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.
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.
Jewel’s Bakery strives to make gluten-free items taste good. They have an amazing selection of bakery delights and desserts that are just as good as any gluten item. I’ve been wanting to stop by here for some time. Jewel’s is located in the Arcadia district and is family owned. Julie Moreno started this cafe in response to her daughter’s allergic response to gluten. Today, Jewel’s is a local favorite and a place you can visit and feel at home. They have a variety of salads, waffles, sandwiches and breakfast items on their cafe menu. You can also order your food online and they offer cooking classes once a month. I ordered the delicious Santa Fe bowl along with a slice of pumpkin pie. It was a nice prelude to Thanksgiving and the customer service was awesome. I had an enjoyable dinner here and I look forward to stopping in for a pastry or one of their waffle creations in the future.
Owner and architect DJ Fernandez owns this little restaurant as well as a couple other favorite’s of mine – Tuck Shop and Vovomeena. Astor House is located within the heart of the Coronado District. This cozy house-turned-eatery (next door to Tuck Shop) is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a focus on BBQ. They smoke their beef, pork, turkey and chicken over hickory wood. I got the Combo plate (Brisket & Pulled Pork) and the yummy gooey butter cake. I had a nice experience here and enjoyed the neighborhood feel to this place.
One of the hottest duos out there is the husband/wife team of Johnnyswim. I saw them perform at Catalyst last year in Irvine and was told they would be the next big thing. I loved their show and started listening to their music and was hooked. Next thing I know it, I see them on VH1 and Letterman. They make great music and are a lot of fun to watch on stage. I love it when couples put their creative talents together. Tonight they played at the Musical Instrument Museum. MIM is located in north Phoenix and displays more than 6,000 instruments collected from around 200 of the world’s countries and territories. They have a great music venue that hosts various acts almost weekly.
Below is a Tiny Desk Concert by Johnnyswim at NRP Music
Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez
Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez put on a great show and played many of their songs from their Heartbeats EP and their new album Diamonds. I got to chat with them after the show and they were a blast to meet. I wish them the best!