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Nov 10, 2010 10:10 AM

Invitation to Chowdown, 11/12, 11/13 & 11/14

If any local 'hounds would like to join me for some chowing, I've kinda figured out my schedule for the weekend with time slots where it would be easy to get together.

Friday, 11/12, ~ 5pm
Tour of Urban Grocery at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market
Tasting AZ wines at Urban Grocery wine bar
Downtown wine bar crawl: Hanny's, Roosevelt, District, Bar Bianco
Late dinner at Pizzeria Bianco

Saturday, 11/13 - 11am to 5pm
Triple Crown BBQ Competition at Sun City Festival, Buckeye
This is a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned contest and more than 50 teams are competing. Rumors are that Johnny Trigg, the top guy for ribs, will be competing here as well as 5 of the country's top 10 teams. I'll be in the judges tent and not available to meet up, but I thought others might enjoy the experience. There's no charge for the event and there will be live music and activities for the kids. Del Webb has hired Whiskey Ranch to cater free chicken and pork for the public. Many of the teams will be selling their extra chicken, ribs, pork butt, and brisket too for $2 per taste. At other contests I've attended, the food from the competitors usually sells out before 3pm. Whiskey Ranch seems to have done pretty well on the competition circuit, so the bbq should be good as well as free.
Location Sun City Festival
26415 W Desert Vista Blvd
Buckeye AZ 85396 (West of Surprise, AZ)
More info and driving directions with map at:

From Phoenix area
Take I-10 West to 303 North to Bell Rd
Take Bell Rd West which eventually becomes Sun Valley Pkwy
Travel approximately 11 more miles and turn right onto Canyon Springs Blvd
Turn left onto Desert Vista Blvd to the Sales Pavilion sign and go left
From Flagstaff area
Take I-17 to Loop 101 West
Exit Bell Rd heading West which eventually becomes Sun Valley Pkwy
Go several more miles and turn right onto Canyon Springs Blvd
Turn left onto Desert Vista Blvd to the Sales Pavilion sign and go left
After the competition, I expect to be mentally exhausted and overly full. So I'll be on my own and in search of some green vegetables.

Sunday, 11/14, ~ noon
Spanish Market and food grazing from the Cafe at the Heard Museum
Afternoon walk around a neighborhood TBD
Light dinner from izakaya menu at Nobuo at Teeter House
Turn in rental car at 7:30pm

I'm open to suggestions as well. Please email me at if you'd like to meet up. We can work out times and a specific itinerary by email.

Pizzeria Bianco
623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

816 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Downtown Phoenix Public Market
721 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

District: American Kitchen and Wine Bar
320 N 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

40 N First St, Phoenix, AZ

Bar Bianco
609 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Nobuo at Teeter House
622 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Whiskey Ranch BBQ
1227 S Kendra St, Gilbert, AZ 85296

Cafe at the Heard Museum
2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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  1. We're meeting at the Café at the Heard Museum around noon (11/14), for anyone that might be interested. Use Melanie's email address to communicate.

    11 Replies
    1. re: johnseberg

      Were there any reports after the chowdown I missed?

      1. re: hhc

        I had a nice chat with Melanie, and we each had a salad. I had the roasted pear salad, which was good enough, but, too sweet. I was planning on eating more, but, their menu was very short compared to what is shown on the website.

        1. re: johnseberg

          The cafe is now managed internally and not by Arcadia Farms. I'm wondering if those who'd tried it under the earlier management have noticed any changes.

          Arcadia Farms Cafe, Heard Museum
          2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

          Cafe at the Heard Museum
          2301 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I noticed little change in the food after the change in restaurant management. The major change was to acquire a liquor license.

            As I wrote back in January: "The changes are evolutionary, not revolutionary, and continue the equilibrium between museum's native focus and its need to appeal to visitors from out-of-town who might be unfamiliar with regional foods."


            In other words, I think few museum cafes can avoid some food compromises because they need to serve an array of visitors, some of whom will have timid palates. The excessively sweet salad dressing may be one of those compromises.

            1. re: exit2lef

              Absolutely, in the world of museum cafes, this is a gem. Interesting about the liquor license, as I'll share that I was pretty surprised that I could have tequila here. I glanced briefly at the wine list and noticed that there were no AZ wines.

              I do recall our server saying that the same cactus pear syrup is used in the margarita and the salad dressing. She said my choice was with or without alcohol for the same flavor. :)

        2. re: hhc

          Thanks for asking. I’ll add a few comments about the lunch at the Cafe at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. We had a nice seat outside on the patio. Our server was friendly but a little spacey. As John mentions, the menu for the day was only a few choices from the one online. In addition, a to-go stand also offered a tepary bean wrap that we wanted to try. But despite John’s considerable charm in asking our waitress if we could order that, no-go. So we picked two salads.

          I had the blue corn tostada salad. Nothing special about it, but enjoyable for lunch. I liked the chipotle ranch dressing a lot . . . once it made it to the table after pointing out to our server that she forgot it . . . and the chopped romaine was indeed very crisp and fresh. Grayish, overly soft hunks of avocado and too much cheese for my taste. Again, the tostada was light and crispy, definitely something that turns out uniformly better in Phoenix than at home. I also had a prickly pear margarita made with agave tequila that hit the spot.

          Photo of Spanish Market Tostada Salad, $9 – Black beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, avocado, jicama, cheddar cheese, crisp romaine, blue corn tostada, and chipotle ranch dressing.

          John’s roasted pear salad was fine too. Good job on roasting/carmelizing the pear and the giant hand-like presentation was kinda cool. The sweet-ish dressing on the sweet elements in the salad came off a bit cloying.

          Photo of Roasted Pear Salad, $10 – Glazed oven roasted pears, dried cranberries, gorgonzola, toasted pecans, mixed field greens, prickly pear dressing.

          The setting and the company were better than the food at this chowdown. It was a pleasure to talk about the Phoenix food scene with John and enjoy the unique crafts at the Spanish Market. I also toured the collection in the museum.

          More photos from the annual Spanish Market at the Heard Museum

          Photos from the 2010 Sun City Festival BBQ competition on Saturday

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Wow, sounds like I missed a great itinerary! Any Phoenix Chowhounder things going on during the second half of December?

            1. re: vtombrown

              I live in San Francisco. You should feel free to put together an event and see if anyone wants to join you. Best to give folks more notice than I did, as the holidays are such a busy time.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                What did you think of the pizza at Pizzeria Bianco? I finally ate there six months or so ago, and my wife and I almost divorced over whether to endure the three-hour wait for a table. Also, how was the food at Nobuo?

                1. re: Tom Armitage

                  You asked, so I posted here,
                  Glad to get that off my chest on the last day of the year! Hope you'll add your impressions to that thread.

                  I didn't make it to Nobuo, was dropping in on little places around town instead and rolled to the airplane completely stuffed.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    finally got to nobuo for dinner and was very disappointed, the portions were incredibly small for the price, and were ok tasting but nothing spectacular

                    i would stick with it for a lunch spot only, or for a good drink - however i spoke to bartender there and think i can duplicate the devil's haircut, or at least i will give it a try :)