Black bears love strawberries. The bears of Northern California could often be seen wandering through the berry patches surrounding Mt. Shasta, an area favored by travelers since the 19th century because of the charmingly hospitable inns and restaurants found there. Bob and Laurie Manley were inspired to recreate the area’s post–Gold Rush hospitality, and they opened their first restaurant, Black Bear Diner, near those same strawberry patches. Nearly 20 years later, their brand has grown to encompass 50 different locations, each of which retains the founders’ principles of small-town charm and generosity. The menus also preserve the mom-and-pop vibe, with dishes such as secret-recipe sweet-cream pancakes, old-fashioned burgers wrapped in wax paper, and, of course, homemade bear claws. Each location is adorned with a trademark bear sculpture that has been hand-carved by Washington chainsaw artist Ray Schulz, who often grants his works with regional characteristics such as cowboy hats or taxi-hailing skills.
If you?re tired of Arizona's desert landscape, blame the Flancer goat. Legend has it, the greedy little guy saw Arizona?s once-lush land and greenery as a personal buffet?he ate and ate until the landscape became barren. And though he's now extinct, it is said that the goat's shadow can be seen running through the caf? with a satisfied grin on his face.
Lucky for hungry Arizona natives, Flancer?s manages to offer a robust, diverse menu despite its desert location. Sandwiches are built on made-from-scratch breads that are baked throughout the day. They come stacked with unique flavor combos such as filet mignon and caramelized onions, or chicken breast marinated with prickly pear.
Owner Jeff Flancer claims you won?t find the caf?'s bruschetta anywhere else but Flancer?s. The appetizer comes with breaded goat cheese, basil, and tomato piled atop baked-to-order crouton bread. With innovative food offerings such as this, it?s no wonder the restaurant claims to have been "rockin' taste buds" since it opened in 2000.
Carmine’s Pizza honors the memory and recipes of Uncle Carmine, a good-natured pizza ingénue who hailed from Brooklyn. Today, Carmine’s nephew recounts his uncle’s passion for food, a dedication that remained until the night Carmine passed away while out making a delivery. On his way back from bringing his signature pizza and garlic knots to a customer stranded by the bad weather, Carmine's car was struck and he was killed. However his legacy lives on through his family and his namesake restaurant.
In the spirit of Uncle Carmine's time-honored pies, the chefs at Carmine's Pizzeria whip up the same hand-tossed pizza recipes as Carmine himself, layering golden crusts with bubbling mozzarella cheese and all manner of meat and veggie toppings. Amid the pizzeria’s exposed brick and red walls, tables hoist amply stuffed calzones, steaming subs filled with veal, italian sausage, and eggplant, and buttery garlic knots that double as Pavlovian conditioning tools for companions who can’t keep their elbows off the table.
A safe space. That's what the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley give to more than 43,000 kids each year. But along with keeping kids out of harm's way after school lets out, the Boys & Girls Clubs enrich children's lives though their programs. Kids get creative in arts classes, learn social interaction and fitness skills in sports programs, and prepare for the future with technology courses that ensure they won't buy stock in companies that only produce floppy discs.
But the Boys & Girls Clubs impact kids beyond afterschool care. In addition to the East Valley clubs having the first Arizona club to serve a Native American community, the clubs' Ladmo branch has Mona Dixon, who was named National Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2010.
Her path of success, encouraged by the Boys & Girls Clubs, led her from a girl homeless and worried about her family's survival to a young woman with a full ride to college and named one of the Top 28 Most Influential Black Women in America by Essence magazine.
Servers and patrons alike crunch across scattered peanut shells on the way to their tables at Teakwoods, a boisterous neighborhood watering hole crowned Best Sports Bar in 2009 by Phoenix New Times. A team of chefs cooks up classic American eats, including half-pound burgers, meaty sandwiches, and their award-winning wings, which can heat up gastro-chambers and cargo-pants pockets with flavors such as medium, hot, and honey-barbecue hot. As bartenders pour draft beers and concoct tasty libations, guests can catch their favorite sporting events on one of many high-definition TVs that broadcast events from the MLB, NFL, and UFC. When guests can't make it to the restaurant, Teakwoods' chefs cater fare to events, gatherings, and parties.
Tina says her restaurant is her second home, a feeling that grew during the days when she ran the entire kitchen alone and worked to make every guest feel like they "had been invited to her home for a dinner party," according to azcentral.com in 2007. For each platter of food set before her houseguests, Tina draws culinary inspiration from her childhood in Ethiopia, using sense memory to season simmering pots of lentils, grilled beef, and herb-crusted chicken. Instead of silverware or miniature loading cranes, Tina serves each meal with an accompanying basket of traditional injera, a tasty, spongy Ethiopian bread that allows diners to scoop out each sauce-laden bite without the need for silver-, gold-, or bronze-ware.