Won't you be my neighbor?
Taking the bus in this land o'suburban sprawl gives me the holier-than-thou glee that I can only imagine born-again Christians must feel when looking down on my sorry soulless ass.
Really. It's awesome. You can check out routes at tempe.gov/tim/Bus/Orbit.… or valleymetro.org/Default.….
I take the Jupiter, which runs near my house and drops me a few blocks from the office. And despite others' experiences, it's only been sketch-city once, when I would have sworn a methadone clinic was on my route.
Usually, it's just ASU students, kooky old professors in orthopedic shoes and a couple teenagers skipping class. And me, the pseudoprofessional sorta grown-up.
Honestly, I am the scariest person on the bus most days. For serious.
There's just one drawback, which I'm even loathe to mention, given my far-too-earnest desire to have you join me on my route. But alas.
The fucking bus. Won't run. On time.
Maybe it's cuz I'm German as all get-out, but I expect the damn thing to approximate a schedule. And, you know, if there's a construction detour, it should take the detour consistently, or not at all.
But I'm still giving those adorable little blue buses four stars, in the hopes that you'll give it a shot.
It's not bad, I promise. Plus, I really want y'all to support some proposed service expansions, like extending the hours on weekends to midnight or even 2:00 am.
Because at the end of the day, I'm just a drunk looking for a free ride home...and some moral high ground.
I might still be a virgin if it weren't for alcohol. Thank god I discovered it early, before all my pesky "standards" kicked in.
No, I didn't get my first drink from Top's. Or even my thousandth drink. But I do like to think that if I had, I could have had those standards and still gotten some play at the same time.
Why? Because Top's has everything, from the finest of Belgian beers and pinot noirs designed to lure me in to the loveliest bourbons perfect for letting my guard down to the lowest-of-the-low canned beers for when I've just plain given up and taken off my pants.
If Top's were a burnout from a dive bar and I were still 19, I would sooooo take him home. Only this time, I would cook him breakfast and let him stay awhile.
Aw, Cartel. You've won yourself a spot in my cold, dead heart: Better hours, better setup, better everything. You have achieved (near) perfection.
Plus, now that it's fall and the weather's cooled down, I can ride my bike right up to the big garage-style warehouse door in the back. Like the cool kids.
And even though I'm not actually cool, the baristas here are really nice. Hipster style without the hipster pretension. I like it.
Perhaps most of all, I just plain started feeling guilty about giving three stars to a place I frequent at least twice a week. And as I have said before, guilt's a bitch.
Now that I'm absolved of my sins, I think it's time for some coffee.Guilt is a bitch. And after giving Cartel a crap-tastic review without actually tasting their brew,… En savoir plusI want to go here so bad. I guess maybe Cartel just doesn't want me.
I have tried to visit this… En savoir plus
You know when you absolutely adore a restaurant and it's like they don't even know you exist? Like you're in some endless John Hughes film where you never, ever get to that final birthday cake scene? I hate unrequited love.
But at Haji Baba, the feeling's alllll mutual, baby.
No, really. They love me. I swear. Stop laughing.
The bestest service, the nicest chitchat and the friendliest not-creepy flirting. And, of course, the most delicious hummus (with a pickle on top).
OK, so maybe everyone gets the hummus. But does everyone get a big smile and a compliment from the kitchen staff?
Maybe it's because I always stop by after work, gussied up in heels and other lady-things. Maybe it's because I tip on takeout orders. Always. Or maybe it's just because I shop the store like I mean it: canned goods, feta, olives, pita, maybe some naan, baklava, wacky Eastern European chocolate, baba ganoush, spices, pistachios, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the dirt-cheap, super-tasty kebab, shwarma and koubideh.
And while Haji Baba may be the Sam Schoeffling to my Molly Ringwald, Long Duk Dong has never made an appearance during my meal.
Five Stars. Why? Because it's damn near impossible to get a decent espresso pull in Tempe, and this place does it. Plus, it's close to my house (in Phoenix terms, at least) and to me, that counts for a lot.
Did I mention that the owners are really, really, really, really nice? Really. Nice. And they care about their coffee in a way I haven't seen since I left Oregon (shout out to Stumptown in PDX and Full City in the Euge).
The coffee is freshly roasted -- from Cafe Cortez here in town -- and the atmosphere makes you forget you're in a strip mall (not a bad strip mall, but still).
Please, please, please go here. Give them your money. They deserve it, and you'll be a better person for it. Promise.
Otto's daughters are fucking hot.
I'm a straight lady and they may or may not be of age. But those girls are cuuuuute. Sometimes they dance to '80s and indie pop mix tapes in the back, too. So, you know, if that's your thing, that's gotta be worth at least a star.
