Crab swimming in melted butter at Little Cleo's in Phoenix
Crab swimming in melted butter at Little Cleo's in Phoenix
Lauren Saria

5 Best Things I Ate and Drank in February

This month's best bites can be found all over town -- literally so, in the case of the smoothie from one of my new favorite food trucks, which travels to Tempe, Phoenix, and Chandler in any given week. Many of the memorable bites come from places I just recently discovered, proving that there's always room for a new favorite restaurant in your life. Assuming that you make an effort to look.

I hope you get to try some of it for yourself.

See also: 5 Best Things I Ate and Drank in January

Warm Jar of King Crab and Butter with Grilled Bread

Before this month I'd never stepped foot inside Little Cleo's, the Sam Fox seafood restaurant at The Yard in Central Phoenix. Now that I have, I'm sure I'll be back. In addition to a impressive lineup of oysters sourced from all over the world, the restaurant serves this decadent small plate -- although at $21, it's certainly not small in price. It's pretty much impossible not to enjoy a jar of warm, melted butter brimming with pieces of King crab meat. You can scoop up the pieces (with adorable, tiny forks) to enjoy on their own, or use them to top a pieces of crusty white bread. Whatever you do, don't forget more bread to soak up the excess butter.

Dumplings in a pungent chili oil from DingHao in Mesa
Dumplings in a pungent chili oil from DingHao in Mesa
Lauren Saria

Dumplings with Chili Oil

I've already written about the wonderful shen jian bao at DingHao in Mesa, so I'll skip those on this list and spread the word about something different. In addition to the lengthy menu of Shanghai specialties, the restaurant offers a short selection of Szechwan dishes. That's where you'll find this bowl of dumplings, which arrive in a pleasantly pungent chili oil. The hot oil isn't as spicy as you might expect but the smell alone is enough to have your mouth watering. I loved the oil so much, I even took the extra home in a cup.

See also: Sheng Jian Bao: Taste "The World's Most Underrated Dumpling" at DingHao in Mesa

Fried saimin at Aloha Kitchen in Mesa
Fried saimin at Aloha Kitchen in Mesa
Lauren Saria

Fried Saimin

I don't know what it is about this dish that makes it so addictingly good, but I can say that I crave it often. The fried saimin at Aloha Kitchen is a simple combination of saimin noodles, cabbage, Japanese fishcake, green onion, and Chinese barbecue pork, all of which is thrown in a pan and stir fried. The fish cakes and noodles get a perfect little bit of char on them, and the green onions add just the right amount of brightness to the combination. The result is a plate of food that feels deeply comforting, without feeling like a heavy meal.

See also: Aloha Kitchen in Mesa Serves a Satisfying Taste of Hawaiian Tradition

Kale Me Crazy smoothie from Naturally Sweet
Kale Me Crazy smoothie from Naturally Sweet
Evie Carpenter

Kale Me Crazy

Since first trying this smoothie at the Street Eats Food Truck Festival earlier this month, I've tracked down the Naturally Sweet truck to get another fix more than once. For those who frequented the Mojo Bowl food truck before it stopped mobile operations, Naturally Sweet fills the gaping smoothie-sized hole in your life. The Kale Me Crazy is an easy-to-like green smoothie that blends the vegetable with a healthy dose of fruit so you don't quite feel like you're drinking something healthy. I prefer to enjoy one while browsing the aisles at the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

This waffle will blow your mind.
This waffle will blow your mind.
Lauren Saria

Liege Waffle

In case you missed the Guilty Pleasure from earlier this month, here's a recap of why the Liege waffle at Chocolade Van Brugge in Scottsdale is so great. Made with a thick, bread-like dough, this waffle has a thin crust of caramelized sugar that gives way to a inner layer of fluffy dough. You should probably order yours topped with Biscoff spread, which is flavored like spiced brown sugar cookies. The combination is decadent and rich, but definitely worth the extra calories.

See also: Chocolade Van Brugge in Scottsdale Serves Excellent Liege Waffles

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