Archive for the ‘Dining’ Category

Yesterday’s Lunch

Yesterday, my department at work had a lunch meeting at one of our favorite places, Pugzies Restaurant. It is located at Highland and 16th street and really easy to get to from the 51. I had a Greek salad yesterday, but I frequently get their turkey sandwich and chicken noodle soup. I was introduced to the place only a few months ago, and it continues to impress.

They seem to have an emphasis on good food fast, a reasonable price point- I spend between $8-$14 on lunch there, and a lot of room. I have never tried the drive through.

Just a couple of minor negatives. The bathrooms are outside and a bit of a walk to get to. The ordering system, while expertly managed, creates congestion and confusion around the registers. Other than those things and a weirdly striped parking lot, I have to recommend it for anyone looking for a good place for a business lunch or to meet a friend near downtown.

From their website:

Pugzie’s was established and opened for business on Sept. 23, 1981.
Two sisters, Lynn Pugliano and Lisa Pugliano-Wright, with the help of their parents, converted a service station owned by their father into the original sandwich shop. The restaurant was named “Pugzie’s” as a shortened version of their last name. The toucan bird was selected as a logo of their tropical garden atmosphere. Their goal was to provide fresh, healthy lunches with friendly, fast service.
After 13 years of continued growth and 3 expansions on the original building, there was no room left to expand. A 12,000 sq. ft. office complex adjacent to their property was purchased and 6,000 sq. ft. was remodeled into a new restaurant with inside seating for 282 people. They also added a drive-up window for phone and fax orders and a beautiful courtyard for outdoor eating. The original restaurant was torn down and converted to customer parking for the new building.
Lynn and Lisa, along with Lisa’s daughter Gina and several original employees, recently celebrated their 26th year in business.

Sonoma Coffee Cafe

I’m back! Because I’ve been out of town so much recently I haven’t had much time to post anything. But I’m back for the summer so I’ll try to pick up the publishing pace.

I went to a Diamondbacks game with a friend of mine last week and checked out the Sonoma Coffee Cafe downtown (corner of Van Buren and 1st Street). Now I am not a coffee drinker or even a fan of coffee cafes but I had a few great reasons to like the place. First – with a decent selection of microbrews on tap it’s just as much a bar as it is a coffee shop . And right before a ballgame it’s a much more chill place than most other bars around the ballpark.

But most importantly, there is secret free parking in a garage right next door. Unfortunately you’ll have to find that on your own (but it isn’t that difficult). We did however, pay for a pedicab down to Chase field. But even that was less expensive than parking near the park.

The beer prices were comparable to anywhere else downtown if you’re not counting domestic bottles served from a trough. And although I’m no connoisseur my friend Jason believed the coffee selection and prices to be about the same as Starbucks.

I spoke with the owner briefly and they have other coffee franchises under construction in Scottsdale and California.

Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant in Central Phoenix

I had heard about Mi Patio from many people but mostly about their margaritas. I didn’t know much about their food before my first visit.

The restaurant is in central Phoenix on the corner of Osborn and 7th Avenue. (The construction on Osborn made this difficult to get to – it’s on the Southeast corner and it’s easier to get to from 7th than it is Osborn).

A coworker and I stopped in for a late happy hour after getting off of work early. My impression upon entering was favorable as it’s clean and the host greeted us almost immediately even though they were obviously busy. We were seated quickly and next to a table of cops. In my experience the presence of police officers is a pretty good indication of good and inexpensive food. And a lack of criminals.

Because I’m not very imaginative I ordered the number 99 combo which is a chile relleno, a cheese enchilada, a bean tostada, and rice. My coworker ordered a vegetarian burro grande with beans, rice, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and pico de gallo. And we both ordered margaritas.

The chille relleno and the enchilada were good. The portions are, like most Mexican restaurants I’ve been to, entirely too much for me. The real surprise was the vegetarian burro grande. I’m a meat-eater and wouldn’t have thought you could make a decent burro without it tasting bland. But both my friend and I thought the pico de gallo was outstanding.

After dinner we bellied up to the bar for another margarita. Then we went next door to the Hidden House. Which is also worth checking out for it’s eclectic mix of customers!

PS. I hear construction on Osborn will be finished soon so not a big deal.

Fuzzy’s Pizza

Chicago memorabilia at Fuzzy's Pizza

How could I not love Fuzzy’s Pizza? I mean, it’s named after me, it’s covered with Chicago memorabilia, and they serve all my favorite Chicago-style foods, all in a strip-mall non-ambiance. I see that they have Vienna Beef hotdogs — which really are quite excellent dogs — but we had a deep dish pizza. The pizza was more in a Lou Malnati’s-thick-crust mode than a Giordano’s-stuffed-pizza type. (Don’t worry if that means nothing to you — they’re just fine distinctions in the long-standing debate over what exactly a Chicago-style pizza is.) Fortunately, that’s the way I lean in the deep-dish debate, and the pizza had a good crust, which is really important to me.

Fuzzy’s Pizza
8960 W Bell Rd
Peoria, AZ 85382

Marvin’s Garden Cafe

Marvin's Scramble

Marvin’s Garden Cafe (101 E. McDowell, Phoenix) is diner food of the first order. Some of pluses include:

  • obvious re-purposing of a different restaurant
  • great bacon
  • choice of biscuits and gravy as your bread option
  • pre-buttered toast
  • an epynmonous breakfast special — the Marvin Scramble (shown above)
  • located right across the street from my hotel

The few minuses:

Lolo’s Chicken and Waffles

Many consider Lolo’s Chicken and Waffles the best soul food restaurant in the Valley. The chicken and waffle plates brings curious visitors from all parts of the Phoenix metropolitan area to try the combination.

With Southern fried chicken and golden brown waffles Lolo’s satisfies that curiousity.

But chicken and waffles aren’t the only dishes at Lolo’s. They also serve catfish, chicken gizzards, grits and more Southern soul favorites.

The amiable family restaurant has been celebrated in publications from the Arizona Republic to the Food & Life dining guide.

Lolo’s is locatiod at 10 West Yuma Street – two blocks south of the intersection of Buckeye and Central.
Even more interesing though, is the approval of famous guests from Phoenix and beyond. The walls are covered with a diverse array of autographs from local basketball favorites Amare Stoudamire and Charles Barkely to an American hero Tuskegee airman.

Eat at Joe’s


The photo from my camera phone does not do the pizza justice. We tried Joe’s Farm Grill over in Gilbert for lunch today. I had the veggie pizza which was almost wonderful. A little too cheesy (yes, something can be too cheesy) for my taste, but topped with some very nice grilled veggies and greens. Presh had the BBQ Pork sandy (ala Joe’s other place) and we shared what was just about the best onion rings I have had in years. The grill is open for lunch and dinner and should do well here. I need to try the portabello mushroom burger next (Joe’s fave). The burgers look fancy and reports are that they are tasty in a “Fuddruckers” sort of way. Joe was on hand to greet folks. I meant to ask him where his old room was.

Hodori (Korean Restaurant) – Tempe

Hodori has the best Korean food in the Valley and challenges some of the best (Woo Lae Oak) I have had, period. Located on Dobson (behind the Oregano’s) it is not for the Pei Wei crowd. This is real, no compromises, Korean food and it is good. Last night, we had the Bi Bim Bap, which came with the rice off to the side. I guess I was supposed to mix the rice in, but decided to leave it out and have it as a salad. Brilliant, on a hot summer evening. The rest of the meal was as stellar. Do not go here for the atmosphere or service. But if you understand and appreciate Korean food, this place is for you.

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