Saturday, December 3, 2022

Best Wings In Arizona

Wings are the kind of seductive comfort food that hit the spot just about every time. We have a wealth of strong wing options here in the Valley. With so many fantastic bars, grills, pubs, and restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to know where to go to get a spicy fix.

We’re here to help. Use this blueprint when you’re hankering to chomp into an order of fried or grilled chicken beauties. From Buffalo-style classics to fresh Vietnamese and Indian takes, here are 15 of our favorite wing orders in metro Phoenix.

Angry Mustard Wings

This place may seem like your typical three-location, strip-mall style pizza joint, and in many ways it is. But when wings are on your brain, you’re in for a nice surprise here. Zzeeks offers 18 different wing styles, from a simple salt-and-pepper coating to the borderline-hallucinatory Gunslinger Mega Diablo. A flavor called Angry Mustard is pleasant and unique. It has heat and a tinge of mustardy goodness, its sauce slathered over meaty yet crispy wings and drums. Zzeeks’ wings come in increments of 10, 20, and 30. The chain has locations in Ahwatukee, Chandler, and Tempe.

ATL Style Wings

If you love chicken wings, ATL Wings should be one of your go-to spots. With 16 locations across metro Phoenix, from Queen Creek to Paradise Valley to Litchfield Park, you should be able to find a spot near you. And if you love a good dry rub, ATL Style should definitely be your order. ATL Style consists of flats and drums (mostly drums in some orders) covered in oil and tossed in a colorful array of herbs and spices. The dryer take gives skin and edges nice crispness. Hot chicken meat is juicy, if not drippy. We recommended the traditional-style wings (bone-in), which come in orders of six to 96.

Santisi Brothers

These are your quintessential sports bar wings. The Best of Phoenix-winning establishment is home to the “Wide Wall of Sports” — meaning one wall has more than 60 televisions including several 65-inch screens — as well as a wall of wing options. Well, 12 … but still. And while house specialties like Giovanni’s or Dino’s barbecue sauce are great, we always come back for the honey hot. Each heavily coated, petite wing has the right amount of sweetness with the right amount of tinge. But be careful — it’s very dark and those things can be slippery. Santisi Brothers wings come in orders of 12, 24, or 36.

Casey Moore’s Oyster House

The wings at Casey Moore’s Oyster House are worth braving the crowds even if you aren’t a regular at this well-loved Tempe eatery and watering hole. Wings come flavored in chipotle, barbecue, teriyaki, or Buffalo — of course — and with your choice of ranch or blue cheese and side of celery and carrots. The wings themselves pack a lot of meat. Go for the chipotle-flavored sauce, smoky with just a little bit of heat. Casey’s doesn’t skimp on sauce. It’s plentiful, but not slopped on too heavily, avoiding the slimy texture that often comes right around wing number eight.

Chili Salt Chicken Wings

Located in a strip mall on the southeast corner of Main Street and Dobson Road in Mesa, Asian Café Express is a fan-favorite lunch spot and Hong Kong-style cafe. If you order the restaurant’s Chili Salt Wings, you’ll get a small plate of five extra-crispy drumettes, which come with a little spoon you can use to pile on green onions, garlic, spices, and chili oil. The toppings seep into the nooks and crevices of the crackly chicken skin, which crunches away to juicy meat. These Asian-style wings may not be the most traditional route, but they’re pretty much a steal.

Zipps Sports Grill

Zipps Sports Grill has fourteen locations in metro Phoenix (Ahwatukee, Arrowhead, Arcadia, and elsewhere) The sports bar’s standard wing order numbers 10 wings covered in a honey-tinged sauce in either mild or hot, or even extra hot. The hot comes with a hard kick. Each bite brings a mouthful of spice and meat. These babies have been considered an essential appetizer in the Phoenix area. Zipps also offers daily specials so you may be able to get them on the cheap. Pro tip: if you like wings crispy, ask your server for an “extra three minutes.”

Hot Vings

The Vig has several locations in the Phoenix area, and all serve sweet Thai-style wings. The flavor is a sticky, delicious mess. Sweet-yet-mild sauce comes studded with chili flakes, the tender meat nicely coated. For $11, the grilled appetizer comes with 10 wings. You can go with Thai chili, traditional, or barbecue. Wings come with an ample cup of blue cheese and half a dozen pieces of celery.

