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Of course, nowadays even farmers can't afford to eat like that every day, much less we couch potatoes. But when we're feeling more than peckish in the a.m., we treat ourselves to the fantastic fare found at the Farm House.
The Farm House is part of an old working Arizona farm -- the barn and some working tractors are still out back. Tables are tucked in former bedrooms, plus the original parlor and living room. It's definitely a blast from the past, with jam jars on the tables, hardwood floors and period furniture.
Portions are farm-hand humongous: giant omelets with sausage, bacon and potato, and cinnamon rolls the size of wagon wheels. All our favorites are here -- home-style pancakes, waffles, muffins and more.
It's not fancy, but it's filling. And it tastes mighty fine. It's the good life, down on the farm.
Readers' Choice: The Good Egg
The red-white-and-blue sandwich shop never lets us down, no matter the time of day, no matter how busy. And it gets very, very busy as soon as the doors open, until every seat is gone and it's standing room only at the takeout counter. Fear not: The cooks are speed demons, slapping great mounds of thin-sliced steak on a sizzling grill, and tossing the meat as its juices crackle and spit.
We love the huge portions (the half sandwich size is anybody else's whole). We love the choices (11 different steaks). We've picked our favorite -- loaded with fresh mushrooms, green pepper, onions, gooey white American cheese and hot peppers bursting the seams of a squishy Italian sub roll.
Uncle Sam's? We want you!
But even an ax-swinger with XY chromosomes is going to have his work cut out for him with the Farms' hefty turkey sandwich. Delectable, thick slabs of real, Thanksgiving-style roasted turkey breast (raised in Dewey, AZ) are piled high on country-style bread just shy of sourdough. A light slick of mayo gilds the gobbler, topped with roma tomato, sliced cucumber, pea shoots and baby lettuce.
(Hint: Sandwiches come with a choice of potato salad or organic greens. Order the potato salad, a plate load of red, skin-on chunks dotted with dill, bits of fresh bacon, parsley and scallion. Why? It's not only delicious, it comes on a bed of greens already.)
Of course, the sandwiches are equally fabulous at both stores. This is top-quality stuff, bringing mounds of tooth tender beef thinly sliced and swimming in its own natural juices. We order ours "wet," for extra gravy to render the French roll into soggy, richly brothed bliss, and don't apologize for making an absolute mess of ourselves. That's what napkins are for.
That's all well and good, but we prefer a far simpler approach to America's favorite sandwich -- an uncomplicated serving of quality ground beef, plopped on a fresh bun, then gussied up with a slice of American cheese and perhaps a spritz of yellow mustard. In short, just like the burgers served at the Chuck Box.
The cooks at this long-standing Valley burger biz don't put much into ceremony; they're too busy churning out fresh sandwiches to order. They peer at us from behind the blistering hot mesquite charcoal broiler, waiting patiently as we make the agonizing decision between the Big Juan (one-third pound, and named after Chuck Box's "beef engineer") and the Great Big Juan (one-half pound). We can add cheese (Swiss, American or Jalapeo Jack) and, if we're really feeling feisty, we can toss on some guacamole or bacon. There's also a choice of white or wheat buns, which are lightly toasted on the grill as the meat sizzles merrily away.
The burgers arrive virtually greaseless, presented on disposable plates atop plastic trays, to be dressed as we desire at the Chuck Box's condiment bar (the fanciest thing offered here is ranch dressing).
To paraphrase the immortal words of one noted burger connoisseur, "We'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a Chuck Box burger today."
And for our do-re-mi, you won't find a better glass of the ubiquitous chilled brew than, ironically, at a place best known for its java. The unofficial state drink (the average Phoenician swills untold gallons annually), iced tea à la Coffee Plantation is a brew that is true. Supplied by the Tempe-based Revolution Tea Company, the leafy libation is available in a variety of distinctive flavors -- Red Hawaiian, decaf Vanilla Bean and Citrus Spice, to name a few.
The rival of any similar dessert in its New York deli homeland, this model is decadence on a plate -- huge, delectably creamy and, of course, obscenely caloric.
There are no superfluous toppings here, just a sprinkle of shaved almond, and plate companions of strawberry, blackberry and blueberry lightly drizzled with honey.
Everything here is to diet for, with sinfully rich tiramisu, zuppa inglese, cannoli, almond puff pastry, fruit tarts, and budino di riso (butter pastry topped with rice pudding; it makes our toes curl). We could make a meal out of Scorzo's dreamy bigne con Crema Pasticcera o Cioccolato (crème puffs oozing with custard or chocolate), topped off with a steaming cup of Torrefazione Italia coffee.
Sometimes, if you're feeling virtuous, go for the less-sweet but oh-so-satisfying focaccia with grapes or apples; or any of the crunchy biscotti, particularly the awesome anise.
There's no use sugar-coating it -- Galileo's got just the desserts we deserve.
Readers' Choice: Marie Callender's
Morton's takes an exotic blend of crimini, oyster, shiitake and portobello mushrooms, sautés them in a heady garlic herb butter, and serves them steaming in a ceramic crock. We get high just off the aroma, and melt when the mushrooms meet our mouths.
So toss away that book on how to meet chicks. Remember, guys: Girls just want to have fungi.
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive
Estrella Mountain Ranch
11800 South Golf Club Drive