MJaye’s Pub & Eatery closes after less than year in Gilbert

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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MJaye’s Pub & Eatery, a family-owned restaurant that focused on made-from-scratch comfort food, has closed its doors in Gilbert after less than a year.

The restaurant opened last October in the country-themed JD’s Homestead center on Gilbert Road about halfway between Elliot and Warner.

A decade ago the space was Jamaican Ice. After that failed, Old World Pizza Kitchen moved in and lasted less than a year.

It was followed by The Groves Bar & Grill, which had a successful and well-reviewed run until the original owners sold it to open JC’s Steakhouse in Gilbert.

The new owners kept The Groves name, but the food and service quickly deteriorated and it closed, paving the way for first-time restaurateur Melanie Sartain to open MJayes.

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Jimmy & Joe’s offering gift cards for 50% off today

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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Jimmy & Joe’s Pizzeria is offering a one-day-only deal on gift cards today: Buy a $20 gift card, and Jimmy & Joe’s will add another $20 for a total of $40.

The offer only is available through the pizzeria’s website. There’s a $1.50 shipping and handling charges for each card. Cards are not valid for Eegee’s drinks.

Jimmy & Joe’s has locations in Chandler, Mesa, and Ahwatukee.

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Little Miss BBQ named one of top 10 BBQ spots in U.S.

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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The awards keep coming for Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix. Gayot is the latest to honor the two-year-old Phoenix ’cue joint.

The website, which reviews restaurants and hotels, named Little Miss one of the top 10 barbecue spots in the U.S. alongside such legendary establishments as Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue in Kansas City and Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas.

You can read Gayot’s full review of Little Miss here.

Congrats to owners Scott and Bekke Holmes and their incredible staff.

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Arizona Restaurant Week returns Friday for 10-day run

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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Arizona’s twice-a-year Restaurant Week returns for its spring edition May 20-29. More than 100 participating restaurants will offer three-course prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44 per person or couple.

As usual, only a handful of East Valley restaurants are participating (click link to see their special menu for the week):

See the list of all participating restaurants here.

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Post image for Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva begins taking reservations Wednesday for TBA opening

If you want to be among the first to dine at Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva, one of the Valley’s most-anticipated new restaurants, get your dialing finger ready. Gran Reserva begins taking reservations at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

That’s also when you’ll find out the 27-seat restaurant’s opening date, which chef Silvana Salcido Esparza so far has refused to divulge.

“We’ve only got 27 seats in here,” says Esparza, who’s been nominated four times for the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest. “Dinner might be booked out for weeks.”

What Esparza has revealed is Gran Reserva – which takes over the former Bragg’s Pie Factory on Grand Avenue, just south of Roosevelt, in Phoenix – will have a few of the longtime favorites, such as the cochinita pibil, from her flagship Barrio Cafe.

But, unlike Barrio Cafe, it also will offer rotating tasting menus of elevated Mexican dishes in the $35-to-$60 price range. Some of the dishes will be available for one night only.

Look for house-made masa from heirloom corn, six types of house-made chorizo, 23 kinds of dried chiles, and even a salsa made with worms. The drink list promises mezcals and boutique Mexican wines.

Besides Barrio Cafe and Gran Reserva, Esparzaalso has a smaller version of Barrio Cafe at Phoenix Sky Harbor. She’s no longer associated with the Barrio Queen restaurants in Scottsdale and Gilbert.

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Changes are brewing at Cartel Coffee, Cartel Brewery

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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Tempe-based Cartel Coffee Lab is closing its shop in the lobby of the building on the northeast corner of First Street and Washington in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, but will re-open in a new space right next door in early August.

Until construction is finished, you’ll be able to get your Cartel fix at a temporary “pop-up” shop at the site of the new location. It will open Monday; hours will be 7 to 11 a.m. daily.

Meanwhile, Cartel’s new Tempe brewery – which MXSW reported back in October (see story) – finally is nearing completion. Dubbed The Shop Beer Company, it’s scheduled to open next month across from The Yard in the Farmers Art District.

When it opens, the small Cartel Brewery next to the original Tempe coffeehouse will close.

The brewery’s new name is part of an amiable parting of the ways between Cartel owner David Arnce and COO Hollie Mueller. Arnce will run the brewery, while Mueller will take over the roasting operation and six coffeehouses.

“I’m committed to giving the beer a voice of its own,” Arnce told MXSW last year. “I want to create an atmosphere tailored for beer.”

Mueller reportedly is looking around the East Valley for a seventh Cartel Coffee Lab location.

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Los Taquitos Mexican Grill opens in Chandler

BY Jess Harter Monday, May 16, 2016

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Los Taquitos Mexican Grill, a family-run, fast-casual eatery, opened its fourth Valley location today on the southeast corner of the 101 and Ray in Chandler.

It takes over the building that formerly housed the short-lived Burger 21, which closed last year when the local franchisee unexpectedly passed away.

Los Taquitos is owned by five sisters who use their mother’s recipes for burritos, tacos, and tortas. Nothing on the menu is more than $8.50.

The sisters opened their flagship location in Ahwatukee in 2000. It was featured on TV’s ‘‘Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives’’ in 2009. Other locations are in Phoenix and at Sky Harbor airport.

The owners ask that customers please be patient with the still-training Chandler staff during this soft-opening week.

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Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria opens at 4 p.m. today in Phoenix

BY Jess Harter Monday, May 16, 2016

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The wait finally is over for Chicago deep-dish pizza fans in the Valley. Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria officially opens its doors to the public at 4 p.m. today in the Uptown Plaza Shopping Center on the northeast corner of Central and Camelback in Phoenix.

The legendary, family-owned chain has 45 Chicagoland locations, but this will be the first out of state. Owner Marc Malnati, whose parents started the business in 1971, says he may open as many as 10 more Valley locations.

“It is a historic day for the Lou Malnati’s organization,” he says. “We are thrilled with the reception we’ve received for bringing our authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza to Arizona.’’

Given the Valley’s affinity for all things Chicago, expect huge crowds. Fortunately, the 6,800-square-foot restaurant and 1,500-square-foot patio seat 240 people. Carryout and delivery also are available, and you even can buy frozen pizzas to bake at home.

The signature Malnati Chicago Classic (with sausage, extra cheese, and a butter crust) ranges from $9.35 for the personal size to $23.95 for a four-person large. The menu also offers thin-crust pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and salads.

For the first two weeks, Lou Malnati’s is open for dinner only at 4 p.m. daily. Starting June 1, hours will be expanded to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

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Jimmy & Joe’s launches happy hour specials today

BY Jess Harter Monday, May 16, 2016

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Jimmy & Joe’s Pizzeria may not serve alcohol, but that doesn’t mean it can’t celebrate happy hour. The local mini-chain – which has locations in Chandler, Mesa, and Ahwatukee – launches a trio of $3.99 happy-hour specials today:

  • Serious Slice: The pizzeria’s signature menu offering, a huge slice cut from a 24-inch cheese pizza (toppings are 50 cents each).
  • Pizza Fries: French fries topped with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, with a side of marinara.
  • J-Nugs: The pizzeria’s version of garlic knots, with your choice of marinara or ranch sauce.

The specials will be available between 2 and 4 p.m. weekdays. You must be signed up for Jimmy & Joe’s customer-loyalty program, which you can do on the spot.

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Post image for Nico Heirloom Kitchen to open Saturday at Heritage Marketplace in Gilbert

Downtown Gilbert’s newest restaurant, Nico Heirloom Kitchen, will open its doors at 3 p.m. Saturday at the new Heritage Marketplace.

Nico is the brainchild of chef Gio Osso, a Gilbert resident who named the restaurant after his young son, and business partner Brad Kircher, who is the general manager.

The fare is described as West Coast-inspired seasonal Italian. The menu offers three dozen choices, equally divided into sections of crudo (raw seafood), greens and vegetables, pasta, seafood, “butcher shop,” and wood-fired dishes.

Osso is best-known for his Scottsdale fine-dining restaurant, Virtu Honest Craft, which was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award as Best New Restaurant in 2014.

Although more casual and less expensive than Virtu, Nico still is pricier than recently opened Heritage neighbors like ZinburgerBarrio Queen, Pomo Cucina & Pizzeria, and Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles.

NicoDuck051316Seafood and meat dishes mostly range from $22 to $35, although there’s a 50-ounce T-bone for $90 and a 50-ounce tomahawk ribeye for $125.

(Pictured: Smoked duck with grilled peaches, Gorgonzola, and Marcona almonds, $24.)

Crudo and salads are $11 to $16. Pasta dishes and wood-fired noshes, such as octopus, asparagus or burrata, are $14 to $16.

Nico’s hours will be 4 to 10 p.m., with lunch and brunch hours to come later.

The first week or so will be open seating on a first-come, first-served basis. Nico will begin taking reservations in about 10 days.

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