Oh, what, you wanted to know about the pizza? It's fucking delicious. It's all thin-crusted and fresh and crispy. For by-the-slice, it blows Slices out of the water. It's also simple -- no Oregano's BS toppings (for the record, I like Oregano's pizza, too. But sometimes you don't want no rosemary-potato-goat cheese concoction; you just want pepperoni and some red pepper flakes).
The calzones and pizza rolls are enormous and full of warm goodness.
Their soda comes with crushed ice. Fuck you if you don't know why that's awesome.
With girls that cute and pizza that good, Otto better watch out.
Lovely, lovely, lovely. Set in a pretty little old house just two blocks off Mill Avenue, House of Tricks has that sunny garden vibe that's all too rare here in Tempe.
When I want to ditch the office for a leisurely lunch (all too rare these days), House of Tricks is my hands-down favorite spot. A glass of wine, a shady spot in the garden, a gourmet sandwich or salad and some gossip with a friend. Perfect.
Lunch at Tricks gets five stars, easy. But Tricks has two downsides:
- Closed on Sundays, when I most want to pair my pedicure afternoon with a fancy lunch and pretend I'm a lady.
- Dinner is only good, not great -- and it's very pricey (entrees alone range from around $20 to $35).
Go for the atmosphere. Go for the sun-filled patio. But if you ask me, just go for lunch.
I just had a crap-tastic day at the office. I'm tired as all get-out. And, to top it off, it's my birthday (a quarter century, if you're curious) and I'm too exhausted to celebrate with anything more than a smooch from my sweetie.
But I have a belly full of Royal Taj takeout and a glass of pinot noir. Things could be a lot worse.
While it's not the best Indian I've ever tasted, Royal Taj is consistently good -- plus, it's got a large enough menu to keep me trying new things for awhile. I'm a big fan of any of their saag dishes -- that creamy, spinachy, spicy concoction filled with lamb, chicken, seafood, or paneer -- served up spicy.
Vindaloo, korma and daal are all other safe bets here, as are the tandoor dishes. Hell, I'll eat anything on the menu, really.
So, why three stars? Well, the lamb's sometimes a little dry, and tonight, they forgot my rice, and overall, their prices are a little high compared to other local Indian joints. Plus, there's still a soft spot in my heart for Udupi and their swoon-worth veggie dishes.
But if Royal Taj can make my piss-poor day feel OK, chances are it can cure what ails you, too.
I hemmed and hawed over whether Cafe Istanbul was a three-star or a four-star joint, but the belly dancer pushed it over the top. Four stars.
But let's take a step back.
I don't actually like belly dancing, really. I knew these girls in college who got really into it. They were the kind of girls who wore anklets and gushed about how they had studied abroad in Chee-lay and actually used the term goddess when they weren't talking about salad dressing. I'm from Oregon, so I probably knew dozens of these girls. I am not one of them.
No, the belly dancing is awesome for an entirely different reason -- it makes my gay friend very uncomfortable. This amuses me to no end. While he tries to avoid eye contact, I smile at the dancer encouragingly, using my best "come hither" look. She comes to the table, gyrating just inches from my friend's mortified face. I am gleeful all night.
They also have food. It's Lebanese, and it's pretty good. In addition to the standard "stuff in a pita" fare, they have some interesting dishes -- like a pizza-esque item filled with ground lamb and spices. Yumm.
In terms of Middle Eastern food on Apache, I prefer both Haji Baba and Tasty Kabob. But I'll definitely be back. Just as soon as I can trick my friend into it.
Never, ever, ever again. Ever.
Because even if I think your coffee blows, and even if I only gave you three stars (*gasp*), there's no excuse for talking shit about me -- loudly -- while I am forking over $10 for a sandwich. That's just a poor customer service decision, folks. As business owners, you should know that.
And just for clarification, I never wrote that your coffee tastes like shit. But I will now: Your coffee tastes like shit.
So, no more $12 chef salads. No more $3 croissants. And definitely no more of your fake-nice bitchiness or dirty looks when I walk by in the morning with my Cartel coffee. I will save my money for an establishment that treats me like a person.
PS -- look forward to a severe business decline as soon as the place across the way opens. I'll make sure to smile and wave as I walk by.I am immediately suspicious of coffee shops with coffee-related puns in their names. It's almost… En savoir plus
Listes mises à jour récemment par Sara B.
So hop on the booze train and let me take you on a whiskey-soaked, hollandaise-doused voyage while I recount my first-ever trip to Chi-town in this exhaustive three-part list.