The countdown to Best of Phoenix is on. Mark your calendar: This year's issue will be on newsstands September 26. What better way to warm up than by asking some local "experts" to list their own personal bests? This week Crepe Bar's Jeff Kraus shares his favorite finger foods.
By Jeff Kraus
As Snoop Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion) would say, "Drop it like it's hot."
The flatware, that is. As a diner and as a culinary artist, hand-to-mouth eating has always been at the forefront of my philosophy of eating and cooking. The additional sensory stimulation elevates the overall dining experience.
The top five favorite places I go to get "flatware-free fare" are shown in no particular order, other than Joe's Farm Grill, because it is the most interesting place to wash your hands before dining.
Onion Rings at Joe's Farm Grill
After ordering the onion rings at Joe's Farm Grill, take your table buzzer and make a straight dash to the bathroom to wash your hands. Joe Johnston's bathroom designs are, well, just check them out if you haven't seen them. The farmhouse onion rings are consistently crazy good. The onions are tender and the herbed and seasoned panko breading stays surprisingly crunchy. There is no surprise the Food Network covered them -- they are delicious! May require two hands.
Fundido at Brat Haüs
The fundido at Brat Haüs are housemade, from the tutelage of Payton Curry, pretzels that come out of the kitchen warm, salty, dark, and textured for some serious dipping. The cheesy beer sauce and the pungent mustard are my go-to dips. Definitely requires two hands -- pull, twist, and tear apart.
Deep-fried Baby Back Ribs at Bink's Midtown
Getting messy with the deep-fried baby back ribs is my favorite hand-to-mouth experience offered at Bink's Midtown. The ribs are sold by the piece, $2 make you holla!, and plated with a sweet and hot sauce that, as expected from an artist and craftsman like Kevin Binkley, completes the dish. Requires two hands.
Chips and Salsa at Otro Cafe
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The easiest and most hand-to-mouth dish known in the Southwest are chips and salsa. The warm, salty, and crunchy corn tortilla pieces and sauces offered at Otro Cafe -- generously complimentary from Doug Robson, are unbeatable when paired with their segmented citrus and smashed avocado side dish. Requires one hand.
Langos at FnB
Charleen Badman and her crew at FnB usually offer some kind of dish that lets you comfortably push your flatware to the side. Their langos (puffed potato dough) are one of those dishes that are not only perfect for hand-to-mouth eating but also, dangerously satisfying and addicting. To reset my palate, I'll dip into the cream and/or chutney accompaniments. Langos are where it's at. Two hands required, one to eat with and the other to hold another piece -- guaranteed seconds.