Firecreek Coffee Company opens first Phoenix location

Flagstaff’s Firecreek Coffee Company has opened its first Phoenix area location and fourth in the state, this week on Thomas Rd. and 46th St. It’s Founder’s Mike Funk’s second go round in the Phoenix coffee community after he opened Cafe Tech in downtown Phoenix in the early 1990s. He gained his coffee “know how” in the 1980s when he was in the coffee industry where else, in Seattle. He moved to Flagstaff to open his first location in 2008 with locations in Sedona and Cottonwood soon following.

“It’s extremely rewarding to be back in the Phoenix area and to be continuing the Firecreek Coffee legacy here in the Valley,” says Mike Funk, founder of Firecreek Coffee Company. “We can’t wait to introduce our unique culture to the Arcadia neighborhood and look forward to becoming a part of the community for years to come.”

Funk has been in every aspect of the coffee industry including building espresso carts, importing coffee machines, opening coffee bars and supplying hotels & restaurants with premium coffee. He plans to open other Phoenix area locations and a roasting facility at 16th St. & McDowell Rd. which will also double as event and concert venue. Firecreek Coffee Company

Firecreek offers small batch coffee, small bites and sweet treats made by pastry chefs in the morning and afternoon. Guests can enjoy quiche, toast options, salads, Paninis and pastries with their coffee drinks. Consumers have been buying whole beans at AJ’s Fine Foods and Whole Foods throughout Arizona and Firecreek supplies other coffee shops with their beans.

The Phoenix location is opened from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. with plans for longer hours in the future to offer craft cocktails and more. For more information visit their website.

 

Crust Simply Italian to open 3rd location with more planned

Authentic Italian food continues to be one of the most popular segments of the restaurant industry and its going to continue if Mike Merendino has his way. He’s the owner of Crust Simply Italian, the restaurant he started in 2007 in Scottsdale. Merendino, a first generation Italian-American plans to open his third location in mid-2022 in Gilbert with as many as 8 more around Arizona.

He opened a second location, in downtown Chandler location a few years back along with The Ostrich, his speakeasy cocktail bar which will also open in Gilbert. The Ostrich serves classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned and an Aviation along with creative signature cocktails as well.

Crust Simply Italian
Owner Mike Merendino. Photos courtesy of J. Martin Harris Travel & Leisure Photography

Merendino knows what it takes to run an Italian restaurant as he grew up in his father’s pizzeria on New York’s Long Island. He attributes this to why he’s seen increased sales in the last year as other restaurants have struggled. A wide variety of dishes on the menu with many entrees under $20 is one of the reasons for Crust Simply Italian’s success. “We took off some of the higher-end menu items and focused on what we do well: chicken Parmesan, pizza and lasagna,” Merendino said. “We also really stepped up our salads and lighter Italian fare.” The restaurant also caters private parties and corporate events which has also helped the restaurants bottom line.

Merendino gives credit to his investors who believed in him and gave him the resources to hire and train a great staff who he treats like family. Without those investors and their confidence he doesn’t feel he’d be able to expand to more locations in the coming years. Crust Simply Italian opens daily at 11 a.m. and The Ostrich opens at 6 p.m. during the week and at 5 p.m. on Friday and is closed on Monday’s. The Gilbert location will be at the corner of Williams Field and Recker Roads.

 

Ling’s Wok Shop fast casual by day, full service at night.

The owners of Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar & Grill recently opened their newest concept, Ling’s Wok Shop in north Scottsdale. The new restaurant offers fast casual meals for those on the go during the day then switches to a full service restaurant for happy hour and dinner.

Ling's Wok Shop
Photo’s courtesy of LWS

Whether you during the day or at night you’ll get the same healthy modern Asian cuisine. The new concept gives the restaurant the flexibility to adapt to a changing world as people spend more time at home. Choose from wok fired dishes to salads, noodz, soups and more. A full service bar serves hand crafted cocktails, wine s and local craft beers.

Ling’s Wok Shop is at 20511 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85255. For more information visit their website.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

“Arizona Pizza” added to new Fall menu at Famous 48 Local Kitchen & Bar

The Shops at Gainey Ranch’s Famous 48 Local Kitchen & Bar has announced several changes to its operation including adding Arizona Pizza to the menu. One of the new changes is that the restaurant will open at 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sunday’s so football fans can catch all the action.

