A Taste of Philly in Arizona

After an interesting chat this morning with someone about great Philly cheesesteaks, I’m now craving one.  For the sake of our impending summer and perfect swimming pool weather I won’t indulge, but I can write about them!

While I work all over the valley, I tend to dine closer to my office in the SE Valley.  I’ve found two places I find to be worthy of the calories.  They’re different, so the choice is really which flavor and location suits you.

If you want a “real” Philly cheese, then Philly’s Famous in Chandler is the place you want to go.  One of the partners is from Philly and their ingredients are flown in from Philadelphia, including the infamous Amoroso bread.

If you don’t know what Amoroso bread is, then you’ve missed out.  Amoroso bread has been a family business for over a century, baking and shipping their fresh bread around the world to those who demand absolute authenticity.  The bread is”Hearth-Baked”, meaning the bread and rolls are never put in a pan so they can “free form” the own shape and “personality”.  They are the authentic bread of a Philly cheesesteak.

This restaurant is small with no frills counter service, but the food is amazing.  It can get really loud at the grill while they cook the wafer thin steak or chicken and chop in your choice of ingredients – onions, peppers, mushrooms, sauce and your cheese of choice. If you want your Philly with whiz, then they have that too.  You’ll need to ask for it or they will probably give you cheddar instead.  Don’t forget to ask for the red sauce!  It’s not hot but it adds a great flavor to your sandwich.There are a couple places to eat outside or they will be happy to wrap it up for you to go.

Since our hot summer is on its way, they have great hoagies too, with all the fresh toppings you desire, such as pastrami, ham, tuna and turkey, each hoagie topped with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a must on a hoagie, special oils and spices.

If you want something further west, or a little quieter, then Forefathers  in Tempe is the place to go!  While I don’t believe they are originally from Philly, they know how to make a darn good sandwich…and soup….and salads.

My husband always goes for the Philly cheesesteak loaded with onions and peppers.  Their fries are coated and go perfectly with their yummy fry sauce.  What they’don’t have is the red sauce, but the flavors and spices are good enough that you probably won’t miss it.

I enjoy their steak and chicken phillys, but it’s nice to try new things and have healthier options to choose from. Their tomato basil soup is seriously good and the combo with half salad is perfect, especially with their delish salad dressing options of Tomato Parmesan Vinaigrette, Adobo Chile Vinaigrette, Spicy Blue Cheese, Jalapeño Cilantro Ranch and even regular Ranch for the less adventurous. My personal favorite is the Jalapeño Ranch but it’s nice to switch it up from time to time.

If you head out to either one, let me know your thoughts! Better yet, go to both and let me know which one you like the best. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we do.

 

 

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Burger reccomendations from the Burger Miester

As many of you know, my husband is fondly called the Burger Miester. The man could eat a burger 2 times a day and be happy, as long as it’s a “good” burger. 

According to the Burgermsn, it’s not about the toppings, it’s about the meat and bun. You have to have a good base or it’s like putting lipstick on a cow. 

That being said, we recently found a surprising little hole in the wall restaurant that has burgers he not only approves of, but has asked for by name. By name, I mean he asks “What’s the name of the place with the great burgers? You know, the place in the middle of nowhere.”  

That ‘place’ happens to be called Fran’s Place. It’s a little hole in the wall (next to my favorite shoe repairman) at 6320 E Main St, Mesa, AZ 85205. It’s small, quaint and had has home cooking! They’re opened minimal hours (often closing around 1pm or 2pm) with seasonally changing hours, so make sure you call to make sure they’re open before heading in that direction.  

Their burgers are fairly inexpensive, hand formed patties, served on a “soft  white sticky bun” (the phrase my husband uses to describe the preferred burger bun). Standard side is potato chips but you can get fries for a little extra. 

If you’re not up for a burger, they have plenty of good ol’ homestyle  food to choose from – including hot beef sandwiches, fried fish, bread pudding, homemade pie and more. The selection isn’t huge but good comfort food. 

  
Personally, I enjoy the people who work and dine there. It’s not unusual to get into a conversation with friendly locals or snowbirds. 

