Mediterranean diet favorite dishes return to Pita Jungle

For the last 25 years Pita Jungle has been serving up healthy Mediterranean diet inspired dishes. Many customers have their favorite’s over the years but they tend to come and go with seasons. As part of their Seasonal Kitchen Crafts Menu they’ve brought back many fan favorites from the past.

All 23 locations throughout Arizona are serving dishes with a balance of Mediterranean diet and global cuisine. The menu is popular with all dietary needs including keto, paleo, vegan and gluten-free. The seasonal menu will be available thru the rest of the year. Dishes include……

  • Cauliflower Hummus (V) – cauliflower, tahini, garlic, evoo, lemon juice, cucumbers, pita (gluten free with blue corn chips).
  • All Veggie Pita Pocket – avocado, baby greens, seasonal mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, sprouts, tabbouleh, lemon vinaigrette, in a pita pocket, severed with tahini (vegan with no tabbouleh, gluten-free with gluten-free pita upcharge).
  • Bone Broth Ramen with Shirataki Noodles (GF) – beef bone broth, with miso, kimchi, red onion, gluten-free soy sauce, garlic and ginger, shirataki noodles, spinach, green onions.
  • Ginger Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles (GF) – stir-fried fresh vegetables and kimchi, shirataki noodles, spicy ginger sauce, beef bone broth, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, pea sprouts (vegan with no kimchi and no beef broth).

    Mediterranean
    Ginger Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles
  • Wood-Fired Medchilada (GF) – savory garlic-cilantro chicken in a beef bone broth enchilada sauce, cheddar and feta, turmeric cauliflower rice, cabbage-kale super greens, fresh jalapenos, radish, pico de gallo, pine nuts, gluten-free pita.
  • Chicken Avocado Pita Tostada with Cauliflower Hummus – grilled and chopped marinated all-natural chicken breast, avocado, cilantro-avocado crema, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled red onions, bell peppers, cauliflower hummus, feta, pine nuts, baby arugula, pea sprouts, chipotle vinaigrette, pita tostada or low-carb pita or gluten-free pita (vegetarian option without chicken.
  • Mediterranean Tuna Pita Pocket – albacore tuna, avocado, seasonal mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, tabbouleh, lemon vinaigrette, pea sprouts, in a pita pocket.
  • Baklawa Bread Pudding sweetened with stevia and agave syrup.

To find a Pita Jungle near you head to their website.

Tourist Home All Day Cafe in Flagstaff overcomes its past

In its 93 years the “Tourist Home” in downtown Flagstaff has seen its ups and downs. The last 5 years have seen more of the ups than the previous 40 years. The Tourist Home All Day Cafe celebrates its 5th anniversary since it was opened by owners Kevin Heinonen and Chris Kemmerly.

Before the pair had bought the property the boarded up house sat vacant surrounded by a yard full of weeds. Originally built by Jesus Garcia, a Basque sheepherder and his mother Isabella in 1926 as a boarding home for sheep herders who came to Flagstaff for business and to re-locate their sheep as the seasons changed. Today the Tourist Home All Day Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and brunch to locals and out – of – towners. The cafe also serves as the kitchen for the Annex Cocktail Lounge.

Kevin Heinonen before the transformation

“Tourist Home is one of the most sought after destinations, and considered a downtown gem,” said Terry Madeksza, Executive Director of Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance.

“Not only does the menu offer exceptional baked goods, breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes, it is also a vibrant place for locals and visitors to gather,” Madeksza added.  “It is important to remember that before Tourist Home, the building was dilapidated and considered an eyesore for years. The vision and ongoing investment into Tourist Home has spurred revitalization of an entire area.” The served as a case study for the Urban land Institute as an example of private developers and city government working together for redevelopment and economic development for historic places in Arizona.

History meets modern times at Tourist Home All Day Cafe

Technology helps keep the cafe running smoothly and its historic charm  keep the cafe a relevant part of Flagstaff’s history. GM Lisa Valentine, Chief Culinary Officer Mike Schmitz and Master Pastry Chef Kat Biemann create menus and relationships with customers, staff and vendors to make the cafe successful.

“The business was and continues as an example of always meeting the changing needs of your customers,” said Heinonen.

The Garcia’s built a “Pelota” (handball) court next door for sheepherders to stay in touch with their Basque roots. Today it’s a performance stage for live music. The owners have added a fire pits, tables with umbrellas and a service window for the Annex to the outside.

The Tourist Home All Day Cafe is at 52 S. San Francisco St. Flagstaff 86001. Check out their website for more information.

 

 

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row rolls out all day menu

A new all day menu was rolled out at the downtown Gilbert location of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row earlier this month. The new menu offers lighter and healthy options which include vegetarian and seafood dishes among popular favorites.

all day
Buffalo Cauliflower

New dishes include spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, Spinach & Berry Salad, Roasted Chicken Primavera and Grilled Salmon Jambalaya. Fans of the Tennessee Hot Slider, Fried Pickles and Southern Fries don’t need to worry as those guilty pleasures are still on the menu.

