Fresh lettuce and tomato. Heaping piles of bacon. The BLT is a classic for a reason -- it's quick and easy to make, but deliciously crisp and decadent when done well. We scoured the planet (ok, the city) for places offering a classic sourdough BLT and found two worthy contenders. This one's gonna be a tough battle!
In One Corner: The Blue Moose
7373 East Scottsdale Mall in Scottsdale
The Blue Moose is a sports bar that somehow manages to feel nothing like a sports bar -- at least when you're seated on the gorgeous tree-shaded patio overlooking SMoCA and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. That's definitely the place to sit, even in warmer months.
Inside, the Moose is more traditional, with green vinyl booths and chairs, brass railings and a massive oak bar that consumes half the restaurant. Small TVs throughout ensure a good view of the game. It's not the fanciest place around, but it's homey. The menu is American slash pub grub, with lots of fried appetizers, a good selection of salads, burgers, sandwiches and excellent daily specials like a pick-your-own bruschetta platter (my personal favorite).
I was flying solo during my visit to the Moose, so I ordered up a BLT with a side salad and was pleasantly surprised by the platter that arrived.
The sandwich was large, with gently toasted bread and plenty of fillings. The side salad was abnormally pretty for a sports bar, with bright contrasting colors from the obviously fresh cabbage and carrots. Perhaps this sports bar would serve up a home run?
Kudos to Blue Moose for their choice in sourdough. I don't know if they make it in-house (doubtful) or just use a great brand (more likely), but their sourdough was amazing. Crisp and tangy, it tasted like the breadmaker had used an ancient family motherloaf that had been in the family for decades. Nice!
The maple-cured bacon was crisp; not flabby or flat like a lot of places dish up their bacon. The flavor was slightly sweet, with a smoky undertone. The tomatoes on the salad were more ripe than the ones on the sammy, but still decent. Hey, at least they weren't green.
The only non-traditional part of this BLT was the mayo, which was a delicious savory red pepper version with little bits of bell pepper visible in the thick layer. Yeah, the classic BLT's an artery clogger, but Blue Moose's tasty version makes it worthwhile. I couldn't wait to see whether Phoenix's classic luncheon spot could dish up a better BLT.
In the Other Corner: MacAlpine's
2303 North 7th St. in Phoenix
If you live in Phoenix and haven't been to MacAlpine's Restaurant & Soda Fountain, that's like living in New York City and having never visited the Statue of Liberty. Ok, more like Katz's Delicatessen, but you get the picture. The place is an institution, having been around since 1928. (And just when you thought the only thing that'd been around since then in Phoenix were some cactuses).
Inside, the place is part kitschy '50s soda shop, part vintage boutique. On the store side, a soda jerk in a starched white hat mixes malts and shakes for customers sitting on the vinyl stools at the authentic '50s soda counter. Wooden booths and cute wrought iron patio tables fill out the cozy space, which seats less than 50 people.
My dining partner had to bolt last-minute, so I enjoyed half a BLT alone and brought home the rest for him. The BLT arrived on a classic white diner plate, with a side of crisp veggies. One thing about MacAlpine's chefs, they know how to cook bacon. The sandwich had a heaping pile of bacon crisped until dark but still slightly chewy. Again, it was slightly sweet, though MacAlpine's version had a more prominent savory flavor.
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Not smoky, but pungent. Fat grams and calories be damned, I could've eaten a whole plate of the stuff. The tomato was reasonably ripe, and the one lettuce leaf was perfect, at least according to my belated dining companion.
"This is how a BLT should be," he chimed in later. "Tons of bacon, a couple tomato slices and one lettuce leaf. It's all about the bacon!!"
Admittedly, the bacon was the star here. It wasn't all sunny side up, though. The mayo had that slightly yellowish cast the condiment takes on when sitting too long. And the sourdough was bland, like they'd secretly given us white bread hoping we wouldn't notice. Oh, well. It's tough to find good sourdough in these parts without going to a bakery.
The Winner: I'd go back for either sandwich, but the strong sourdough flavor and savory red pepper mayo of The Blue Moose gives them the victory this time around.