Every once in awhile we spot a local bakery, bar or restaurant on national TV and wonder one of two things: “If the place is good enough for TV, why haven’t I been there?” or “I love that place—how did the camera crew manage to miss me?” Here are some establishments that looked great on the small screen (no “Kitchen Nightmares” here), arranged in an order that could fill a day or more of your time with star-quality food and drink.
Bring a newspaper or your paper copy of Where Phoenix+Scottsdale with you to Matt’s Big Breakfast. There’s often a wait for a table at this daytime destination, which is a slight inconvenience but also a strong testimony to what’s in store. When it’s your turn, go light and fluffy with a from-scratch waffle, or for the gusto with eggs and a big ol’ seared pork chop. Visited by Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.”
On a busy weekday, swing into Luci’s Healthy Marketplace for a portable, pleasing egg-white sandwich. On a weekend, slide into a booth at The Henry for a big-city brunch. Seen in hometown vignettes on E!’s “Total Divas” (WWE wrestler-spouses Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan live in Phoenix; Bella has also been filmed at lunch/dinner spots SumoMaya in Scottsdale and The Clever Koi in Phoenix).
If the average human’s small intestine is 20 feet long, the 22-inch “Big Unit” hot dog (named for onetime Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson) at Alice Cooper’stown should be no problem. Simple math, right? But wait, this dog is topped with chili, bacon, cheese, sauerkraut, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes and sweet relish. Patrons at other tables will be watching your progress as if it’s a slow-motion culinary car crash. Tackled by Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food.”
The Toffee Banofi sundae is two scoops of housemade Madagascar vanilla ice cream topped with bananas, almond brittle, salted caramel sauce and whipped cream, and is available at two Sweet Republic ice cream shops. For a more modest-sized snack, select a scoop of the house’s own ice cream or sorbet featuring innovative ingredients like sweet corn, Roquefort cheese, basil or cucumber. Loved by Alton Brown on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
Any employee of Phoenix-based Urban Cookies and alter ego OllieCake will hand you a standard peanut butter cookie or chocolate cupcake, no questions asked—but it’s tough to resist ridonkulous flavor combos like pineapple-coconut or dark chocolate-walnut (cookies) or banana-cardamom or chile-chocolate-cinnamon (cupcakes). Victorious on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.”
Dress up a little (at least change out of that frosting-stained shirt) and book a table at Tarbell’s, where house specialties have long included a “Mr. Fish of the Moment,” Scotch beef with buttermilk mashed potatoes, and on occasion, chef Mark Tarbell’s mother’s macaroni-and-cheese formulation. Chef competed on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America.”
Chef and generally bold character Beau Macmillan treats duck and eggplant, salmon and ginger, and tofu and spring vegetables with a remarkably delicate touch in his elements kitchen. Chef seen on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America,” “Chopped All-Stars,” “The Best Thing I Ever Made” and more.