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By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Dear Cap'n Dave, Where can you go in Phoenix and spend $3 for a lunch that would fill a Phoenix Cardinals defensive lineman?
Answer: Food City, at 1648 South 16th Street. A mixed burro, side of beans, and a medium Coke will set you back $2.94 (before tax). I've traveled the state of Arizona on business for the last fifteen years and haven't had a better quality burro than Food City's, made of all homemade ingredients. Food City even has a tortilla machine on the premises. Food City has recently remodeled and has a small dining area--neat and clean. The manager of the complex is a gentleman by the name of Forest Barnes. You'll never meet a nicer guy than Forest. I'm sure if you ask him, he'll give you a mini-tour of the store. Many of the people that work at Food City have been there since they opened the doors (over thirty years ago). I guarantee you'll walk out full and happy if you give it a try. Sincerely, Mike Ivey
Mike, Mike, Mike: On your recommendation, I visited Food City a few days ago. It was, as you promised, excellent in every regard. Although I didn't get a chance to meet Mr. Forest Barnes in person, the total factuality of your letter leads me to believe that, should I ever meet the man, I will find that he is, indeed, a peach.
In a minute, I'll talk about the food. First, though, I need to explain Food City's location to my predominantly pale readership. Food City is located just a tad north of the freeway that comes from Flagstaff and goes to Tucson and just a wee bit west of the freeway that comes from the river bottom and goes to the Mervyn's store up near Camelback. It's also a mere hop, skip and jump from the airport. In fact, the place is directly under the final approach to one of the airport's busiest runways, so every forty seconds a massive Boeing of some kind seems to be landing in the parking lot. Very soothing. Anyway, my point is that Food City is essentially just minutes from anywhere west of Albuquerque and south of Portland. You have no excuse for not going there for lunch today, especially if you're only driving down from your sterile office tower on north Central Avenue or somewhere equally honkified. "But, Cap'n Dave," I can hear you whine. "Food City is a grocery store! On the south side of town! There might be ethnic people there!" There's no "might" about it. Food City is all about ethnic people. It also is all about great food, which is served in the little cafeteria area near the entrance. On the day I visited, there were big piles of juicy ribs in a display case, as well as corn dogs and some other stuff. There was a pepperoni slice pie under a hot bulb on top of the case, so I got a slice, and it was just okay. (You know, they'll make a whole pizza for you there if you want. One of the potential ingredients they list on the pizza menu is chorizo. This is a new one on me, and, frankly, I can't picture it. I like chorizo. I like pizza. But a combo? Maybe someone out there in readerland can check a pie out and tell me about it by mail. Have your doctor run a few baseline blood-chemistry tests before you try it, though, because someday you'll want to know what your arteries looked like when they still worked.) Food City's Mexican food sits on a sparkling clean steam table. A very nice young lady dished me out a combo burro (red and green chili) and confirmed that the store does indeed make its own tortillas. She also spooned me some rice and beans. Drinks are self-serve, so I grabbed a Coke and headed toward a table. The dining area is clean and bright. I dug into my burro. It was fantastic and not too spicy, which should come as good news to all of you out there in weenie wonderland. The burro was hard to eat in a neat way, so I ended up furiously stuffing the thing into my mouth. By the time I was done, I was the sloppiest person in the place, and the regulars were looking at me in shock and wondering when the manager was going to show up to throw me out. Finally, I thought, I would get to meet this Forest Barnes character. Sadly, he never appeared. So I left, full and happy, as promised. A DC-10 buzzed me as I waddled to my truck. Food City. No excuses. Go there today. Till we eat again . . . What's eating you? Is there a groovy gut-bomb out there you're just dying to share with the world? Hash that's a smash? Write to Cap'n Dave and tell him where to go. Send your napkin notes to: Cap'n Dave, New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix, AZ 85002.