There’s an excitement to hitching up and getting the wheels rolling to places unknown. That sense of wanderlust and curiosity as to what’s around the next bend is always a fun adventure, but there’s also joy in returning to familiar turf. When we return to places, places that we like, it can feel like coming home.
Phoenix, Arizona, has started feeling like “home” to me. First off, having both kids in the area helps. Second, I know where all my favorite stores are located including a laundromat. Al and I also have a few favorite eating establishments that we frequent and occasionally miss when we’re off traveling.
When we rolled back into Phoenix in early October, our very first stop was to The Greek Pita located on the north end of the Phoenix valley. Hubby and I had talked about their Gyros for the previous six weeks and couldn’t wait to make a beeline there on day one. I’m not normally a fan of Greek food but I’ve always had a weakness for an authentic Gyros (ok and maybe lemon Chicken).
During my high school and college years, I spent my fair share of time working in the restaurant industry in the Chicago area. Ah yes, I could tell you stories about venturing into Chicago’s Greek town and drinking and dancing until four in the morning…. OPA! But that’s a tale for another time 😉
With our Gyros habit satisfied, a few days later it was time to visit Café Rio. We were first introduced to this “Chipotle” style restaurant in Grand Junction, Colorado, and were super excited to see one going in right next door to The Greek Pita last spring. Can you say, “Taco Tuesday”? But our favorite little spot that we love sharing with fellow travelers and family can be found northwest of Scottsdale.
What do Walleye fish, the Green Bay Packers, and Arizona all have in common? The Buffalo Chip Saloon in Cave Creek, Arizona. We stumbled upon this place a little over three years ago and have returned regularly ever since.
I knew our first Friday night back in the valley would be spent dining on the all-u-can-eat fish fry at the Buffalo Chip Saloon. Hubby just loves Walleye and where else can you find it without visiting Wisconsin or Minnesota? But they don’t just serve Walleye. Nope! You get your choice of Catfish, Cod, Lake Perch, or Walleye….. plus you get to mix and match. Talk about culinary fish heaven! So while I sit and politely devour two fish tacos, Al orders and reorders the mix and match fish….. “hold the fries, please”. He doesn’t intend to fill up on potatoes when there’s all that fish ready to be consumed.
And this is Packer territory. Rumor has it, one of the original owners of The Chip was a former Wisconsin Green Bay Packers football player. The place fills up with Packer fans when there’s a game and the numerous television screens hung throughout the place assure guests won’t miss a play. But that’s not all! There’s LIVE Bull Riding for all you cowfolk out there. Out back is an outdoor arena along with a BBQ buffet and bar. Eating and entertainment western style…. doesn’t get much better.
My heart sank on Thanksgiving Day when the news reported that a fire broke out and destroyed the main building; a historic, one of a kind structure with unique memorabilia adorning the walls. The owners are working diligently to rebuild asap and folks are donating all kinds of things like cowboy boots, hats, etc. in an attempt to help replicate the authentic atmosphere that helped make the Buffalo Chip Saloon an original. Arson is expected to be the culprit of the destructive fire. A very sad loss for the owners AND the community. I look forward to visiting again once rebuilt.
When we move on to the south-east part of the valley, we like to grab a few friends and head on over to the Organ Stop Pizza. Although we do enjoy the food, it’s the experience that draws us back time and again. It is most definitely worthy of a visit at least once.
Although our tastes these days center on the extreme casual, the Phoenix Valley is filled with world-renowned culinary experiences. There’s no shortage of Five Star Restaurants around here. Every now and then, hubby and I like to dress up and check out one of these fine establishments. We actually do clean up nicely…. so we’ve been told LOL.
With that said, I can honestly say we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying some of the finest and tastiest dishes at a picnic table gathered with friends, new and old. There’s something about everyone wanting to share their “A” game that turns these meals into a culinary delight that can easily rival any Five Star Restaurant.
Dave is a pro when it comes to smoking ribs and chicken, and Mona Liza always endears herself to hubby when she makes her Filipino specialty; Lumpia. Then there was Curt whom we counted on to provide a cooler filled with beverages. And me? I’m the dessert maker. For this gathering I baked a Flourless Frangelico Chocolate Cake, regular Vanilla Cupcakes, along with Grain Free Chocolate Cupcakes.
I did have a little bit of an oops moment with the Chocolate Cupcakes, but the frosting and chocolate shavings were quick to cover it up. You see, I got a little lazy and didn’t feel like separating the egg whites from the egg yolks which resulted in a sunken cupcake.
My save was filling in the hole with a little extra frosting. I don’t think anyone noticed and I know hubby’s sweat tooth was thanking me for the extra dose of sugar.
If anyone is interested in this grain free, gluten-free, chocolate cupcake recipe – click here. All this talk of food is making me hungry. Hey Dave, “got any left overs?”
Dining western style – click here for another Arizona favorite