, but it belongs on Friday…

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