Battle of the Dishes

Battle of the PB&Js

District American Kitchen and Wine Bar vs. Arcadia Farms at the Phoenix Art Museum

It's hard to find a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich in this town. Most restaurants that serve sandwiches don't even bother with this most basic of lunch items. We set out to find a good PB&J in downtown Phoenix. Our search was by no means exhaustive (so if you have a better suggestion, please let us know) but here are our results.

In One Corner: District American Kitchen and Wine Bar
320 N. Third Street

District at the new Phoenix Sheraton is an inviting and airy restaurant. If you grab a window seat, you can watch the downtown worker bees strolling past the corner of 3rd Street and Van Buren. 

The PB&J consists of almond butter and huckleberry jam, served with a side of house potato chips, for $9. We went with a friend who had tried the sandwich once and so loved it that he kept a photo of it on his phone.

"It's the hamburger equivalent of the PB&J," our friend maintained.

The sandwich was hearty -- a word we never thought we'd associate with such a simple bagged lunch staple. The almond butter was thick and crunchy and the huckleberry jam was so tart it made your lips pucker. It was a unique peanut butter and jelly experience.

"There are so many flavors," our friend added. "You go from sweet to fried to salty."

In the Other Corner: Arcadia Farms at the Phoenix Art Museum
1625 N. Central Ave.

Our first clue that the PB&J at the Phoenix Art Museum Cafe wasn't going to be in the same league as the sandwich at District should have been when the waiter didn't want to serve it to us. We placed our order -- knowing the sandwich was from the children's menu -- and the waiter said since we were not "under 12" he'd have to ask the manager's permission to let us eat it. He came back a few minutes later, looking slightly bemused, and said permission had been granted.

The sandwich sounded appetizing on the menu: "Organic peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread," for five dollars. But what we were served looked like it came straight from Mom's kitchen. And not in a good way. The bread may have fit someone's strict definition of "whole grain," but it looked and tasted like Wonderbread to us.

"Even though it's on the kids' menu, they could have put a bit more thought into it," our friend said.

I'm sure parents out there will read this and say, "that's the only thing on the menu my kid would eat." While we can understand that, this is Arcadia Farms and our expectations were higher.

The high point of the lunch was the generous bowl of perfectly ripened fruit, but we left almost wishing the manager had spared us the experience.

The Verdict: District

This wasn't a fair contest.

"It's almost feels like sumo versus light weight boxing," our friend observed. That's all too true, but how could we have known, walking in the door at the Phoenix Art Museum, just how anemic their PB&J would be.

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Rene Gutel
Contact: Rene Gutel