It seems that all of my girlfriends and I share the same affinity for food. If we could only talk about one thing ever again, it would not be men or shoes or ourselves; we would be completely content to drone on endlessly about how we nourish ourselves. If at any point in time we aren’t talking about restaurants, recipes or what we just ate, it’s probably because we are currently eating and our mouths are full.
This realization prompted me to begin surveying all the women I know about their favorite spots to dine in the Phoenix area. I’ve created a sort of master list that would be a crying shame not to share. Here is a sampling of some top picks:
-Best Dessert: The house dessert at Grazie in Old Town Scottsdale. It’s amazing. A humongo calzone full of cooked bananas and chocolate/hazelnut cream sauce, topped with vanilla ice cream. If this didn’t require the use of a knife and fork to consume I would eat it so fast I would get heartburn. *A close second in this category is the Pizookie at Oregano’s. Many have attempted to copy it, but no one has mastered it the way this joint has.
-Best Pizza: Picazzo’s. I happened upon this place about a year ago because Nicki was in town and wanted pizza, but Nicki has celiac disease and can’t eat wheat, so we spent some time googling for a pizza place that offered gluten-free crust. Not only does this place have celiac-friendly crust, they also have a gluten-free version of a Pizookie (see Best Dessert category). The pizza in insanely good and the wheatless crust is outstanding.
-Best Breakfast: Chocolate chip pancakes at the Breakfast Club. I stand by my conviction that chocolate is never bad. Ever. Especially not early in the morning. These babies come in a place so large it could double as a livestock trough, and they are the perfect way to start your day with a sugar high.
-Hardest Menu to Make up your Mind: The Vig…this place is a gem. From the outside you’d never see it as worthy of a visit, but the interior décor and outside bocci ball court are just the beginning of the appeal. The menu changes periodically and this is the place where I spend the longest time making up my mind on what to order because EVERYTHING sounds amazing. I am a decisive, black/white person, but this plays throw me for a loop in a delicious way.
-Most Outdated Décor with the Best Cookies Ever: Pugzie’s was yet another find on a gluten-free adventure with Nicki. They offered wheat-free bread so we decided to check it out. The entire place feels like a nursing home, complete with sea foam green paint and plastic everything. One wall has a jungle mural on it which really makes no sense and is a little frightening. However, the cookies this place sells must have crack in them. I am an avid baker but I have never produced this kind of masterpiece. They epitomize the crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside that all bakers strive for.
-Mexican Restaurant that really feels like Mexico: El Comedor Guadalajara in central Phoenix is probably the single largest restaurant I have ever seen, but don’t worry, that’s just because it turns into a dancehall on weekend nights. (Totally normal) The food isn’t anything too unusual or fancy, but the atmosphere is always entertaining and everything is delicious.
-Best Place for Wine and Appetizers: I live with a wine-o, so we don’t often go out for wine, but any time I do I head to Kazimierz. It’s one of those places that you enter and immediately feel transported out of the norm. The food and wine here are fantastic, and the service is always great. They have a variety of small plates or appetizers, my favorite being the cheese fondue that comes with apples and bread for dipping.
-Best Salads: My Florist has a variety of amazing salads that all sound appealing. You know how most of the time fancier salads always go too far and you have to eliminate certain items when you order it? Not here. They hit the nail on the head with all their selections.
-Best Homemade Italian: Cafe Boa on Mill Ave. Everything is homemade from the pasta to the sauces, and the wine list is the largest I have ever seen. One of my favorite things about eating here is the assortment of olives they bring out as an appetizer.
-Cheapest Lunch: Come on. Can you beat what CostCo offers? A foot long hotdog and a drink for $1.50! It may lack the ambiance of a real restaurant, but I’d be lying if I told you Jim and I had never been on a date here.