Gilbert’s weekly food truck festival moves to new location this weekend

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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Gilbert Feastival, the town’s weekly food truck roundup, moves to a new location this Friday. From 5:30-9 p.m., the admission-free event will take place on the southwest corner of Val Vista and Warner. It previously had been held at Gilbert Town Square at Gilbert and Warner.

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Now open: Sharky’s Tacos & Tequila in east Mesa

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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Sharky’s Tacos & Tequila has opened in the former Fat Willy’s Family Sports Grill on the northwest corner of Lindsay and University in east Mesa. It’s Sharky’s second location – the concept debuted last May in the former Barro’s Pizza space on the southeast corner of Hardy and Baseline in south Tempe.

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Closed: Flip’s Burgers & Brew at Mesa Riverview

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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Flip’s Burgers & Brew has closed its doors at Mesa Riverview shopping center in west Mesa. The sports bar opened in January 2016, taking over a space formerly occupied by Volcano Buffet.

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3 Arizonans among 2017 Best Chef Southwest semifinalists

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, February 15, 2017

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This year’s James Beard Award semifinalists were announced this morning and three Arizonans are up for Best Chef Southwest: Charleen Badman (pictured on left) from FnB in Scottsdale, Silvana Salcido Esparza (center) from Barrio Urbano in Phoenix, and Jeff Smedstad (right) from Elote Cafe in Sedona.

The field of 20 semifinalists in each category of the Beard Awards, known as the Oscars of food, will be narrowed to five finalists on March 15. Winners will be announced May 1.

Badman has made it into the semis several times, including last year, but has never made the finals. Esparza last made the semis in 2014.

Conspicuously missing from this year’s list: Kevin Binkley, who closed his Cave Creek flagship restaurant last summer and retooled his Phoenix restaurant into a smaller concept, Binkley’s Restaurant. Binkley had advanced to the finals in four of the past five years.

Arizona has had more Best Chef Southwest winners (nine) than any other state, but has been shut out in the category since Nobuo Fukuda won in 2007. The region consists of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

In nationwide categories, FnB is a semifinalist for Best Wine Wine Program, Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix for Outstanding Restaurant, and Sam Fox of Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts for Outstanding Restaurateur.

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5-month-old sports bar IncogNitos closes in Chandler

BY Jess Harter Friday, February 10, 2017

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IncogNitos, a family-run sports bar specializing in made-from-scratch food, has closed after five months on the northwest corner of Alma School and Warner in Chandler.

The restaurant, which had taken over the longtime home of Gallagher’s Sports Grill, posted the news Thursday on Facebook:

IncogNitos closed its doors today. Dean and Faye have appreciated all their loyal customers, friends and family. It was only fitting we opened our doors on September 9th and closed on February 9th.

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The Shop Beer Co. in Tempe signs distribution deal with Hensley

BY Jess Harter Friday, February 10, 2017

TheShopBeerMatt021017Congrats to The Shop Beer Co. The four-year-old Tempe brewery, which until last year was known as Cartel Brewery, has signed a distribution deal with Valley-based Hensley & Co.

The Shop’s current offerings include its flagship Coffee Brown nut brown ale, F.Y.I.T.M. (Fight ’Em) double IPA, The Nines red ale, limited-release Galactic Porter Patrol imperial porter, and the new Circus Bandit ‘‘juicy’’ pale ale.

‘‘We are really happy with this partnership,’’ says Scott Kirkpatrick, Hensley’s director of brand management. “Sometimes you just know when something is right. There is no question, more Arizonans need to be drinking these beers, and Hensley is committed to making sure they can.”

The Shop’s beers will be available to restaurants and bar on draft.

‘‘We are super excited to take what we have been doing in Tempe for four years and give it a statewide reach,’’ The Shop owner David Arnce says.

Adds head brewer Matt Johnson (pictured above, on left, with chief of operations Jason Calhoon): ‘‘I grew up in the north valley of Phoenix. It is exciting to know that I will now be able to drink my beer with friends and family close to home.’’

The Shop began as a spinoff of popular Cartel Coffee. Last year, the two businesses were formally separated; the brewery moved into a new 20-barrel brewhouse and taproom near the northeast corner of Hardy and First Street and changed its name.

