Sunday, April 10

The Ghost Guest Travels: Phoenix

A few weeks ago, I headed out west to Phoenix, Arizona to catch the Chicago Cubs during their spring training! The trip came at a perfect time when I was in desperate need of warm weather. While it was a quick weekend trip, I had some extra time to explore the Phoenix food scene and I can honestly say I didn't have one bad meal. Here's a recap of some of my favorite places I went with the BF and my family in case you find yourself in sunny Phoenix!

Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Phoenix Public Market Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Phoenix Public Market Cafe is located in downtown Phoenix directly next to the open air Phoenix Public market. That market operates Fridays and Saturdays, acting as a gathering place for farmers and small businesses to sell their food. The Cafe is open seven days a week and offers fresh and local food sourced directly from the farmer's market. It's a great spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and they have a nice outdoor seating area as well.

Phoenix Restaurants
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
Phoenix Restaurants
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
I grabbed a spot on the patio and enjoyed lunch there including a fresh Asian chicken salad, and lentil curry coconut soup. It was delicious! The menu is huge, so definitely have a game plan or split a few items with a group.

Phoenix Restaurants
Chino Salad and Lentil Curry Coconut Soup
Welcome Chicken + Donuts
Welcome Chicken + Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As I was doing research for places to stop while in Phoenix, I came across Thrillist's list of The 33 Best Donut Shops in America. One of those shops is Welcome Chicken + Donuts, housed in a former KFC. They serve fried chicken, ramen, and made-from-scratch donuts...quite the combo if you ask me.

Phoenix Restaurants
Welcome Chicken + Donuts
I made a pit stop right before they closed so they were out of chicken and a lot of donuts, but I managed to sample a couple of their tasty donuts. They use premium ingredients for their glazes, toppings, and fillings, and it shows. I tried a chocolate donut, and a raspberry almond and both were soft and light with an airy texture inside. The glazes were wonderful as well. Definitely stop by, especially for the unique layout of the restaurant.

Phoenix Restaurants
Welcome Chicken + Donuts
Phoenix Restaurants
Chocolate and Raspberry Almond Donuts
Tarbell's
Tarbell's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tarbell's, owned by chef Mark Tarbell who competed on Iron Chef, is a fantastic spot for an upscale dinner in Phoenix. The restaurant was named Best Restaurant by Food & Wine magazine, and Mark Tarbell was nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.


Phoenix Restaurants
Tarbell's
Photo Credit: Tarbell's
Tarbell's offers a menu that is so varied, there is something for everyone. From fresh fish and scallops, to beef and pastas, you can eat as heavy or as light as you want. I loved the scotch beef, which is essentially pot roast, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and red velvet gravy, as well as the Scottish salmon served on a crispy potato cake with a molasses-lime glaze.

Phoenix Restaurants
Scotch Beef
Photo Credit: Tarbell's
Phoenix Restaurants
Scottish Salmon
Photo Credit: Tarbell's
If you're looking for a more casual dining experience, Tarbell's owns The Tavern next door, as well as The Wine Store, which offers a wide selection of wines poured at The Tavern.

Scott's Generations
Scott's Generations Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Before heading out to see the Cubs play at their stadium in Mesa, we stopped at a New York style deli for brunch. Scott's Generations is a no-frills place, but sometimes all you really want is a nice lox plate. They certainly deliver and their bagels are pretty tasty too. If you're looking for a casual place for deli breakfast food or sandwiches, this is your spot.

Phoenix Deli
Scott's Generations
Phoenix Deli
Lox Plate
Sloan Park

Sloan Park is the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. The park opened in 2014 and is referred to as "Wrigleyville West" because of its similarities to Wrigley Field. Not only does it look similar, they also serve Chicago food including Portillo's and Hot Doug's, as well as other ballpark favorites.

Cubs Spring Training
Sloan Park
Sloan Park
Sloan Park
Hot Doug's
We tried a Hot Doug's jalapeño cheddar sausage topped with jalapeño mustard and pico de gallo. It was tasty, but obviously not as good as the real deal!

