New Restaurants

Post image for Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers to open 4 more Valley locations by March 2018

Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, the fastest-growing brand of Arizona-based restaurant group Square One Concepts, is opening four new Valley locations by March 2018.

The locations are:

  • CBCB North Scottsdale, 18529 N. Scottsdale Road #121, Scottsdale
  • CBCB Glendale: 6718 W. Deer Valley Road, Glendale
  • CBCB Arcadia: 3950 E. Indian School Road #150, Phoenix
  • CBCB Paradise Valley: 4731 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix

The additions will give Square One nine CBCB locations in the Valley and one in San Diego.

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Post image for Old Ellsworth Brewing, Queen Creek’s 1st brewpub, opens to public Monday

Arizona’s newest brewery – Old Ellsworth Brewing Company in Queen Creek – will open its doors to the public at 11 a.m. Monday, July 17.

The brewpub is located on the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Ocotillo in a 5,500-square-foot building that previously housed Manhattan Vine pizzeria and wine bar.

The industrial-style interior offers a variety of seating – four-top tables, six-tops, community tables, booths, and a banquette – all black. A metal-topped bar will seat 14 or so people.

Two roll-up glass doors open to a long patio along the north side of the building (shown above and below). Eventually it will wrap around to the west side as well.

‘‘Queen Creek is really excited to see us come in,’’ says Brian McKean, who owns the brewery with his wife, Chris, and her brother, Ryan Bostrom.


Brian and Ryan, longtime home brewers, will oversee brewing operations, which barely have gotten off the ground because the 7-barrel brewing system still is in transit to Arizona.

McKean and Bostrom have brewed a cloudberry saison in collaboration with OHSO and are working on another beer with Uncle Bear’s. Otherwise, they will rely on guest beers to supply the 12 taps for now.

You’re going to have to wait a couple of months for the rest of Old Ellsworth’s planned beers, including a Helles lager and Mexican Vienna lager, one of which is expected to become the brewery’s flagship.

OldEllsworthTable071317The kitchen, however, is ready to hit the ground running. Under the guidance of chef Robert Hutson, who spent 20 years at RigaTony’s, it offers an ambitious menu.

One of the highlights is a build-your-own poutine. You start with a bowl of hand-cut fries or tots for $10 and add any of a dozen toppings for 75 cents to $1.50 each.

Other specialty items include a Hatch chile grilled cheese sandwich, a deep-fried chile relleno burger, and a buffalo burger with kale, corn salsa, and honey chipotle aoili on Indian frybread.

OldEllsworthMenuS071317Click the above menu for a zoomable view.

Old Ellsworth Brewing Company will open at 11 a.m. daily.

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Post image for The Brass Tap to open 2nd location in downtown Gilbert by end of year

The Brass Tap, a three-year-old craft beer bar at Mesa Riverview, will open a second location later this year in downtown Gilbert.

It will be located on the ground floor of a new three-story building (artist’s rendering shown above) between Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and Bergie’s Coffee Roast House on the east side of Gilbert Road.

The 4,700-square-foot space – more than double the footprint of the Mesa location – will have 65 beers on tap and a full kitchen, according to owner Jason Rowe.

A November opening is planned.

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Post image for Can you ever have too many BBQ joints? AZ Barbecue Co. to open in Gilbert this fall

Is Gilbert on its way to becoming the barbecue capitol of the East Valley?

Earlier this week I broke the news longtime Mesa fave Waldo’s BBQ is making a second attempt at opening a location in Gilbert.

Now comes word of another smokehouse opening in the town this fall: Arizona BBQ Company is taking over the former La Calabria strip-mall space on the northwest corner of Val Vista and Ray.

(Side note: La Calabria, in turn, has found a new space and is reopening in a couple of months.)

AZ BBQ Company is owned by longtime Gilbert residents Mark and Colette Nichols (pictured at top). He is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef with 27 years of experience in the hospitality industry.


For the past five years, the couple have run JC’s Catering out of a church kitchen, and they’re looking forward to having a commercial kitchen of their own.

