Pig Out at Carnitas Snack Shack

Posted by Shawn | Posted in American, BBQ | Posted on 09-04-2012

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Shack Pork Sandwich at Carnitas Snack Shack

Can I start by saying I never think of clever titles so when this post’s title came to mind, I pumped my fist in the air (I know it’s not that clever but it is for me!). Ok now that I got that little self promotion out of the way, let’s talk about Carnitas Snack Shack – my favorite lunch spot in North Park at the moment. Located on the side of University it’s not hard to miss with the giant pig on the roof and the usual line of people on the sidewalk. Lunchtime gets busy here and seating is limited so be prepared to stand a bit. That said, the food is seriously worth it.

The Line at Carnitas Snack Shack

The menu offers plenty of pork from their Shack Pork Sandwich (featured at the top) with pork schnitzel, pulled pork, bacon and pepperoncini pickle relish to their Carnitas Tacos with marinated pulled pork, fresh tomatoes and guacamole. If you love pork, you will not be disappointed. If you do not like pork however, well… I hear Sipz is a nice vegetarian option down the street.

The Menu at Carnitas Snack Shack

Prices are a bit higher for the portions but then again the quality here is so good that it makes up for it in my mind. See the menu above for an idea of what lunch will run you at Carnitas. The place is also pretty small with seating around back and a walk up window on the street. I think it’s part of the charm though that I’ve come to expect from a California taco stand or beachside burger joint.

Tacos at Carnitas Snack Shack

Carnitas doesn’t serve beer or any alcohol at the moment but being in the beer capital of the US and so close to 30th St., they have already applied for their liquor permit and they should be serving local beer by June. Combine some craft brews with two of those dangerously good tacos and you’ll probably find me here any day of the week.

Ordering Window at Carnitas Snack ShackChris ordering at the window on University in North Park.

Mural at Carnitas Snack ShackA reminder that you’re eating pork.

Carnitas Tacos in North ParkClose-up of the marinated pulled pork in their tacos.. delicious.

Kevin KnechtKevin Knecht – This is how he does tacos.

Kono’s Cafe – Breakfast on the Beach

Posted by Shawn | Posted in American, Coffee & Tea | Posted on 08-01-2012

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Sun, surf and Big Breakfast #2 define my early relationship with San Diego. Every time I was in Pacific Beach I made sure to stop by Kono’s and get their giant breakfast plate. For less than $6 you can get eggs, potatoes, bacon, english muffins and french toast, but the best part is that it’s delicious and not your typical Denny’s fare you’d come to expect at that price point. Be sure to try either of their big breakfasts and check out their coffee stand directly behind the main cafe. Come hungry!

Big Breakfast #2 at Kono's

Big Breakfast #2

Kono's Cafe in San Diego

The Boardwalk at Kono's

Kono's Breakfast

French Toast and Then Some

Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach

Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach

Delux Burger – Phoenix, AZ

Posted by Shawn | Posted in American, Arizona | Posted on 23-09-2011

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Delux Burger

Opened in 2004, Delux Burger, or Delux as it’s known by guests and staff alike, has been a late night hotspot for Valley residents who want to get good food after all of the other kitchens have closed. Available for dinner until 2 am daily, Delux has a somewhat smaller menu consisting of burgers, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Their food though is better than your average burger or sandwich and often comes with unique toppings like arugula or condiments on the side such as their garlic aioli. All of this good food does come with a slightly expensive price, but it’s one I’ll happily pay when hunger strikes at midnight and I’m not feeling Burger King.

Signature Delux Burger

Guests certainly have a favorite item here and that’s the signature Delux Burger. Starting with Niman Ranch grain fed beef, this burger comes with a bleu and gruyere cheese blend, caramelized onion, applewood smoked bacon and baby arugula all on a toasted french baguette. Not being used to eating burgers on a baguette, I was excited to try this out and I wasn’t disappointed. I wouldn’t compare this next to a “burger” in my mind, which means In N Out or something similar, but I’d say it’s more of a sandwich which uses beef. Still very good though and filling enough. If you do order a burger or sandwich however, be sure to order fries since they are not included.

Fries "A La Cart"

French fries at Delux are served “a la cart” and no, I am not forgetting the ‘e’ on the end there. Delux serves the side as a play on words when it comes out in its own shopping cart. Given the fries are good and in a large serving, it still irks me that I have to order them separately. Maybe I’m too old fashioned here, but my burgers come with fries where I’m from and I can’t have one without the other.

Entrance to Delux

One allure to Delux for me is the beer selection because it isn’t any secret I love good beer. I brew my own with my friends at home so I love to see good craft beer offered on any menu, especially with burgers (and fries!). Delux has dozens of great breweries represented on the menu and you can order any of them in bottles and about half on draft. Pair that with a good burger and midnight food is no longer something you eat in your car with a guilty conscience.

