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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.