Best Family Food Lore 2019 | Julio César Morales | Food & Drink | Phoenix

You'd balk if your grandma told you she invented the apple pie or your cousin said he came up with the first bite of sushi. But Julio César Morales, curator of the Arizona State University Art Museum, takes his grandfather's accounts of helping to make the first Caesar salad, along with notorious gangster Al Capone and a chef at the Caesar's Hotel in Tijuana, Mexico, to heart. Family lore says the trio put the salad together one night during Prohibition, using what was left in a hotel restaurant kitchen after an onslaught of tourists practically wiped them out. He's visited the hotel, shared his family's oral history through art, and still makes the salad today for friends and family. Morales knows food lore can be tricky, but credits his grandfather's stories with helping to fuel his shared passion for art and culinary creations. Every family tale should be so inspiring.

The old Rose & Crown building in Heritage Square recently morphed into Anhelo, a playful restaurant helmed by 28-year-old Chef Ivan Jacobo. Until he rewired the lighting and relaid the floors of this spot, refreshing the structure while preserving the old charm, Jacobo helmed a cult pop-up called Hidden Kitchen. The whimsical vibe of that bygone endeavor carries over to the space of the old building, made new by some of Jacobo's uncommon ideas. Giving to charity. Operating with almost no fridge space. Going way out of his way to compost. Plating a ceviche that features not marine life but cubes of watermelon. Coating Caesar salad in a blanket of cheese. Plating a cluster of scallops on one point of a sweet potato ring tracing the rim of the dish. And crafting some of the more surprising desserts you can find these days, like granitas and pavlovas with pickled strawberries, and a cold quenelle of salted caramel ice cream striped with honey surrounded with fixings to turn you into a kid again.

Heather Hoch

Fate Brewing opened in Scottsdale in 2012, but there was an issue: There already was a similarly named brewery in Colorado. So, in 2016, Scottsdale's Fate Brewing Company had to reopen as McFate Brewing, a nod to founder Steve McFate. Eventually, a second Scottsdale location opened. But actual fate intervened. The Boulder, Colorado-based FATE Brewing Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2018, and McFate jumped on the chance to reclaim the original name. McFate Brewing Company was rebranded as Fate Brewing Company just in time for the opening of its third location and beer garden, this time in Tempe. The new name couldn't feel more appropriate.

Lauren Cusimano

Few restaurants in Phoenix have ever gotten as much bad publicity as The Monocle. The restaurant and bar was set to open in 2017 until Phoenix New Times revealed that co-owner Arthur John Bachelier was a convicted sex offender who served six years for having sex with a minor. That prohibited him from obtaining a state liquor license. Bachelier went on the lam after he was convicted of probation violation. Law enforcement officials finally caught up with him in Seattle, where he was working at another restaurant, and he is back behind bars. But there's a happy ending for the historic Phoenix building, at least. It finally reopened this year as The Farish House, taking the original name of the 1899 brick home near Roosevelt Row. And early reports on the neighborhood bistro are quite promising: Our food editor called it "ideal for a date night or a quiet family dinner."

Heather Hoch

Jobot is why God created coffee shops. It makes the Friends gang's episodic hangouts at Central Perk look juvenile and tame. The long-standing Roosevelt Row establishment has grown into its new location at Third Street, and has beat all the odds to maintain the inclusive and unpretentious vibe of its old bungalow setting on the Row (perhaps accomplished by simply not turning half of the lights on). With excellent espresso alongside great craft beer selections, a full bar, a gated patio, an ice cream stand, and a full kitchen with vegan options, even the pickiest of your friends will find something to love here. Especially if it's bingo night. Or karaoke night. Or open mic night. Or, it's First Friday and the place is packed full of happy people watching the teenage nu-metal cover band across the street. Jobot is the place to take anyone and everyone.

El Charro is more than a coffee shop experience. Husband-and-wife owners Francisco and Azul Peralta, former workers in STEM fields, have drawn from their world travels and aimed for more of a salon vibe. They hit that target. Sit at the bar, and unbidden, Francisco may pour you high-end mezcals, just so you can taste. This friendly duo source coffee blends from Mexico and mix some fascinating brews with them, including horchata-coffee hybrids and lattes fortified with marigold liqueur from Guadalajara. There is food (though there's no kitchen). There are folks hanging out, typing, reading, or talking under a mural of Frida Kahlo painted by the couple's daughter, Geraldine. There are group painting sessions, open mics, and musical artists. This could easily be your office. This could easily be your playground.

MacAlpine's is an iconic spot on the boundary of downtown Phoenix that seems never to have aged in 60 years. There are red booths, jukeboxes, and an antique store (you can buy saddle shoes!) attached to the restaurant, along with endless syrup options and ice cream sodas available to order with fun names referencing pop culture. The staff wear those pink dresses you won't see anywhere else; essentially, this dessert haven is like living in the moment when Tobey Maguire arrives in Pleasantville, except it's not black-and-white — it's full color, but just as beautiful a thing. So pop a quarter in the jukebox, order soda and a pie, chat up the friendly staff, and forget what year it is. The '50s are just around the corner.

Ever had an au jus made with preserved ocotillo flowers? How about White Sonora wheat pasta tossed in miso, made from Gambel oak acorns foraged from the forest near Payson? Scallops and fermented blueberry paste? No? How about pickled palo verde sprouts with a tang to sub for capers? When you order correctly at Cartwright's in Cave Creek (hint: tasting menu), you eat in a radical, galvanizing sphere apart from what we expect from our dining scene, but one vital to eating in our state in 2019. Whether it's ga'ivsa and Navajo steamed corn mingled under line-caught fish, or an artful composition squiggling through a smear of saguaro jam, Chef Brett Vibber's creations wheel you through the groves, washes, and pine forests far beyond town. He leads his kitchen crew out into the backcountry to forage for ingredients like sumac and wild grapes. Many are pickled, jammed, dried, or otherwise preserved for select use well beyond their seasons. In recent years, Vibber has grown and fine-tuned his foraging program, which is exciting for this pioneer of New Arizonan cuisine. Eating at Cartwright's is eating Arizona.

Chris Malloy

Is there anything better than knocking off work early to get cheap drinks and eats? (Answer: no.) Lovecraft in north central Phoenix is our favorite place to observe happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. every day. The "ale house, bottle shop, and smoke kitchen" does a progressive happy hour; the closer to 3 you get there, the cheaper things are. We like the broken chip queso dip and the smoked jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped with bacon, and it's always fun to pick out a can of beer from the fridge (there's a great selection). Of course, we like to visit Lovecraft any time the doors are open for the green chile pork burrito, the beers on tap, the cool decor, and the friendly atmosphere.

Patricia Escarcega

Harlow's Café sates every morning mealtime craving imaginable: the early-bird cup of joe, the quick and healthy, the greasy and hearty — and the chorizo and eggs may be the best hangover cure in the state. Oh, and if a hair of the dog is your thing, find solace in the fact that Harlow's recently added booze to the menu. This experience is everything you could want from a classic local diner that has been open for business for over 40 years. Everything is made from the greasy pits of Arizona love, from the Pancho platter (pancakes, eggs, and bacon or sausage) to the Percy omelet (onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomato, sausage, and cheese).

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