The American gastropub has also extended it happy hour to run all day Monday – Friday. Food and drinks specials start at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. During Sidewalks Fridays they’ve extended happy hour until 9 p.m.

Salmon Jambalaya sub grilled shrimp

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row is at 323 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234. To see the full menu head to their website.

Birdgang Travel Club partners with BBQ Island for tailgate cooking lessons

Football season is here and tailgaters are saving their parking spots for cooking and pre-game partying. The Birdgang Travel Club will be out and about psyching up Cardinals fans up for 2019 season. The NFL team has high hopes after drafting first taking QB Kyler Murray. One of the Birdgang’s first event is at BBQ Island in Tempe for a “Tailgating 101” cooking class.

Saturday August 24th the class will teach fans to cook brisket stuffed jalapeño poppers, smoked chicken wings and more.Birdgang Travel Club

“We started Birdgang Travel Club as a way to show our dedication to the Red Sea across the great state and beyond. It’s been so much fun putting events together, celebrating with friends and making new ones each season,” said Tyler Vasquez, Co-Founder, Birdgang Travel Club.

Space is limited for “Tailgating 101” that goes from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the BBQ Island Tempe 1715 W. Ruby Dr. #105 85284. Tickets need to be pre- purchased for $50 or $45 for 2 or more.

More Birdgang Travel Club events

The die hard Cardinals fans are planning to hit the road with the team a couple of times this season. Reservations are being taken for road trips to Oct. 24-28 to New Orleans and Nov. 7-11 in Tampa Bay vs former head coach Bruce Arians.

Home games they huddle up at Majerle’s Sports Bar in Chandler before busing out to Glendale. The safe ride option offers breakfast buffet, a tailgate lunch and a ride to & from the stadium for $65. Tickets to the game and alcohol are not included. Fans are welcome to bring beer and alcohol for the ride over to the game. Tickets need to be pre-purchased.

“We started out as a small group of friends that would travel to away games but found it to be very expensive in small groups and quickly realized that by traveling in larger groups we could save a ton of money and have a lot more fun! So, we started Birdgang Travel Club as a way to take some of the work and expense out of individual travel planning. Now, after four years of traveling as a group, we are booking 200-300 fans at a time and are able to pass along an amazing experience and savings to our members,” continued Vasquez.

Rick Bronson to open coffee bar & speakeasy on High Street.

Things are perking up on High Street with the announcement of The Stir and Gin and Reel opening later this year. Comedian and entrepreneur Rick Bronson is behind the “old school” coffee shop and speakeasy concept. If all goes as planned with construction coffee, cocktails and conversation will begin in September.

“The Stir and Gin and Reel is unlike anything in the North Phoenix/North Scottsdale area,” says owner and proprietor Rick Bronson, who also owns Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy on High Street. “I take great pride in creating concepts with environments that encourage the spirit of human connection as it once existed and that people long for today.”

Coffee, cocktails and food.

The Stir will be serving coffee beverages, coffee cocktails, food and ice cream daily at 6 a.m. Enjoy a “Kick in the Pants” made with cold brew, rum, cold brew liqueur, Mexican Coke & cream or a Coffee Old Fashioned.

For breakfast or lunch diners can enjoy pastries, sandwiches and salads including the BBLT(bacon, lettuce, tomato and turkey). Small plates at the bar will include Deviled Eggs, Lobster Canapes and a Caprese Salad. Boozy milkshakes and alcohol-less ice cream treats will also be available.

At 3 p.m. Gin and Reel opens if you can find the hidden entrance at the back of The Stir. The intimate speakeasy will have the atmosphere of Old Hollywood with vintage photos, directors chairs at the bar and black & white films playing. Prohibition era cocktails like the Manhattan or Sazerac will be served until 10 p.m. weeknights and 2 a.m. on weekends.

The Stir and Gin and Reel will be at 5415 E. High Street, Suite 103. Phoenix 85054.

Morning Squeeze lets kids eat free until August 31st

The kids are out of school and if their not at camp one way to keep them happy is to feed them. Feeding them all summer cad add up so Scottsdale’s and Tempe’s Morning Squeeze is letting kids eat free all summer.

Until August 31st kids 12 and under can eat for free during breakfast or lunch, no purchase is necessary. The offer is good Monday – Friday and is for dine-in only.

Morning Squeeze
Egg My Way with bacon and potatoes. All photos courtesy of Morning Squeeze.

Choose from Mouse Pancakes, French Toast Sticks with maple syrup, 1 Egg My way with bacon and potatoes or Grilled Cheese Sandwich with French fries.

