Top Five Phoenix Food Stories of the Week: St. Patrick's Day Edition

Every week, there's a cornucopia of Phoenix food news, features, and reviews to report here at Chow Bella. If you're like most people, you probably just don't have the time to get to all of it. So, here's a recap of some of the top stories from the week that you may have missed.

7 Spots for St. Patrick's Day Dining in Metro Phoenix -- Plus Green Velvet Cupcakes

This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday, which means you'd better prepare for one hell of a hangover on Monday morning. Get some extra work out of the way this Friday so you can make the best of one of these seven St. Patty's celebrations in the Valley. And if you'd rather drink at home (where you won't need a designated driver), we have a few suggestions for places to snag a green-tinted treat or two.

--Dominique Chatterjee

15 St. Patrick's Day Food Fails

Not even the luck of the Irish can save these tragedies of the culinary world.

From shamrock pizza to green mashed potatoes and "Leprechaun Legs," here are 15 St. Patrick's Day food fails that should probably stay home this year.

--Laura Hahnefeld

Chef Salad: Matt Pool, Owner of Matt's Big Breakfast, Dishes on Chris Bianco, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and more Matt Pool seems a little worried about being interviewed for Chef Salad. "I have never once called myself a chef," he says. "I'm a food guy and I like to think I'm a food enthusiast, but I don't want to be called a chef. I'm just a restaurateur." Just? It's a modest description for the guy who opened what is still Phoenix's most popular breakfast restaurant in 2004, blowing everyone away with the simple goodness of his food and his sophisticated approach to sourcing diner basics such as ham, jelly, and coffee.

But why were we surprised? Pool had spent five years working at Bar Bianco for Chris Bianco, one of the city's first and most ardent local sourcers. The two had met when Pool was still in high school, attending Brophy and working as a busboy at Guy Cosca's French Corner at Central and Camelback. Pool's sister Susan worked there too (as a hostess), and the two of them became friendly with Bianco, who was making his pizza out of AJ's next door. Susan and Bianco became an item (she helped him run Pizzeria Bianco for many years), which kept Pool in the Bianco loop, even after he graduated ASU with a degree in political science and moved to D.C., taking a job as a paralegal at a prestigious law firm. The job didn't pay, so he supplemented his income by working at Houston's, where, he says, he learned a lot about management and nearly everything else. But he decided to come back home and began working for Bianco in any way he could (parking lot attendant was one job) until Bar Bianco opened.

Read the full story here.

--Nikki Buchanan

Sun Up Brewery in Phoenix: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Sun Up Brewery, 322 East Camelback Road, 602-279-8909, www.sunupbrewing.com

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered daily from 3 to 6 p.m.

The Interior: Sun Up Brewery has a pretty classic bar vibe, with a large wooden bar as the centerpiece of the restaurant inside. If you want your happy hour brews super-fast, take a seat at the bar and enjoy. However, we think it's best to take advantage of the beautiful weather while you still can and sit on the patio between the main bar and the lounge where they hold private parties. Nothing fancy or chic about the outside, just some simple metal patio chairs and tables.

See the full report card here.

--Heather Hoch

3 America's Taco Shops Raided by MCSO Deputies; 11 Arrested

Thursday, the Valley-based restaurant chain calling itself "the home of the best carne asada" became the latest target of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

The Republic reports that three locations of America's Taco Shop, the counter-service Mexican eatery founded in 2008 by America Corrales and husband Terry Bortin, were raided by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies, who arrested 11 workers on suspicion of using false identities to get jobs. See the full story here.

--Laura Hahnefeld

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