Food & Drink News

Republica Empanada closed until Dec. 23 – after ‘DD&D’

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mesa, AZ

Republica Empanada, which will make an appearance on the Food Network’s ‘‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’’ on Friday, Dec. 22, has closed for 10 days for kitchen renovations.

The small, family-run Latin American eatery in downtown Mesa plans to reopen to the public the day after its ‘‘DD&D’’ debut.

Known for its namesake savory and sweet hand pies, Republica Empanada opened in June 2013 and quickly became one of the gems of the Mesa dining scene.

‘‘DD&D’’ host Guy Fiero and his TV crew visited the restaurant in early October.

Owner Marco Meraz says Republica Empanada’s kitchen renovations are minor but will increase efficiency on busy Friday and Saturday nights.

‘‘We’re just tweaking a few things so it flows better,’’ he says.

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Dec. 16: Prohibition Night party at Good Time Charli’s

BY Jess Harter Monday, December 11, 2017

GoodTimeCharlisGatsby121117Good Time Charli’s in Chandler celebrates the 84th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition with a trip back to the Roaring Twenties from 6 p.m.-close  Saturday, Dec. 16.

Sip a vintage cocktail while enjoying a live jazz/horn band, which will take the stage at 8 p.m.

Patrons are asked to wear era-appropriate attire.

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Nicole Mastyk celebrates her birthday today. But she’s more focused on a day next week. On Dec. 12, she’ll undergo surgery for a double mastectomy.

Just last Wednesday, the Queen Creek resident was diagnosed with two types of stage 2 breast cancer. It’s been a whirlwind week for her, her husband Blake and the rest of their family.

I met Nicole and Blake when they opened The Deli in Queen Creek in 2007. Despite its plain name and country-casual decor, the restaurant was something special, doling out gourmet sandwiches at lunch and fine-dining specials in the evening.

It featured local meats and produce, baked its own bread and desserts, and Nicole even made the ice creams in a variety of unusual flavors – long before such things became trendy in the Valley.

Nicole oversaw the front of the house, and Blake served as chef. It was a family affair. Blake’s brother worked alongside him in the kitchen, and his parents often waited tables.

As the couple’s young son, Miles, reached school age, Nicole and Blake recognized they couldn’t keep working past midnight every day. So they sold The Deli and instead opened The Bistro, their current restaurant.

By serving only breakfast and lunch, they are able to spend time as a family in the evenings.

Now they face their greatest challenge yet, as Blake Mastyck explains on a just-launched GoFundMe page:

‘‘In the past few days there has been a lot of crying, worrying, speculating, guessing, assuming and what ifs. But surprisingly out of all this we have been fortunate to see so many loving and caring people truly trying to help. I have learned a lot about our insurance in the last five days. Our savings are gone, our credit cards will be maxed by the end of the week. I was able to upgrade and change to improve our insurance, but at a cost. I have been sick to my stomach thinking about money, insurance, surgery, at least six weeks recovery, more findings, our rent, business rent, our great employees, Christmas and bills.’’

The community response has been amazing. In its first day, the page raised more than $10,000 of its $35,000 goal. To learn more or to donate, click here.

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Pizza Hut rolls out beer delivery in Phoenix today

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, December 5, 2017


In an effort to spur sales, Pizza Hut begins delivering beer with its pizza, wings, and pasta today. The national chain is testing the idea in only one market: Phoenix.

Your options are limited to four Anheuser-Busch brands – Budweiser, Bud Light and Shock Top and Four Peaks Kilt Lifter – all sold only in six-packs for $10.99.

Next month, the chain plans to add wine delivery as well.

Pizza Hut is hoping alcohol will set it apart from rivals Domino’s and Papa John’s, which only deliver sodas and bottled water.

More than 1,700 Pizza Huts, a quarter of its U.S. locations, already have liquor licenses, according to the company.

The company has declined to say what city the beer and wine deliveries would roll out in next.

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Postino group reaches private equity deal to fund expansion

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Postino112917Phoenix-based Upward Projects restaurant group has reached a deal with Los Angeles private equity firm Brentwood Associates to expand its Postino Winecafe concept nationally.

Upward Projects’ concepts also include Joyride Taco House, Federal Pizza, Windsor, and Churn.

But it is Postino, the group’s original concept, that is most popular. There are six locations in the Valley and another in Denver. A Houston location is scheduled to open in 2018.

Postino offers a simple menu of panini, bruschetta, and inexpensive wines by the glass in a casual, neighborhood atmosphere.

Brentwood is best-known as a backer of Blaze Pizza and Zoe’s Kitchen.

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Nov. 30: ‘Taste of Romeo’s’ dinner at Romeo’s Euro Cafe

BY Jess Harter Monday, November 27, 2017

RomeoFetaDillFritter112717Romeo’s Euro Cafe in Gilbert holds its weekly ‘‘Taste of Romeo’s’’ dinner, hosted by chef Romeo Taus and his wife, Janice, in a private dinning room, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30.

The dinners typically feature five courses selected from the restaurant’s regular menu. This week’s selections:

  • Feta Dill Fritters (pictured)
  • Roasted Eggplant Salad
  • Risi Bisi con Milanesa
  • Garlic Chicken Pesto
  • Mini Mocha Tartlets

Cost is $30 per person plus tax and tip. Add five wine tastes for $10. RSVP: 480-962-4224.

