ZK Grill

Have you tried ZK Grill yet? That stands for Zaytoon Kabob Bistro. It’s a great fast-casual option for a delicious Mediterranean meal.


ZK Grill has some delicious and authentic Mediterranean food that is sure to satisfy!


Entrees are also huge, and come with rice and a big salad. Our dishes came with almost a half-head of lettuce!

I ordered the lamb and beef platter, and definitely enjoyed myself. The lamb filet slices were perfectly cooked. They were not overdone in any way, and tasted really fresh.


I’ve also really enjoyed their hummus dishes on previous visits. The other thing that’s really good is the gyro meat. Absolutely delicious!


ZK Grill recently underwent a pretty big remodel and transformation. They have new seating and artwork. Definitely give it a try if you’re looking for either take-out or dine-in. Enjoy!


Getting there

Located on Tatum Blvd. north of Thunderbird.

Greenway & Tatum Center
4757 E. Greenway Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85032
Phone: (602) 354-3663

Fired Pie

I’ve made a few more visits to Fired Pie up in Scottsdale and wanted to let you guys know what I think now that I’ve had a few repeat visits.


As I said earlier, there was a visit to Fired Pie where the pizza preparer was quite stingy on the ingredients. I’ve since made three more visits to various Fired Pie locations around the valley and have not experienced the same thing. Either they’ve resolved it, or I got lucky.

Fired Pie is an amazing concept. Just like Kramer’s idea for a build-your-own pie shop (for pizza), at Fired Pie you can basically build your own pizza.


It works like at Subway, except you have way more control than at Subway. Here, you can choose the sauce, the cheeses, the meats, vegetables, and toppings. And, there are no theoretical limits. If you wanted every single topping, I don’t think they’d turn you down.

Fired Pie also has really good salads. I’ve tasted the Blue Cheese and Steak salad, the Southwestern Salad, and the Greek Salad. All very good, and definitely enough salad for two people. Maybe three.


The pizza’s are always delicious. They cook them in a wood fired pizza and there’s almost always enough to take-home afterwords.

Give Fired Pie a next time you’re hungry for pizza in Arizona!

Getting there

There are many locations around Arizona. While Fired Pie could be considered a chain at this point, they are all owned by the same company and all based here in Arizona.

Fired Pie
14740 N. Northsight Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Phone: (480) 404-9996

House of Yang

Who serves the best orange chicken in Scottsdale? The excellent House of Yang in North Scottsdale might just be the answer. Especially if you want authentic orange chicken without going to a chain.

House of Yang has been a personal favorite for me for over 7 years. It probably helps that it is within a mile of my home in Scottsdale. House of Yang is located in a strip mall just north of Thunderbird on the west side of Scottsdale Rd.

House of Yang is a family owned and operated business that serves consistently good Chinese food. They sell the majority of their food as take-out and delivery orders, but you can find comfortable seating in the restaurant. But, it shouldn’t be considered a fine-dining establishment. Most of the people who come in are doing take-out.

We like the Orange Chicken and the Kung Pow Chicken the best! They have a regular and large size. We tend to order the Large since it’s a few dollars more and gives you nearly twice as much food. The large size is about $9.85 and for two entrees with rice you can get out the door for about $20.

The Orange Chicken is served with white rice and is delicious! It is a spicy orange chicken dish (but you can order it without the spices). The folks at House of Yang are not stingy with the sauces, and you’ll find your chicken is coated with a nice thick coat of orange sauce. Awesome! It’s really good, and you can taste the strong orange flavor. The chicken is cooked just right, and pieces just right for eating.

The Kung Pow Chicken dish is also quite good. It’s served with white rice and comes with some vegetables included in the dish. The Kung Pow Chicken has a lot of really tasty sauce that goes well with the rice. Quite good and one of my personal favorites.

So, if you’re in the Scottsdale area and looking for a good Chinese restaurant near the Airpark be sure to give House of Yang a try. You won’t regret it.

Getting there

House of Yang
13802 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Phone: (480) 443-0188

Thai Basil at Paradise Valley Mall

While working on a rush project for a client, we decided to pause and break to order some dinner. We decided to order take-out from the new Thai Basil at Paradise Valley Mall.

The Thai Basil at the mall is located on the south entrance, next to the Starbucks.

Thai Basil is one of the better-known Thai restaurants in the Phoenix area, and has numerous locations around the valley. Thai Basil is considered by many of my friends to be the best Thai food in the state.

