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 have so many memories here at the Phoenician going back to high school days. They have been going through some renovations and Mowry & Cotton is their fancy new casual restaurant geared to draw in both visitors and locals. This was one of those fun dress-up Yelp events that incorporated the beautiful views of the Phoenician resort. Mowry & Cotton has a large open patio with amazing décor (the growler wall was a nice touch). We were given the story behind this place from the GM. He mentioned that it is named after George Mowry and James Cotton – two businessmen who opened one of Phoenix’s earliest drinking establishments. We were treated with their signature drink (called the Washington & 1st) from their awesome bartender who worked his butt off for us. It was a blend of commerce gin, St Germain elderflower, blackberry, lime & bitters. I got so caught up with my drinks and the conversation at my table that I forgot to check out the food samples they prepared for us. The seafood was gone when I got there, but I did get to try some of their flatbread pizza. The Wild Mushroom and the Chicken Pesto were both pretty flavorful. But I didn’t miss out on desserts. They had these awesome Lemon Meringue, S’Mores and a Peanut Butter Bar samples that capped off the night. I enjoyed mixing it up with some long time Elites and enjoyed meeting some of the new ones. The best part was the awesome gifts Mowry & Cotton gave us – a choice of a cutting board, a branding iron or an apron. All three were pretty killer. Thanks to our Yelp staff for always being amazing and treating us Elites to a fun night. Read my full post about Mowry & Cotton here.
I love this location because it’s always close by when I’m either running an errand in Tempe or at something related to ASU. They are about a mile south of the 202. My Dad once lived in Ashland, OR years ago and I vaguely remember going through the original Human Bean drive-thru there. That’s where this company got their start. They are known for their hand-crafted espresso drinks and fruit-infused smoothies. And of course every drink is topped with a white chocolate espresso bean. They have a program called the Farm Friendly Direct that allows them to work directly with the farming communities that harvest their beans so that they can build long-term relationships with them. This location has a double drive-thru or you can walk up to the window. You order directly from the barista and not through some intercom which I love. The baristas are usually high energy and very friendly. I haven’t tried one of their teas yet, but I really enjoyed their popular Granita drink. During the holidays they do holiday style cup that is pretty festive.
I had a fun evening eating and meeting new foodie friends. Two long time friends Erika and Kaylyn of Sip So Good hosted their first event at Arizona BBQ Company in Gilbert and invited me to come. This place just opened recently (not too far from where I used to live). This was a fun media event with a bunch of food bloggers and Instagram influencers. My first impression when walking in was that this place pays a nice tribute to Arizona. The decor is southwestern with a fun board listing Arizona facts and history. The restaurant itself is very simple and comfortable (great for kids!) with counter order service and a bar located to one side. The owners are longtime Gilbert residents and they opened this place to give back to the surrounding community. I was here for a buffet style dinner so I don’t have a lot of info on portion sizes of their platters, but their menu prices seem very reasonable to other BBQ restaurants. I felt very welcome here and Colette was great at sharing her passion for this place to us. Even though I came here for BBQ, I was immediately drawn to the tray of green chili bacon mac n’ cheese. I’m huge mac n’ cheese guy and I thought it was fantastic. Not too spicy but nice and cheesy with lots of flavor. We also tried their black bean and corn salad, brisket and pulled pork. These guys definitely know their BBQ and do a great job of capturing the flavors of the southwest. The BBQ comes naked as they have a condiment bar with different flavors of BBQ sauce. My favorites were the sweet and tangy and habanero sauces. Overall this was a great experience and I wish this place was open back when I had a house in the adjacent neighborhood. AZ BBQ Co. accepts non-perishable foods that they donate to a local food bank. Just another way they try to give back.
When I went to ASU back in the day, there was mostly fast food on campus. It’s nice to see some delicious eats coming to campus. Yelp gave us Elites a chance to dine at one of The Crepe Club’s locations. I love the story of this place about three brothers coming from Syria to attend ASU. They got their degrees and then started up a crepe cart on campus. It became so popular that they opened their own restaurant at the Biltmore. Recently they opened up this permanent location right next to Old Main on ASU campus. I got two mini crepes so I could try both a sweet and savory one. The creme de lemon was nice and warm and I enjoyed the delicious lemon aftertaste. The chicken florentine is packed with flavor – grilled chicken, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Super good! This location has a walk up window with an outdoor patio area with tables and shading. I got a nice visit from Maria the operations manager who offered me a yummy macaroon. The Crepe Club is a nice addition to my old digs.
I was excited to made my return to Slater’s 50/50 while visiting here in Pasadena. I had my first burger in 2013 and I try stop here every time I am in town. You can read all about them on my post. Slater’s is known for their 50/50 burger patties – made of 50% ground bacon and 50% ground beef. I had a quick stop here for lunch and tried their popular Sriracha Burger and Frickles (fried pickles). It’s a specialty item so I had to try it. The patty rests on Sriracha coleslaw and is topped with Sriracha sautéed mushrooms, pepper jack cheese, thick-cut bacon strips glazed with Sriracha mayo on a brioche bun. That’s a lot of Sriracha and it was delicious! I also got a Kona Big Wave beer. See you next time Slater’s!
So I’m driving from Arizona to California and I pass by a sign in Indio that says one of the top five reviewed restaurants on Yelp in the U.S. is at the next exit. Being a Yelp Elite, I gave in to my curiosity and grabbed lunch at TKB Bakery. They began in 1991 when three kids went door to door selling their mother’s frozen cookie dough. Years later, those same kids now operate TKB Bakery & Deli (The Kids Business). The deli is a popular stop for many of the cars passing through and the company supplies many large grocery chains. The outside of the restaurant wasn’t much to look at when I first pulled up. But the inside had a spacious seating area and friendly people taking your order. I went for the Reuben Stud-er (similar to a classic Reuben sandwich with hot pastrami and coleslaw). Other popular choices include The Trump, the Mexican Meatloaf and the Chicken Chipotlé sandwiches. I gotta say, that was one pretty damn good sandwich. The jalapeño bread on the cart next to me had me salivating too. With as many trips I make to Cali, I’m pretty sure this won’t be my one and only stop here. Good story and a nice find!