Topo

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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.

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Joe Johnston greets guests on opening day

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Topo Loco

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Elote

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Lime Dipped Pickly Pear Ice Cream

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Prickly Pear Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream

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Topo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Elite Event: Cocktail Party at Mowry & Cotton

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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.

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The Human Bean

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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.

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The Human Bean Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sip Social

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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.

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Black Bean and Corn Salad

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Green Chili and Bacon Mac n’ Cheese

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Pulled Pork and Brisket

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Condiment Bar

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Arizona BBQ Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Crêpe Club

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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.

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Chicken Florentine Crepe

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The Crêpe Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sriracha Burger

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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!

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Sriracha Burger, Frickles, and Kona Big Wave

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TKB Bakery & Deli

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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!

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The Reuben Stud-er

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Tkb Bakery & Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Elite Event: Lettuce Be Healthy at Fresh Millions

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This was the perfect Yelp Elite event to start off the new year. Especially after two months of holiday parties. Fresh Millions is a fast-casual “eat healthy” concept food chain that has endless combinations available from their menu. They offer lunch or dinner entrées that include made-to-order gourmet salads with a variety of mix-ins, hot bowls, soups, and grilled paninis. They first opened in 2015 and locations have been popping up all over the Valley since then. People love choices these days and Fresh Millions allows you to choose what you want on your entrée. You basically order on one side of the stainless-steel counter, pick your toppings, pay at the other side of the counter and take your food to a table. For bowls, you choose your base (brown rice, noodles, spinach, romaine, etc), a protein (chicken, shrimp, steak, tofu), a sauce (basil pesto, Thai peanut, green curry, etc) and four mix-ins. You can even go half-and-half base and do rice and romaine/spinach. The cooks will mix and sauté up your creation and you can watch the magic happen right over the counter as they are an open kitchen. For the little ones, they have a healthy fresh kids’ menu. If you are in a hurry and don’t want typical unhealthy greasy fast food, this is the place to go.

We had a Yelp Elite event at Fresh Millions to celebrate their grand opening location in Gilbert. I love these events that introduce me to new places around the Valley. I also love getting more acquainted with my fellow Yelp Elites as these are the people with the most knowledge of where the best eats are in the Valley. We were given sandwich and salad samples and able to create our bowl. For dessert, we had a table full of yummy cookies to choose from. This was a fun event and I look forward to a return visit.

 

Fresh Millions Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Elite Event: Official 2017 Elite Badge Celebration with Chandon at Bevvy

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Well … my rookie year of being a Yelp Elite is officially behind me. This event was a great way to kick off the new year for all of us Yelpers that got badges for 2017. This was also my first time checking out Bevvy and they did a great job of hosting us. I grew up in Scottsdale and can’t believe how much this area has changed over the years. Bevvy is in the heart of the downtown area. They are a neighborhood gastropub run by Evening Entertainment Group (RnR, HiFi Kitchen + Cocktails) and one of the only licensed off-track horse racing betting pubs in AZ. I really enjoyed their spacious patio area, leather booths, wood-paneled walls and the variety of TV screens and yard games throughout the bar. My only knock is that they are the headquarters for the New England Patriots during football season. I attended quite a few Yelp events last year and made a lot of new friends. So this event for me was about getting reacquainted with everyone and congratulating them on their 2017 badges. It was nice to see most of my Yelp family all under the same roof. They had Yelp backdrops for us to take photos in front of and Yelp Geofilters for us to post on Snapchat. Props to the photo booth guy for killin’ it as always, to Chandon for the champagne, to Bevvy for hosting and providing bacon popcorn and of course to our awesome Yelp staff for the fun evening out!

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Bevvy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Yelp Elite Squad

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My Urbanspoon Prime days are long gone. Urbanspoon’s new company Zomato is a joke here in the U.S. So I started using Yelp as my food app for my foodie adventures. After a year of posting reviews on Yelp, I got this message earlier in the week from the Phoenix community manager. A few days after getting the message, I became a Yelp Elite. I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea what it meant at first. But I guess it means that I’m one of the top notch reviewers in the Valley and I get into some of the cool Yelp events. I’m honored and excited for this new adventure with Yelp! Read my reviews!

Hey there, Travis T.!

I’ve got brilliant news for you today — because those fingers of yours keep pumping out super detailed, funny, tip givin’ and informative reviews, it looks like you’ve been nominated to join the Yelp Phoenix Elite Squad! You clearly embody the spirit of Yelp with your enthusiasm, positivity, constructive honesty and useful funny cool-ness, and we’d like to formally invite you to join the Yelp Phoenix Elite Squad!

As a member of the best and brightest on Yelp, you’ll be invited to exclusive parties, where you’ll rub elbows with some of our city’s most prominent movers and shakers. Plus, you’ll get a snazzy badge on your profile so everyone can see that you know what’s up! All you have to do to keep your name on this VIP list is to continue penning those compelling reviews and stay active on the site.

So what do you say? Wanna be part of the PHX Elite? I hope you do. Because the sooner you join, the sooner the fun begins. Talk to you soon and if you have any questions, fire away!

Follow this link to find out more about why it’s neat to be Elite. We look forward to meeting you outside of cyberspace!

Hailey B.
Phoenix Community Manager

What is a Yelp Elite?

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