I am such a fan of the Phoenix location and St. Francis that I was pretty stoked to hear that chef Aaron Chamberlin was putting a location in the East Valley (closer to home for me). I thought the decision to put a location in a quiet residential part of southern Tempe with no restaurants within a mile was pretty bold for them. They are essentially sending a message that they are going to own this area and be a cafe for the surrounding neighborhoods. I’ll be honest that my first couple of visits during opening month had its issues. The lines were super long and the customer service was working through many kinks. But after a few months, Tempe Public Market is quietly settling in and becoming a staple in this area. The patio area is dog friendly and very spacious. They have plenty of misters for the hot summers and a killer fireplace for the colder winter evenings. I like that beverages (non-alcoholic) are self-serve. They have counter service for ordering your food and seating is open. These are some of those things that makes this place feel like home. So far I’ve had breakfast and dinner here now. The Blue Corn Pancake is fantastic. It’s pretty large but not too filling for a pancake. The Steel Cut Oats are good but a little on the pricey side for me for oatmeal. They also do a community night for dinner on some nights. It’s a 3-course dinner for around $13 that includes salad, entree and dessert. Overall I can see this as a regular stop for me (especially in the mornings on that patio). I love the Farmer’s Market at the Phoenix location and hope that is something that gets incorporated here someday.
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.
Oma’s Place is a neighborhood sandwich shop and bakery that also offers daily German food specials (such as roladen, schnitzel, Swedish meatballs, cabbage rolls, or brats) in Mesa. This little family owned establishment makes their food from scratch. In fact, there is a kitchen stove with an oven directly behind the order counter where you can see the food cooking. I enjoyed the ‘at home’ feel to the restaurant and found the owner (Astrid Braun) very welcoming as I came in (Oma is ‘Grandma’ in German). The Knoephla soup was pretty good as was the Reuben sandwich. I hope this place does well. I think being located in a strip mall with abandoned buildings all around will make business difficult.
Brosenbrus (Bros -n- brews) is always a fun stop for me when I’m in Tempe. Sandwiches, Paninis and great coffee all make up this cool place. They also serve alcohol and are now into pulled pork. They have a great happy hour and host popular viewing events for shows like Walking Dead and Dexter in addition to sports. I stopped in before the ASU/Oregon game and enjoyed bumping into Riccardo and the gang from Redemption church. One of the part-owners Steven also attends there and does a lot of catering for the church. I tried their pulled pork sandwich and thought it was awesome! Best Iced Toddy’s in town as well!
Pita Jungle has been serving up healthy and fresh food since it’s first location opened in 1994 by three Arizona State University students. Their goal was to provide Tempe residents with a healthy alternative to other restaurants around campus. They serve up Mediterranean food with a touch of modern flair. Their wood-fired pizzas and pita sandwiches are some of the popular selections. I’ve been eating here since my days at ASU going to the Apache location for lunch. The Mediterranean Roasted Chicken (Shawarma) and Beef Gyro are probably my 2 favorite items along with some hummus and their amazing iced tea. I had a fun night here with my friend Sarah at the Phoenix location in the arts district.
Dilly’s Deli is a local gourmet sandwich chain here in the Valley and sister company to another local favorite Floridino’s Pizza & Pasta. I love the fresh sandwiches and especially the soups. My favorites are the Humdinger (pastrami, pepper jack and cole slaw) and the Reuben. This has always been one of my favorite stops to meet up with friends as it is close to home.