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.
A long-time favorite of mine is Joe’s Real BBQ in downtown Gilbert. Opened in 1998 by Joe Johnston, Tad Peelen and Tim Peelen, Joe’s BBQ is a huge local favorite that continues to have lines out the building for dinner. Joe got the idea of smoked BBQ from frequent visits to Texas. He decided to house the restaurant in an old building built in 1929. With an agricultural theme, Joe’s pays homage to the farmers of the past. Joe’s uses pecan wood to smoke their BBQ and a variety of delicious side dishes to choose from. I’ve been taking my boys here for years and tonight was no different. I tried the turkey jalapeno sausage and the root beer cake. Seriously – amazing! I love coming here as many good friends of mine work here. I love the family feel of Joe’s Real BBQ and it will always be a local favorite of mine.
Liberty Market has an amazing wood fired pizza oven. It’s an Renato oven that ranges from 600 degrees to nearly 1,000 degrees and never goes cold. They only use Pecan (from Arizona) wood in the oven because it burns very evenly. Liberty Market makes its own pizza dough and you can catch the cooks tossing them as you wait in line to eat. They use San Marzano tomatoes for their sauce and they don’t cook it a second time in the oven out of fear of losing it’s flavor. I took my friend Jaimie here after picking her up from the airport. She got the pepperoni pizza and I got the grilled sausage. Both were delicious and we had a fun night. We capped off our fun culinary adventure with cheesecake from AJ’s.
I love going to Joe’s Farm Grill for my birthday. They give you a free meal. My birthday happens to be the day before Christin and I’s wedding and we celebrated with the kids and my dad. I got a big burger and sweet potato fries and loved every bit of it. Check out my other blog entry on Joe’s here.