Tempe Public Market Café

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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.

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Steel Cut Oatmeal

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Poptart

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Blue Corn Pancake

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Tempe Public Market Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings

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So I believe Louisiana Fried Chicken has opened a location here in AZ on a couple of occasions. I remember reviewing one awhile back in Phoenix during my Urbanspoon days and then it abruptly closed without any notice when I tried to return. So the Chandler area is now their newest experiment. Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings actually came out of LA in the 70’s and has over a hundred locations in the US. The Louisiana name comes from how the chicken is cooked –  Cajun battered and deep fried. They also have fried shrimp, chicken tenders and fish. There are several entree combinations to choose from with or without sides and whatever quantity you want. Side items include mashed potatoes, okra, red beans & rice and coleslaw. There’s a bit of an Asian influence with rice combinations and egg rolls. And they have gumbo too! The family pack combos must be popular because there were several people waiting in the lobby for large to-go orders. The restaurant itself isn’t very large but pretty clean. I thought the chicken was pretty tasty with just a hint of spice and a nice soft crunch to it. They have bottles of hot sauce available that you can spice your chicken up with. Overall Louisiana Chicken is a nice fast casual chain if you are looking for a quick affordable bite of some Cajun chicken (a 3 piece combo will run you about $8). It will be interesting to see how they do in Chandler across from Food City. Btw… they have a couple different slices of pie for dessert and boba tea.

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3 Piece Combo

Louisiana Fried Chicken & Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Southern Rail

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I started Arizona Restaurant Week off with a bang by eating at Southern Rail Restaurant. I had the pleasure of dining at award-winning Chef Justin Beckett’s restaurant Beckett’s Table during Restaurant Week in 2012 and really enjoyed that experience. I recently sat in on one of his cooking demos and was looking forward to eating at one of his establishments. Southern Rail is his most recent kitchen that opened in 2014. Located inside The Newton (former home of The Beef Eaters) and right off the Valley Metro light rail path, SR has become a popular dining destination for Valley foodies. The Newton is a mixed-use concept space where you can shop, read or dine. In addition to Southern Rail, there is a Changing Hands bookstore, Southwest Gardener and First Draft Book Bar.

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Southern Rail is a beautiful restaurant with lots of open space. It has an open kitchen and a large size patio/bar area. Its rustic-style, nostalgic decor that gives off a warm, hospitable feel. The food has an American Southern theme to it with flavors inspired by dishes from Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi. They also have an award-winning wine list along with a selection of local craft beers. With the Restaurant Week menu, you have the option of choosing from three different menu items for each of your three courses for dinner. Because it was my first time, I went with some of their signature dishes. The cup of Gumbo Ya-Ya for appetizer, the Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin for my main course and their delicious Red Velvet cake for dessert. Also included was a local beer (I got one my favs – San Tan Kiltlifter). I was met with great service and enjoyed every bite.

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Gumbo Ya-Ya

Gumbo Soup Ya-Ya

Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin

Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

Southern Rail was a wonderful culinary experience for me. The Gumbo soup was full of flavor and delicious. The Pork Loin was nice and tender and you can’t go wrong with the Red Velvet cake. I’m a huge fan of Chef Beckett and his influence on the growing food culture here in the Valley of the Sun. I highly recommend either one of his restaurants. I look forward to stopping in again on the popular Fried Chicken nights on Wednesdays.

Southern Rail Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Louisiana Fried Chicken

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Greatness is not “WHAT WE HAVE”
Greatness is “WHAT WE MAKE”

Another Soul Food Chain hits the Valley. Louisiana Fried Chicken is a franchise/chain birth out of L.A. with a New Orleans southern influence to their food. I picked up a Groupon to this place and decided to check it out. Soul food is pretty popular these days with restaurants everywhere adding chicken and waffles to their menu. It will be interesting to see how LFC does coming off the heels of Lo-Lo’s which made soul food a hit here in the valley. The fried okra was great and I loved the sweet potato pie. Overall it was a decent experience. (Note – they have a tendency to close at odd times whenever they run out of chicken or have A/C issues. I tried to return for a second visit and it looks like they have closed permanently. Oh well.)

  • – from their website

Joe Dion was the founder of Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken. Dion came to Los Angeles from Michigan in 1957 with nothing in pockets and inclination to work in restaurants. After a month in his garage with a 30 pound fryer, experimenting with a recipe he says he obtained from New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme, he arrived at a product chicken in a Zesty Cajun batter fried to a soft crunch and finished with a slight, spicy heat.

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3 Piece Pac (with Fried Okra and Mashed Potatoes with Gravy)

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Sweet Potato Pie

Louisiana Fried Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Serious Pie & Biscuit

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Serious Pie and Biscuit, located in the bustling South Lake Union neighborhood, is a multi-storied building brimming with delectable pizzas, buttery biscuits and a very serious bar. Biscuits are topped with everything from fried chicken and gravy to seasonal jams. Our bar features 22 rotating taps and 60 bottles and cans. The pizza? Deliberately browned crusts are topped with things like housemade charcuterie, foraged mushrooms and imported cheeses.

I love the South Lake Union neighborhood (located at the tip of Lake Union) in Seattle. While looking for a bite to eat, I stumbled upon Serious Pie & Biscuit. I had sampled some food at their Belltown location some years back on a food tour. Known for their amazing pizza pies, this location combines both their pizzas and breakfast. Their pizza crusts are both light textured but full of flavor and cooked in a 600 degree stone-encased apple wood burning oven. Chef Tony Catini came from the Serious Pie location in Virginia and now serves as head chef over all the locations in Seattle. Because it was early, I went for “the Zach” – a homemade buttermilk biscuit with fried chicken, a fried egg, bacon and smothered in tabasco black pepper gravy. Wow – the biscuit was fresh and delicious and the gravy was amazing. Serious Pie definitely ranks up there as one of my favorites in Seattle.

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The Zach

Serious Biscuit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato