Joe’s Farm Grill
2014 & 2015
It is no secret among family and friends that this is one of our favorite places to frequent. It may be because of the retro modern renovated, once farm house with the very unique and clean bathrooms. BTW even if you don’t have to use the facilities, just peak inside and check out barbie and G.I. Joe. It could also be the citrus trees and huge pines canopying the grassy outdoor seating area creating a serene environment unusual for central Arizona. Perhaps it is the idea that much of their produce is grown on property coupled with the fact the food is pretty darn good. Whatever it is we are not alone! It is not uncommon during the week on lunch hour to wait for 30 minutes to order, and a line wrapped around the inside and out the front door on weekends at prime time. On weekends, shade is provided and water available out front for the loyal patrons who willingly can wait an hour or more, just to order.
A lot has changed over the last 5 years as for awareness and popularity of gluten free products. Joe’s has changed with the times as well, when they began incorporating Gluten free buns and asking their customers about food allergies and preferences with ordering. I still get surprised, after I order a sandwich without cheese and a gluten free bun, when they ask, “Do you have an allergy or a preference?” for those items. The prices are reasonable for the amount of food although I have had some friends say their prices were a smidgen high, considering the casual environment and help yourself surroundings. My hubby and I pay similar prices for the two of us for fast food, and you know the quality and care are not there, and there certainly is no flora and fauna nearby.
According to their website, “Farm Burger and Farm Chicken are soy free and are uncommonly great.” Burgers & Chicken sandwiches come with plain fries (fried in canola oil), if you want to change it is a fee. Drinks are help yourself, as far as water on tap, sodas, and iced tea(tea is quite good and medium strong).
Here is their allergy website link; http://joesfarmgrill.com/food-allergies/
There is no mention of their Gluten free buns.
So originally when they started the GF buns they were fantastic. This picture was from back in spring when they first started.
Now they are just okay. Not sure if the restaurant switched the manufacturer and the handling but at least there is an option and there are soy free choices as well. So all in all– not too bad.
Sorry I forgot to take a pic of my most recent burger a couple weeks ago (Feb. 2015). Just too excited I guess. So I owe you one.
The salads are super, truly super. They are a big mix of farm fresh greens and other veggies and occasionally I taste some prepackaged stuff on there too. It is a good idea to get clarity, to exactly what comes on the salad each time you are ordering since it changes frequently. I don’t like the corn or the broccoli, and I love those items normally but the corn tastes canned & freakishly buttery, and the broccoli is precooked. The beets on the salad are fabulous, they seem to have a hint of fresh mint marinated through or maybe I am crazy. If you are looking for a vegan option, the grilled portobello salad(ask for soy free), is my favorite! I order dressing on the side but rarely use it, because the salad is just so fresh and tasty without it.
I have also enjoyed the farm chicken sandwich. It is flavorful, juicy and quite large. I think their portions are definitely on the larger side, with the exception of their pizza. My hubby gets the pizza and it smells amazing, but has all the allergens. He eats the whole thing and usually all my leftovers. Unless I have salad, then he says he is full. Oh boys!
Huge Note: Don’t be like me and try to take your salad remainders home in the heat of summer, even in a cooler. Believe me, it’s SO NOT worth it. Terrible terrible things happened. The good thing is while I hallucinated, I came up with some great recipes for my cookbook.
I hope you get a chance to visit out there if you haven’t already, just try to go at an off time, like 3:30pm has been good to us. If I see a huge group of you all gathering at 3:30, I am so deleting this section.