The 4 new Arizona Pizzas are 12 inch thin and crispy crusts and use a mozzarella and provolone cheese blend. A cauliflower crust is also available with the 4 pizzas being…..

·         Margherita. Grilled tomato, basil, extra virgin olive oil

·         The Famous 48. Pepperoni, sausage, onion

·         Nacho Mama. Ground beef, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, taco sauce, blend of cheddar-jack cheese, crumbled Nacho Cheese Doritos®

·         BBQ Chicken Pizza. BBQ Sauce, provolone, chicken, red onion, cilantro

“We like to keep our menus fresh and we’ll always offer Arizona favorites.  That’s the inspiration for the four pizzas on this new menu at Famous 48,” said Robert Wagner, executive chef, of Famous 48 and sister restaurant, Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers. “We aim to please and we’re happy the neighborhood enjoys our great food.”

With the new pizza’s come a special happy hour deal every Monday -Friday from 3 – 6 p.m. Guests can enjoy a Arizona Pizza and bottle of red or white house wine for only $25. To end your meal, they’ve also added a new option to a favorite dessert. The skillet cookie option of white chocolate macadamia, caramel sauce with vanilla bean ice cream joins a classic chocolate chip cookie skillet with vanilla ice cream.

Famous 48 is at 8989 N Scottsdale Rd #608, Scottsdale, AZ 85253. 480-941-0101. Check out their website for the full menu and more.

Maynard J Keenan expands kitchen & hires chef at Scottsdale tasting bar

With the success and popularity of his Merkin Vineyards Osteria and Merkin Pizza Wagon in Cottonwood, owner & winemaker Maynard J Keenan gave the go head to expand his Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale tasting room. Keenan also hired Executive Chef Steve Zimmerman to take the helm of the new Morello Forni Cupola Dome wood-fired oven, imported from Italy and revamp the menu.

“Our dishes feature ingredients grown in our Northern Arizona greenhouses, gardens, and orchards, and we supplement with produce sourced from local Arizona growers,” said Maynard J Keenan. “Merkin Vineyards farm-to-table, vine-to-glass concept is the cornerstone of our success, and it’s a concept we intend to continue developing.”

The award-winning Zimmerman comes to Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale after a career in hotel restaurant management in his home state of Missouri and most recently at Tres Kitchen & Bar ion Tempe. “He’s the perfect culinary artist for our vision,” states Keenan.

The menu at Merkin Vineyards Old Town Scottsdale

The new menu includes ingredients from Merkins farm, citrus grove and orchard in the Verde Valley with additional ingredients sourced from local vendors and artisan producers. The new menu changes on a regular basis and includes many seasonal ingredients for its pizzas, pasta, salads and more. The Classic Margarita Pizza, the Calabrian with chorizo, schinken, bacon, calabrian chiles, fig jam and fontina cheese and the Crucifixen, features Merkin farm cruciferous veggies, roasted garlic, Parmesan spread, fresh mozzarella and fontina cheeses are part of the core menu.

Lasagna Cupcakes, gnocchi and Cacio e Pepe shows off Zimmerman’s creativity and attention to detail. Appetizers, charcuterie and few desserts round out the menu which can be paired with any of Merkin Vineyards Four 8 Wineworks and Caduceus wines along with their mead, cider and Puscifer sparkling wine. To see what I’ve tasted on several visits to Merkin Vineyards Old Town check out my Instagram feed.

Merkin Vineyards is located at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For more information and to see the menu check out  merkinoldtownscottsdale.com.

Hot Dog Days starts Friday September 3rd at Joe’s Farm Grill

Labor Day weekend we un-offically say “good bye” to summer and “hello” to a month long of gourmet hot dogs and sausages at Gilbert’s Joe’s Farm Grill. From September 3rd til October 3rd celebrate the return of Hot Dog Days with six delicious specially created all-beef, natural cased premium hot dogs & sausages from Phoenix’s Schreiner’s Fine Sausages.

Each Hot Dog Days special come with a side of French fries or another side from the menu. Each hot dog is $12 or a combination of 2 for $18 and a special Peach Melba Shake to wash it down is only $5.50.

Hot Dogs Days gourmet dogs

The six hot dogs are….

Cheddar Coney Dog — A grilled hot dog smothered with mild homemade Michigan Coney sauce and yellow mustard then topped by a quarter-pound mountain of finely shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese; served with diced onions on the side.

