Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
18: Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches at Pho 43rd Express
The macaron ice cream sandwiches at Pho 43 Express (also known as 43rd Express) in Phoenix are another reminder — a very sweet reminder — that some of the most memorable finds in our great and sprawling metropolis often pop up in unexpected places.
You come to Pho 43 Express expecting pho. And boy, is there pho: the pho dac biet, the house special, remains one of the most dependably great bowls of pho in town. There are something like 20 variations on the beef noodle soup on the menu, all featuring the kitchen's fragrant and deeply flavored broth.
So, you come for the pho. But you also come for the macaron ice cream sandwiches, which are assembled and sold at the back of the restaurant. The sandwiches are available in various configurations of mix-and-match flavors, including popular Eastern flavors like panang, taro, and Thai tea. You'll also find options like dulce de leche, strawberry, cookies and cream, and red velvet.
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The sandwiches are assembled to order, and they are generous in size, featuring an extra-thick slab of ice cream cemented between two oversize caps of very fresh, chewy, nutty macaron cookies. The pandan is vaguely reminiscent of coconut, and pairs well with the taro-flavored macaron. But pretty much every combination you can fathom will most likely lean toward the delicious side of the flavor spectrum.
It should be noted that the macaron ice cream sandwiches (plus, fresh macaron cookies, sans the ice cream) at Pho 43 Express are more or less available only on the weekends. But I've lucked out on several occasions and found them being sold during the week — just be prepared for a smaller menu of flavors, if that's the case. And if your preferred flavor of ice cream or cookie is not available during your visit, you can always find comfort in a bowl of that exquisite pho.
The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George’s Kitchen.
44: Spinach & Cheese Chimi Burro at Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant.
43: Dinner at Rustler's Rooste.
42: Gyro Omelet at Mel's Diner.
41: Zipps Wings at Zipps Sports Grill.
40: Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa.
39: Asian Nachos at Moto.
38: Olive Oil Tasting at Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill.
37: Baby Back Ribs at Don & Charlie's.
36: Limoncello at Cibo.
35: Chili Salt Chicken Wings at Asian Café Express.
34: Smoked Prime Rib at Texaz.
33: Steak Salad at Feeney's.
32: Tasting Menu at Kai Restaurant.
31: Toffee Banofi Sundae at Sweet Republic.
30: Big Jim at Welcome Diner.
29: Sonoran Hot Dog at El Caprichoso.
28: Sashimi at Nobuo at Teeter House.
27: Oysters at Casey Moore's Oyster House.
26: Spring rolls at Da Vang.
25: Bruschetta and wine at Postino.
24: Hot green chili fry bread at Fry Bread House.
23: The Big One at The Chuckbox.
22: Cahuamanta Stew at Cahuamanta El Yaqui.
21: Dim Sum at Great Wall Cuisine.
20: Fried chicken at The Horny Toad.
19: Fish & Chips at George & Dragon.