Here’s a quick post about a quick lunchtime favorite. This one goes out to my homie and photo-phenom Blair Bunting. We regularly meet at a place called Greek Gyros in Scottsdale, AZ just off the 101 and Frank Loyd Wright. We have tried a few Gyro joints in the area but found this one to be the best–I am seeing now that the reviews concur with our findings–as they should.
Just behind Carl’s Jr. on Northsight Blvd. you will see a large “GYROS” sign atop unit 115 of the strip mall. What you will find inside is an incredible smell wafting from the slab of meat roasting on the vertical spit. I have always heard it was lamb, but figured their had to be more to it than that. My research tells me it is most likely lamb and beef–whatever they compress in there, I like it. Thin slices if this meet and spice concoction are shaved fresh and hot from the spit–it is flavorful and juicy, with slightly charred edges, but not fatty. This is added to a warm pita, along with a few slices of onion and tomato, and topped with Tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is made of yogurt flavored with cucumber, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil–you really can’t go wrong with that combo.
For around $8 you get a bottomless soda, perfectly-cooked fries, and the aforementioned delicacy. Keep in mind, this deal causes the place to be packed around lunchtime. You can get Gyros elsewhere that look pretty much the same, but Greek Gyros does it best–I will never lead you wrong where food is concerned (anything else is debatable).
Shakey’s Pizza is a true classic. When I was a kid it was the only place to go–I honestly can’t remember eating pizza anywhere else. Shakey’s was an old-timey pizza parlor (originally known as “Ye Old Public House“) where I remember watching dough being hand-tossed right as we entered through the door embedded with multi-colored stain glass circles. The staff was dressed like old-fashioned barbershop quartet members with red and white striped shirts and “straw” hats made of Styrofoam. Every Shakey’s I patronized also became a video game arcade as future classics like Pac-Man, Defender, Galaga and Donkey Kong became popular. The first time I ever dropped a quarter into one of the aforementioned machines, I was at Shakey’s. I even had most of my childhood birthday parties at one Shakey’s or another, but we mostly went to the one in Palm Desert, California which is actually still there.
It all started back on April 30, 1954, by Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson and Ed Plummer. Sadly, the nickname “Shakey” came from an illness Johnson contracted during World War II. The very first location was actually a converted grocery store and initially only beer could be served until the pizza ovens were completed the following week. The old-timey outfits I remember came from Johnson’s love of Dixieland music which he actually played to entertain customers in that first store.
At its peak, well after both Johnson and Plummer sold their respective interests, there were approximately 500 Shakey’s restaurants across the Unites States and several beyond its borders including franchises in Canada, Japan (I was shocked to see Shakey’s when I was in Japan and had to eat there!) and the Philippines. In 2011 there were reportedly only 58 Shakey’s restaurants in the US, 51 of which are located in California. Shakey’s has however started a push to open new restaurants.
I have some great memories of this place and I truly love the taste of the pizza. In fact, when I go to California I do my best to find a Shakey’s so I can relive my childhood. Sadly, they no longer have classic video games (the new stuff isn’t up my alley), but as I remember the pizza tastes pretty much the same.
The crust is thin and has bits of corn meal stuck to the bottom and the mild cheese is always hot and stringy! What really sets Shakey’s pizza apart, however, is the pepperoni. It’s spicy and sweet all at the same time–its distinct smell and flavor take me back. My favortie pie? Pepperoni, sausage and onion–it’s the best! That is what you see in the images here which I shot during my last excursion to San Diego, California for a wedding shoot (I had to get the plain pepperoni side to appease my girlfriend).
Shakey’s actually has a large variety of food for a pizza place. One item worth note is the Mojo potatoes. I guess you would consider them batter-dipped, or chicken fried potato slices–regardless, they are incredible and go great with pizza as you might imagine.
Another specialty of my favorite pizza place, that is much more than a single item, is the Bunch-Of-Lunch. This is a huge lunch buffet with salad, pizza, pasta, fried chicken, Mojo potatoes and more! It’s truly is a bunch of lunch for not so much money.
I am glad to see Shakey’s is once again expanding–I certainly would love to see one in Scottsdale, Arizona! Are you listening Shakey’s? One thing I would suggest, however, is BRING BACK THE CLASSICS! I would love to the old Shakey’s logo back in use. The new one is good, but the classic sign is, well, classic. The new, more modern decor is good for today, but it becomes dated, quickly. If all Shakey’s Pizza Parlors were decorated with that old-timey style we all know and love, Shakey’s would stand apart from all other pizza chains and it wouldn’t need to be updated every few years. One last thing, bring back the classic video games. Zaxxon, Joust, Q-Bert, Centipede… You could be the place to go for classic video gaming. Think about it, kids like me have way more quarters now, and we can buy beer.
Bottom line, check out a local Shakey’s–as you can see from my rant above, there are lots of reasons. And if you have the means, open a franchise! If you open one anywhere near me, I will help keep you in business!
Check out these great old commercials!
I have moved back and forth between Scottsdale and Southern California several times. The funny thing is, I do more fun stuff in California now that I live in Arizona. I know, that doesn’t make much sense–but I never said this blog would make any sense.
On my last trip to SoCal I was determined to “see the sights” in the greater Los Angeles area. As you may have already gathered, I like food, so a lot of my adventures involved the culinary arts. This being the case, what better place to visit on my Los Angeles excursion than the joint with the giant donut on the roof? I don’t think anyone can argue that Randy’s Donuts is more than just a fried dough factory–it’s a Southern California landmark. It has been a fixture in Inglewood, CA since 1953 and has been featured in a slew of movies, most recently of which was Iron Man 2.
