Best Local Honey 2022 | AZ Queen Bee | Food & Drink | Phoenix

Are you creeped out by bees but love the taste of smooth, rich honey? AZ Queen Bee, aptly located in Queen Creek, is the place for you. These little insect whisperers concoct delectable whipped honeys and honey straws, plus adorable gift baskets, soaps, decorative honeypots, and plenty more accessories you're sure to be abuzz over. Owner Audra Waddle ditched her dull day job and devoted her life to these fuzzy creatures. When she's not collecting honey, Audra uses a specially designed bee vacuum to remove pesky bees and then transports them to one of her many apiaries, where they are given a second chance at life.

There's a big, wide world out there beyond the borders of the United States, and people who live there have some pretty interesting snack food. The place to find it and take it home is Pop's Exotic Sodas & Snacks. They've got Chinese Oreo cookies in flavors like rose flower and peach with grape; Calbee Japanese steak-flavored potato chips; and varieties of Fanta you can't usually find stateside (think Fanta Banana from Trinidad and Fanta Berries from Egypt). Of course, not all the offerings hail from another part of the world. Some are just hard to find, including Arizona Green Tea fruit snacks or Creme Savers candy (remember those?). Sure, you'll pay a little more for some Polish Ham & Cheese Toast Cheetos than you would for a bag of Ruffles at Circle K, but a few more dollars is a small price to pay for experiencing a new world of global flavors.

Developments have significantly changed the face of Roosevelt Row in recent years, causing some to lament the loss of small creative spaces. But Songbird has been going strong since 2012, serving house-made pastries along with Arizona-sourced coffees and teas. Located in a house built in 1904, it's got a cozy atmosphere where you can unwind or gather to catch up with friends, plus friendly staff who always make you feel welcome. Menu offerings include matcha, kombucha, espresso drinks, lemonade, seltzer, and more. They'll even add CBD/hemp extract by the drop. The walls are lined with a changing selection of works by local artists, making this one of our favorite places to discover pieces we might not see in other settings. When local artists present live music or poetry, we love taking it all in from the casual seating in the front yard or by gathering in the side courtyard. Whether you're into people-watching, checking out local art, or just sitting to sip a latte and do a bit of reading, Songbird never disappoints.

Lauren Cusimano

Thanks to Melrose District favorite Copper Star Coffee, the convenience of a drive-thru is not relegated to national chains. Find the little coffee shop on Seventh Avenue by its larger-than-life neon sign that points down to the dark red painted building that resembles an old-school gas pump. But here, they serve a different kind of fuel. Pull up to the front of the line and a friendly server will come to your window and take your order. Fresh bagels come smeared with cream cheese, dripping with Nutella, or stuffed with bacon, cheese, and eggs for a hearty start to the day. Lattes come hot, iced, or frozen with flavors ranging from pumpkin to lavender and fruit-flavored lemonades are sweet and refreshing. Make sure to take a look at the collage of colorful stickers decorating the doors and pumps while you wait in your car for your coffee fix.

Patricia Escarcega

There are a host of reasons to stop by Cha Cha's Tea Lounge on Grand Avenue. The long menu is packed with sweet and herbaceous teas served by the cup. It's the perfect place to get cozy with a book. And poetry and live music nights often pack the house. But a small shelf in the back of the cafe holds wonders. We love to sip on a cup of tea and get a nosh like a hummus plate or avocado toast, then go shopping. Little brown paper bags of loose-leaf teas range from $5 to $10 and allow customers to bring the tea shop experience home. Try some matcha, a smokey oolong, or a classic, bergamot-tinged Earl Grey.

Lauren Cusimano

Wren House Brewing Co. has somewhat of a cult following, and for good reason. This little brewery, located in a black-and-white bungalow on 24th Street, brews some of the best beer in town. In 2020, Wren House's Spellbinder IPA beat out 376 other hoppy brews from around the country to take home the gold at the Great American Beer Festival. Its popular Valley Beer is sold at grocery and liquor stores around Arizona. Recently, the brewers opened a new production facility in Prescott to keep up with demand. But lucky for Phoenix locals, the taproom continues to pour pints with a cozy, casual atmosphere you want from a friendly neighborhood brewery. The taproom offers merch and cans for sale, food trucks often park outside, and the friendly brewery cat, Gravy, usually says hello.

Located in the old Easley's Fun Shop building on McDowell Road, new brewery Roses by the Stairs had big shoes to fill. But the space has transformed from costume emporium into a beer-fueled neighborhood hangout. The large, airy space welcomes customers to grab a table or a spot on the scattered sofas and chairs, pick out a board game to play with friends, and sip on a flight of freshly brewed beers. The tap list is heavy on sours, fruit-filled ales, and IPAs as the business focuses on using local ingredients like prickly pears and Arizona-grown grains. In addition to serving great beer, Roses by the Stairs also donates a percentage of its revenue to environmental and local organizations.

Natasha Yee

Greenwood Brewing, located in the heart of downtown Phoenix's Roosevelt Row, has a pretty small indoor seating area. That's because almost all of the tables are outside. Two large patios flank the brewery, one offering the shade of a large tree and customers hanging out with their four-legged friends. The other has a more urban feel, complete with string lights, misters, loudspeakers, and a view into the behind-the-scenes action of the brewhouse. Indoors or on either patio, customers can sip Greenwood's selection of rotating seasonal brews including the summery Blueberry Wheat and a Grapefruit Kolsch as well as its flagship beers such as the Herstory Pale Ale, Sol Oatmeal Stout, and Essence Rosemary IPA. Whether you're sipping away the afternoon or grabbing a quick pint before a downtown show, Greenwood is the spot to hang out outside.

Lauren Cusimano

Nothing causes a frenzy in the Phoenix beer scene like a Las Frescas release. When Wren House Brewing Co. takes to social media to announce a new flavor of its coveted fruit brew series, fans immediately get excited. Online orders are placed, a line for pickups has been known to form around the small bungalow brewery, and the limited quantities sell out quick. Las Frescas started as thick, smoothie-like brews made with fresh fruit and lactose, giving them a milkshake-like flavor. During the pandemic, when customers switched to buying cans to go rather than pints on tap, the recipe was tweaked to make the beers more shelf-stable. Now, they resemble sours instead of milkshakes, but they remain equally in demand. Brightly colored labels hint at the flavors inside, ranging from guava strawberry to mango passionfruit and cherry apricot with vanilla. These brews are released mostly throughout the summer.

Coffee is often an ingredient found in dark beers such as stouts and porters. Cream ales bring light, vanilla aromas and soft flavors to the table. Walter Station Brewery's Coffee & Cream Ale provides the perfect balance of both. Imagine if a frothy iced latte was a beer. It's creamy, tinged with vanilla and notes of coffee, and malt brings a hint of caramel to the party. This ale is the exact opposite of a fizzy lager with lime. Find it in cans, or if you're especially lucky, occasionally on draft at the brewery in nitro form. The infusion of nitrogen creates tiny bubbles that make it hard to believe a bartender rather than a barista poured this drink.

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