Nov. 16: ‘Taste of Romeo’s’ dinner at Romeo’s Euro Cafe

BY Jess Harter Monday, November 13, 2017

RomeoFlourlessTort111317Romeo’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. 16.

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

  • Greka
  • Mediterranean Salad
  • Veal Pirata
  • Pork AgroDolce
  • Chocolate Almond Flourless Tort (pictured)

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

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

Nov. 15: Spanish wine dinner at JC’s Steakhouse in Gilbert

BY Jess Harter Monday, November 13, 2017


JC’s Steakhouse in Gilbert had to postpone last week’s monthly wine tasting, which has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Nov. 15.

This month’s focus will be on Spanish wines. The food-and-wine pairings:

  • 1st course: Bacon-wrapped dates and Spanish-style French toast, paired with Riaz Barxas Albarino;
  • 2nd course: Tortilla Espanola, paired with Martin Codax Rioja Ergo 2014;
  • 3rd course: Paella with chicken, chorizo and vegetables and pisto, paired with Las Rocas 2013 El Renegado red blend;
  • 4th course: Pumpkin crema Catalana and cake of St. James, paired with Las Rocas Garnacha.

Cost is only $45 per person. RSVP: 480-306-4545.

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

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.

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

Opening today: McAlister’s Deli in Tempe

BY Jess Harter Monday, November 13, 2017

McAlistersDeli111317McAlister’s Deli, an Atlanta-based chain with more than 400 locations nationwide, makes its East Valley debut at 10:30 a.m. today on the northeast corner of Rural and University in Tempe.

It takes over the space next to Cafe Rio Mexican Grill.

McAlister’s, often compared to Paradise Bakery, offers sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, and desserts, but is perhaps best known for its signature sweet tea.

Despite its national footprint, the fast-casual chain has struggled to establish itself in Arizona.

McAlister’s opened its first Valley location in north Phoenix in 2012 but closed it earlier this year. A Peoria location opened in 2014 in the West Valley.

In 2015, the chain announced franchise agreements to open five more Valley locations by 2019, identifying Tempe, Chandler, and Gilbert as possible sites.

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

Papago Brewing to close Scottsdale taproom on Dec. 2

BY Jess Harter Friday, November 10, 2017

PapagoBrewing033016One of Arizona’s most iconic craft beer venues – Papago Brewing in Scottsdale – announced today it will close its longtime taproom in three weeks. Its final day will be Saturday, Dec. 2.

The move was not totally unexpected. Its large shopping plaza on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and McDowell – which has been the taproom’s home since home brewers Ron Kloth, Paul Gunn and Bruce McConnell launched Papago in 2001 – has long been scheduled for demolition.

The closure will not affect production of Papago’s line of branded beers – including its best-selling Orange Blossom Ale – which were brewed under contract at various breweries before being sold to Huss Brewing last year.

According to a post on Papago’s Facebook page, the taproom owners are looking for a new retail location.

In the meantime, the taproom is offering 25% off all bottles and cans while supplies last.

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

Cider Corps to hold Veterans Day open house Saturday

BY Jess Harter Friday, November 10, 2017

CiderCorpsCider050917Cider Corps, the Valley’s first cidery and taproom, will hold its first public event – a Veterans Day Open House – from 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11.

The veteran-owned business, on Robson just south of Main in downtown Mesa (map), will have 10 small-batch ciders on tap for sale by the glass (starting at $6) or growler (starting at $12).

Previously: Brothers are opening Arizona’s 1st cider house & taproom in Mesa

From 10-11 a.m., people can get a free cup of hot mulled (non-alcoholic) cider or coffee to enjoy while watching Mesa’s Veterans Day parade, which ends two blocks away.

From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., veterans will receive $1 off glasses and growler fills of cider.

Ciders will include a line of pie-flavored ciders, including pumpkin, mixed berry, and peach cobbler.

Downtown Mesa sandwich shop Worth Takeaway will serve a variety of sliders for lunch, and the Different Smokes BBQ food truck will be on hand for dinner.

Cider Corps is owned by brothers Jason and Josh Duren, who began making cider as a hobby after Jason returned from a deployment in Afghanistan with traumatic brain injuries from two IED blasts.

Their ciders already are available at nearly 40 bars and restaurants locations in the Valley and Tucson.

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

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.

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

Veterans Day specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

BY Jess Harter Thursday, November 9, 2017


Bourbon Jacks: From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, vets eat free with purchase of entree equal to or greater in value. Must have military ID or DD214.

The Brass Tap: From 1-10 p.m. Saturday, $1 from the sale of each of seven Grand Canyon Brewing beers on tap will be donated to the non-profit Operation Enduring Warrior. Both The Brass Tap and the Williams brewery are owned by veterans.

Flancer’s: Bring in a vet, buy one meal and get one meal free Saturday. $10 maximum. Good for active-duty military, military spouses, and veterans.

The Hungry Monk: All veterans receive a free lunch or dinner Saturday.

La Ristra New Mexican Kitchen: All veterans and active-duty personnel receive 50% off their meal Saturday.

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

Beer Research Insititute celebrates 3rd anniversary

BY Jess Harter Thursday, November 9, 2017

BeerResearch110917Beer Research Institute in Mesa celebrates its third anniversary this weekend with the release of a special beer and an all-day party.

The brew pub’s 2017 Anniversary Ale is a New England-style milkshake triple IPA made with pineapple, mango, and peaches. It sports a hefty 12% ABV.

Three hundred 32-ounce cans of the Anniversary Ale will go on sale when doors open at 9 a.m. Friday. Cans are $17 apiece or three for $48 with a limit of three cans per person.

The anniversary party will take place Saturday, when the first 200 people through the doors will get a commemorative glass of Anniversary Ale for $12.

There will be 26 BRI beers on tap Saturday. Live music will start at noon, with a Cornhole tournament beginning at 1 p.m.

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

Adventurous Stills to hold anniversary party, fundraiser

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Tempe distillery Adventurous Stills celebrates its one-year anniversary Saturday, Nov. 11, with a party and its first Explorers Club release.

Enjoy $5 cocktails and $3 off bottles (except Explorers Club) from 2-9 p.m. There will be free finger foods after 5 p.m.

The distillery, located in the industrial area southeast of Tempe Marketplace, has finished its Fossil Creek Whiskey with mesquite (instead of oak) for a completely different flavor to the base spirit.

Members of the Explorers Club are guaranteed a bottle (pictured); the rest of the limited release will be available to the public until sold out.

On Thursday, Nov. 9, Adventurous Stills will host a fundraiser for PLAY, a non-profit that enhances mindfulness skills in children ages 8-13 through art and yoga.

The fundraiser will include food, tastings, and tours from 5-9 p.m.

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