Mark Nicholls describes his BBQ as a spinoff of Texas-style, ‘‘but we do BBQ a little different.’’ As an example, he points to six planned sauces: sweet, tangy, chipotle, habanero, red chile, and green chile.

The featured meats will be brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, and smoked chicken. There also will be four kinds of BBQ tacos and two kinds of brisket chili.

Side will include ranchero beans, chipotle potato salad, green chile and bacon mac and cheese, Southwest cole slaw, and chile lime roasted corn.


A liquor license should be approved by the expected opening soon after Labor Day.

Nichols says he was unaware Waldo’s had selected a spot just a mile away, but he’s not concerned about competition.

‘‘We’re a little unique,’’ he says. ‘‘And there are a lot of people in Gilbert.‘’

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Post image for Freezer’s Ice House in Tempe hopes to heat up local billiards scene

Is pool dying as a sport? Scott ‘‘The Freezer’’ Frost doesn’t think so. The sport’s problem, he says, is aging, uninviting pool halls.

That’s why the Valley resident – who’s considered one of the best one-pocket billiards players in the world – just opened Freezer’s Ice House, an upscale, family-friendly pool room and sports bar in Tempe.

‘‘What we’re hoping this does is become a model for (pool) rooms across America,’’ he says. ‘‘In my opinion, we just need to update them, upgrade them.

‘‘Women should be comfortable walking in. Juniors and junior programs will be alive and well here.’’


Freezer’s takes over the former Walgreen’s on the southeast corner of Mill and Broadway.

The 15,000-square-foot space actually is divided into three rooms, although the main focus is the pool room with 35 new Diamond pool tables and 12 dart boards (four steel-tipped).

The Hot Spot Lounge will be a sports lounge with a full kitchen and 48 beers on tap by day; at night it will host DJs and music. A row of arcade games ranges from Golden Tee to refurbished retro faves like Final Fight and Ms. Pac-Man.


The third room, the Chill Grill, will provide an escape for those who want to eat, drink, and converse away from all the action and noise.

Altogether, more than 100 55-inch TV monitors and photos of pool champions adorn the walls, which are illuminated with LED cove lighting in 32 colors (as are the two bars). A roll-up glass garage door opens to a patio.

Freezer’s has been easing into its soft opening this week. It will open at 5 p.m. today, be closed Friday, and then open at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Regular hours – 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily – will begin Monday.


An official grand opening party weekend is planned for July 27-30.

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Post image for Now open in Chandler: Buon Padre Pizza, home of the Grilled Hot Dog Pizza

Buon Padre Pizza, a new pizzeria that just opened in Chandler, is perhaps most notable for what it is not.

It is not another fast-casual, ready-in-3-minutes pizza concept. It is not a chain. It is not expensive. And it is not afraid to experiment with its menu.

That’s why it’s not too surprising the most popular item on Buon Padre’s short menu is its Gourmet Grilled Hot Dog Pizza (pictured below), a favorite of customers young and old alike.

Pizzas comes in three sizes: 10, 12, and 14 inches. A 12-inch one-topping pizza is just $5.99, while a 14-inch three-topping is $8.99. The most expensive pizza – a large Meatza with sausage, pepperoni, beef, ham, and bacon – is $10.99.

Other than pizzas, the menu offers two salads, two flatbread sandwiches, and a few appetizers.


Buon Padre (which is Italian for ‘‘Good Father’’) officially doesn’t deliver, but say they will do so if they aren’t too busy. They also don’t have a liquor license.

They took over the former Venezia’s Pizzeria end space (hidden behind McDonald’s) in the strip mall on the northeast corner of McQueen and Pecos.

Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

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The Reef moves quarter mile to new location in Chandler

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Post image for The Reef moves quarter mile to new location in Chandler

The Reef, a sports bar and grill that had operated for more than a decade on Warner just west of Arizona Avenue in Chandler, has moved to a new location about a quarter-mile away.

Its new home is a 5,120-square-foot building on the northeast corner of Arizona and Warner. The building most recently housed Mi Linda Mexican restaurant.

The Reef describes itself as ‘‘Arizona’s finest dive bar,’’ a tongue-in-cheek reference to owner Mark Vargovich’s passion for deep sea diving. In 2012, Vargovich bought what was then known as The Draft House and renamed it.

