Florencia Pizza Bistro is one of those locally owned neighborhood eateries. Ahwatukee has a lot of these little hidden gems because most of them are located in strip malls. This one has been around for quite some time and resides next door to the popular Melting Pot. They offer three types of pizza – Traditional, Olive Oil (Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mozzarella Cheese with no tomato sauce) and Pesto (Basil Pesto Sauce with no tomato sauce). You can create your own with toppings (over 40 topping choices) or choose from one of their popular specialty pizza creations. Some of the names include the Snow White, Pomodora, Valentinos, Winchester, Clevenger, Malanzane, Bo-Be and the Green-Eyed Chicken. There are many more creations to choose from and they have vegetarian options as well. The dough is house made and their pizzas are thin-crust. I’m more of a thick crust person myself but actually found their thin crust quite enjoyable. They also have panini, calzones, salads and sandwiches if pizza is not on your radar. Their appetizer menu is not incredibly large but they have a nice variety to choose from. I got the mozzarella sticks and felt they were just average. We ordered the Clark’s Classic pizza which consisted of pepperoni and chicken marinated in buffalo sauce. I was a little worried the sauce would soak through the thin crust and make it soggy but it actually held up (even eating it as a leftover the next day). There is a small bar area to the side where you can order a glass of wine or beer. The owner is a Wildcat fan (boo…) and they’ve had fun fundraisers in the past during the annual ASU/UA football game to benefit the local high schools in the area. It wasn’t very busy when I visited but service was pretty good.
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!
Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is a sandwich shop that started in San Francisco’s Castro District in 2007 and made its way all through the Bay area. Now we have them here in Arizona. Ike Shehadeh (whose cartoon face is plastered on every restaurant) opened his first restaurant after being nearly homeless. Ike’s are known for their variety of sandwiches that are named after well-known celebrities. They use a bread popular in the Bay area called Dutch Crunch bread (or Tiger bread). The sandwiches are unique because of “Ike’s Dirty Secret Sauce” – a creamy, garlic aioli that is baked into the bread and smeared onto the sandwiches. So far I have tried the Manage a Trois and the Meatless Mike (Vegan meatballs). The sandwiches are pretty large and the bread is very soft and moist. I have had great experiences both times I visited them. They have many vegetarian options and very order comes with a free caramel-green apple lollipop for dessert.
I’m really bummed to see another local favorite closing it’s doors. Pizza People Pub has been operating out of this location across the Phoenix Public library since 2013. They have a great story of a family owned business starting out of a food truck and eventually opening their own restaurant. Their menu consists of their signature made-from-scratch 10 inch artisan pizzas and a variety of pub favorites like wings and their always popular mac & cheese. I always got a kick out of some of the pizza creations that they have (and the names) – Date Me, The Hulk, Testosteroni, Popeye, Fun Guy, The Hottie, etc. Even though I love their pizzas, I usually came here to try one of their many mac & cheeses. Some of my favorites have been the Smokey Paprika Mac, the Jalapeño Mac and the Truffle Mac. They load their mac & cheese with lots of cheese so they are nice and gooey. I wish they had a mac & cheese flight so I could sample them all. I stopped in tonight to have a last meal here before they close shop. I enjoyed hearing my bartender share stories of how much he enjoyed working here. It’s always sad to hear of local restaurants going out of business. I wish them the best.
– since I wrote this post, new owners have given Pizza People Pub a new lease on life and are keeping things the way that made Pizza People so popular. They will be re-opening in August!
I came here for a Local First AZ promoted dinner with the brew masters. I was surprised Helio Basin is taking residence in an old pool hall I used to hang and drink cheap bad beer at. It’s definitely great to see an upgrade in the beer being served at this location – lol. I had blast hearing the stories from the brew masters of how this place came about and how they make their beer. You can tell these guys know their stuff and are very passionate about serving a good beer. In fact their slogan is “Quality Crafted in Phx”. Not only do they serve good beer, but the food is phenomenon. Chef Tamara Stanger just recently won the Devoured Culinary Classic excellence award for her smoked bison taquito. About thirty of us were served a four course dinner with a beer paired with each dish. Their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. Both were very clean, crisp and delicious. But I think the Robust Porter was my favorite. It’s not too heavy and full of flavor (a nice blend of chocolate, caramel and coffee). My favorite courses were the Palo Verde Torte and the Blueberry Tamarind Pudding. Each dish was beautifully presented and had some sort of representation of Arizona in it. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and worth another stop. They have a great happy hour and I hear Taco Tuesdays is a must. Check them out!
I love the Coronado neighborhood and the restaurants that line 7th St. I dropped by here for a quick bite on my way to work. This place was once the Coronado Cafe and is now just The Coronado Phx (owned by the same owner that managed Bragg’s Factory Diner on Grand Ave). The converted home they operate out of has a lot of history in the area and makes for a nice relaxed dining experience. The Coronado is counter service and they have both indoor and outdoor patio seating. The menu is vegetarian and consists of breakfast, small bites and sandwiches. The counter area serves wine/beer/alcohol and is a full espresso bar. I ordered the Red Potato & Garbanzo Burger and really enjoyed the flavor of the agave mustard they top it with. The street corn was quite delicious as well. The atmosphere was super laid back and they do a great job of creating a nice community feel while you are here. Some people were here for dinner, some on laptops and others playing board games or just having a conversation. My only gripe was that there wasn’t a whole lot of pastries to choose from (probably because I came just before closing time).
A couple from New Orleans started this part market, part restaurant in 2013. French Grocery specializes in French, Cajun and Creole foods. The outside of the grocery may not look like much, but the decor and the service makes you feel welcome upon entering. You basically order your food or drink at the service counter and find a table to sit at and eat. They have a couple of huge deli cases full of pastas, meats, cheeses and desserts. They also have an enormous collection of French wines that are displayed beautifully throughout the store. I’ve been here a couple times now, but haven’t had the opportunity to grab anything off their lunch or diner menu. But the BBQ shrimp po-boy and muffuletta sandwiches look amazing. The cochon de lait sandwich is also on my must-try list. I came in for some beignets and coffee the last time I was here and took home some yummy macarons for dessert. They have quite a variety of them to choose from. My personal favorite is the salted caramel one. Today I stopped in and took home some of their homemade cinnamon almond butter. This place has been a nice addition to the Phoenix area and gives me some good throwback memories of my visit to New Orleans.