The best things the Phoenix New Times food team ate in August | Phoenix New Times

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The 5 best things we ate in August

From burgers to doughnuts, these bites stood out among the rest.
The huevos rancheros at Presidio Cocina Mexicana are a hearty and flavorful way to start your day.
The huevos rancheros at Presidio Cocina Mexicana are a hearty and flavorful way to start your day. Tirion Boan
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A massive perk of writing about food is that in order to do so, you have to try a lot of meals. Throughout the month, the Phoenix New Times dining team visits restaurants and eateries all over the Valley, whether it be for our lists, First Tastes, Best Bites, reviews or other general research. We try the exceptional, the good, the bland and the bad in order to find the very best. And every so often, certain dishes really stand out. Here are the five best things we ate in August.

Huevos Rancheros at Presidio Cocina Mexicana

519 W. Thomas Road
Tucked into a little strip mall off Thomas Road, Presidio Cocina Mexicana is the perfect spot for a casual brunch. This isn't a bells-and-whistles sort of place with bottomless mimosas and a DJ. Instead, it's a cozy family-run eatery with excellent Michoacán-style Mexican food. On a recent morning, we tucked into the huevos rancheros ($18). Two crispy tortillas were topped with runny fried eggs and a bright and spicy ranchers salsa. Sides of creamy refried beans and potatoes with chorizo rounded out the plate, making up an excellent start to the day.

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Get ready for a messy feast at Jalapeño Bucks.
Tirion Boan

PB&J Brisket Sandwich at Jalapeño Bucks

3434 N. Val Vista Drive, Mesa
This sandwich is so good we simply had to write about it. Thick slices of brisket offer a smokey and savory backdrop for creamy peanut butter and fruity jelly. The unlikely combination, all served on a brioche bun, sent us into summer barbecue joy. Find it at Jalapeño Bucks, a roadside stand nestled in an orange grove in Mesa just south of the Salt River. Enjoying the sandwich outside the shipping container restaurant while misters rain down is an essential Valley experience.

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Empanadas at El Chullo come filled with ham and mozzarella or beef.
Tirion Boan

Empanadas at El Chullo Peruvian Restaurant

4414 N. Seventh Ave.
The long-awaited second location of El Chullo Peruvian Restaurant is finally open on Seventh Avenue, and this month, we paid it a visit. The menu dives deep into the cuisine of the Andean country, with flavors that blend South American and Chinese flavors, bright ceviches and rich stir fries. But one of the most satisfying bites was also one of the simplest. The empanadas ($12), stuffed with ham and mozzarella, were like comfort food even if you'd never had them before. Bubbly and crispy shells encase melty cheese and salty ham. They're good on their own but explode with flavor when dipped in the accompanying spicy aji verde sauce.

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Head to Aftermath during happy hour for a good deal on a great burger.
Tirion Boan

Single burger at Aftermath

1534 E. Bethany Home Road
It's no secret that the burgers at Aftermath are exceptional. They're a signature item at the Bethany Home Road restaurant. But the happy hour version, served from 4-6 p.m. on weekdays, is a steal for $15. It comes as a single burger, rather than the double patty version served during dinner. But the flavor of this extremely well-balanced burger shines through. A fluffy onion Kona bun from local baker Noble Bread is spread with burger sauce and stacked with vinegary homemade dill pickles, a thin-yet-juicy smashed patty made from an Arizona grass-fed and dry-aged beef blend, cheese and thinly sliced red onions. It's the most elevated version of a super satisfying, craving-inducing burger you'll find. Plus it comes with jalapeño tater tots. We'll call that $15 well spent.

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The Cheeky Monkey (top right) was our favorite at the newly opened Outcast Doughnuts.
Tirion Boan

The Cheeky Monkey at Outcast Doughnuts

104 W. Main St. #103, Mesa
Downtown Mesa's newest doughnut shop is now open, serving sweet treats all day long. Recently, we swung by Outcast Doughnuts for an after-dinner treat and picked out a few of the croissant-style layered doughnuts to try. The favorite of the bunch was The Cheeky Monkey ($4.25), a doughnut sliced in half and filled with Nutella and fresh banana slices. On top, a shake of powdered sugar and a chocolate drizzle complete the decadent bite. The buttery layers of dough and rich hazelnut spread are satisfying when brightened by the fresh, sweet fruit. 
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