If you’re looking for swanky, this is not the place to go. When you want food like your grandma used to make, you’ve opened the door to the right place.  

 

Cooling Off at Petersen’s in the Gilbert Heritage District

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Now that the temperatures have cooled off enough that you can order ice cream and not have it turn into soup before you get the spoon to your mouth, we decided it’s time to step into Petersen’s in the Gilbert Heritage District.

For over 90 years, Petersen’s Ice Cream Company has been producing and selling “Old Fashioned” ice cream.  The Petersen’s in Gilbert continues the tradition by featuring their throwback sign and charming interior.  You can indulge with a cup, cone, waffle cone or go really decadent and order one of their sundae options.  Don’t worry, there’s plenty of toppings to choose from to make it uniquely yours.  If you’re not into ice cream, they serve a variety of coffees, tea and even a few lunch items between 11-5.

I’ll admit I am not an ice cream connoisseur, so I have to rely on the words of others.  The words I heard uttered in pleasant surprise was “Wow.  This IS really good ice cream!”.

The question of the day is: How do you like to order your ice cream??

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a Toda Madre!

One of our favorite and more recent finds is Barrio Queen in the Heritage District of Gilbert.  Barrio Queen has a long standing location in Scottsdale in addition to their new location in Gilbert.  Barrio Queen is not your average Mexican restaurant.  Gordon Ramsey showed up at the opening, if that tells you anything.  The atmosphere is casual sophistication so you can wear everything from shorts to dresses and feel perfectly comfortable dining there.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Arizona Final Barrio Queen sign 

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Barrio Queen Enchiladas SuizaDana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Barrio Queen Carne Asada TacosDana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Barrio Queen Cocktel de Elote

Recently we had friends in town that are looking to relocate from the Midwest.  They desperately missed the type of good Mexican food they couldn’t find at home but remembered from their youth.  They were a little dubious that we were taking them to an “upscale” rather than “traditional” Mexican restaurant.

When we ordered the guacamole, our friend Jim said he didn’t really like ‘guac’ but it was fine if everyone else wanted it.  It only took one bite and we had a convert to the ‘guac’ loving side of life.  Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about putting craisins in guacamole?!?  Granted I would’ve thought that sounded weird but as it turns out, weird tastes good.  Really good.
Then there’s the queso fundido….seriously, who can resist hot and gooey Oaxaca cheese topped with chorizo??  Christine spent the remainder of the evening raving about it and wondering if she could get this cheese in Iowa.  Needless to say, we ate far too much, loved every bite and took home fewer leftovers than we should have.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Arizona Barrio Queen with Jim and Christine

 I think they liked it!

From previous dinners there, my husband has decided that the elote (corn) appetizer is one of his favorite items.  It tastes like a salsa infused corn and very flavorful.  Speaking of salsa – theirs has spice without being hot, just the way we prefer it. The carne asada has a mild citrus flavor and is tender and tasty.  The pulled chicken suiza enchiladas are topped with chorizo which adds a pleasant spice to the meal.

Let’s talk margaritas for a moment, because really, what’s Mexican food without a margarita?  Barrio Queen does not serve what we consider a traditional margarita.  In fact, the margarita they call traditional is not blended and (for me), quite strong!  If you’re looking for traditional, you might be disappointed.

The bar is always hopping.  Unfortunately, their water is not filtered but the iced teas are not hampered by this.  They serve both black and passion fruit tea, agua frescas, coke fountain drinks, bottled Panna and Pellegrino and Mexican coffee in addition to a full bar menu.

If you’re in the area before 6pm, stop by for Margarita Mondays, Taco Tuesdays or just plain ol’ Happy Hour from 2-6 weekdays.  You won’t get $1 tacos on Tuesday but you will get $2.50 tacos.  The quality of the food, flavors and atmosphere are totally worth the extra buck fifty to us.

