Post image for Ahipoki Bowl coming to Chandler in July

Ahipoki Bowl coming to Chandler in July

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ahipoki Bowl, a California-based seafood bowl concept that made its Arizona debut in Scottsdale in April, is coming to Chandler in July.

Diners create their own bowls, choosing a base (white rice, brown rice, or organic salad), seafood (tuna, spicy tuna, albacore, salmon, shrimp, octopus, yellowtail, or scallops), and any of 13 toppings and four sauces.

The healthy Hawaiian fusion cuisine has proven popular. The Scottsdale location, on the southeast corner of Scottsdale and Thomas, sold more than 1,300 bowls its first day.

The Chandler location is scheduled to open July 15 at the Chandler Pavilions Shopping Center on the southeast corner of I-10 and Ray. It takes over a former El Pollo Loco.

Mike Zimmerman and Jason Jantzen, the owners of the Arizona locations, hope to open another half-dozen in the Valley and as many as 15 statewide.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup expanding to Arcadia

Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup expanding to Arcadia

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soup, a fast-casual Mexican concept that debuted in midtown Phoenix in 2013, will open a second location in Arcadia around the end of the year.

The 2,100-square-foot space will be located on the southeast corner of 40th Street and Camelback on the east side of the Arizona Canal

Gadzooks offers a menu of customizable enchiladas made with cooked-to-order tortillas, slow-braised meats, vegetables, Mexican cheeses, and a variety of house-made sauces and salsas.

Unlike the original location on the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Osborn, the Arcadia Gadzooks will have a drive-through window.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Four Peaks Brewing, Arizona’s largest brewery, will begin selling its beers outside the state for first time in its 20-year history next month.

Not surprisingly, the lucky market is Las Vegas, which will begin selling Kilt Lifter Scottish-style Ale, Hop Knot IPA, and Peach Ale in restaurants, bars, casinos, and stores on July 11.

Four Peaks’ other beers eventually will make their way to Sin City as well.

The announcement comes six months after the Tempe brewery was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer company.

Before the sale, the Brewers Association had ranked Four Peaks the 49th-largest U.S. craft brewery by volume.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Barrio Cafe named best Mexican restaurant in U.S.

Barrio Cafe named best Mexican restaurant in U.S.

BY Jess Harter Monday, June 27, 2016

Barrio Cafe in Phoenix ranks No. 1 on a list of the 10 Best Mexican Restaurants in America compiled Tabelog, an online community of food lovers.

Tabelog says of Barrio Cafe, which was the only Arizona restaurant to make the list:

“Preparing some of the best Mexican cuisine in Phoenix, Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza has created several signature items at Barrio Café. Offering a vast tequila selection, start your night off right with a margarita. Then dig in to the Guacamole del Barrio, which is prepared table-side. For your entrée you certainly cannot go wrong with the Cochinita Pibil, featuring pork marinated in achiote and sour orange. Wrapped in a banana leaf and slow-roasted overnight, the flavors will amaze you. The Barrio Café has certainly earned its spot as one of the top Mexican restaurants in not only Arizona, but in the entire country.”

Barrio Cafe, which is located on 16th Street just south of Thomas, opened in 2002. It has a spinoff at Sky Harbor and a recently launched sibling, Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva, in west Phoenix.

Esparza also helped to launch a concept called Barrio Queen, which has locations in Scottsdale and Gilbert, but she no longer works with the concept and it is not associated with Barrio Cafe.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

A charity poker tournament, one of the more prominent events during Floridino’s Pizza & Pasta‘s month-long 20th-anniversary celebration, has been canceled.

The Texas hold ’em tournament was scheduled to take place Saturday night with the proceeds going to Childhelp, a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping needy and neglected children.

The Chandler restaurant explained the cancellation on Facebook:

‘‘Floridino’s regrets to notify you that our poker tournament in celebration of our 20th anniversary will be cancelled. It was our intention to create a fun way to celebrate with our loyal customers, while beating the heat, having fun, and raising money for a good cause. This seems to have offended some, and due to the nature of the complaints, we will not be able to proceed. Stay tuned for information on how we plan to spend the day celebrating with all of you!’’

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

There’s no doubt Julian Wright knows restaurants and bars – especially on Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe.

Going back to the days when The Library was ASU students’ favorite hangout and continuing with current well-known venues like La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar and Handlebar (both of which he sold last year), his track record of success is well-established.

So it understandably raised eyebrows this week when he announced he was closing his latest venture – the 10-month-old Pedal Haus Brewery, a massive European-style beer garden – for three months to expand the brewing system and make other changes.

