Four Peaks Brewery – Tempe, AZ (with new location coming soon!)

Posted by Shawn | Posted in Arizona, Bar / Brewery | Posted on 16-10-2011

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Southwest Burger at Four Peaks

Four Peaks Brewery has got to be one of the biggest craft breweries in Arizona (in terms of production and following). There’s a good reason for that and it centers mostly on how damn good their beers taste. If you have had the chance to visit the brewery and restaurant in Tempe, you have probably gone back. Everything from their food to the service matches up in quality to their selection of brews and I’m proud to say they make one of my favorite beers – HopKnot IPA. What’s even better is that it comes in a can! Ha, take that beer snobs!

Inside Four Peaks in Tempe AZ

Source: YourBeerNetwork.com

Now of course I need to talk about the food here, but I wanted to quickly say that they are announcing a new production facility tomorrow which is great news for them and customers. Not only will they be able to expand their business but I’m guessing this new location won’t be so crowded with ASU students. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Tempe location but come here on a weekend and it gets tiring waiting for a table if you bring a group.

On to the food. I would come here even if they didn’t brew a drop. The menu here is complete with options for everyone and I have tried pretty much everything. That said, I only dislike one item on the menu which happens to be their pasta salad. The rest of it though, you have to try this stuff! Burgers here are big, pizzas even bigger and everything tastes great. Their fries come battered in their own beer, their sandwiches are made with fresh ingredients and their appetizers like the nachos are fun to share. I regularly take visitors to Four Peaks but I don’t need an occasion to come here.

HopKnot IPA and Nachos at Four Peaks Brewery

This time I went with Jeff and between us we had 3 dishes. I went with my staple, the Southwest Burger that comes with an Anaheim chile, tomato, onion, lettuce, pepper jack cheese and a spicy sauce. Always a winner and I’ve never had an off night when ordering this. It’s a big portion but always tasty, the fries are a perfect accompaniment and pair it with a HopKnot or 8th St Ale and you got a meal. Jeff decided to go with the Tap Room Tenderloin, a Filet Mignon on a hoagie roll with bleu cheese, onion straws and the usual toppings. Also a great sandwich, this one isn’t quite as filling but maybe a bit more tasty though you’ll pay for the difference.

Tap room Tenderloin at Four Peaks

However before we ordered either of these, we had to get the 5 Layer Nacho Dip. Be warned: get this for at least 3 people because it is huge and if you add chicken it is a complete meal. Served with the jalapenos, black beans and sour cream on the side, you can decide how loaded you want these nachos to be but then again why would you not load them with everything? The nachos are a must for me but like I said just be sure to have some backers on this one.

5 Layer Nacho Dip in Tempe, AZ 85281

If you decide to come here but not for the food, you won’t be disappointed either. Four Peaks has 8 regular brews always on tap. They are as follows.

  • Kilt Lifter Scottish-Style Ale – Their flagship beer with little bitterness or hop taste but plenty of flavor. Goes great in the colder months or even as a keg.
  • 8th Street Pale Ale – A personal favorite of mine, this beer is easy to drink and has a great hop taste.
  • Hefeweizen – A decent wheat hefe with a banana aroma, probably my least favorite of theirs.
  • Sunbru Ale – Tastes similar to a traditional domestic beer you would drink at any bar but has a slight bite to it that distinguishes it from the rest.
  • Oatmeal Stout – Exactly like it sounds, rich and creamy with bold flavors and an almost chocolaty taste.
  • HopKnot IPA – My favorite of all of them, a good American style IPA with citrus aromas and a somewhat piney taste from the hops.
  • Raj IPA – A strong traditional English IPA that is dry and high in alcohol.
  • Arizona Peach Ale – A favorite of the ladies but not embarrassing if ordered by a man (at least in our group), it has great flavor and is light.

If I haven’t convinced you to go here yet, then shame on me I guess but I’ve only started to spread the praise for Four Peaks when I should have been doing it earlier. I guess I just didn’t want this place to get more crowded, but with a new location opening up (no food though) the lines might get a little better.

Tip: Get a growler to go and when you return fill it up to get 5 beers worth cheaper than the regular price.

http://www.fourpeaks.com/

1340 East 8th Street #104
Tempe, AZ 85281

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

Peach Festival at Schnepf Farms

Posted by Shawn | Posted in Arizona, Market | Posted on 26-05-2011

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Peach Festival at Schnepf Farms

Looking for something to do this weekend in the valley? Does picking your own peaches, eating giant pies and walking though sunflower fields sound fun? If so, you’ll want to pay Schnepf Farms a visit before June 5th. Every year around this time the farm in Queen Creek allows people to come on their grounds and pick their own peaches.  For 2 weekends of the month, they also have a Peach Festival that includes a lot more than just orchards.

Train at Schnepf Farms

Last weekend I got the chance to go to their Peach Festival with Becky and we had a great time even though it was a bit hot. It was crowded too but the place is so big that you can easily get a little lost and find some peach trees to yourself. As we walked in there was a flow to the traffic of people all leading to the events and food away from the peach trees, so we followed suit and found ourselves in a bustling area surrounded by state fair-like attractions. They had frozen lemonade, kettle corn, huge peach and fruit pies all in the middle of hay rides and a train that took passengers around the grounds.  At first, it was a little overwhelming but as we kept walking the crowd thinned out and we got a chance to walk in the shop.

Crowd Schnepf Farms

The shop in the corner of Schnepf Farms houses most of the products that come from the farm, including items like desert honey, peach jelly, apple butter spread and of course pies. The pies here aren’t too expensive and they are all delicious. The peach pie was selling quickly but I got a chance to try a slice and it was perfect. Soft to the point where a fork goes right through but strong enough to hold its shape, this slice was layers of gooey peaches in between a flaky crust. Coupled with a frozen lemonade it was the perfect snack (meal).

Peach Festival Schnepf Farms

We eventually made our way to the peach trees where the crowd had definitely died down and reached a quiet orchard only disturbed by the occasional train rolling through with 50 people too lazy to walk. The trees were still filled with dozens of peaches each and we got our hands on a pretty good selection. My height didn’t hurt either when we had to reach high for the good ones. After we picked a bagful, we got in line to pay $1.90 a pound which isn’t bad at all. Apparently others agreed with me though because the line revealed where all the people had gone. Worth the wait however.

Shawn at Schnepf Farms

Unfortunately I didn’t get time to write this article quick enough to tell you to go check out the festival, but there’s still plenty to do at Schnepf and if you go before the first weekend in June you can pick as many peaches as you’d like. There will still be pie though which should be enough to get you to go!

Tip: Schnepf Farms holds other festivals like the Pumpkin and Chili party in the fall and the Market Festival in September if you can’t make this one.

http://www.schnepffarms.com/

24810 S. Rittenhouse Road
Queen Creek, Arizona 85242