The cooks at GiGi's Cafe call their cuisine soul food––and that's true if your soul happens to crave tender beef or pork ribs slathered in housemade hot or mild barbecue sauce, fresh-baked desserts like sweet potato pie, or Broaster chicken, a less greasy alternative to fried chicken. Of course, it's hard to imagine any entity––celestial or otherwise––turning down succulent pulled pork or chicken or neatly cut squares of baked mac & cheese or fresh-cooked corn on the cob. When it comes to universal crowd pleasers, though, the real winner might be GiGi's impressive triple-decker chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, a slice of which makes an especially fitting ending to a decadent meal or a bad first date with a personal trainer.
Holding the honor of AZ Central’s 2012 Critics’ Pick for Best Korean Restaurant, Chodang Tofu & BBQ keeps bellies warm and sated with piping hot vessels of tofu soup and other specialties. Guests come for that soup––a tribute to the Korean town of Chodang, a locale known for its tofu––as much as for the banchan, or side dishes that accompany the meal, such as kimchi, apple slaw, and seaweed salad. As for the rest of the menu, guests can dig into platters of bulgogi or plates of steamed dumplings or delve into hot stone bowls of the much-lauded dolsat bibimbap.
By morning, Brady Bogen is "the voice of morality" on KUPD's Holmberg's Morning Sickness, but come lunchtime, the quirky radio personality dons another cap: barbecue aficionado. After finishing his radio shift, Brady heads over to his barbecue restaurant—Porkopolis—which he co-owns with seasoned restaurateur Matt Hamilton. You can spot Brady in the joint's dining room, captaining the bar, greeting customers, or digging into a juicy barbecue sandwich himself. Otherwise, he might be in the kitchen, directing chefs as they pile platters high with slices of tender brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. The skilled chefs smother platters with Brady's own brand of tangy sauces and pair dishes with classic sides such as mac 'n cheese, beans, and cornbread. For dessert, the chefs dish out apple crisp and handmade popsicles from Paletas Betty.
Customers hungrily inhale barbecue aromas as they await meals in the dining area—a space described by a Mouth By Southwest blogger as "sleek" and "modern." They bide the time by sipping draft beer and artisanal cocktails, including bacon bloody marys and drinks made with whiskey from Ole Smoky Distillery.
Over a mesquite fire is where the pit masters at Chandler BBQ Company do most of their work, slow cooking meats until they're tender enough to fall off the bone. They choose not to favor any regional style of barbecue, loading their grill with whole pork shoulders for pulled pork sandwiches, brisket for barbecue burritos, and louisiana hot sausages that come paired with two homestyle sides. No matter what entree they serve, they always pair it with a slice of cornbread to mop up the flavorful juices. Though they specialize in meats, the chefs have a soft spot for desserts, fashioning Southern favorites such as banana pudding and their signature slices of sweet potato pie. For meals at home, they package meats by the pound and sides by the quart to create meals that are both tasty and fast, much like that hamburger somebody put on a skateboard.
Winner of Phoenix New Times’ Best Beer Bar award in 2012, The Hungry Monk has 28 craft beers, a full menu of pub grub, and a neighborly atmosphere to thank for its success. The main draw may be the rotating selection of drafts, including blends made by The Hungry Monk’s own staff. And then, of course, there's the unique beer-based foods—think doughnuts paired with IPA, or whitefish hand-dipped in a house ale batter—that bring the food and brews together like the sight of a gingerbread man doing a keg stand. But it was the simpler dishes, such as a top-notch pub garden salad and the house-specialty street tacos that led Voice Places, to call The Hungry Monk, "our new place of worship."