With a dog friendly patio, the restaurant is one of the more popular Scottsdale restaurants and has been serving breakfast and lunch since 2013. Your dog even has it’s own Tail Wagger’s menu to order from.

The restaurants are open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Morning Squeeze is located at 4233 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85251 and 690 S. Mill Ave. Tempe, 85287. Visit their website for more information.

Matt’s Big Breakfast announces Scottsdale for its next location

With 4 locations around the valley Matt’s Big Breakfast has announced that its 5th location will be in Scottsdale. After teasing and getting feedback from customers on social media the southwest corner of Scottsdale Rd & Thunderbird will be the new location. When it opens this fall people will line-up for one of the iconic names on the valley’s breakfast scene.

“Scottsdale was hungry,” said Matt Pool, owner and namesake of the most important meal of the day. “Local fans have even submitted suggestions on vacant spots for us to take over!”

This will be the eateries first franchised location taking on the atmosphere of the neighborhood. The menu, fundamentals and culture will be staying the same.

Matt’s Big Breakfast has received national attention with mentions in the New York Times, Bon Appetit and Eater. An appearance on The Food Network also helped put them on the national map.

Matt's Big Breakfast
French Toast

Relying on locals at Matt’s Big Breakfast

Sourcing ingredients from local purveyors customers in Scottsdale can expect sweet and savory dishes from Griddle Cakes to Salami Scrambles. The Big Butter Burger is a favorite of many and pays tribute to Pool’s Wisconsin upbringing.

“One of our main priorities is to avoid growing simply for the sake of growth, and to instead let it happen organically, and with the right people taking the reins of each new restaurant we open,” said Pool. “While this new location may have minor stylistic differences from existing Matt’s restaurants, guests will get to enjoy the same quality, consistency & superior service that they’ve come to expect from the Matt’s Big Breakfast family.”

Since opening in downtown Phoenix in 2004 the eatery has opened in Tempe, Arcadia and Sky Harbor Airport.

“We’re thrilled to add a Scottsdale location to the Matt’s Big Breakfast family,” Pool said. “Local fans will find everything they love about Matt’s at the new location – they just don’t have to drive as far now to enjoy it.”

For more information about Matt’s Big Breakfast checkout their website.

Tempe Public Market Cafe to close in May for a re-model

Popular eatery Tempe Public Market Cafe will temporarily close Monday May 6th to make some changes. The cafe will become a full service cafe and preparations are being made.

“We are committed to keeping in line with the look and feel of this close-knit area,” said Dave Chamberlin, president of Tempe Public Market Café. “When you are relaxing on our patio or if you’re getting a bite with friends and family, we want you to feel like you are at your second home.”

When the restaurant re-opens in early June customers will notice more tables, high top tables on the patio and  plans for a projector. Inside they will have new menu options along with full-service brunch and dinner. Other changes include community tables replacing booths, a new lounge area and an expanded retail area. The retail area will allow for more merchandise, sauces and products from local vendors.Tempe Public market Cafe

A new pastry case will entice customers with sweet treats and new tiles and murals will add color to the decor.

Local artist Gennaro Garcia has been commissioned for the murals both inside and out. Garcia is known for vibrant murals around Phoenix and is popular with other restaurants.

“The work we are doing at the restaurant is all with the community in mind,” said Chamberlin.

Valued employees will be offered jobs at the company’s headquarters and at its sister restaurant Ghost Ranch during the closure.

Tempe Public Market Cafe is at 8749 S. Rural Rd. Tempe 85284. For more information visit their website.

 

It’s a BIG DEAL at Miracle Mile Deli to survive 70 years

When Jack Grodzinsky opened Miracle Mile Deli he wasn’t sure the restaurant would last 5 years, let alone 70. Since 1949 when the native New Yorker opened the deli it has become one of the most popular Phoenix restaurants. The 3rd generation of the Grodzinky/Garcia family runs the restaurant now serving a menu of delis staples to hungry customers. To celebrate their seven decades in business they are offering customers a “BIG Deal” on Friday May 10th.

From 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. guests can get any two of their famous deli sandwiches for only $19.49.

Part of the “BIG DEAL” proceeds will be donated to “Partners That Heal“, a program at the Phoenix Theatre that uses improvisation & structure to improve communication in a variety of care settings. Specially trained team members assess needs and qualities of each person and use improvisation to build trust and communication.

Customers can win a $100 Miracle Mile gift card with a drawing every hour on the hour from 12 – 8 p.m.

Miracle Mile Deli is at 4433 N. 16th St. Phoenix 85016.

I spent my Spring Break eating my way through Salt Lake City

Most people spend their Spring Break heading to beaches or somewhere exotic. I spent my Spring Break road tripping to Salt Lake City to explore the city and food scene. I enjoyed meals at locally owned restaurants based on the recommendation of my friend who has spent the last year living in the area.

