This year Chow Bella writers tossed everything from the breakfast sandwich to the chimichanga into the ring, for a mouthwatering series of "Battle of the Dishes." Here are our five favorites from 2013.
Pig & Pickle vs. Searsucker: Bone Marrow Beatdown in Scottsdale Bone marrow has begun to pop up on restaurant appetizer menus all over town. If you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favor and order it next time you see it. If you have, you know the rich, buttery flavor and smooth texture is unlike any other you've had before. As a dish, it's typically paired with crostini and a sweet component, while the bone itself, usually lamb or cow, is halved and roasted. Two of our favorite and very similar takes on the dish in town at Searsucker and Pig & Pickle duke it out to see whose marrow is the most luxe. Read more here.
Sonoran Dog Skirmish: Nogales Hot Dog vs. El Sabroso Truck
L.A. Dog? Ha! We don't think so. Those copycats might think they started the bacon-wrapped hot dog trend, but Arizonans knows the truth. Sonoran dogs did it first, and they did it better. With beans, hot sauce, mayo, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, onions, and a host of other possible toppings, including roasted or pickled peppers either on top or on the side, Sonoran dogs pretty much have it all. We especially can't get enough of the Sonoran dog's take on the bun -- a squishy, soft bollilo.
If you drive on Indian School Road from one side of Phoenix to the other on any given night, you'll see lots of roadside Mexican pop-up joints serving Sonoran dogs. It's hard to know which is best when there are so many choices, but we picked two of our favorites to battle each other. Read more here.
Spinato's vs. DeFalco's: Clash of the Calzones
For those who have seen calzones jotted on the bottom corner of your local pizza shop's menu without ever trying one -- what are you waiting for? A calzone is basically a pizza ready to devour on the go. Not to be confused with its cousin the stromboli, a calzone's outer dough is pizza dough, whereas the stromboli is made with Italian bread dough.
In the style of the great Philadelphia debate of who makes the better cheesesteak, Chow Bella now asks the question, who makes the better calzone? Clutching a calzone in each hand, this battle was one of the toughest to determine, pitting two longtime Valley pizza families against one another. Read more here.Cronut™ Battle: Herb Box vs. Karl's Quality Bakery
After Chow Bella fried up some of the ever popular Cronuts™ a few weeks back, we have had our ears to the ground, waiting to see who would attempt this trendy treat locally.
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The Cronut™ craze has slowly trickled outside of New York, from Dominique Ansel Bakery, into neighborhood bakeries around the world. For those not in the pastry loop, a Cronut™ is the love child of a doughnut and a croissant. It boasts multiple fluffy layers like a croissant, yet is fried up with love like a doughnut. Filled with cream, dredged in sugar, and topped with a glaze, Cronuts™ are the latest guilty pleasure for pastry lovers -- no matter what you call 'em (since Ansel apparently has the rights to the name).
For those not able to travel to New York City and wait on line for hours, a few Valley pastry chefs are frying up their version of the treat, for your tasting pleasure. Read more here.