Delux Exterior

Overall I am impressed with the quality of food and drink here and I am particularly pleased to see a restaurant open every day until 2 am. I’d recommend Delux to anyone who is in search of a tasty late night meal.

Tip: Delux offers a late night happy hour from 10pm to 2am with discounted drinks and appetizers.

http://deluxburger.com/

3146 E. Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85016

The Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe

Posted by Shawn | Posted in American, Arizona, Bar / Brewery | Posted on 22-08-2011

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Mac and Cheese at The Main Ingredient Phoenix

Located in the Coronado neighborhood of Phoenix in a small house turned restaurant, The Main Ingredient is a little hidden gem with great food and an impressive beer selection. With a menu comprising of mostly sandwiches, salads and appetizers, owners Matt and Courtney Diamond have created a comfortable spot that is perfect for lunch or swinging by after work.

Walking in The Main Ingredient, you will probably get the sense that this place is unique. There is a hint of a wine cafe but one look at the menu and you feel like you should be at a brewery. Turns out, the owners have a wine background having previously worked at Kazimierz Wine Bar in Old Town Scottsdale and Postino in Arcadia, and that’s exactly what they were going for. Matt tells me, “My wife and I have always been big fans of craft beer as well as wine. We basically decided that we would open a place with the class & atmosphere of a wine bar, but instead put craft beer at the forefront”.

The Main Ingredient Phoenix

Well craft beer is definitely one of my passions so visiting here was a no-brainer. Matt and Courtney offer more than 30 beers, with most of those in bottles but there are some choice local brews and a couple others on tap. Their wine list is impressive too, with nothing besides bottles over $10 on the menu (including food). This makes The Main Ingredient very affordable and worth the trip if you’re coming from far away.

Artichoke Heaven at The Main Ingredient Phoenix

As for the food, our group was keen on appetizers so we started off with Mindy’s Mac & Cheese, Artichoke Heaven (dip) and their Chips & Salsa. Let me just first say that all 3 were pretty good. The Mac & Cheese had jalapenos in it so there was a little kick but it was filling and good (plenty of cheese too). The Artichoke Heaven was probably my least favorite of the 3, but tasty nonetheless and served with chips. The Chips & Salsa were super fresh with a nice, chunky salsa that you could tell had lots of veggies and fresh tomatoes. It also came with warm chips from nearby La Tolteca that went well with the salsa.

The BLT at The Main Ingredient Phoenix

After we nearly filled ourselves on these plus a couple of beers, we checked out their sandwiches and ordered different ones around the table so we could all try each others. I went with the Calvano, a warm sandwich consisting of sopressata, provolone, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers on focaccia. The Calvano was decent but a little messy when picked up.

The Sheridan at The Main Ingredient Phoenix

One of our group ordered the Sheridan upon our waitress’ suggestion and it came out looking amazing. Named after the restaurant’s Sheridan Square location, this turkey sandwich included tomatoes, salami, cheddar, field greens and a spicy mustard all on a baguette. Easily the best sandwich at the table in my opinion. The Main Ingredient also offers some interesting desserts that our stomachs couldn’t handle after the feast, but next time I’m going to save room.

The Tuna Salad at The Main Ingredient Phoenix

I’d also like to quickly mention the inside of the house that I found charming and perfect for a dinner for two. Matt and Courtney made what was once a living room into a dark yet comfortable place to have a date. They also turned the dining room into a full bar that has seating inside and outside. Combine all of this with their fun choice of music and The Main Ingredient is a fun place to change up the same rotation of restaurants you might go to.

Tip: Enjoy half-off beers and mixed drinks as well as $4 glasses of wine all day every Sunday and Monday.

http://www.tmialehouse.com/

2337 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Chompie’s – 2nd Annual Ultimate Slider Celebration

Posted by Shawn | Posted in American, Arizona | Posted on 30-06-2011

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Chompie’s, a longtime staple for my family when we want a good deli sandwich, is having their 2nd Annual Ultimate Slider Celebration this July 20th. That means you can get Jewish Sliders (normally $3.99) for just $.99 each. The sliders are mini sandwiches of brisket, potato pancake, gravy and jack cheese on a mini challah roll.

If you remember from last year, these sliders were the topic of discussion when Adam Richman of Man vs. Food came to Tempe to try the Slider Challenge: 5 lbs of sliders with onion straws in under 30 minutes. He lost the challenge, leaving a good amount of sliders uneaten.

Adam Richman at Chompie's

Source: Travel Channel

I wouldn’t classify these little guys as a meal in themselves, especially since I have a big appetite, but get 4 of these guys for the price of 1 and you got yourself a decent start. Maybe get a couple on the side with your pastrami on rye (my favorite sandwich of theirs) and you’re in business! If you’re around any of their 4 locations on July 20th, make sure to stop in and enjoy a good meal for cheap.

Learn more here: Chompie’s Slider Celebration