Previous: Pedal Haus to close for 3 months, big changes planned

Many Valley breweries and brewpubs have expanded their operations. None has closed to do so. Well, make that none until Pedal Haus.

Responding to comments on a Facebook posting of the MXSW story, Wright explained his thinking:

‘‘When you see the extent of what we’re doing it might make sense, who knows. I guess time will tell. We were close to the limits of brewery production capacity and didn’t want to spread ourselves thin by opening a second brewing facility. To do any sort of wholesale business next year we needed to add another 60-100 BBLs in tank space. We also wanted to feature the brewery to a larger extent in the space and lay some things out differently to make serving more efficient. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m crazy but I believe it will be best for the long run.’’

Asked about leaving his servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff in the lurch – at the slowest time of the year for the industry – he responded:

‘‘We gave them lots of warning and have helped find other jobs. We’ve also offered to pay them to help with construction-related things. It’s not a great scenario but closing down during peak season isn’t a great alternative either. Most seem pretty OK with it and are excited about the new plan.’’

He added:

‘‘With the amount of changes we’re doing, being open during construction wouldn’t have worked and could have led to a much longer renovation period. We looked at that option pretty closely. … I paid my way through college serving and bartending so I can sympathize, believe me.’’

Pedal Haus will close Monday. It’s scheduled to reopen Sept. 26.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Heritage Marketplace, the new mixed-use development in downtown Gilbert, has finished the second phase of its construction, paving the way for five new restaurants to join an ever-burgeoning dining scene.

Phase 2 consists of two two-story buildings on the northwest corner of Gilbert Road and Vaughn Avenue with a combined 32,000 square feet, including:

  • Sushi Brokers: A sushi restaurant with existing locations in Arcadia and north Scottsdale.
  • Clever Koi: An Asian-inspired gastropub with an existing location in central Phoenix.
  • Farm & Craft: A healthy-food concept that makes its debut next week in Old Town Scottsdale.
  • Even Stevens: A Utah-based concept that donates a sandwich to a non-profit for every one it sells.
  • Grubstak: A new concept featuring waffle fries with various toppings.

Look for Even Stevens to open in September, Grubstak this fall, and the others around the end of the year.

Phase 1, which was 31,000 square feet, wrapped up with last month’s opening of Nico. Other restaurants included ZinburgerBarrio Queen, Pomo Cucina & PizzeriaLo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, and Petersen’s Ice Cream & Cafe.

Heritage Marketplace builder LGE Design Build also is constructing the Valley’s third Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row across Gilbert Road. Whiskey Row’s owners also are behind Farm & Craft.

LGE also is planning a 38,000-square-foot mixed-use development to the south of Heritage Marketplace. It’s called Gilbert Market, but no timetable has been announced.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Someburros, a family-owned chain of fast-casual Mexican restaurants, will open its eighth location in Queen Creek by the end of this year.

It will be built near the McDonald’s southeast of the intersection of the Ellsworth Loop and Rittenhouse, across the street from the Queen Creek Marketplace.

Someburros’ Sonora-style menu features eight specialty burros and 14 other burros, plus tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas.

The first Someburros opened in Tempe in 1986. The most recent location opened at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium last fall.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Jimmy Hula’s to bring island-casual tacos & burgers to Tempe

Jimmy Hula’s to bring island-casual tacos & burgers to Tempe

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jimmy Hula’s, an island-themed eatery known for its fish tacos and signature burgers, will make its Arizona debut in a couple of weeks.

The Orlando, Fla.-based chain is scheduled to open in the former Long John Silver’s on the northeast corner of Broadway and Hardy in Tempe in early July.

JimmyHulasFishTaco062216

Jimmy Hula’s is all about eating with your hands. The menu offers six kinds of fish tacos, 12 ‘‘turf’’ tacos, eight burgers, and ‘‘crack’d’’ corn on cob.

There’s also a stand-alone shaved-ice dessert station.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for AZ Food Crafters to reward young readers with free hand pies

AZ Food Crafters to reward young readers with free hand pies

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, June 22, 2016

One of their favorite summertime activities when Eddie Castillo and Mike Caliendo were kids was reading.

Now the owners of AZ Food Crafters in Chandler are encouraging local kids by offering a free hand pie to anyone who completes their respective summer reading program.

Just bring in your completed book reading tracking form or a snapshot of your online tracker and receive a sweet hand pie($4 value) as a reward.

The offer is valid Friday through July 29.

Find a reading program here or here.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts