Post image for Jimmy Hula’s to bring island-casual tacos & burgers to Tempe

Jimmy Hula’s to bring island-casual tacos & burgers to Tempe

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Jimmy Hula’s, an island-themed eatery known for its fish tacos and signature burgers, will make its Arizona debut in a couple of weeks.

The Orlando, Fla.-based chain is scheduled to open in the former Long John Silver’s on the northeast corner of Broadway and Hardy in Tempe in early July.

JimmyHulasFishTaco062216

Jimmy Hula’s is all about eating with your hands. The menu offers six kinds of fish tacos, 12 ‘‘turf’’ tacos, eight burgers, and ‘‘crack’d’’ corn on cob.

There’s also a stand-alone shaved-ice dessert station.

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Post image for AZ Food Crafters to reward young readers with free hand pies

AZ Food Crafters to reward young readers with free hand pies

BY Jess Harter Wednesday, June 22, 2016

One of their favorite summertime activities when Eddie Castillo and Mike Caliendo were kids was reading.

Now the owners of AZ Food Crafters in Chandler are encouraging local kids by offering a free hand pie to anyone who completes their respective summer reading program.

Just bring in your completed book reading tracking form or a snapshot of your online tracker and receive a sweet hand pie($4 value) as a reward.

The offer is valid Friday through July 29.

Find a reading program here or here.

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Uh-oh. After just 10 months, big changes are coming to Pedal Haus Brewery in downtown Tempe.

Julian Wright’s 14,000-square-foot, European-inspired brewery, restaurant, and beer garden will close Monday for three months of retooling. It’s scheduled to reopen Sept. 26.

According to AZ Central, the changes will include:

  • A moodier, pub-like atmosphere more familiar to Mill Avenue. The interior dining space will be reduced by adding some private rooms.
  • The 6,000-square-foot patio will get five bungalows with fire pits.
  • A larger brewhouse, allowing brewmaster Derek Osborne to more than double production.
  • A new menu featuring items like brick-oven pizzas.

AZ Central is billing the changes as an “expansion,” although it seems likely the venue will accommodate fewer patrons after the changes.

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Even Stevens – a Utah-based chain that donates a sandwich to a non-profit for every sandwich it sells – is coming to Arizona.

The socially conscious chain’s first three Arizona locations are scheduled to open in September at:

  • 384 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert (downtown’s Heritage Marketplace)
  • 7217 E. Fourth Ave., Scottsdale (the former Au Petit Four in Old Town)
  • 21 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix

A fourth location is targeting an opening later in the fall:

  • 1015 S. Rural Road, Tempe (formerly The College Store bookstore)

Even Stevens was launched by Steve Down in Salt Lake City in June 2014, and has grown to seven locations, all in Utah.

To date, the chain has donated more than a half-million sandwiches to food banks and other charities.

(And, yes, that’s a craft beer you see in the photo. Even Stevens serves alcohol.)

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Post image for Marcello’s Pasta Grill in south Tempe closes after 2 decades

Marcello’s Pasta Grill in south Tempe closes after 2 decades

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Marcello’s Pasta Grill, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, has closed its doors on the southwest corner of McClintock and Warner in Tempe.

The full-service restaurant was opened by Tony Romano, a fifth-generation restaurant owner from New York, in 1995.

The menu offered pizzas, pastas, and dinner entrees.

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Post image for Matta’s Restaurants closes Ellsworth, Queen Creek locations

Matta’s Restaurants closes Ellsworth, Queen Creek locations

BY Jess Harter Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Matta’s Restaurants, a local chain that specializes in what it calls ‘‘west Texas-style Mexican cuisine,’’ has closed two of its four locations.

The closures:

  • Matta’s Cantina on the southeast corner of Ellsworth and Brown in northeast Mesa.
  • Matta’s Mexican Grill on the northeast corner of Power and Germann in Queen Creek.

Still open:

  • Matta’s Grill & Cantina at Mesa Riverview, near Dobson and the 202.
  • Matta’s Mexican Grill on the southeast corner of Higley and Brown in northeast Mesa.

The Queen Creek and Ellsworth locations both opened last year.

The original Matta’s opened in 1953 near Stapley and Main in Mesa. It closed in 2007.

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Post image for Arizona Breakfast Weekend will return July 28-31

Arizona Breakfast Weekend will return July 28-31

BY Jess Harter Monday, June 20, 2016

Arizona Breakfast Weekend – an Arizona Restaurant Association promotion that debuted last summer to somewhat ho-hum interest – is giving it another try.

From July 28-31, participating Valley breakfast and brunch restaurants will offer special dishes for $7, $10, or $15. 

Confirmed restaurants so far include: Wildflower Bread Company, Rusconi’s American Kitchen, Original Breakfast House and The Market Restaurant + Bar by Jennifer’s.

More than 40 restaurants participated last year.

(Pictured: “San Francisco-style French toast at Original Breakfast House. Photo credit: Joanie Simon.)

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AZ Food Crafters in Chandler is launching its 2016 Backpack & School Supply Drive on Friday.

The Chandler hand pie shop will be collecting the following supplies through July 20:

  • Backpacks
  • Journals
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Three-ring binders with paper
  • Calculators
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Two-pocket folders
  • Lunch boxes

Bring in a new backpack, and you’ll be rewarded with a free personal pie ($5 value).

Bring in new packs of any of the other listed supplies, and you’ll earn a free hand pie ($4 value).

Bring in a new backpack filled with all of the supplies, and you’ll get a free sweet treat, a three-pack of frozen hand pies to-go, and coupons for future visits.

The drive will benefit clients of A New Leaf, a community support center for displaced families.

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Post image for Nishikawa Ramen in Chandler has its soft opening today

Nishikawa Ramen in Chandler has its soft opening today

BY Jess Harter Friday, June 17, 2016

Those who get MXSW’s Weekend Guide e-newsletter already know this, but for those who don’t subscribe:

The Valley’s newest ramen shop, Nishikawa Ramen in Chandler, is having its soft opening today.

Located on the southwest corner of Cooper and Ray (in the old Taiko Japanese space), Nishikawa features a 20-hour broth and noodles made from scratch every morning.

Six kinds of ramen range from $9.45 to $11.45.

Please remember it’s a soft opening and adjust your expectations appropriately.

Nishikawa Ramen is open for lunch and dinner daily.

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Post image for MXSW’s newest advertiser:  Phoenix Marketing Associates

MXSW’s newest advertiser: Phoenix Marketing Associates

BY Jess Harter Friday, June 17, 2016

Please welcome Phoenix Marketing Associates, a top Arizona agency for restaurant grand openings and public relations, as MXSW’s newest sponsor.

PMA offers specialized public relations and grand-opening promotion of businesses, including restaurants, hospitality, entertainment, among others. 

Whether your restaurant is looking for more exposure on television through cooking segments or seeking to reach Valley residents by being featured via top-notch food journalists and bloggers, PMA promises its personalized service doesn’t end at 5 p.m.

Please thank Phoenix Marketing Associates for its support of local food and drink coverage.

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