Nekter Juice Bar
Nekter Juice Bar is a big chain based out of California. Now expanded through several locations in central Arizona and some neighboring states. Their menu consists of fresh juices and smoothies (blended with a variety of greens, fruits, raw house-made vanilla cashew milk-depending on item) and acai bowls (with a base of same Cashew milk), bottled Nekter Grab n’ Gos, packaged snacks and a 1,2,3 & 5-day Nekter Cleanse Program. The Nekter Juice Bar Menu, is not on their website but I found it on UrbanSpoon.com. So first appearance, this place is clean, the atmosphere is slightly contemporary coupled with organic design, and the staff have always been friendly and helpful. They are not pushy and truly make this a Juice Bar to visit and chill. They have reusable cups for purchase, as you can see on the bottom left of the picture above. It is I believe a 20 oz. cup, BPA free, comes with a straw for $9.99 and also comes with your choice of small drink with the first purchase. After, you get $0.50 cents off every drink upon returning with your clean cup. The drinks and bowls are all made after ordering so there is a little wait. So far, the one I visited has never had more than one person in line before me. The prices are a bit steep considering none of it is Organic but again, there aren’t a whole lot of places you can get something healthy and is completely Soy free, and Dairy free. Their hemp mixed Granola that accompanies the Acai bowls, do have gluten but for a fee you can switch to the Gluten free granola. So far I have had;
The Greenie which has a touch of sweetness,
Popeye’s Acai– incidentally I did not like the cashew milk with spinach,
the seasonal Pumpkin (see my version coming this fall),
and the Acai Banana Berry Bowl (hold the agave) which I enjoyed and is literally, a cool treat.
Overall I am very happy with Nekter Juice Bar and appreciate the option when I am out and about.
Nourish is a local, casual restaurant here in central Arizona. According to their website nourish123.com , “All dishes on the menu are gluten free, soy free, peanut free! And nearly every dish is made dairy free. There are also vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, egg-free, Paleo, and raw options.”
Currently they have a location in Gilbert, which is where we visited and a new location is opening in the same plaza as the Southwest School of Naturopathic Medicine. If this sounds familiar, I mentioned this school in my tincture post.
The Gilbert location is somewhat difficult to find, as it is tucked away in a seemingly hidden corner of Higley & Ray behind the Fresh & Easy.
When you first find the building you notice the tiny seating area canopied by bright green shade and windows to the restaurant in the background. The place is clean and tidy as you walk through the straight hall flanked by seating. We passed a refrigerated section filled with some snacks, their desserts, and drinks. I have to mention that the water is not only filtered but flavored with fresh cucumbers. Fantastic water. When you live in the dessert you notice how terrible the hard water is here. Not only is it hard, it tastes quite horrible, so when you visit a restaurant that filters it and without harsh chemical or a bleach flavor, you remember.
As for my olfactory senses, they were a bit disappointed. In all honesty we visited this place in the evening on a Thursday previously, and since you could here a pin drop and no aromas could be detected, we headed back out the door. Again no smell of food cooking, nothing. But since I knew I could trust the ingredients more here than anywhere else, we stayed this time. I am glad we did.
We each ordered the burgers. I had the smaller burger on their gluten free version of a sourdough bun and it was plenty of food. My hubby got the bigger burger, of course, and added cheese. So they do have dairy options available. It was a huge burger! The food all arrived quite a bit later, they make it after you order, so you do wait for your food. I didn’t mind too much, but just don’t go when you are on the verge of fainting. The burgers were juicy, you could see the meat juices sitting on top and simply seasoned. The toppings were very fresh. No sides came with it, so we ordered the sweet potato air crisped fries to share. They were cooked mostly well, there were a few bits that didn’t seem quite cooked enough, and the sauce it came with in my opinion was unpleasant. My hubby seemed to like the sauce, which completely threw me off, considering he was not that fond of the healthy food. I hope the restaurant reads this and takes it into consideration, the sweet potato fries although a decent concept, do not accompany any of the dishes available, appropriately. They were dusted with cinnamon and that is the main reason for the mismatch. Now if they included a garlic herby fry, or a cumin spicy version that would have been much better. The menu online was more appetizing than the surprisingly different version in person, which was a disappointment. I was thrown off and I hate surprises. I was deciding between a few different vegetarian dishes before we headed out, none of which were available upon arrival. That is why I ordered the burger. We also got a dessert from the refrigerator. It was over $7 for 2 squares of the cashew based Salted Caramel Cacao Bars. The dessert squares were so good. I could have eaten a box full. A chocolate and almond crust, with a cashew based sweetened gooey filling, topped with more chocolate. I had planned on eating them myself, but the hubby decided he liked them a lot. Again threw me off, cause he dislikes caramel and trying new healthy things unless I make it. I am glad I am not a betting woman, cause I would have lost my shirt. Speaking of losing shirts, this place is not cheap but reasonable considering what you are getting. You know how much it is for an option of a GF bun, a kale salad from a large chain restaurant or cashews. So you really cannot blame them for the prices. They keep the staff super small. We only saw one person who ran the register and food to tables and what I am assuming one person in the back. As our time lapsed, another couple staff members came in and maybe 3 tables filled up. So you don’t have to worry about long lines to order. We spent under $40 dollars for the two burgers, the shared sweet potatoes fries, one drink and dessert squares shared. In the end I would go back. I know that if I am having a hard time, or if my sensitivities get worse, or if we are with other people that have food allergies this would be a safe place to go. They do need to work on the menu and update their website! I would comment on the other offerings they have listed, but since they still haven’t updated their website from the Scottsdale location closing or their Gilbert menu, it is safer if I don’t. Nourish, does need to rethink their food pairings, food that goes together, not just randoms backed by fingers crossed.
