Vegan Mexican? Phoenix-style barbecue? A bubble on Seventh Street? Phoenix, we are coming to the end of an eventful year in food. We were happy this year to showcase some incredible, unheralded dimensions of the Valley’s delicious foodscape — and to ask a few uncomfortable questions. Here are 2017’s top food stories.
The Seventh Street Bubble Bursts?
“Is Seventh Street now oversaturated?” asked critic Patricia Escárcega in a February cover story. “If the predictions are correct,” she concluded, “many mid-range restaurants will be forced to close their doors in coming years.” Indeed, both Okra and The Herb Box have since closed.
The Search for Phoenix Barbecue Begins
Food editor Chris Malloy been scouring metro Phoenix’s barbecue scene, gnawing ribs, slurping sauce, and inhaling beef short ribs from San Tan Valley to Cave Creek. The series is still ongoing, but the question it seeks to answer — is there a Phoenix-style barbecue? — has been answered: Hell, yes.
Chris Bianco Writes a Book
We knew the guy could cook — who knew he could write?! The Phoenicians who crammed into Changing Hands Bookstore this summer for Bianco’s book launch know it now. The Valley’s best-known chef hit the national talk show circuit, but remains true to our town, and we love him for it.
Singh Farms Expands
This year, Ken Singh expanded his operations to a 70-acre floodplain and former golf course tucked behind Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe. Post-expansion, the property is now known as Singh Meadows. Singh Meadows is an organic farm and new host to a weekend farmers market.
Laurie Notaro Infuriates The Bitchy Waiter
Humor writer Notaro pulls no punches — particularly at the dinner table. Her call-out to restaurants everywhere about what she’d really like them to knock off right now was the most-read item on the New Times food blog this year, thanks in no small part to The Bitchy Waiter and his not-so-merry followers. Don’t worry. Everyone kissed and made up over lunch.
Alice Cooper’stown’s Closes
In October, Alice Cooper’stown closed without warning. The festive restaurant served American comfort classics like macaroni and cheese, potato skins, and sliders, often with a Southwestern twist. The owner was none other than rocker Alice Cooper, whose band started in Phoenix.
Syrian Sweets Exchange Debuts at Local Farmers’ Markets
This was one of the best feel-good stories of the year — the idea that people displaced from their homes are building new lives here in Arizona, and bringing us a taste of their culture.
Vegan Mexican Starts to Take Phoenix
Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva went to a 50 percent plant-based menu, and vegan spot Mi Vegana Madre has attracted a cult following. Vegan food has been gaining steam in the U.S. for years. That the vegan movement and one of the world’s greatest cuisines have started to marry is a cause for elation.
Bet you weren’t expecting this one! Neither were we. Our story on a few select McDonald’s locations carrying Szechuan sauce (for a very brief period) was one of our most-read stories of the year. And as you will see in the story’s post-publication update, the Szechuan saga is poised to continue.
Taco Summer Lingers
Three of our hungriest writers hit the pavement to dish on 50 of Phoenix’s best taco spots. Phoenix, of course, is a badass taco city in full swing — as our comprehensive guide proves. We’ve got enough solid taco options to keep you full through 2018.