Cajun Monkey Wings

You’ve heard about the karaoke and comedy nights, and probably the 1 a.m. shirtless shots, but have you heard about the awesome Monkey Wings at Monkey Pants in Tempe? Monkey Wings are plump, with a generous ratio of sauce to wing surface area — not dry, not dripping. Flavors include mild, medium, hot, barbecue, Cajun, Mae Ploy, teriyaki, or the signature Spankin’ Monkey Sauce. Cajun is a strong bet. If you’re indecisive, you can even mix sauces for an additional $.59. All wings can be grilled or blackened upon request and come in half a dozen or a full dozen.

Skyhug

A staple of the Valley wing scene, Our Famous Wing Drumettes (informally referred to as “Dragon Wings”) can be found at that well-loved British pub on Central and Glenrosa avenues in Phoenix. The George & Dragon appetizer has changed here and there over the years. Currently, the wings are plump, evenly sauced, and include a good mixture of drums and wings. These traditional pub wings come in mild, medium, hot, or honey Sriracha. They include your choice of double ranch or blue cheese, plus thick cuts of carrots and celery. You’ll get eight or so meaty wings.

Smoked Jalapeno Wings

For some “famous” Arizona wings, Long Wong’s is your answer. There are about a dozen locations throughout town, and each one is a little different, but each spot certainly has one common denominator — quality wings. There are plenty of unique wing flavors on the Long Wong’s menu, depending where you are, and can include habanero, Arizona chile pepper, horseradish red-hot, smoked jalapeno, and super suicide. But to keep things simple, each one will have a plain hot flavor. And that’s not to say they’re plain, as the wings themselves are normally fresh, never frozen, and the sauce is flavorful without being too hot (for some). Most places offer increments ranging from an order of six to 100.

Tandoori Wings

Cornish Pasty Co. has locations in Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Phoenix, and is known for, unsurprisingly, its pasties. But that doesn’t mean other menu items don’t impress. Wings come in Saucy Parliament and sweet tandoori flavors. The oven-baked chicken tandoori flavor have more of a dry rub than a wet sauce. Blackened edges of each wing are crispy, and meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. The tandoori flavor features a mild kick and a sneaky sweetness. The six wings come with cucumber and tomato slices, and a cup of lemon mint yogurt dip.

Vietnamese Wings

Love pho and other Vietnamese specialties? Try the Vietnamese wings at Handlebar Diner, a ‘50s-style diner in Mesa that opened last year. These meaty wings are brined and double-fried before getting glazed in a sauce of soy, sesame oil, fish oil, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, and other ingredients. And then they’re sprinkled with sesame seeds and topped with carrot sticks.

Philly Crack Wings

This Roosevelt Row barbecue restaurant is almost unexpected, but certainly welcome. The narrow dining room and bar call for your butt to sit, and order some beer and barbecue. Owner Phil “the Grill” Johnson calls himself “the Jay-Z of barbecue,” and the soundtrack kind of matches. How many places offer you burnt ends and En Vogue at the same time? A must try at Trapp Haus BBQ? The Philly Crack Wings. Saucy yet somehow crispy, these meaty, smoky wings are simply addictive.

Half Moon Sports Grill

Half Moon Sports Grill may seem like your typical neighborhood sports bar, and it is, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen is slacking. Half Moon has some pretty dang good bone-in wings. You can get them traditional or grilled style, in flavors like traditional Buffalo, spicy, nuclear, teriyaki, barbecue, honey hot, Korean BBQ, sweet chile, and honey chipotle. While each sounds amazing, we recommend going for that sticky sweet honey chipotle options. Wings are available at both the Biltmore and Chicago-inspired Moon Valley locations.

Valley Wings

Whether you head to the north Phoenix or south Scottsdale location, Valley Wings makes some of the best wings in town, so much so that we named them “Best Wings” in our 2021 Best of Phoenix awards. The meaty, hot, and crispy drums and flats are tossed in sauces like the Valley Sauce, a tangy barbecue, Garlic Parmesan, or the pretty spicy Honey Hot. The five-piece is a nice little snack, but they also come in sets of ten, 15, 20, and 50; order a plethora to-go and throw a party. There are boneless wings and tenders here too, but we recommend keeping it classic.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE… Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we’d like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it’s more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.

LAUREN CUSIMANO was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.

NATASHA YEE is a dining reporter who loves to explore the Valley’s culinary gems. She has covered cannabis for the New Times, politics for Rolling Stone, and health and border issues for Cronkite News in conjunction with Arizona PBS, where she was one of the voices of the podcast CN2Go.

Arlene Magaña is in the running to win $10,000 at the Paloma Punchout on Saturday.

Arlene Magaña is in the running to win $10,000 at the Paloma Punchout on Saturday. NTK Photography

Arlene Magaña is one of 10 bartenders nationwide competing this Saturday for $10,000 in a contest known as the Paloma Punchout. The Phoenix bartender finds inspiration for her craft from more than just a bottle. She draws upon her grandmother’s upbringing in Mexico.

“My grandmother was the anchor in not just raising us, but we heard her fairy tales and folklore almost every single day,” says Magaña, who works at Platform 18, one of the Valley’s most celebrated bars.

She’ll put her cocktails to the test at the Paloma Punchout on Saturday evening at the Esplanade in front of an audience. The public is invited to cheer on the competition, with tickets available for $50 that include sample Paloma cocktails from local bars including The Brickyard, Clever Koi, Highball, Khla, Pigtails, and So Far So Good.

The event is the brainchild of Casey Wallin, a longtime Phoenix mixologist and founder of Mister Wallin’s Neighborhood, which aims to spotlight the stories of people in the industry, from those who make the liquor to those who shake the drinks.

Starting in May, Wallin traveled to 10 major cities to hold preliminary competitions and chose five to 10 bartenders participating from each market.

“We reviewed the recipes and chose the ones that seemed the most interesting and process-driven,” he says. “It’s an interesting way to challenge bartenders by having a cocktail that’s simplistic by nature, but also would present them a challenge to do something that was unique and interesting, but still in the vein of a Paloma.”

For the preliminary round of the competition, Magaña’s winning cocktail leaned on inspiration from her grandmother, Antonia Cervantes. Though Cervantes passed away four years ago, Magaña uses creative cocktails to weave together memories with traditional and contemporary flavors to revive the stories that became so familiar to her.

“My grandmother was one of 14 children,” she says, “and at a very early age, she quit her studies to help her mother care for her younger siblings. This, of course, led her to become not just a great caretaker, but an amazing storyteller as well.”

She recalled a tale of people in Guanajuato who loved to eat all sorts of green food. Magaña notes that many of the salsas, and even posole and menudo, are green in that region.

“The story went that they consumed so much green food that their bellies became green,” Magaña says. “From there, I started choosing green ingredients.”

The base of any Paloma recipe is tequila and grapefruit juice or soda, but Magaña added unroasted coffee beans infused in kiwi syrup along with Abasolo, an ancestral corn whisky made in Jilotepec. The kiwi added color and tartness, and “the corn has butterscotch, caramel, and vanilla that really boosted the bright flavors,” she says.

Magaña expressed a grapefruit peel and swirled it into the drink to help boost the fragrance as well. Only six ingredients were allowed, and the garnish counted as one. But she didn’t stop there. Magaña, who’s also an artist, created an image that she transferred onto the glass.

“I really wanted to incorporate my vision of Guanajuato,” she says, “which is the state my grandmother is from and what inspired her to become the woman she grew into.”

Bartender Arlene Magaña transferred her original artwork onto glasses to help tell the stories of her cocktails in the Paloma Punchout competition. The cocktail Magaña is making for the finals is a riff on the one she used in the previous competition. This one is inspired by the fresh, cold fruit sold by the Guanajuato street vendors that her grandmother used to talk about. Instead of the whiskey, she’s adding Paranubes rum from Oaxaca with lime zest. She’s using the unroasted coffee bean-infused kiwi syrup, same as before, but adds, “I’ll also be making a coffee bean-kiwi chamoy to surprise the judges’ taste buds.”

Magaña is a relative newcomer to Phoenix, having moved here in October 2019 with the goal of taking her bartending career to the next level. Originally raised in the suburbs of Chicago, she started as a dishwasher at age 16 and worked “everywhere from dive bars to movie theaters to high-volume monsters where you can’t even take a breath before making another cocktail,” she says. “I learned a lot from every single one.”

While scrolling on Instagram and liking accounts, Magaña noticed a pattern.

“Most of these amazing bartenders were in Arizona or in the Phoenix area in general,” Magaña says. “Upon doing more research, I was like, you know what, there’s something happening there. Let’s go and see if we can be part of this amazing community.”

Within two months, Magaña and her husband, Raymond James, and their bulldog, Arya, made the move. After a hiatus due to the pandemic shutdown, they got back to work and she eventually made her way to Platform 18, the immersive train-themed bar in a replica Pullman car.

“They’ve been so welcoming and encouraging, and everyone’s so full of knowledge in that building,” she says. “I never stop learning.”

Platform 18’s Arlene Magaña moved to Phoenix to take her bartending career to the next level. Grace Stufkosky Photography

In addition, she landed a mentorship through Skylight Hospitality, which pairs female, femme, and non-binary bartenders with industry leaders who work with them on everything from cocktail creation to personal branding. Magaña hopes to eventually run her own business.

“I have an idea for a little Paloma cart where I would love to provide quick, fresh draft Palomas with rotating flavors,” she says. “From there, hopefully, I’ll be able to grow into a permanent spot, or semi-permanent.”

She’s also open to the idea of a food truck bar similar to Baby Boy inside the Pemberton in downtown Phoenix, which she cites as an inspiration.

The $10,000 Paloma Punchout prize would go a long way toward that goal. If Magaña wins, she says, she’ll use the money toward furthering her education to become a business owner, learning more about spirits, and visiting her mother in Mexico.

“There’s so many spirits being made in Mexico, I want to learn all about them,” she says.

Unfortunately, Magaña almost missed her chance at the big purse. Her car was stolen a little over a week before the contest. Although she got the car back, thieves pilfered all of her mobile bartending devices, liquors, mixers, infusions she’d made, paints, and other supplies that she needed to compete.

Magaña called Wallin and told him she might have to withdraw, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Friends came to help her regroup. They made a list of what things Magaña would need to start over from scratch and how they could get a hold of them.

“What do we need?” she asked herself. “Some paint and some limes and a little willpower.”

She wrote a post on her Instagram account and received kind words and encouragement from friends and followers.

“That alone was enough to make me feel like I could be right back where I was in the next few days if I really put my mind into it,” she says.

The bar community pulled together to replace what she needed, including a printer to print out the new artwork for her glasses.

“Friends started dropping things off, whether it was material things or a little bit of their time to help me paint something or zest some limes,” Magaña says.

She marvels at the tight-knit nature of the bartending community in Phoenix.

“Thanks to the lovely people of this city, I’m going to be able to participate in this competition,” Magaña says. “With the help of the community, I was able to have something to work with. It’s not just me who gets to be a part of the competition at this point, it’s all of Phoenix.”

Paloma Punchout

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE… Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we’d like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it’s more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.

GERI KOEPPEL is a professional writer, voracious reader, devoted traveler, and an amateur cook, wine drinker, birder and tennis player. She’s lived and worked in Detroit, San Francisco, and Phoenix.

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HALLOWEEN

‘A Lot of Souls Here.’ The Haunted History of a Legendary Phoenix Steakhouse

The Rose Room at The Stockyards, a classic Phoenix steakhouse.

The Rose Room at The Stockyards, a classic Phoenix steakhouse. Jacob Tyler Dunn

A piano that seems to play itself. Lights flickering without reason. Visions of a woman in 1940s formal wear strolling about, vanishing as suddenly as she appears.

The Stockyards’ eerie tales are just as much a part of the 75-year-old historic Phoenix steakhouse’s character as are its aged corn-fed steaks. The stories, along with personal experiences, are something the staff knows well.

