By Steve Jansen
One of my favorite drives in town, which I enjoyed yesterday afternoon, is Main Street Mesa. Despite gentrification and the encroachment of light rail, the old drag’s retro glory still remains intact. Many of the ‘60s era roadside motels are open for business. There’s the diveiest dive known as Hambone on the south side near Mesa Drive. Down around Gilbert Road is the Home Run Stadium batting range, which used to be Robo Pitch Stadium, which used to be Danny’s Dugout.
And then there’s “The Mart,” as my friend Mike and I affectionately call Pizza Mart, a triangular-shaped shack just east of Stapley Drive that serves cheap pizza that’s barely a step above, say, Peter Piper Pizza.
To this day, my high school buddies still clown me for visiting this blue-collared pizza parlor on a regular basis (less so ever since I moved to downtown Phoenix), but I don’t care. I love this dump and I will always hold a huge soft spot in my heart for the place that has somehow managed to survive the corporate pizza movement of places like Papa John’s. Basically, when/if Pizza Mart closes, I will instantly turn into a crotchety, bitter man and say things like, “Back in the old days, there was this place over there that served great pizza pie.”
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Ah. Pizza Mart. Feels like home.
As you can see, the pizza is cheap (used to be only $3.50 for a large pepperoni, back in the old days) and up until last year, an ice cream cone was just two bits (I discovered the doubling in price when I insisted to my friends that they take me to The Mart for my birthday.) There’s only one flavor (vanilla) dispensed from the soft serve machine, but, man, is it good and creamy and sugary. In my opinion, it’s best enjoyed after playing any number of The Mart’s vintage arcade games, such as Asteroids, Ms. Pac Man, and Choplifter.
Oh, and here’s a secret. If there’s a line of people waiting to order at the cash register, don’t stand in it. Just walk over to the counter, pull out two quarters from your pocket, and an employee will hook you up in seconds.