Put Your Boots on for Joe’s Real BBQ

Time to head back into “Old Town Gilbert” for another stroll down restaurant row to a place to fill a hankering for BBQ, Joe’s Real BBQ.  When Joe says “Real BBQ”, he’s not kidding.  So real that my brother from Texas likes it.  If you know Texans, you know that’s quite a compliment.  The barbecue is slow cooked over pecan wood and is tender, juicy and so so yummy!

Joe’s is located in a real 1929 brick building set in the time that Arizona was all about agriculture.  We’ve always received friendly service, which is saying something for a place that often has a line out the door just to order.  If you just can’t wait and need to take your food and run, they do have a walk up window that you can order from too.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joe's Real BBQ Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ To Go Window

Once inside, you order then choose where to sit.  The inside is quaint and full of old farm charm.  If my Dad was still with me today, the ability to sit inside a farm house that’s inside the restaurant next to a big tractor, would make his Iowan farmer’s heart very happy.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ9Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ1

If the weather is cooperative you can also sit outside on benches or in a covered veranda.  A sink to wash all the BBQ goodness off your hands is located outside near the restrooms. There’s plenty of seating, inside and out, which helps the long line to get in move fairly quickly.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ7

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ8Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ5

Have I mentioned before that I’m a carnivore?  I know, I know….we could start a debate on how animals are treated, farm raised vs organic etc. but that’s not what this post is about. (Although I do prefer organic and farm raised but I’m not as strict about it as I should be). If you are one who desires, wants or needs gluten free, they do have gluten free buns.

I’ve tried many of their meat options. I say “many” because I came across one I love so much that I just can’t find it in myself to order anything else.  Their meat choices are fairly extensive and include pulled pork, pork ribs, beef brisket, chopped brisket with BBQ sauce mixed in, chicken breast, bone-in chicken, turkey breast, hot link sausage, turkey jalapeno sausage and my very favorite, pit ham.  Seriously, it’s some of the best ham I’ve had.  They also have plenty of sides that harmonize with the country charm, such as coleslaw, applesauce, cheesy potatoes, mac and cheese and more. While I’ve heard favorable reports, I can’t go there without ordering their salad with the ham on top. The only downside is they only have BBQ Ranch dressing as an option. Personally, I use their variety of peppers that they offer as a side and skip the dressing for the most part. The meat and veggies are all so good that it’s more than I could possibly eat, even though I want to eat all of it.  My husband is a fan of the brisket options. The BBQ brisket on their massive stuffed potato is enough for one very hungry appetite or you can share, if you’re willing to give it up.

They also have dessert, cornbread and homemade root beer.  By now, you probably know I’m a water or iced tea kind of girl. Their iced tea is not fancy but it’s fresh and tasty.  FYI, Joe’s gives you a free meal (up to $10 off) on your birthday.  Celebrating your life with good food sounds wise to me.  I’m not saying I will always be here on my birthday, but I was this year!

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ4

What’s with the Blog?

As a REALTOR® I am often asked questions about where the best places are to live, eat, shop and play. The answers are all dependent on the type of neighborhood you want to live in, the food you enjoy and what you consider fun. To help my friends and clients with the answers, I decided to start this blog.
My husband and I regularly look for new places to explore, visit or dine at. While we spend a good amount of time in the SE area of Phoenix, I do work, sell and play around the valley so there will be reviews from a variety of locations, including weekend getaways. That being said, you should know my husband is a HUGE burger fan so there may be an abnormally large number of burger-related entries.
For the first few posts, the focus will be on Gilbert, the fastest growing community in Arizona and the 8th most thriving city in the US. Beginning in the Fall of 2015, Saint Xavier University (SXU) will be opening its doors in the Gilbert’s Heritage District. SXU will occupy an 87,000-square-foot space with state-of-the-art technology, smart classrooms and teaching laboratories, conveniently located in the heart of the Gilbert Heritage District.
In anticipation of this exciting new addition, there has been an abundance of new restaurants opening to accommodate all the hungry residents, tourists and students. I feel it’s my duty, as your blog writer, REALTOR® and friend to suffer and try each restaurant. I have to confess, we’ve already tried most but…I’ll suffer just for YOU, my reader and try a few more. On that note, stay tuned…your Gilbert dining extravaganza is about to begin!

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