Veronica Rodriguez has worked at the Stockyards for 14 years. She’s held many different positions and, at one time, was part of a two-person night cleaning crew. She and her shift partner, Luis, would come in after the rest of the staff had gone home.

Rodriguez was responsible for cleaning the areas around the bar, named the 1889 Saloon, and the Rose Room, a smaller private dining room adjacent to the Saloon. One night around midnight, Rodriguez was in the Saloon when she heard the sound of two chords coming from the Rose Room’s piano.

 “It was like ‘bing, bing,’ and I stayed still.” Rodriguez says, sitting straight up in her chair with her arms at her sides. “I went around the piano to see what it was. I thought maybe it was a critter or something, but nothing.”

She asked Luis if he had gone back there while her back was turned. He had not.

“I knew he didn’t, but I was trying to make it make sense in my head. And, oh, my hairs stood up,” Rodriguez says.

This antique Sohmer & Co. Cabinet Grand upright piano sits in the Rose Room, a hot spot for unusual activity at The Stockyards. Georgann Yara

The Rose Room features original murals of city street scenes hand-painted by artist Kate Patton, elegant wood finishes, and a working antique Sohmer & Co. Cabinet Grand upright piano. The dining room is a popular venue for private functions — and also for the unseen. It’s known as one of the restaurant’s paranormal hot spots.

The Saloon also showcases Patton’s original murals in panels along the walls. A prominent figure in the artworks is the Lady in Red, a posh woman in an ornate wide-brimmed scarlet hat, long dark gloves, and a plunging V-neck gown that extends past her feet with a train that spools behind her.

Some say the woman is just a character the artist created. Another popular theory is that she’s the canvas embodiment of Helen Tovrea, the woman responsible for the redesign and look of the restaurant after a fire decimated it in 1953, forcing a year-long closure.

Helen was the wife of Phillip Tovrea, who was the son of Edward A. Tovrea, a man known as the “Cattle Baron.” The family also owned the famous Phoenix landmark Tovrea Castle. The Stockyards opened in 1947 as a packing house to support Tovrea’s growing beef operation, which at the time was the largest cattle feedlot in the world. Phillip took over the business after his father died.

“This was a huge packing slaughterhouse,” Stockyards owner Gary Lasko says while standing in the Rose Room surrounded by the murals. “A lot of souls here.”

The Stockyards restaurant originally opened to feed workers of the packing house. Lauren Cusimano

The restaurant started as a place to feed the packing house’s workers and has expanded over the decades. The menu still reflects the aged steaks and prime rib it served decades ago as well as the famous calf fries — also known as Rocky Mountain oysters — which are a staple that pre-dates the fire.

The Stockyards has been a favorite of visiting celebrities and the Valley’s A-list. In the 1970s, Clint Eastwood dined here with his Every Which Way But Loose co-star, Clyde the orangutan. Corner booths in the dining room are dedicated to some of Arizona’s most influential icons, including former U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Conner, the Gammage family, and former U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater.

Leaning on its history is what distinguishes The Stockyards from other steakhouses. Over the years,  ownership has shunned the kitschy Old West look while remaining true to tradition. Original furnishings and decor exude vintage elegance meant to impress a contemporary dining crowd. It’s a fine line to walk.

“People come in and say, ‘No sawdust?’ We fight the boots-and-beans reputation,” Lasko says. “But you’ve got to thread the needle between being really nice and … how it’s always been.”

It’s worth coming to The Stockyards just to check out its darkly elegant and historic bar. Jacob Tyler Dunn

The Stockyards underwent an extensive restoration in 2004, which led to its placement on the City of Phoenix’s Historic Property Register. It was recognized for its architectural style and significant contributions to Arizona’s cattle history.

The hand-carved custom mahogany bar and cattle tables in the main rooms are reminders of the restaurant’s past.

So are the spooky encounters.

Lasko has owned the restaurant since 2004. He had his first ghostly experience a year later.

He used to go the restaurant on Saturday mornings hours before it would open. One day, he was in one of the dining rooms when he heard a voice shout clearly, “Hello!” He was alone. Or so he thought.