We ordered the following: A red curry with chicken, a pineapple Thai fried rice, and a drunken noodles with chicken dish. They were all really fantastic!

thai-basil-phoenix-2015-07-05 18.57.32

Above: Red Curry with Chicken

If I could find one way to describe the food, it would be that it tasted more authentic than other nearby Thai restaurants. Maybe because the red curry was less sweet than others I’ve tried. It has a real Thai curry taste and I think it had less brown sugar than I’m used to which explains the flavor difference.

thai-basil-phoenix-2015-07-05 18.56.30


Above: Drunken Noodles

The other nice plus was that the drunken noodles were served with fresh vegetables on the side. Something that other Thai restaurants don’t offer as part of the entree. We really liked the drunken noodles. Big noodles mixed with fresh vegetables, soy sauce, and chicken and spices. Delightful!

thai-basil-phoenix-2015-07-05 18.43.29-1

We really are beginning to love the pineapple fried rice. We’ve been ordering that from every place we go lately. What a great dish! If you have a hankering for a fried rice, give it a try!

thai-basil-phoenix-2015-07-05 18.56.26


Above: Pineapple Fried Rice with Chicken

Thai Basil has a really beautiful interior. They have awesome blue and purple mood lighting that makes the restaurant look futuristic. They also have a bar where you can eat if you are by yourself (that’s where I sat while waiting for the food to be ready).

thai-basil-phoenix-2015-07-05 18.39.55

Enjoy your visit to Thai Basil!

Getting there

Located inside Paradise Valley Mall, on the south side in the middle by the Starbucks. You can park and enter the restaurant without entering the mall.

Paradise Valley Mall
4550 E. Cactus Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85032
Phone: (602) 788-0899

Thai Elephant

I had a chance to stop in at Thai Elephant on Monday for a business lunch.

I ordered the Red Curry, and my colleague ordered the Panang Curry.

My red curry was delicious! While there are lots of great red curies around the valley, this was certainly one of the best. They have a lunch special, and the two of us got out of there for about $24 including a tip.

thai elephant

The lunch special includes a small eggroll, white rice, and the curry dish. They also provided us with a sweet soup that was awesome. A nice touch that many local Thai restaurants don’t provide.

They accept all major credit cards.

The Thai Elephant interior is nice and comfortable, and decorated sparsly. It’s a popular place for business lunches in the Tempe area.

Getting there

Located on University Rd. on the south side of the street.

Thai Elephant
815 W University Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281
Phone: (480) 966-0351

Empanadas from Sydney’s at Tempe Marketplace

sydneys-tempe-logoVoted best empanada’s in Phoenix in a readers choice poll for 2015, the Sydney’s Cafe located at Tempe Marketplace is a one-of-a-kind restaurant!

The speciality is the empanadas. I tried a bunch of them! They’re all very delicious!


The Gaucho Beef has beef, cumin, paprika, beef, potatoes, green olives, and hard boiled eggs.


Then there’s the California, a mushroom, fontina, goat cheese empanada that was my personal favorite. It’s like eating mushroom soup! Delicious!


The vegetarian options are plentiful. I tried the Samosa empanada, which has curry, potato, kale, peas, ginger, cilantro, garlic, and more… Really good flavor!

The chicken empanada has smoked chorizo, smoked cheese, bell pepper, red pepper, and more. Also delicious!


Sydney’s is way more than empanadas. They also serve a variety of custom made sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts.

They also make smoothies, coffee and chai drinks, cocktails, and pastries! It’s like a coffee shop with awesome food.


Let’s start with the empanada’s, since those are the real treat. They make all of their different empanada’s fresh daily, and have more than a dozen varieties. Everything from chicken, beef, turkey, vegetarian, and spinach. And, they taste amazing! Each one costs $3.99 and you can bundle them with a meal for a value basket.


Dine in, or take-out. They also do catering. On the day I visited, they were wrapping up 800 empanada’s for delivery to a local tech company’s weekly luncheon.


Back to the food: the empanada’s are served with chips, coleslaw, or potato salad. They make all of these items fresh, including the potato chips. I love it when a restaurant makes their own chips, instead of just serving bagged chips.

They also have a variety of desserts. I tried the fig empanada which was marvelous. Hot out of the oven, and covered in a raspberry sauce. Lovely flavors you won’t find anywhere else. I also tried the pineapple cake which was lovely. It had a cream cheese based whip. One of my favorites!


