Residents and savvy tourists alike have long known that there is plenty of fun to be had in and around Mesa.
In addition to the incredible natural attractions and kid-friendly museums, visitors from far and wide are now discovering that there are plenty of good things to eat as well.
For a delicious day in the area, kick off with fresh offerings from local farms and step into the restaurants that have been making waves on the airwaves, before finishing up with dairy delights from the cow down the road.
Although the theme of ‘fresh and local’ applies to many of Mesa’s culinary offerings, none are quite as direct as the variety of tasty morsels found at the Mesa Community Farmers’ Market. Open seasonally, the market is located near downtown Mesa and serves up not just fresh-picked produce and locally sourced meats, but also an incredible selection of baked goods, preserves, salsas, crafts and handmade lotions and soaps.
To experience the perfect blend of agriculture and community, head over to Agritopia, a unique community set in the town of Gilbert. This is an urban village created on the Johnston farmland in the middle of the Phoenix metro area.
Joe, the eldest of the Johnston children, worked with the city to preserve his family’s farming heritage and create a multi-use neighbourhood that has broken down barriers between people. The goal of Agritopia is to encourage community and integrate urban agriculture into everyday life. The streets are inviting, the people are welcoming, and the food is phenomenal. Stop in at the farmers’ market on Wednesday evenings, next to Joe’s Farm Grill and the Coffee Shop.
Several local businesses have been enjoying national attention recently, thanks to some popular shows that have highlighted Mesa’s restaurant scene. The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars combatants Jenna Flowers and Jessica Cuff were victorious – and with good reason. Their Coffee Shop at Agritopia has long been a popular choice among locals, most of whom can describe their favourite baked delight in mouth-watering detail.
TLC’s Best Food Ever found the best cookies at Sweet Cakes Café. This family-run business has a variety of tasty treats, but the cookies that are the size of small plates are the most famous. Stop into the downtown store and let owner Kellie Huntington’s luscious brownies or pecan cinnamon rolls provide you with a sweet break.
creativecommons.org/Robert TewartJoe’s Farm Grill in Agritopia certainly made a splash in the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. It looks like an ordinary burger stand, but Joe’s Farm Grill uses fresh, quality ingredients from the neighbouring family farm in Agritopia. Often the restaurant harvests the produce in the morning and has it on your plate that afternoon.
The Queen Creek Olive Mill made an appearance on the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, when Mike Rowe discovered just how much work goes into making olive oil. The Olive Mill got a second shot at fame when chef Beau McMillan featured the signature ‘Kalamata panini’ on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network.
For those who still have room for dessert, Udder Delights Ice Cream has some of the most outrageous flavours you can imagine. If you skipped lunch, just get the cone topped with hot dog and potato chips. Grab a second cone of sweet potato ice cream to get that serving of veggies in. For the more traditional taster, there are ice cream and sorbet flavors that combine the expected fruits, caramels and chocolates. The offerings change daily, so call ahead if you have a certain flavour in mind.
Superstition Farm is the home of the dairy cows that supply the ice creamery, and the farm offers ‘Cows to Cone’ tours. Groups can add on fun extras such as cheese-making demos. Farmer Casey Stechnij also hosts locavore dinners that feature Arizona-grown products that are gathered from within an 80-kilometer radius of the farm.