The 10 hour drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City we knew we’d have to stop for at least one meal on the way up. Heading through Page and past Lake Powell into southern Utah you don’t have a lot options once you cross the border. Most meals were under $20 with a couple just above.

First 24 hours in Utah

We decided to stop for dinner in Kanab and pulled into Big Al’s Burgers Drive-In. Kanab is the main route as you head from eastern Arizona to the national parks of southern Utah and points north. A nice little town before you head up the back roads towards I-15. Big Al’s is exactly what you’d expect, burgers, fries, shakes and a few other drive-in favorites. I went with Double Rustler Burger value meal, a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake. Friendly service and made to order food made for a positive first impression of the Utah food scene. It was also my first experience being asked if I wanted “Fry Sauce”. Expect to be asked for this mayo ketchup combo in Utah when ordering fries and other fried foods. I declined as I prefer only ketchup but did taste my friends sauce. It was exactly what you’d expect.

After we made our way through the canyons and over the mountain pass into the night and a snowstorm we arrived late in the night at our destination.

After sleeping in and eggs and coffee at my friend’s place for breakfast we made our way for a mid-afternoon dim sum lunch at Cafe Anh Hong. In a small strip mall full of far east restaurants Anh Hong wasn’t the traditional dim sum restaurant. No ladies pushing carts full of dim sum delicacies but a picture menu under the plexiglass table top. Tell them what you want and everything is made to order. Many dim sum favorites to satisfy your dim sum cravings.

A late dinner was a homemade 24 hour sous vide short rib over risotto prepared by my host was so good I had to mention it.

Breakfast & lunch in Salt Lake City

Waking up the next morning we made our way to the Draper location of La Barba Coffee. Considered one of the if not the best coffee in SLC we sat there sipping our coffee pondering where to go for breakfast. Sipping on a Guatemalan drip coffee I paid more attention to it than I normally would a cup of coffee, it was good cup.

Desiring a breakfast burrito we drove to Taqueria El Gallo Loco in Sandy. I went with Chorizo burrito which was a little light on chorizo for my liking. My friend went with a bowl of Tripe thoroughly enjoying it. We ordered the Flan for dessert (yeah at breakfast) and glad we did, it was topped with toasted coconut and was so good. The owner and our server were friendly and offered good service. I’d give them another shot at a Chroizo burrito.

A mid-afternoon lunch had me desiring an Italian deli sandwich and my friend knew right where to go. We made our way to the 15th & 15th location of Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli where I went with The Caputo. Prosciutto, mortadella, salami, provolone and all the fixings. They dress it with balsamic vinegar as opposed to red wine vinegar which was an interesting choice. Served on an artisan roll I’d come back again. Check off Italian deli off my list.

Enjoying the neighborhood that Tony’s is in we went across the street to Sweetaly for a cup of gelato. It hit the spot after my meaty sandwich.

Park City here we come

With the ski town of Park City less than an hour away we headed into the mountains for lunch. It’s “Mud Season” in Park City so some restaurants close down for a few weeks. We found out the hard way when we wanted to grab a bite to eat at High West Distillery & Saloon. We wound up the brew pub of Wasach Brewing with brunch in full effect. Sipping on an Apricot Hefe with my Wasach burger made for a tasty Park City experience. The Wasach burger is made with buffalo meat and topped with a spicy Cajun remoulade.

I vetoed lunch a Tekila for the brew pub but my friend highly recommends it.

In case you’re wondering dinner at friend’s house back in SLC for homemade corn chowder and cake.

Final day in Salt Lake City

A lazy Sunday morning had us getting a slow start and finally motivating in early afternoon. We picked up a friend and decided to head for something new to me.

A couple of doors down from dim sum was Kungfu Hotpot where I experienced Hotpot cooking for the first time. A pot of mild and spicy boiling broth we filled it with beef, pork, mushrooms, vegetables and more letting it cook to our desired temperatures. The All-You-Can-Eat restaurant had us ordering more piles of beef, greens and seafood balls until I threw down my chopsticks and said “no more”. An interesting experience I’m not sure I could find in Phoenix.

Just a few miles from downtown SLC we made our way to Temple Square to see the gardens, the state capitol and the University of Utah. One last stop before we headed to my friend’s place for the night, Dolcetti Gelato. The Blueberry Balsamic & Rosewater treat to finish my foodie visit to SLC hit the spot after the spicy hotpot.

SLC looks to have a great restaurant scene as I scanned local magazines and websites. Locally owned restaurants and several chains I’ve never seen before looked interesting. I hope to return one day to eat my way through more of what there is to offer. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City on a Sunday be aware that many restaurants aren’t open, even those you’d expect to be including coffeehouses.

To see pictures of my trip to SLC follow me on Instagram @SandyWass