The interior of Sydney’s is designed and accented with an airplane theme. There’s a tail wing from an airplane on the ceiling, and the trash cans are repurposed airline beverage carts (great idea!).

trash can made out of a airplane beverage cart

They have lots of comfortable seating, with booth and table seating along the western wall.


Most of the menu items are named after airports or airplanes in some way. For example, there’s the O’Hare Roast Beef Sandwich, and the Sky Harbor Chef.

The owners know a thing or two about the airline industry, and it shows in the design of their restaurant.


So, next time you’re in Tempe, stop in at Sydney’s and try one of the empanada’s!

Getting there

They are located inside Tempe Marketplace, across from Barnes and Noble and the splash pad.

Sydney’s Cafe
2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy
Tempe, AZ 85281
Phone: (480) 967-1171

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Still the very best burger in Scottsdale, and possibly all of Phoenix! Hopdoddy Burger Bar is a superb place to go for tasty burgers, delicious milk shakes, and drinks!


On a recent visit, we tried the Poblano Burger and the Shroom Burger, along with french fries, a margarita, and a Hefeweizen beer. We topped all of that with one of their custom chocolate milkshakes. Delicious!

Hopdoddy’s interior has comfortable booth seating as well as tables and bar seating. The bar is on the other side of the restaurant, so when you’re having a burger with you family, it doesn’t seem like you’re sitting in a bar.

The burgers at Hopdoddy are the best, and let me tell you why: They’ll cook them to order, and the default is pink in the middle. They’re always just right!


Once you bite into the juicy, medium-rare burger patty you’ll realize why it’s so good. They are moist, and juicy. The buns they makke are also a big factor in why I like Hopdoddy. They’re fresh, and they are never dry. If you’ve had a burger with a dry bun, you’ll know it isn’t the same experience.

The variety of toppings, cheeses, and sauces is stunning! No matter what you want on your burger, they have it! I saw they even have a vegetarian option now (if you’re into that kind of thing).


Let’s talk about the drinks! The beers are $6 draft, and come in a humungous mug! Loved my Hefeweizen beer, and it had a tiny bit of slushy ice and was super-cold. The margarita was also delicious! I can tell you with certainty that they don’t skimp on the tequila! The ice is blended to a snow consistency, and was perfect.

The french fries are always delicious. Maybe not as good as some others I’ve had, but they’re thin and crisply.

poblano burger

Lastly, the milkshakes are awesome! I’m not sure what they put in them, but you must try them! They’re awesome!

So, get out there and go try the hamburgers at Hopdoddy in Scottsdale! It is located just north of Shea Blvd. on Scottsdale Rd.

A Taste of Greece: AZ Greek Festival in Chandler, AZ

Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church holds a Greek festival every year called A Taste of Greece. Each year, they close off their parking lot and set up tents and chairs. The event is a mix of dancing, music, and great food. There are multiple food options from several vendors. The host also has a huge buffet option that we really enjoyed. You just can’t go wrong with lamb and hummus.


The music and dancing were fun to watch! The dancing seemed to mostly be kids, and they were cute and quite good at the routines.


If you are interested in going to the festival, you can get more information online.


2716 N Dobson Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85224

Barrio Cafe

There is an entree at Barrio Cafe called the Chiles en Nogada and it is considered one of the best variations on this entree in the world. If you are at Barrio’s for dinner, and wondering what to try, we highly recommend it!

Chiles en Nogada

The flavors are delicious, and fresh! The entree is a stuffed poblanos pepper that includes chicken, apples, onions, pecans and spices. The dish is served on a white almond sauce with pomogranite. The pommogranite adds such a delightful sweet flavor next to the apple and chicken. Truly one of my favorites.


My father recently rediscovered Barrio Cafe and invited us to a Sunday lunch after church. I had visited back in 2007, but since then hadn’t had an opportunity for a revisit.

Barrio Cafe in Phoenix is certainly one of the best Mexican restaurants in the valley. It has wide acclaim from food enthusiests. Even celebrity chefs, and weathermen like Al Roker have visited.


The interior of Barrio Cafe is simple and elegant. It’s a small restaurant, with multiple small rooms.

Outside, the building is covered with colorful murals.


Getting there

Parking is available on the street or behind the building, and is free. We’ve found that the least-busy time to visit is on Sunday afternoons, but you may want to call and ask foor a reservation.

They are located on 16th St. in Phoenix.

Barrio Cafe
2814 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85006
Phone: (602) 636-0240