Cartel Coffee Lab has reaped its fair share of local and national applause, including that of BBC Travel and Food & Wine Magazine. With all those accolades, it's surprising just how modest Jason Silberschlag—the man behind the coffee—actually is. "We're all infants in understanding coffee," Silberschlag mused in a video on the shop's website. "It's one of the most complex beverages we consume." But, more than modest, Jason's comments reveal a very real respect and reverence for the drink—a respect that manifests itself in the staff's persistent experimentation, study, and instruction. The spot, after all, is not a coffeehouse; it's a coffee lab. Each of Cartel Coffee's four locations moderately play up the laboratory theme with lots of stainless steel, but offset any hint of coldness with brightly colored walls and original sculptures. Even more essential to the theme? The baristas are known to carefully explain brewing processes and technique to their customers as they create decadent espresso drinks, including the simple desert favorite: cold-brewed coffee. Light on the sugar, the brew allows sippers to really taste and admire the bold, earthy flavor of espresso beans culled from Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Guatemala. And though coffee is the most obvious drink to order at Cartel, you’ll want to pay attention to the rest of the menu, especially at the Tempe location. Since early 2013, this outpost has evolved from a straight coffeehouse into a full-blown microbrewery.
With more than 700 locations, Jamba Juice proves to the masses that nutrition can be speedy and delicious. Since the beginning, the company's product philosophy has revolved around choosing whole fruits and other natural ingredients over artificial flavorings, sweeteners, and preservatives. The menu is completely free of high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats, and it offers additional accommodations for vegan and gluten-free diets.
Blended drinks dominate the menu, with options including fruit refreshers?made with naturally hydrating, electrolytic coconut water?and pre-boosted smoothies that can fill nutritional gaps with infusions of protein, immunity boosters, or antioxidants that neutralize accidentally swallowed pool water. The drink list also includes organic house-blend coffee and Talbot Teas, including Paris Breakfast and SOHO Earl.
For those with heartier appetites, steel-cut oats steep in soymilk before being enhanced with toppings such as apples, cinnamon, and brown-sugar crumble. The lunch hour presents protein-packed mini wraps, toasted bistro sandwiches and California Flatbreads that pack only about 320?420 calories each.
Mark Smith and Gary Clark wouldn’t be where they are today without a 50-year-old barbecue recipe. When the two childhood friends started a catering service in college to cover their living expenses, they soon became renowned for their barbecue, made with a Tennessee-style recipe passed down through several generations. Bolstered by demand, they bought a truck and a portable barbecue pit—but soon traded these for a brick-and-mortar location, a rustic storefront on East Van Buren Street. More than 25 years later, the pair are still serving smoked meats at Honey Bear’s BBQ, boosting their output with a second location on North Central Avenue and a separate catering center.
Their recipe has only improved with age, earning them accolades such as the Phoenix’s Best BBQ Sauce 2010 Award from the Phoenix New Times. Inside the Honey Bear BBQ kitchens, chefs brush this signature Tennessee sauce onto pulled pork, shredded chicken, and beef brisket, which they serve by the pound, pile onto sandwiches, or stuff into face-level catapults. They complement the mesquite flavors with traditional Southern sides such as potato salad, cowbro beans, collard greens, and tater tots. For faraway fans, they also bottle and ship their signature sauce around the country.
Mind Over Batter, a confectionery delight in the heart of Tempe, opened its doors on Valentine's Day 2011 and shortly thereafter won the Phoenix New Times' annual Best Cupcakes award. After being dismayed by the banality of store-bought desserts and the lack of business ethic among shadowy sheet-cake cartels, the team at Mind Over Batter decided to set out on their own, eventually expanding their labor of love to two different locations in Tempe and Gilbert. The shops bake cupcakes in an array of traditional and less common flavors, such as peanut butter and strawberry or chocolate chip and fudge, with the bite-sized cakes come adorned in glittering sugar crystals or technicolored layers of creamy icing. Cake pops weigh down skewers with cake spheres dunked into various buttercream icings and candy coatings. Custom-made cakes commemorate baby showers, weddings, or the weddings of love-struck babies with batters such as chocolate red velvet or classic butter yellow, and fillings such as chocolate ganache or seasonal fresh fruit.
The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to 100 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location's being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, grilled and deli-style hoagies are assembled and calzones and pizzas baked in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 100 microbrewed and imported beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
Shalimar Country Club's 2,417 yards of manicured golfing terrain are peppered with towering trees, slinking sand traps, and rolling hills. The design of the nine-hole, par-33 course masterfully incorporates its scenic assets?the fifth hole sits across a yawning lake, and the ninth hole's island green is flanked on all sides by water hazards, bunkers, and punks who steal golf balls for their solar-system dioramas. To be prepared to dodge these obstacles, players practice on a driving range and chipping-and-putting green. After their rounds, golfers can wander into the restaurant and lounge for a meal or a drink or peruse the golf shop to try on new apparel and test the mettle of name-brand equipment.
Course at a Glance:
Nine-hole, par-33 course
Distance of 2,417 yards from the farthest tees
Course rating of 31.2 from the farthest tees
Three tee options
Link to scorecard