Meeting like-minded foodies/winos/beer-a-philes is a little easier these days. While Meetup.com has been around for a while, it often mistaken as a schmoozy dating site. Fortunately, it's a little bit different. And whatever you're into, there's likely something for you.
Within 25 miles of downtown Phoenix, there are more than 1500 meetup groups. More than 100 of those fall are under the food category; 70 are listed under wine and 16 under beer. Groups have profiles and events that are open to anyone who applies and RSVPs (though some rules do come into play).
Here are five food/drink-related groups with solid ratings and upcoming events:
1. Valley Beer Drinkers
The Valley Beer Drinkers describe themselves as people who "enjoy the taste of a beer and know that it's meant to be savored and talked about, rather than tipped thoughtlessly down the throat (well, sometimes it is)!" They meet at brew pubs, bars and restaurants throughout Phoenix and invite anyone who is under 50 years old and fun, with a positive attitude.
Feb. 11, 5 p.m.
San Tan Brewing Company
2. Phoenix Raw Food
Without the use of a stove, oven or backyard BBQ, the only heat in the raw food diet comes from the spice rack. Phoenix raw food fans here celebrate uncooked dishes (note: raw foodies are usually vegans, so steak tartare will not be present). This meetup group's events usually take place in a park or a member's home and range from raw food discussion and tasting to documentary viewing.
Feb. 20, 3 p.m.
"The Raw Natural" viewing
Victory Lane Sports Park
22603 North 43rd Avenue
3. AZ Tequila Society
Tequileros unite! Taken with salt, lime or ice, this group enjoys tequila at any temperature or quantity. Meetings usually include tastings and pairings (because tequila can go well with food ... ?) and the group is even planning a trip to Guadalajara to visit the birthplace of its liquid of choice.
Feb. 18, 7 p.m.
February Passport to Tequila
Cien Agaves Tacos & Tequila
4. Arizona WineBats
They call themselves the "largest and most active wine community in metro Phoenix" -- judging by their membership (1,131 people), they might be right. The WineBats host several events and activities per month in restaurants and venues throughout Phoenix.
Feb. 16, 6:30 p.m.
Romeo's Euro Cafe
5. Table for Six
Created and orchestrated by Kathy "Meetup" (you can read about her in our profile tomorrow on Chow Bella), each event features a six-course meal for six. Kathy prides herself on the matchmaking process, as she hand-selects attendees for each dinner.
Kathy's next event -- "Cupid's Cocina, La Comida de Amor--Table for Six Valentine's Dinner
Table for Six" is full, but check her group on meetup.com for future events.