Best Liquor Store 2021 | Liquor Wheel | Food & Drink | Phoenix

Looking for Food on Seventh Street

It’s Wednesday, and you don’t feel like cooking; you’re hungry, but don’t know what you want to eat. It’s too bad you don’t live in a city where you can drive up and down a single street that’s chockablock with dining choices, considering your options before tucking in for a really swell repast.

Oh, wait. You live in Phoenix, home to North Seventh Street, which several savvy developers converted a few years ago from another blah thoroughfare into a culinary stronghold. Now then. Where’d you put your car keys?

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Should we tell of all the things we should not have done because of products we bought at Liquor Wheel? The answer is a hard no. So let's talk about the venerable institution itself, which has been around since the 1950s. We've been going there since the late '80s, and if you're a longtime Phoenician, you've probably been there, too. The Aranki family bought it in 1999 and added title loans to its repertoire, but little else has changed. Its offbeat name, which apparently refers to its drive-thru and is emblazoned in blue-and-red neon, has always made the place stand out as the gritty liquor store it is. The location in south-south-Arcadia is perfect for all the low-rent apartments in the area. And the booze selection will appeal to both sommeliers and the average working man or woman. Going back to the Liquor Wheel is as natural as the Circle of Life.

If you catch Red Feather Café on one of the few glorious days it's open beneath the soaring water tower in Sacaton, you can grab homestyle chile on frybread or the O'odham tortilla known as c'emet. Sun beams, wind scours, arid mountains loom on the horizon: The setting is a strong seasoning, giving vitality to the traditional Native foods prepared from scratch by Geri and Jerry Leos. Simple frybread and beans? Divine. On Fridays, you can get bowls of soul-filling menudo with hot, fresh-baked bread. Some food trucks have murals and loud music. Red Feather Café has what your soul needs.

Once upon a time, the highways, roadways, and thoroughfares of metro Phoenix were aglow with neon lights. The popularity of the art form faded over the ensuing decades, but has experienced a resurgence in recent years. The historic Gilbert Heritage District embraced the idea with gusto, as more than 20 of the eateries and drinkeries that have debuted in the area since 2014 are adorned with neon elements. Take a spin down Gilbert Road south of Juniper Avenue, and you'll encounter examples that are fun (Joe's Real BBQ features animated letters flickering like wafting smoke), funky (the muscular rooster at Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles), or just plain gorgeous (Barrio Queen's neon-accentuated Catrina). And don't miss the handful of OG signs that are still around, like the one at Liberty Market dating back to 1958. Cruising this district is an illuminating experience.

We're not the biggest fans of drive-thrus under normal circumstances. Does this ozone-plagued town need more cars idling and releasing emissions? But COVID has made the drive-thru a little more acceptable. And we could probably stand to get off our climate-change high horse every now and then. Anyway, having spent more time at drive-thrus this past year or so, we can confidently report that the best one happens to be the newish Slice Eat, which comes to us from the owner of the upscale Italian eatery Forno 301. Menu items range from a single, footlong slice of margherita wood-fired pizza to a takeout bowl of fettuccine al burro e Parmigiano to — look out, Dairy Queen Blizzards — fresh pistachio gelato, all of which can be handed over through the window of your Subaru Impreza. Other quick, drive-thru-appropriate orders include cold brew coffee, chocolate shakes, and a Caesar salad.

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