Fresh Mint's Vietnamese cuisine is entirely vegan, but meat lovers needn't be wary, according to Lonely Planet: “If you’re skeptical of soy chicken and tofu…we understand, but we respectfully submit that this stuff is as tasty as any bacon cheeseburger.” This has always been the goal of owner and executive chef Mai Ly, as she’s mastered the herbs, spices, and other ingredients that turn meat-free dishes into hearty, craveable entrees. Her most popular plates include the spicy lemongrass noodle soup and the golden-curry vegetable entrée, which unites potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and tofu beneath a glaze of her signature curry sauce. All of Ly’s dishes are kosher, and several are gluten-free, which explains why bundles of wheat use the eatery for their family reunions.
Sala Thai Restaurant rewards its most loyal customers with a free dinner on their eighth visit. Considering the restaurant’s extensive menu—there are more than 100 options—racking up that many meals isn’t a difficult task. Thai spring rolls stuffed with vegetables and fried tofu prep palates for nine styles of Thai curry and barbecue platters of shrimp, sweet sausage, and pork. The staff pairs their lengthy menu with more than a dozen frozen drinks blended from exotic fruits, Thai coffees and teas, and water on the lam from the blazing kitchen.
Just past the vault door lies The Mint’s most valuable treasures: trays of expertly crafted cocktails and martinis. Housed in 7,000 square feet of a former bank building, The Mint nods to its previous life with money-themed drinks and rich, Asian-inspired tapas from a menu conceptualized by the restaurant's executive chef, Johnny Chu. Small plates of loganberry shrimp, wasabi sliders, and flash-fried sugar-cane pork take their place at booths cut with dark wood and cohiba marble or along seats at the main room’s 30-foot bar. Drinks include The Mint, a mélange of Grey Goose La Poire, star fruit, mint, and lemon, and Liquid Gold, which pairs a pineapple-infused vodka with Grand Marnier, amaretto, lemon, and raspberry, all heated to 1,948 degrees Fahrenheit. After fueling up with comestibles and drinks, diners can explore the patio’s cabana-style seating or take a break with some bubbly at the coed bathroom’s champagne bar.
If you've always wanted to visit Bangkok, but could never learn the Internet to order a plane ticket, today’s Groupon will get you the next best thing: $40 worth of acclaimed Thai cuisine at Malee’s Thai Bistro for $20. AZ Central, whose readers picked Malee's as Best Thai Restaurant of 2009, describes the intimate Old Town restaurant as a “great place to warm up and chill out after an afternoon of browsing local shops and art galleries.” Malee's food is MSG-free, and if you have special dietary needs, the chefs will happily de-glutenize or vegetablize any order. You can also have any dish custom-spiced to your preferred level of spicy.Unfortunately, no amount of angry letters directed at government officials or Hollywood scientists could stop the heat from rising. Temperatures soon reached an unheard-of 70 degrees, and Arizona repealed its mandatory "10 Layers of Underwear to Prevent Moral Perversion" statute and became the first territory to make reading illegal for children under six, believing that the brain waves of young readers were causing the heat wave. A delegation of Arizona preachers even visited the equator to yell at the sun, but to no avail. No cure was ever found for the rising temperatures, and today, temperatures in Phoenix rarely drop below 200 degrees.
Wrigley Mansion has been Phoenix’s grande dame for over 80 years, built as a 24-room estate between 1929 and 1932 by chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. as a 50th wedding anniversary present for his wife, Ada. However, the on-site Geordie’s Restaurant & Lounge is much newer – the Italian eatery opened in the 1990’s – but still retains the gracious elegance of the grounds with white tablecloth service and plenty of upscale entrées to choose from. Chef Robert Nixon makes his own pastas and breads, and plucks his own herbs from the Wrigley’s garden, then sends out statement dishes like the signature Bisteca alla Fiorentina, a 32-ounce Porterhouse for two, or tagliatelle tossed with daily seafood. The patio is extremely popular for periodic jazz nights and a sunset happy hour, though the gilded, baroque interior is nothing to shy away from, either.
To make Thai Basil’s signature dish, chefs sauté the restaurant’s namesake herb with spicy garlic, bamboo shoots, and a variety of vegetables. Thai basil is also found in a bounty of other plates—grilled eggplant brightens beneath its characteristic tang, spicy fried rice takes on a Thai flavor with the herb, and three curry dishes incorporate it in their stews of coconut milk and spices. Tofu, beef, chicken, and a selection of seafood play central roles in the restaurant's selection of rice, noodle, stir-fry, and grill entrees, each conveniently priced by protein rather than individual dish or the number of letters in its name. Dishes find complement in a wide selection of iced and hot teas and traditional desserts, such as sticky purple rice topped with Thai custard.