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.
Instead of frittering away quarters at the arcade like most boys his age, Dean Laplant began learning his trade at age 13 by working the grill at his parents' steak house. He went on to open his own steak house in Wisconsin at the young age of 28, and later moved to Chandler to start DC Steak House, where he channels his years of experience into effortlessly preparing a menu of fine steaks, seafood, and chops.
Dean's wife, Lori, adorned the dining-room walls of DC Steak House's 100-year-old building in vivid murals that depict the local area's rich history. These elegant murals, along with soft hanging lights and white tablecloths, create a dining atmosphere more comfortable than a sofa stuffed with cotton candy. Patrons exit the restaurant into Chandler's bustling downtown square filled with shops and home to a variety of seasonal festivals.
In the shadow of the Sierra Estrella mountains, the chefs at Wild Horse Pass Resort's Ko'Sin Restaurant acknowledge the local area and its produce when creating their dishes of comfort food inspired by Native American traditions. For dinner Gila River Fry Bread is one prime standout with its mix of red buffalo chili and chorizo with chipotle aioli. Plates of Tacos del Mar with mole mahi-mahi and avocado corn relish also hit the spot, letting diners stuff as much fish as they like into each tender tortilla on their plate. Breakfast too keeps it roots in local produce, with options that include citrus banana bread sweet toast and a prickly pear smoothie with no prickles.
When New Jersey transplant Bill Specht arrived in Milwaukee in the 1960s, he had trouble finding two of life's greatest necessities: a steady job and a tasty East Coast–style sub that harked back to his childhood. In 1972, Specht mustered up the entrepreneurial spirit to solve his predicaments by opening Cousins Subs with the help of his cousin and both of their wives. An original, house-crafted bread recipe and walls slathered in yeast allowed Cousins Subs to expand to more than 100 locations across six states. The shop's signature italian subs—complemented by salads, chips, and fresh-baked cookies—showcase its hallmark bread and an unwavering mission to handcraft warm, meaty bites comprising fresh ingredients.
Though Terry "Joe" Black spent more than two decades in the restaurant and food industries, for many years the notion of opening his own pizzeria remained a wistful one. Smitten with the restaurant business during his college years, he spent the first 15 years of his career working for national chains, then another 10 in food distribution. It wasn?t until Black met and befriended Nick Heddings, owner of Arizona Pizza Company in Tucson, that the gears were set in motion to allow Black to make the leap to ownership, spurred in part by Heddings's support and pizza recipe. Black and his wife, Mary, kept the concept simple: a limited menu centered around tasty, New York?style pizza. They resolved to be fanatical about their customers? experience and to create a welcoming, neighborhood feel. To further that goal, Black and his family remain active with local schools and organizations to this day.
Their focus on quality and friendliness has paid off. Of Jimmy & Joe?s signature "Serious Slice," blogger Michele Laudig said?as part of the Phoenix New Times? 100 Favorite Dishes series in 2010?"It's super thin and crisp on the bottom, with puffy, chewy edges." Each gigantic slice is cut from the 24-inch Big Jimmy, arrives on its own metal pan, and, like a celebrity?s engagement ring, is bigger than the average person's head. As testament to its food?s deliciousness, the restaurant has won multiple awards, including the Reader Pick for Best Pizzeria in the East Valley Tribune's 2011 Best of East Valley.
As the restaurant's website explains, Otaku means “obsessed, hardcore fan” in Japanese, which serves as an appropriate echo to the chefs' enthusiasm. Maki rolls in aesthetically pleasing arrangements have a starring role on the menu, employing sweet asian pear and mango to enhance savory slices of raw fish, sautéed scallops, and mushrooms. While sipping from 1 of 13 sakes, diners can also savor hot platters—such as curry chicken or crispy walnut prawns—or enjoy an omakase meal, where the chef presents five courses of off-the-menu rolls and dishes.
The culinary masters at Otaku also aim to “remove the veil of mystery” from sushi dining and preparation through their Otaku Academy. During the learning experiences, patrons of any knowledge level have the opportunity to sit down with a chef as he slices rolls and serves them with ample education.
Sweeping structural curves dressed in warm colors lead patrons through Otaku's dining room, characterized by its sushi bar and multiple counters for parties to dine upon. In a lower section of the dining room, a tree rises from the center of a circular stone counter with chairs, proving that trees thrive when fed salmon.