You may remember Mark’s Cafe as one of the feel-good stories of 2011. The small Tempe restaurant, then called Culinary Solutions Cafe, was struggling to stay afloat. Then its customers and other area businesses stepped in to help.
Thanks to the efforts of designers, builders, painters, and marketers who donated their services, the out-of-date country kitchen was transformed into a modern eatery rechristened Mark’s Cafe in honor of owner and chef Mark Vojtek.
Today, Mark’s Cafe celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special all-you-can-eat “thank you” pasta bar from 4-8 p.m. The bar will offer four types of pasta, four sauces, fresh rolls, and salad.
The dinner is donation-only, with all the money tonight raised going to the East Valley Boys and Girls Club and Feed My Starving Children Tempe. Giveaways will include gift certificates, shirts, an Avon basket, an office catering, and a private dinner.
Mark’s Cafe, located on the northwest corner of Rural and Guadalupe, is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, as well as dinner on Friday.
The menu is out for the next Beer & Donuts on Saturday, June 29, at Il Vinaio in downtown Mesa.
The event, held two or three times a year, features a flight of four housemade gourmet doughnuts complemented by four small craft beers.
This time, the four beers will be provided by nearby Desert Eagle Brewing, which opened last October.
Beer & Donuts pairings:
- Black Cherry Blonde with vanilla frosted donut
- Deviant Dunkel with spiced cake donut with banana custard
- Buzz Bomb IPA with parmesan-marshmallow beignet
- Black Talon Russian imperial stout with raspberry-bacon fritter
The cost is $16 per person. Seatings are from 2-5 p.m., and reservations are required. RSVP:
The beer has been brewed. Monday, representatives from a dozen of the Valley’s top craft beer bars gathered at Sleepy Dog Brewery in Tempe to collaborate on a new beer.
“Brewers are able to get together and ‘play’ with beers all the time,” says James Swann, the beer guru at Whole Foods Chandler who’s spearheading the project. “This is a chance for some of the people behind the local craft beer bars to get involved in a similar process.”
Other participating bars include The Hungry Monk, Lucky Break, World of Beer, Flanny’s, Boulders on Broadway, Spokes on Southern, Taste of Tops, Yucca Tap Room, Draw 10, Angels Trumpet, Ground Control, and Caballero.
The bars’ reps met two weeks ago and decided to create a double IPA they would call Wolfpack (after the “Hangover” movies). Monday, they were walked through the eight-hour brewing process by Sleepy Dog’s Rob Sizemore and Matt Weber and their staff.
(For curious beer geeks: The beer was brewed with four different hops – Cascade, Centennial,Summit, and Amarillo – and agave nectar. It’s projected to have an ABV of 8.6%, 83 IBUs, and an SRM of 7-8.)
Wolfpack will make its debut at all the participating bars on Aug. 1, which is National IPA Day.
It’s Tuesday, which means taco deals…
Today’s taco specials:
Chef Off!, a series of friendly culinary competitions between East Valley chefs, returns tonight when John Wong of sN Asian Kitchen in Mesa battles Chad Thomas Bolar from Pesto’s Pizza & Wine in Chandler.
The fun food-and-wine events were initiated last year to highlight the talents of East Valley chefs and raise awareness of the locally owned and operated businesses they represent.
Tonight’s six-course, three-wine dinner, which will be held at Pesto’s and start at 6:30, will feature three dishes from each chef – with diners deciding who “wins.”
Tickets are $60. Reservations are required. RSVP: 480-821-0035.
Curry Corner, a Pakistani restaurant near ASU, becomes the latest Valley eatery to be featured on the popular TV show “Diner, Drive-ins and Dives” tonight. The episode, “A Festival of Flavors,” airs at 7 p.m. on Food Network HD, and 10 p.m. on the non-HD version.
Curry Corner is run by Omar Khalid, whose mother, Farah, does the cooking. (Both are pictured above with Fieri.) Dishes they prepared for Fieri included tandoori chicken tikka and mint chutney.
Spiky-haired host Guy Fieri visited the restaurant in January. During the same trip, he also visited Barrio Cafe, St. Francis, The Duce and Perk Eatery in Phoenix and DeFalco’s Italian Eatery in Scottsdale.
East Valley restaurants featured in previous seasons include Joe’s Farm Grill in Gilbert, Los Taquitos in Ahwatukee, and the now-defunct Aunt Lena’s Creamery in Chandler.
It’s Monday, which means burger specials around the East Valley:
Today’s burger specials
Please welcome sN Asian Kitchen as MXSW’s newest sponsor. I’ve been a big fan of this cozy Asian fusion restaurant and bar since it opened nearly a decade ago on the northeast corner of Stapley and Baseline (tucked in behind Party City) in Mesa.
Originally called Simply Noodles (hence, the “sN”), the eatery serves what chef/owner John Wong (pictured) likes to call “bad-ass sushi.” Noodle dishes and other entrees are grouped by country – China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore – with five dishes apiece.
sN Asian Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner every day. Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and there’s two-for-one appetizers and sushi all day Sunday. There’s also live music on Friday nights.
Please thank sN Asian Kitchen for its support of local dining coverage.
Recently opened Spokes on Southern is teaming up with Pitcher of Nectar Distributing (POND) to offer its first beer festival Saturday night. The event, which will be held by the Tempe restaurant and bar’s waterfront patio, is dubbed POND by the Pond. The fest will feature 24 beers on tap and in bottles.
VIP tickets are $40, which get you in at 6 p.m. and include 10 drink tickets, a Spokes on Southern tasting cup, a taco bar from 6-7 p.m., and a T-shirt for the first 100 arrivals. If you opt for general admission, you get the 10 drink tickets for $25, but you have to wait until 7 p.m. to get in. The fest ends at 11.
Spokes on Southern, a sibling to the crosstown Boulders on Broadway, debuted in the once-upon-a-time Uptown Brewery building on Southern, just west of McClintock, in February.
Click here to see the festival’s beer list
Summer is a time when things slow down at most Valley restaurants. Not so at AZ Food Crafters, where there’s been a flurry of activity. The Chandler cafe and takeout shop that specializes in hand pies – aka hot pockets, empanadas, or calzones – just completed interior renovations. Now it looks less like a commercial kitchen (left) and more like a colorful eatery (right).
Owners Eddie Castillo and Mike Caliendo also have partnered with Scottsdale-based Bre’s Petites to be a retail outlet for the bakery’s gourmet cupcakes. AZ Food Crafters carries three flavors: Chocolate Euphoria (chocolate with chocolate-truffle filling), Velvety Red, and Carrot Cake ($3.50 apiece).
And Castillo and Caliendo have come out with a new dessert hand pie of their own – S’Mores (pictured) – which debuts Saturday and will be available for the rest of the month. AZ Food Crafters, on the southeast corner of Alma School and Ray, is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays through Saturday.