Earlier: The Shop Beer Co. debuts Saturday in Tempe

The Shop becomes the eighth Arizona brewery represented by Hensley. Others are Four Peaks in Tempe, Barrio in Tucson, Lumberyard and Mother Road in Flagstaff, Mudshark in Lake Havasu City, Oak Creek in Sedona, and Prescott.

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Update: Carolina’s Mexican Food in Mesa

BY Jess Harter Thursday, February 9, 2017

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Last July, MXSW broke the news Carolina’s was expanding to Mesa in early 2017, but in the past week several readers have noticed the construction seems to be going slowly.

I checked with the iconic Mexican restaurant and – while there’s obviously still a lot of work to do – it hopes to open in mid- to late March on the northwest corner of Country Club and U.S. 60.

Earlier: Carolina’s Mexican Food is coming to Mesa

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Chicago-based Two Brothers Brewing buys Sleepy Dog Brewery in Tempe

BY Jess Harter Friday, February 3, 2017

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Tempe’s Sleepy Dog Brewery, which has been up for sale for several months, finally has a new owner – Chicago-based Two Brothers Brewing, which is expanding its footprint in the Valley.

Sources tell MXSW the sale was completed about two weeks ago, although no announcements have been made. Pressed for comment, Two Brothers owners Jason and Jim Ebels sent MXSW this statement:

“Since 2009, Sleepy Dog Brewery has brewed hand-crafted, specialty beers that have helped the company become a staple in the growing Arizona craft beer scene.

‘‘As fellow brewers in the local craft beer community, Two Brothers Brewing Company was recently presented with the opportunity to acquire this popular Tempe-based brewery in order to secure Sleepy Dog’s long term financial viability as a brand.

‘‘Bringing their local resources and 20 years of brewing experience, Two Brothers’ investment in this brand will insure that Sleepy Dog Brewing fans can continue to enjoy the Sleepy Dog craft beer they have come to love, as well as keep the local craft beer community vibrant and strong.

‘‘Sleepy Dog Brewery will continue to operate under the same name and location in Tempe, and will continue to produce great craft beer for its growing fan base.”

Rob Sizemore and girlfriend Debbie Conforti opened Sleepy Dog on University, about a quarter-mile east of McClintock, in late 2009. The brewery’s ales have canine-themed monikers such as Wet Snout Milk Stout and Red Rover Irish Ale.

Sizemore, who served as brewmaster, and Matt Weber, the assistant brewer, are no longer associated with the brewery.

Two Brothers, which was founded in the west Chicago suburb of Warrenville in 1996, expanded to the Valley in January 2015, opening Two Brothers Tap House and Brewery in Old Town Scottsdale.

It also launched a Valley distribution company that distributes ales for more than a dozen other breweries, including Sleepy Dog.

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Celebrity chef Scott Conant opens Mora Italian today in Phoenix

BY Jess Harter Friday, February 3, 2017

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Mora Italian, a much-anticipated osteria-inspired eatery from celebrity chef Scott Conant, opens to the public at 5 p.m. today on the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Montebello in Phoenix.

Conant, perhaps best-known as a judge on the Food Network show ‘‘Chopped,’’ already operates Italian restaurants in New York, Miami, and Las Vegas.

For Mora, Conant is teaming up with Valley restaurateur Stefano Fabbri, owner of Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana.

Highlights of the menu are an extensive bread cart, made-from-scratch pastas (such as cavatelli, pictured above) and wood-fired pizzas.

In Italy, osterie traditionally have been known for inexpensive meals. At Mora, however, pizzas are $13-$18, pasta dishes approach $25, and meat and seafood entrees close in on $30.

To start, Mora only is open 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. In the coming weeks, lunch and weekend brunch will be added.

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Celebrate National Crepe Day with a free crepe today at The Crepe Club

BY Jess Harter Thursday, February 2, 2017

Post image for Celebrate National Crepe Day with a free crepe today at The Crepe Club

It’s National Crepe Day, and The Crepe Club is celebrating by giving away free crepes at all three of its Valley locations:

  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at San Tan Village in Gilbert
  • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at ASU main campus food cart
  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix

You can choose either a Nutella or Parisian (butter and sugar) crepe. The offer is limited to one per person and for take-away only.

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