Now I did want to go there so I could check out the historic local, but I was also curious to sample the doughy confections. And I don’t just mean, “Hell yeah, I’m up for some donuts.” I firmly believe that any business that measures its history in decades rather than years is doing something special, so I was truly curious to find out what Randy’s Donuts was all about.
Bottom line, I was right–Randy’s makes the best F’ing donuts I have ever eaten. Excuse my French, but they are seriously that good, and well worth the drive from The Valley of the Sun. I was fortunate enough to sample the maple bar and the apple fritter–oh how I love me some apple fritter.
Let me tell you, not all apple fritters are created equal. Even the best one I can find here in Arizona is over cooked, somewhat dry, and kinda crunchy. The first fritter I had at Randy’s Donuts was the best donut I have ever eaten in my life. It was soft, doughy and I have to say–juicy. I know that doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s just so wrong it’s right. I mean it has to be oil, but it doesn’t taste oily–it’s just sweet, soft goodness that melts in your mouth.
The maple bar is also spectacular–so soft, so fresh. I am not exaggerating when I say that Randy’s Donuts is the absolute best. I literally don’t eat donuts as much as I used to after eating Randy’s… I would rather wait until the next time I am in L.A.
Sure, it’s just a small, old donut stand–there isn’t even a place to eat inside. Frankly, I think that’s all part of the experience that is, Randy’s Donuts. Need I say it is worth your while to check this place out? Drive out of your way, fly into LAX, whatever it takes–put Randy’s on your bucket list.
Oh, and total disclosure–the shots in the post were taken with a Canon G9 point-n-shoot. I had taken these way before I had a decent cell phone camera and was taking pics of my food.
Japanese food doesn’t exactly conjure images of scotch steak, better known as ribeye, but after partaking in the ribeye and tempura special at Eastwind I don’t really care.
I had eaten asian food at the building where Eastwind presently resides, on the southeast corner of Tatum and Thunderbird in Scottsdale, AZ, back in the mid ’90s. Not sure what the place was called back then, but I remember getting fairly average rice bowls there. Around 2004 I moved back to Scottsdale and walked into what is now Eastwind and, to my surprise, found a much better Japanese eatery.
Although they offer a variety of food from rice bowls to sushi rolls and bento boxes, there are only three things I eat there–they are all so good I can’t bring myself to try anything else! They also serve Asian beer including Asahi and Kirin, which are favorites of mine.
The ribeye and tempura special is a dinner feast, to say the least. It starts off with miso soup and then you get perfectly steamed broccoli, incredible tempura shrimp, an ample portion of white rice and, of course, a nice ribeye. You will notice that there is fried rice in the picture, you pay a couple bucks extra for that and it’s worth every penny. That fried rice is made to order (not scooped out of a steamer tray) and is exactly like what you get from the expensive teppanyaki restaurants, it’s just not cooked right in front of you!
As for the white rice and broccoli, there’s not much to say other than it is done right and tastes great. The tempura shrimp is sweet and succulent with a perfect, light tempura coating–one I much prefer to breading.
As for the ribeye… I’m not gonna tell you this is the best steak you will ever have in your life. I mean, come on, this is an affordable Asian restaurant I’m talkin’ about here. It is a very good steak however. It’s fairly thin and has good flavor, especially with the accompanying ginger/soy sauce. Typically I order my steak rare. The steak in this shot, however, was ordered medium rare. Not bad by any means, but I will stick with rare from now on. By itself, this ribeye might be considered average. But combined with the sauce, and everything else on this plate, you are looking at one of my very favorite meals–period. The chefs at Eastwind have done a great job of combining a few simple things that work incredibly well together and make up a plate choc full ‘o flavor. Oh, and the price? A scant $13.95, plus $2 for the fried rice.
All I can say is, “Try it, you’ll like it!” And if not the ribeye and tempura special, then check out some of Eastwind’s other excellent offerings–I will share my other two favorite items in future posts.
Don’t forget to tell ‘em you saw it on Phone Phood!
Hello and welcome to my
mess blog. My name is Paul and I am, among other things, a professional photographer. I Have been producing editorial and commercial images for over 16 years. You see, I take my hobbies very seriously–in fact it might border on obsessive. As a kid I was really, really into BMX and skateboarding and I even attribute some of my writing and photography skills to magazines like BMX Plus and BMX Action. Apparently I did stare at those magazines long enough to actually learn something mom!
In the mid ’80s I got my license and an ’86 Toyota truck. Custom Minitrucks and VWs were all the rage at that time as was the up-and-coming mobile electronics industry. I was hooked on all three, but building custom car stereos and competing in auto sound competitions was my life. I installed car stereos and alarms during the week and entered IASCA competitions on the weekends. This obsession landed me a position on Auto Sound & Security Magazine and so began my foray into publishing which included a new obsession–photography (and you thought I was never going to get to the point).
Yes, a point. So why am I blogging about all this you ask? Because all of this centers around the environmental self-portait above. I mean, why would anyone want to be photographed in a mess like that? Portraits are supposed to be clean, right? Well, yes and no. There certainly is a time and place for a clean, traditional portrais. What I shot above however is supposed to tell more of a story than a simple ID picture. That is me and I am surrounded by my life. Everything was thought out from the Pac Man shirt to the pile of boxes next to the truck–the reason is that it’s all real. I actually do have a mess in my garage, and I am restoring a 1988 Toyota 4Runner that is somewhat like my first truck. For anyone else, or any other photoshoot, I would have cleaned the entire area or suggested a different location altogether. But for this shot, I wanted to tell my story no matter how messy it got.
This is image actually the beginning of a project where I intend to tell other people’s stories in photographs similar to the one above. This blog is in its beginning stages as well. I am not sure how it will look, and I am not sure what direction the content will take, but I am pretty sure that it will get messy at some point. Check back to see what happens.
Thanks for playin’!