Danger Dog — A jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with atomic horseradish, honey mustard, homemade sweet-hot pepper relish and a heap of finely shredded ghost pepper jack cheese; served with extra relish on the side.

Carolina Blue Dog — A grilled dog topped with a generous portion of Joe’s signature BBQ pulled pork, tangy blue cheese crumbles, and hand-cut sweet coleslaw then drizzled with Joe’s Real BBQ sauce and homemade coleslaw dressing; served with extra Joe’s Real BBQ sauce on the side.

Sonoran Dog — A long-time Joe’s Farm Grill favorite, this (slightly) new and improved recipe features a jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with homemade Farm beans, queso de cotija, pico de gallo and finished yellow mustard and a sour cream-mayo drizzle; served with whole fried peppers on the side.

Big Fat Greek Dog — Schreiner’s smoked Greek-seasoned pork sausage topped with cucumber tzatziki sauce, drizzled with yellow mustard, and then piled high with Joe’s Greek fries (featuring garlic sauce, feta, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and fresh herbs); served with extra sauce on the side.

Italian Sausage Dog — A fresh sweet Italian link baked into Joe’s fresh-made focaccia dough with pepperoni, marinara, and creamy brick and pecorino-Romano cheeses, then topped with sautéed onions and peppers; served with side of mild Giardiniera (*This hot dog requires a slow hand but is worth the wait! Please allow for slightly longer service time.).

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week launches mid-September

Two of the valley’s vegan advocates have come together to launch the first Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week September 12th- 18th. Chef & author Jason Wyrick and vegan taste maker and owner of Phoenix Vegan Jozh Watson launched the week long culinary event to bring more attention to plant- based restaurants, foods & cooking.

According to Wyrick, “Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week is a celebration of plant-based cuisine in Phoenix. We want to raise awareness about everything vegan that’s now available in our city, get everyone excited, and out-and-about trying all of the great dining options.”

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week
Simon’s Hot Dogs. Feature photo Maya’s Cajun Cuisine’s Po’ Boy

How Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week works?

The pair are encouraging restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and others to showcase their plant-based cooking and more. During the week participants will be offering a specially created menu with breakfast & lunch offering at $20 and a 3-course dinner menu at $30.

“We want to position Greater Metro Phoenix as a premier, inclusive dining destination,” said Watson.

During the week diners can experience the growing Phoenix plant-based food scene visiting new establishments or returning to familiar ones. A a few of the participating eateries include: Beaut Burger, Brunch & Sip, Chilte, Dilla Libre, Early Bird Vegan, Earth Plant-Based, Giving Tree Café, Ground Control, Hot Sauce & Pepper, Maya’s Cajun Kitchen, Pachamama, Positively Frosted, Salvadoreno Restaurant, Shameless Burger, Simon’s Hot Dogs, The Nile Coffee Shop, Urban Beans Café, Tesoro Vegano, The Vegan Taste, Verdura, and Wok this Way.

According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are experimenting more with vegan cuisine and showcasing some really great offerings. Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week allows them to cater to a growing clientele and test the waters for expanding their vegan selections.” For more information and to see additional participants head to their website.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Bring your favorite pooch to Morning Squeeze on August 26th.

Celebrate National Dog Day next Thursday at the popular breakfast & lunch spots locations in Scottsdale, Tempe & downtown Phoenix. Bring them by the restaurant for a free house-made biscuit or something else from the Tail Waggers menu. $.99 Mimosas for you, dog lovers.

Wine Tasting Wednesday Wine at The Mick

One of the best restaurants to open in 2020 is Scottsdale’s The Mick Brasserie & Bar and every Wednesday they host a tasting, usually wine, starting at 6 p.m. Chef Brent (check out my podcast with Brent) creates a special menu for the night and prices do vary week to week. Next Wed. Aug. 25th they’re doing a sake tasting, Sept. 1st- Chardonnays from around the world. Sept. 8th- South African wines, Sept. 15th– Winemaker from Smith/Deveraux Winery Sept. 22nd– Four Peaks Brewery. Visit their website for more information and to see their menu and other up-coming events.

