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.
While attending a Pre Super Bowl party at Helio Basin, we were served up drinks from Pure Perú. Pure Perú is a family owned business that imports pisco (a Peruvian colored brandy) from Peru to the U.S. These drinks were amazing! I got to say that Pisco is really crisp and smooth. I tried their Peruvian Mule (recipe below) and loved it! I’m always about culture and it was great getting a little taste of Peruvian culture. I love that they are local and that you can buy their bottles at local liquid stores and places like Total Wine & More. I recommend you give them a try.
The theme for summer is light. This is a refreshing light soup that is served cold and is perfect for the hot summer days. Gazpachos are a tomato-based, vegetable soup traditionally served cold, originating in the southern region of Andalucía.
4 cups (one 32 oz carton) creamy tomato soup
2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped cucumber (2 medium cucumbers)
3 tbsp lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
1 green bell pepper, stems and seeds removed
1 cup soup & oyster crackers
1 cup chunky salsa
2 tbsp cilantro
Combine all ingredients in a blender, saving a bit of cilantro or a few cucumber slices for garnish. Purée until smooth. Chill and serve cold. * – You can also make a pesto gazpacho by puréeing the tomato soup, 2 tbsp basil and 1/2 cup raw pine nuts.
1 box frozen oven ready breaded cod or other breaded fillets
Flour or corn tortillas
3 cup shredded white cabbage
1 ½ tbsp cilantro dressing
1 cup chopped tomato
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Cook fish sticks according to package directions. Place 1 fish sticks in each tortilla. Top with cabbage and drizzle cilantro dressing on top or toss the cabbage with the cilantro dressing. Hit the tacos with a squeeze of lime and top with tomatoes and fresh cilantro.
* – I like to add onions and hot sauce and serve with a summer white wine.
My taste for Vietnamese food continues. A friend of mine turned me onto Phở after asking questions about what it is. Phở is a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with beef or chicken. The soup includes noodles made from rice and is often served with Asian basil, mint leaves, lime, and bean sprouts that are added to the soup by the person who is dining. Most people from Vietnam will say that Phở is best eaten on a cold rainy day. Well.. I live in Arizona and that most likely won’t happen. But we ended up grabbing lunch at Cyclo to try some Phở. I love how most Vietnamese restaurants are snuggled away in some strip mall and then you walk in and the place has a lot of life to it. I enjoyed my meal as it was loaded with all types of noodles and vegetables.