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.
I love tacos. I especially love Taco Tuesdays! It has become such a big concept and everyone who serves up tacos puts out great deals for this day. Backyard Taco is a popular spot here in the Valley that serves up tacos al carbon. “al carbon” means to cook over charcoal and are very popular in Mexico. I was introduced to this place when I ate here with my foodie group a few years back. Backyard Taco was started by Ruben and Maricela from Mazatlan. Their business was birth from cooking tacos in their backyard for friends and neighbors. So hospitality and making customers feel at home is a big part of their business. They use fresh simple ingredients along with their amazing selection of meats to create the authentic taste of Tacos al Carbon. I love it when you walk into the lobby and get a glimpse (and smell) of the meat grilling on their mesquite grill. I came by for lunch and sampled a few of my favorite tacos – Carne Asada, Pollo and Al Pastor. Of course I grabbed a horchata to wash it all down. They also do quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, gorditas and a crazy potato. My favorite thing about Backyard Taco is the condiment bar which has a variety of salsas, onions, limes and jalapeños for toppings. Lunch was delicious and affordable as always and made for another fun Taco Tuesday.
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.
The building was built in the 1890’s. It was a store at one point and then a restaurant. Bob Gosnell renamed it Aunt Chilada’s in the 1980’s. Ken Negal has been overseeing the daily operations of the restaurant for years and both him and his family have been greeting visitors for years. Aunt Chilada’s stands out in front of the Arizona Grand Resort and serves up a delicious Mexican fare. They have a great happy hour that has tasty margaritas and their award winning salsa. In the casita-style dining room you’ll savor spiced pork, chili poblano, chicken, shrimp or beef fajitas and homemade tamales.