The Guilty Pleasure: Wingless Buffalo Dip Where To Get It: Maizie's Cafe & Bistro Price: $9.50 ($5 during happy hour) What It Really Costs: Your whole day's allotment of carbs and fat... and that's when you split one.
There's something wonderful about hot, cheesy dips. I think it's that it combines the richness of good comfort food with the convivial nature of hors d'oeuvres. However, entries in the field are often dated at best. I refer mainly to, of course, spinach-artichoke dip. It entered the American culinary scene in the 1980s, made it on to the menu of every sports bar and casual restaurant in the country during the 1990s, and now just refuses to go away. Not to say I don't enjoy it when someone puts some in front of me... I just wouldn't think of ordering it.
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While spinach dip is passé, there's another hot dip I can't get enough of: The Wingless Buffalo Dip from Maizie's in central Phoenix. It won't satisfy a wing craving. But, it works great for those times that you think spinach artichoke dip sounds good, but don't want to admit you like it. The creamy base has Cheddar, Asiago, and blue cheeses added to it, along with a healthy dose of Frank's RedHot pepper sauce. The RedHot adds enough of a dose of piquancy that keeps the dip from falling into the tedium of so many other hot dips. Some chopped chicken stirred in provides textural interest, and provides a nice reference to the dish's namesake. A bowl of standard-issue pita wedges and corn chips provide a neutral dipping medium, and life is deliciously cheesy.
I enjoy the buffalo dip one of two ways. It makes for part of a nice leisurely patio lunch (when it cools off soon) when I split the dip and a salad (I keep telling myself that the greens cancel out the dip's caloric damage) with a friend. More often, when I have the afternoon free I'll head over to Maizie's for their superb happy hour. The buffalo dip (and several other appetizers) is all of five bucks, and a refreshing glass of sangría completes the package for just another three.