Best Meadery 2022 | Superstition Downtown | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Lauren Cusimano

Recently, we took a friend who had never tried mead to Superstition Downtown, the local outpost of Superstition Meadery. She was unfamiliar with the beverage, which is fermented honey mixed with water and a host of optional ingredients including various fruits, herbs, and spices. She left a mead fan. Superstition Downtown makes it easy to explore the different types of meads: They offer predetermined or build-your-own tasting flights, one-ounce pours that give you several sips to figure out what you like. We love the Invisible Smile, a fruity mead made with apples and peaches; the Amante, a Belgian dark strong mead with notes of coffee and cinnamon; and Tiki Fruit, a lighter mead made with pineapple, coconut, and vanilla.

Cider Corps

Downtown Mesa is slowly becoming a real hot spot for craft beer aficionados, with breweries sprinkled throughout the Main Street corridor. But Cider Corps offers something a little different. This spot functions very similarly to a brewery. There's a patio with picnic tables, a large, slightly industrial space with lots of taps on the wall, board games to play, and tables for friends to hang out and grab a cold one. But here, the beverage of choice is made from apples. Brothers Josh and Jason Duren opened the cidery in 2017 with a recipe that squeezes all the flavor from the fruits they use, without much sugar. This means the ciders are packed with flavor, but are very different from the cloyingly sweet grocery store alternatives. Over the years, the menu options have expanded way beyond simple apples, to include mango and rosehip; passionfruit, orange, guava, a mix in the tropics known as POG; and black tea, lemon, and peach. The cidery pays homage to Jason Duren's service with the U.S. Marine Corps, something that's reflected in the decor of the cidery and the names of the cider, including Mango Foxtrot, Private Palmer, and a special release series of Cider Bombs. On a hot day, try a single flavor or colorful swirl of frozen and refreshing cider slushies.

Phoenix, as a rule, does things a little differently than the rest of the country. For instance, we don't know how to use roundabouts that well, which is both a point of pride and a concern. But it also means that maybe we're a bit more open-minded when it comes to culinary options. So, while the rest of the U.S. is cool with sucking down plain old lemonade, the Heard Museum's prickly pear lemonade feels less like a cool gimmick and more of a significant declaration of the state's identity. Sure, there are enough folks who think sampling the fruit of a prickly pear cactus might be silly, especially since most of us have some direct experience with the pain cactuses can deliver. But on the other hand, it's really not all that removed from actual lemonade, and that extra bit of tartness and sweetness makes this concoction just novel enough without feeling overly adventurous. Plus, you can tell your friends and families you drink cactus fruit like they drink sweet tea, and that's about as Phoenician as you can get without being made of copper.

Heaps of foods are associated with your average amusement park. But we submit the humble corn dog as a pillar for portability, excellence, and the overall "How American?" quotient. However, if you're truly going to enjoy the wonderland of Phoenix, you need a special dog, and that's where Two Hands Corn Dogs steps in. They specialize in Korean-style street hot dogs, which are often covered in potato cubes as opposed to your standard batter. And if that wasn't intense enough, you can get them dusted with sweet ranch, Hot Cheetos powder, or even crispy rice puffs. (Fret not, unadventurous eaters, there are standard dogs available.) Yes, eating this is an easy way to understand the junk food obsessions of another culture, and what better way to expand your mind than through the power of carbs? At the same time, though, they're really markedly different, and their mere presence expands the concept of the long-beloved corn dog in a way that feels exciting while still respecting the essence of this always-tasty treat. Is that perhaps the best metaphor for our fair city, and how it treats the past as it contemplates the future? We'll let you ponder that over a scrumptious corn dog.

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