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Today: Boulders on Southern taps Black Friday beers early

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, November 22, 2017

BouldersSouthernSign062416Why wait until Friday?

Boulders on Southern in Mesa jumps the gun by kicking off its third annual Black Friday Specialty Beer Tappings a couple days early.

That’s right. The majority of beers on this year’s roster are being tapped today to give you a headstart on the holiday weekend. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Here’s the beer list (the last three with an asterisk will be held back until Friday):

  • Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout (2016)
  • Alesmith Thai Speedway stout
  • Great Divide Barrel Aged Espresso Stout
  • Hess Blood Orange Habitus
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration fresh hop IPA
  • IPA Founders Harvest Ale fresh hop IPA
  • Belching Beaver Hoppy Hoppy Night
  • Odell Brazzle
  • Firestone-Walker Bretta Rose
  • Uintah Oak Jacked (2016)
  • Lost Abbey Gift of the Magi (2016)
  • Modern Times Mega Blazing World
  • Grand Canyon Pumpkin Springs Porter aged in Heaven Hill barrels
  • Boulevard/Arizona Wilderness/Creature Comfort Collaboration #7 oak-aged lager
  • Gulden Draak Brewmaster Reserve Calvados
  • Desert Cider House Cheer
  • Deschutes Jubelale nitro
  • Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2017)*
  • Dogfish Head Vanilla Barrel Aged WW Stout*
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA (2016)*

Growler fills will be available for most beers; some will be limited to 32-ounce fills.

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Today: ChanDiego beer release at The Hungry Monk

BY Jess Harter Thursday, November 16, 2017

HazyIPA111617The Hungry Monk in Chandler releases ChanDiego, a collaboration brewed at Belching Beaver Brewing, at 5 p.m. today.

Besides the hazy IPA, the Monk will have several other beers from the San Diego County brewery on tap, including:

  • Texifornia: A triple IPA brewed in collaboration with Pinthouse Pizza
  • Hoppy Hoppy Night: New England-style IPA brewed for Belching Beaver’s fifth anniversary
  • Phantom Bride: A collaboration IPA brewed with alternative metal band The Deftones

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The Ostrich lets go Brandon Casey, social media weighs in

BY Jess Harter Monday, November 13, 2017

BrandonCaseyOstrich111317Well, that sure escalated quickly.

If you weren’t on social media Saturday, you missed a classic shitstorm involving Crust, The Ostrich and Brandon Casey (pictured).

It all began when The Ostrich, Crust’s speakeasy-themed basement bar at the San Marcos Resort in downtown Chandler, announced on Facebook it had parted ways with the well-known Valley mixologist:


The above is a screen capture I took Saturday afternoon – the original has since been deleted – when, as you can see, the announcement already had generated more than 100 responses. Without getting into the particulars, let’s just say the majority weren’t polite.

Casey, who came to The Ostrich after a high-profile and successful stint at Citizen Public House in Old Town Scottsdale, had only a brief response on Facebook:


Casey’s supporters. however, were much more vocal – and active – in expressing their disappointment. The Ostrich’s Facebook page quickly received more than 100 one-star ratings, driving its overall rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5) down to just 2.7 stars in a few hours:


I imagine Crust and The Ostrich were surprised by the vehemence of the public response. Quite frankly, though, they don’t owe anyone (except Casey) an explanation for a decision they felt was in the best interests of their business.

But from a food and drink perspective, Casey’s departure, regardless of the circumstances, is a blow to downtown Chandler, which has been cultivating a late-night cocktail scene for the past two years.

Along with The Ostrich, several other restaurants with strong bar programs recently have opened downtown, including The Brickyard Downtown, La Bocca, and Modern Margarita (the latter two temporarily closed after a fire in their shared kitchen last week).

Hard to say where that scene goes now, but that’s a subject for a future post.

Casey, for his part, has plenty to keep him busy while he ponders his next move. Earlier this year he purchased his Tempe neighborhood dive bar, The Woodshed, which was subject to a well-publicized makeover last week.

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AZ Food Crafters offers fresh roasted pumpkin pies

BY Jess Harter Thursday, November 9, 2017


If you’re ordering Thanksgiving pies from AZ Food Crafters, you only have six more days. The popular Chandler hand pie shop and cafe has set Wednesday, Nov. 15, as this year’s cutoff date for orders.

Although best known for its smaller hand pies, AZ Food Crafters also sells a variety of gourmet 9-inch pies made from scratch.

Thanksgiving orders will be limited to seven varieties:

  • Fresh Roasted Pumpkin: Made with fresh pumpkin (not canned) that’s roasted and pureed in-house. Each pie comes with 16-ounce container of fresh whipped cream ($22).
  • Maple Pecan: Made with pure maple syrup and a half-pound of pecans ($28).
  • Cranberry Orange Walnut: Southern buttermilk Chess pie recipe with dried cranberries and walnuts seasoned with orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg ($24).
  • Pear Cranberry Streusel: Layered with fresh house-made cranberry compote and lightly seasoned citrusy pears, and topped with a walnut streusel ($28).
  • Classic Apple: Made with lightly seasoned Granny Smith apples in a double crust ($20).
  • Caramel Apple: Granny Smith apples and house-made caramel sauce in a double crust ($22).
  • Dutch Apple: Lightly seasoned Granny Smith apples with a buttery walnut crumb top ($22).

To place an order, call 480-264-2532.

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