Jewel’s Bakery and Cafe Review
Located at 4041 E Thomas Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018
Back in April, my hubby’s parents came to visit and we took the opportunity to stop by Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe for the first time. A Gluten free bakery and now cafe located in Phoenix, Arizona. Previously I fell in love with the cupcakes with my first bite at the Celiac Expo a couple years back. The cupcakes below are the first ones we purchased at the expo.
The Salted Caramel cupcake is my absolute favorite, it was truly heaven in a paper cup. The frosting composed of cream cheese and dripped with salted caramel on top. Since then, I have noticed significant variations with the results in Jewel’s baked goods. The first two times the cupcakes were perfect at both of the expo’s that were about a year apart. Then we had ordered a whole cake for my birthday, that my hubby had to drive about an hour one way for, and it was burnt on the crust so much that we had to throw the outside away. I cannot believe they let that cake go out the door! So I was hoping for dessert redemption from this place.
Upon entering, the atmosphere was eclectic with a mishmash of country and modern chairs and tables, an elevated ceiling with exposed ducting and minimal industrial farmhouse lighting. There is a faux brick wall immediately to your right as you walk in with a large orange sprocket hanging in the center and flanked by ample seating. We were greeted by the friendly and helpful people behind the counters. The atmosphere was calm with lots of natural light, yet a comfortable temperature. I asked a few questions about soy in their products, when they weren’t able to answer, they looked to Julie Moreno, the owner and baker, who was hard at work in the back. She knows her products and can answer with ease about the allergens.
The most recent visit was back to its sweet perfection, with the exception of the Almond Joy cupcake. My name is in it, so I had to try it. It was quite plain and a little soggy in parts, not something you want to see or taste in a cupcake.
My hubby has picked up another order of cupcakes in May 2014(not pictured) and they were obviously smaller, plus had a discernible taste and texture difference. They were less sweet, lacked character in flavor, and appeared slightly drier. It seems like they had someone else baking that day or are faced with the harsh realities of business and are trying to manage their costs by significantly reducing all the things that made them absolutely heavenly. I hope they get their baking figured out. If you are left confused by whether or not I recommend this place, that makes two of us. I would like to go back to try their food, but I have heard through friends they found it too simple for the price. If I find better choices that meet my allergen needs I will let you know, until then I don’t see myself making the trip, but if I happen to be in the area I would stop in.
227 South Smith Road
Tempe, AZ 85281
Spinato’s Pizzeria now has 5 locations in and around Phoenix. My hubby was nice enough to bring home a pizza just for me, a gluten free pizza that is, and of course a pizza for himself. I chose the Mama Spinato’s Signature Fresh Pizza with a gluten free crust, and according to them, soy and dairy is not an ingredient. Of course this could change with their vendor, so always double check before you buy. I also got light cheese on top. The gluten free crusts are about 10″ although mine looked smaller. The sauce was savory and a little sweet, a nice subtle tomato sauce. It was loaded with their spinach, fresh tomato and little mounds of garlic . The gluten free crust was actually quite herby, thin and crisp. The flavor reminded me of pita chips. Hints of thyme and onion evolved from nodes of garlic, oregano and basil. Quite tasty, and I will definitely get it again and maybe skip the cheese altogether. It really didn’t need it, or at least that is what people tell themselves when they can’t have dairy. I practically ate the whole thing in one day. I think I had one sad piece remaining for my lunch the next afternoon. Until next time, my friend.