Travis Ladue is a senior graphic design student at Arizona State University and a graphic designer at TunnelBravo (where The Arrogant Butcher went to have their identity created). You might have seen his "Tour de Taste" summer promo logo for Fox Restaurants. This Eagle Scout will safely guide us through his ideal day of eating around the Valley, and he's even shared tips on how to navigate the territory to create the perfectly timed day, too.
Here is his perfect food day:
Breakfast: This one was a no-brainer for me. Matt's Big Breakfast is definitely my favorite breakfast spot in the valley (off of 1st Street & McKinley St) Now however cliché this pick might be, it's definitely worth the hype. If you don't believe me, head to Matt's around 10 in the morning and check out the mob outside waiting to feast.
The trick is to wake up before the sun and get to Matt's around 7 before the line has formed; you can walk right in and get a table. If you are like me and you like to sleep in, the best idea is to sleep in and head over at your leisure. Around 11:30 the line starts to die down and you can get in quickly. If you find yourself there between 8-10 on a weekend morning, you can kill some time across the street at the Phoenix Public Market (which is also laden with culinary delights).
Enough about everything else, let's talk about the food. I knew I was in for a wait so I brewed coffee at home beforehand and drank it while driving downtown. I didn't spill it either, go me! Then I had an iced tea from Royal while waiting. So once I got into the restaurant and sat down in the 60's era white vinyl chair, coffee was the last thing on my mind. I was feeling adventurous and got the mixed berry lemonade, I highly recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and trying it. Also, when I go to Matt's I always check to see what the special is that day, sometimes they have a Jalepeño scramble that is pretty amazing. The day I went that was not the case, but fear not, I always have a back up: the Five-Spot Sandwich. I know that doesn't sound quite as amazing as eggs loaded with jalapeños but trust me, it is no second best dish. The Five-Spot is essentially two eggs, two thick cut pieces of thick cut peppered bacon, provolone cheese and optional grilled onions on a buttered roll. Unlike the other dishes, it does not come with potatoes but honestly you won't need anything else after you gobble this behemoth down.
Lunch: Unlike breakfast and dinner, which I can eat anywhere, I tend to be confined to the downtown Tempe area for lunch (being a student and all). That being said, I made myself pick a place in the area for my lunch spot.
For my lunch I picked Los Favoritos Taco Shop off of Broadway Rd & Dorsey Ln. This place is a complete hole in the wall but they have great Chorizo. I always get the same thing, regardless of the time of day, a Chorizo breakfast burrito and a Mexican Coke, don't forget to ask for the green sauce, either.
I love this place, its always a quick, short trip from the design building at ASU. If you are in a rush, the burritos travel well too; they won't be a mess by the time you get to your destination. Unless of course you are driving in the Baja-1000, then I can't fully guarantee that claim.
Side note: In all honesty, if we are talking about my favorite chorizo burrito of all time, the award goes to Café Habana in SoHo, New York. I just worked in the city for a month this summer and I am almost ashamed at how many burritos I ate there. If you find yourself in New York with a hankering for burritos, don't eat for a very long time then get the Chorizo burrito with a side order of grilled corn on the cob and a Mexi-Coke. Best.
Snack/pitstop: If you didn't know, graphic designers tend to burn the midnight oil and work long hours quite a bit. So naturally, this pitstop in my perfect food day is at a coffee shop. I used to drink Starbucks coffee with a ton of milk and sugar until my buddy showed me the way of good coffee a couple years ago. I haven't looked back since. I have no idea why I ever drank that coffee, but what I do know though, is that Cartel Coffee in Tempe (off of Ash and University Drive) has some pretty darn good coffee and their employees know their stuff. I usually stop in for a toddy before heading to the studio or just hang out and work. There is a lot of room to work and they usually have good music on. The baristas play music off their phones so sometimes some crazy stuff slips in but for the most part it's a good mix of music. When I stopped in for a toddy earlier today they had the whole place rocking out to Phil Collins.
I highly recommend looking it up on Yelp or Google Maps [or New Times' location page!] before heading out, it's nicely hidden if you don't know what you are looking for. It's worth the scavenger hunt for their coffee, stop in and grab a toddy or once if finally cools down have Seth make you a cappuccino.
Dinner: Okay here we go, the pièce de résistance, this is hands down my favorite place to get dinner in the state of Arizona, Joe's Real BBQ, off of Gilbert Rd and Page Ave in Gilbert.
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It's a little bit of a trek to get there, but trust me, you will not be disappointed. Oh and don't become frightened when you suddenly realize you have no idea where you are, that means you are on the right track. In fact, its on the historic old Main Street in Gilbert, catty-corner from Liberty Market. Parking can be a bit messy so I just head to the building next door and park in the lot behind the building.
As soon as you open the door to the renovated 1920's Safeway building, the smells from the wood-fire smoker greet you and give you a big hug.
My go-to meal at Joe's is the two meat plate, with BBQ Brisket and either pulled pork or chicken breast. You get two sides with the two meats so I usually snag a side of mac-n-cheese and one of corn. Normally I don't have room for them after my meal, BUT nonetheless they have great desserts as well. They also have home-made root beer if that is your thing.