The Buzz Eatery now open in Kierland Commons

After a soft opening in the spring the breakfast, lunch & early dinner spot is now open. Catch a “buzz” from their selection of coffee drinks, wine, cocktails & adult popsicles while enjoying bagels, acai bowls, baked goods, treats and more from their breakfast and all day menu. They open at 7 a.m. Mon. – Sat. & Sun at 8 a.m. and close daily at 7 p.m. For more information and to see the menu check out their website.

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row adds new dishes to the menu

The Gilbert location added 7 new dishes recently from new Executive Chef Dustin Cooke. Sweet Chili Cauliflower, Bourbon Glazed Wings, Truffle Mushroom Burger and Maple Almond Salmon are few of the rock star dishes.

FRANCINE celebrates its 1st anniversary with new cocktails

The French inspired Mediterranean restaurant in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square added new cocktails available through the Fall & Winter. The French Connection, an infused rum and St. Germain cocktail, Summer Thyme, uses a Silencio Mezcal base. Le Jardin combines Citadelle gin & yellow chartreuse San Remo is a premium whiskey-based cocktail and Archies Nightcap starts with Botanist Gin & Averna Amaro. All cocktails were created by bartenders Frank Soldano, Gage Myette, Trevyn StClair with the help of Executive Chef Brian ” Chef Archie” Archibald.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Mesquite Fresh Street Mex opening 8th location in Northwest Phoenix

The locally owned Mr. Mesquite has announced it’s now going by Mesquite Fresh Street Mex and will open its 8th location at the end of August. The grand opening is scheduled for August 28th at 10:30 a.m. at 1730 W. Happy Valley Rd. Phoenix.

“We are thrilled to expand the Mesquite brand in Arizona with our eighth location,” said Ahmad Alatrash, co-founder of Mesquite Fresh Street Mex. “Northwest Phoenix is a thriving area with strong businesses, services and a great community around it. We look forward to connecting with residents and sharing our authentic meets modern Mexican concept with the neighborhood.”

The 1,930 square foot fast casual restaurant will serve meats grilled over mesquite wood for a unique and smoky flavor. Tacos, killer burritos, protein bowls and quesadillas make up the menu. Family meals will also be available and tacos start at $2.19 each. All ingredients are of the highest quality and a prepared every day.  Grand opening celebrations will include giveaways and the first 200 people will win a free taco for week for six months.

The restaurant is looking to hire 30 people for the new location joining over 150 other employees throughout Arizona. “We are seeking ambitious and driven individuals ready to join a collaborative team,” said Naser. “We pride ourselves in a family-driven environment and place a large emphasis in creating a supportive and fun atmosphere for our staff.”  For more information about job openings and the grand opening visit their website.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Fresh Taste Meal Prep partners with Waste Not

The Arizona non-profit for over 30 years has been helping restaurants with creating sustainable food programs and prevent food waste. Its primary mission is to help restaurants get perishable food to those who need it before it goes to waste. Waste Not helps those in need, restaurants and the planet.

The Craftsman Cocktails & Kitchen host Bourbon dinner

Seats are available for the north Scottsdale restaurant’s 4-course dinner on Sunday August 15th. Seats are $100++ with event starting at 5:30 p.m. Guest will be able to purchase bottle of Small Batch Bourbon at 25% off for the evening. Tickets can be purchased at their website.

Riot Hospitality Group hires Culinary Director Dustin Cooke

The owners of El Hefe, Farm & Craft, Hand Cut Chophouse, & Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row hired Cooke to oversee the groups culinary management and menu creation. With over 20 years experience in San Diego and Phoenix, Cooke will oversee 11 venues in Arizona, Tennessee and Illinois. His “out of the box” creations have won taco festivals so we’ll see what he has planned.

Macayo’s Mexican Food offering Chimi Fiesta celebration

From August 8th til September 21st the restaurants signature dish, the Chimichanga is being featured in various flavors. Dating back to 1946 the classic Chimi will be served in a Mini Chimi Trio, Chicken Poblano Chimi, Chipolte Pork Chimi, Verde Shrimp Chimi and a Mini Chocolate Chimi for dessert. For hours and to find a Macayo’s near you visit their website.

Make a weekday reservation, get a free dessert at Hand Cut Chophouse

Go to OpenTable or call the restaurant to make a reservation for a Sunday – Thursday dine-in experience and get a free Local Cheesecake, Butter Cake or Apple Berry Crumble. The promotion goes until Labor Day, September 6th and reservations can be made here or call 480-494-2008 and mention offer to get dessert.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.