Its former home on Warner, which closed in April, will reopen later this summer as  (‘‘B Squared’’), a burgers-and-beer concept.

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Post image for Ex-Arizona Rattlers team president opens pizza & grilled cheese shop in Mesa

LJ’s Pizza was a Mesa institution, offering a popular all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for nearly four decades before closing in 2011.

LJ’s later reopened in a smaller, cafe-like structure behind its original location – sorry, no more buffet – and its former space on Main Street west of Stapley is home to another pizzeria.

The newcomer is Joey’s PSG. Joey is chef/owner Joey Windham (pictured below), and PSG stands for ‘‘pizza, soup and grilled cheese.’’


If Windham’s name sounds kinda familiar, it might be because the Northern California native first came to the Valley in 2011 when he was hired as team president of the Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers.

His Rattlers tenure was quite successful. After finishing second in his inaugural season with the team, he helped the Rattlers to three straight AFL championships before joining the rival Los Angeles Kiss.

Now retired from the sports business and its grueling travel schedule, Windham – who describes himself as ‘‘a real Italian with 56 cousins‘‘ – is turning his longtime passion: food.


Torn between two concepts – an ’’authentic‘‘ New York-style pizzeria and a soup-and-grilled-cheese-sandwich shop – he decided to combine the two. Joey’s PSG was launched last month.

The menu features seven specialty pizzas in three sizes (plus a build-your-own option starting at $7.95), 17 gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches (seven with cheese only and 10 with meat, starting at $7), and several housemade desserts.

‘‘Artisan’’ has become an all but meaningless term in today’s food scene, so let’s just say Windham makes the pizza sauce from scratch every day along with the dough. He uses sliced (never grated) whole-milk mozzarella imported from Italy.


Joey’s PSG’s most popular menu items, according to Windham:

  • The Joey’s Special pizza (Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives, pictured above), his personal favorite;
  • The VP sandwich (pepper jack, cheddar, and muenster with wine Dijon mustard grilled on rye/pumpernickel swirl bread, pictured above with housemade chips), named for his wife’s initials;
  • The seven-pound carrot cake (shown below).


Joey’s PSG is still a work in progress. A liquor license is in the works, and an empty lot on the east side of the restaurant will be enclosed for a patio this fall.

Joey’s PSG is open 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Waldo’s BBQ in east Mesa to open Gilbert location

BY Jess Harter Monday, June 19, 2017

Post image for Waldo’s BBQ in east Mesa to open Gilbert location

Looks like we know what’s moving into the recently vacated Harvey American Public House in Gilbert.

Waldo’s BBQ in east Mesa has applied for a liquor license for the building on the northwest corner of Val Vista and Williams Field.

Waldo’s just completed renovations on its original location on Main Street just east of Greenfield that has been open since 1993.

This will be Waldo’s second foray into Gilbert, having opened a short-lived location at SanTan Village Marketplace in 2007. It also has two ‘‘express’’ locations in Phoenix.

No opening date has been announced.

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Now open: LA Crab Shack in west Mesa

BY Jess Harter Monday, June 19, 2017

Post image for Now open: LA Crab Shack in west Mesa

LA Crab Shack – the LA stands for Louisiana, not Los Angeles – has opened at the year-old AZ International Marketplace on the northeast corner of Dobson and Broadway in west Mesa.

The menu offers ‘‘all the flavors of the Gulf Coast,’’ including crawfish, oysters, shrimp, frog legs, alligator, catfish, clams, mussels, and crabs – all by the pound.

Happy hour specials include $5 hot wings, $1 oysters, $2.50 Bud Lights, $2.75 glasses of wine, and $3 margaritas from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

LA Crab Shack’s concept is very similar to the mega-popular Angry Crab Shack, which debuted in Mesa in 2013 and has grown to six Valley locations.

Another similar restaurant, Jimmy T’s Holy Crab Shack, is opening soon on the northwest corner of Alma School and Ray in Chandler.

LA Crab Shack is open 3-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 3-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

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