Cubs Spring Training
Hot Doug's Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage at Sloan Park
It was so fun to see the Cubs play in Arizona, especially with the picture perfect weather. It was in the mid 80s and sunny and quickly made me forget about the cold weather in Chicago!

Sloan Park
Sloan Park
Pizzeria Bianco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

One of the best meals we had was at Pizzeria Bianco helmed by chef Chris Bianco who won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest. Pizzeria Bianco has two locations in Phoenix and I promise you it's worth the wait. We tried two pizzas and both were outstanding. The first was a combo of their two pizzas of the day, which we split it in half to try both. One side was a red pizza with prosciutto, apple, and goat cheese curds, and the other side was a white pizza with arugula and ricotta. The other pizza was a red pizza topped with olives, fresh mozzarella, and salami. The crust was chewy and crispy, with a perfect lightly charred crust. We made those pizzas disappear like it was our job. Pizzeria Bianco is a must-visit restaurant while in Phoenix.

Phoenix Restaurants
Pizzeria Bianco
Phoenix Restaurants
Pizzeria Bianco
Vovomeena Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Our last meal in Phoenix was at Vovomeena, a fantastic breakfast spot. Vovomeena is named after owner DJ Fernandes' grandmother, and vovo means grandma in Portuguese. The cafe serves breakfast and brunch, and also specializes in Japanese cold brewed coffee.

Vovomeena
Vovomeena
Japanese Coffee Brewing System
After ordering at the counter, you take a number and the staff brings your food to you. We ordered coffees and I tried the cold brew which was strong and smooth.

Coffee and Cold Brew
The breakfast menu is fairly small and consists of several composed breakfast plates. I chose the johnnycakes which were corn and chile cakes with prickly pear syrup maple syrup, strawberries, sweet rice, and chicken sausage. The BF ordered the tortilla espanola with brava sauce, arugula salad, and chicken sausage. Both dishes were super tasty, and I especially loved the mix of flavors on my dish--spicy from the corn cakes, and sweet from the rice. The service at Vovomeena was fantastic as well. Everyone was so friendly that it made it hard to head to the airport!

Tortilla Espanola and Johnnycakes
The day after I returned from Phoenix, I was invited to a special dinner presented by the Arizona Office of Tourism. Talk about impeccable timing! The event was held at Monteverde in the West Loop and featured dishes from chef and owner Sarah Grueneberg, as well as chef Kevin Binkley, who owns several restaurants in the Phoenix Valley. The two came together to prepare a lavish 12 course meal showcasing humanely raised, organic, and sustainable ingredients from Arizona. We also enjoyed Arizona wines from Pillsbury Winery which uses 100% Arizona fruit.

Some of my favorite courses from dinner included mozzarella and ham served with soft pillows of bread, or Italian pigelle, a shaved celery and black truffle salad appropriately named "#ThatSaladTho," grass fed beef tartare with candied jalapeños, head-on prawns a la plancha, and tortelloni with rapini pesto.

Arizona Tourism
Mozzarella and Ham
Arizona Tourism
#ThatSaladTho
Arizona Tourism
Grass Fed Beef Tartare
Arizona Tourism
Head-on Prawns a la Plancha
Arizona Tourism
Tortelloni
The meal was incredible, and further supported my opinion that there are no bad meals in Phoenix. The event also exposed me to the quality of Arizona wines!

Have you been to Phoenix before? Where are you favorite spots? I'd love to know for the next time I head west for Cubs spring training!

Note: my meal at Monteverde was complimentary; however, all opinions are my own.

2 comments:

  1. I loved your recounting of all the spots you visited while in Arizona. As a former mid-west (Peoria, IL) gal myself, I always wonder how people see our state. You were here at the perfect time and visited some really great spots. Next time you come to town, we have a few more suggestions that will definitely have you talking!

    ReplyDelete

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