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At Quiessence, though, they don't just talk the talk. They walk the walk every single day, when chef de cuisine Greg LaPrad and sous chef Anthony Andiario put their heads together and come up with a new menu that makes the best use of the freshest produce, seafood, and meats. That means organic vegetables grown right next door, at Maya's at the Farm, meats from local herdsmen, and other ingredients from Phoenix purveyors. Both LaPrad and Andiario have spent time working in Italy, where the Slow Food Movement was founded, so they're huge believers in the philosophy behind the food. On any given day, the menu might feature braised pork tenderloin with roasted peppers and wilted mizuna; buckwheat tagliatelle with duck confit, fava beans and sage; or pan-seared sole with shrimp, baby fennel, and sweet potatoes. More likely, you won't find any of the above due to the truly seasonal menu, but you get the picture. Housemade charcuterie, pâtés, and salads are ever-changing as well.
The beautiful thing about Quiessence, aside from the pastoral setting, is how it never gets old. We can't think of anywhere else in Phoenix where repeat visits are such a pleasure.
And a healthy dose of nostalgia, if the '70s and '80s count.
The opening credits and choice inside scenes for Alice the successful sitcom that ran from 1976 to 1985, chronicling a Hollywood hopeful forced to take a waitress job at a diner after her car breaks down in Phoenix were filmed inside Mel's.
The spot retains that no-nonsense charm, complete with a Mel Sharples-type character in the form of foul-mouthed Frank, a busboy who will begrudgingly pour you bottomless cups of coffee. Just don't smile too much because he'll wipe that grin right off with a verbal slap across the piehole.
Death by gobbler is gonna get you either way, so why not go out in style? The Wrigley's annual Thanksgiving feast is style personified. Get a load of these offerings from last year's menu: baby lamb chops with a mint glaze and grilled salmon with a roasted red pepper coulis. Even the turkey slathered with cranberry chutney is life-affirming. What price mental health? A mere $27.50 to $55, which we'd consider cheap at twice the price.
This tiny, sunny diner's a downtown icon, and not just because of its orange counters or sassy retro décor. Here, the coffee's always strong, the juice is straight-outta-the-orange, and the thick bacon strips from The Pork Shop in Queen Creek are the best we've ever had.
Whether we go with the salami scramble, a fluffy Belgian-style waffle, or a fat omelet stuffed with roasted red peppers and aged provolone, Matt's hearty eats gear us up to take on the world.