“I wondered, how’d they get in? Did I lock the door in the back? I looked, and no one was there. I looked all over and couldn’t see anybody. It kind of freaked me out,” Lasko recalls.

The Stockyards celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. It started as a place to feed the workers at the packing house, which opened in 1947. Georgann Yara

On another Saturday, Rodriguez was prepping in the back and heard the sound of feet running up and down the stairs in a rapid and deliberate manner. She knew Lasko was also there and that he usually took those stairs fast, so she thought nothing of it.

Minutes later, Rodriguez saw Lasko come around through the back door. He had returned from running an errand but Rodriguez didn’t know he had been gone. It quickly hit her: Those pounding footsteps could not have been made by her boss.

“I remember it was so vivid. I was like, ‘Oh it’s just Gary.’ Then he rolled around the backdoor,” she says. “I was alone, but I didn’t know I was alone.”

The Saloon connects to the Rose Room, one of The Stockyards’ hot spots. Georgann Yara

The secondhand recollections from a 2021 company Christmas party are just as jarring. An employee’s daughter walked into the women’s restroom and saw a woman dressed like the Lady in Red sobbing. When the daughter left the restroom and told others what she saw, they said there was no one dressed like that on the property.

That same night, a woman who had worked at the restaurant for nearly 20 years was picked up by her son after the party. While waiting, her son saw a woman in clothing that matched the Lady in Red standing between the lights in the parking lot, where there was a swath of darkness. He asked his mother whether the party was a formal affair or perhaps a costume-themed soiree.

But the son had never been inside the building. He always waited outside for his mother, so he had never seen the murals or the Lady.

“When she heard that, she got chills because he didn’t know what he was seeing, but she knew what he was talking about,” Rodriguez says.

Original 1950s murals feature the Lady in Red, whose appearance has been reported throughout the bar, restaurant, and women’s restroom, as well as in the parking lot, over the years. Georgann Yara

Rodriguez and Lasko talk about people who have quit after their own encounters. A dishwasher lasted two weeks after a nearby stall door closed and the toilet flushed while he was alone in the men’s restroom.

In 2012, the restaurant contracted with a cleaning company that entered the restaurant after closing. One morning, Lasko got a call from the company telling him that the specific crew that was there the night before refused to return.

“They saw someone crouched in that corner, where the trash can is,” Lasko says, pointing to a rubber trash can tucked under the bar near the entrance to the Saloon. “It freaked them out, and they left.”

Rodriguez remembers a trash bin falling hard onto its side with no explanation. She picked it up and returned it upright. It went down again. She walked away. Her co-worker Luis picked it up and said, “OK, I’ll pick it up. We’ll be nice to the ghost.”

This time, it stayed.

For many of the longtime employees, encounters have become part of the job.

“I’ve been here for so long, if she wanted me out, I would’ve been out,” Rodriguez says. “Things happen for a reason. I try not to pay mind to it.”

Hector Hernandez has worked at The Stockyards for 13 years. Every now and then, when he’s standing at the dish bin or in the middle of dinner prep, he feels as though someone is staring at him. The vibe is so intense, he says, but when he turns around or looks sideways toward the stairs, he always sees just air.

“Everyone says it’s probably the ghost, but I don’t know. I believe everything can happen,” Hernandez says.

One of many dining areas at The Stockyards restaurant. Courtesy of The Stockyards

Leadership team member Kathy Bellerose has heard the stories but says she personally has not witnessed anything unusual in her 17 years at The Stockyards. However, she recalls coming in one Sunday morning to see a large picture in the dining room drastically canted to the side.

“But the cleaners could’ve bumped that,” she says.

And her explanation for the chandeliers tinkling every now and then on their own: “That’s because of the vent blowing on it.”

However, Bellerose believes her coworkers’ stories, and says the Lady’s non-malevolent spirit is behind every account.

“She’s never harmed anyone, save for just being here,” Bellerose says. “The feeling of the presence is unnerving, but she just must be happy and not want to leave.”

The Stockyards

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE… Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we’d like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it’s more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.

GEORGANN YARA is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter who’s also a proud equal opportunity eater. She loves all things Arizona, including the professional sports teams that continue to break her heart. Food, cocktails and cats dominate her IG.