Fried Chicken Fight: Bootleggers v. Phoenix Public Market Cafe

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Lauren Saria
Fried chicken from Bootleggers in Scottsdale.
Thank goodness for fried chicken because without this dish, we'd have nothing to stuff ourselves with after an emotionally exhausting experience. It's one of the pillars of comfort food and -- particularly when paired with a heap of something starchy -- makes for a pretty much perfect meal.

There are plenty of places that specialize specifically in battering and frying pieces of bird, but we've also noticed a few spots around town that have added fried chicken on their menus. Bootleggers does a solid job with smoked meats and moonshine, but Southern fried chicken? We'll see about that. And as for fried meat on the otherwise health-focused menu at Phoenix Public Market Cafe -- well, you can understand our curiosity.

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Galileo Bread & Coffee vs. Flavors of Louisiana: Battle of the Muffaletta

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Renée Guillory
Galileo Bread & Coffee serves a muffaletta that's an elegant treat.

The Valley of the Sun is 1,500 miles from New Orleans' Little Palermo neighborhood, a district seated next to the French Quarter that happens to be where the muffaletta was born. And since this deli marvel is a multicultural invention, if you're Créole, it's pronounced muff-uh-LOT-ah; if you're Italian, it's MOOF-uh-LET-ah.

It's not known exactly when NOLA's iconic, working-class sandwich made its way west, but we can tell you that the muffaletta is a must-try. The hearty, salty, cheesy sandwich that defies spell-check programs in every language is on more than a few menus around town (not including those delis that offer the muffaletta only as a special), so we decided it was time to find a champion.

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Three-Way Taqueria Showdown: El Guerrerense, Don Beto and Yaqui

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Natalie Miranda
Who will win this three-way battle? Tacos from Taqueria El Guerrerense.

There are (at least) three taquerias on McDowell between 24th and 36th streets, all satisfying a near-constant flow of customers. Taqueria El Guerrerense, Taqueria Don Beto and Taqueria Yaqui are no-frills hole-in-the-wall spots sending their best displays of tacos to hungry customers, each with a varying selection of meats.

We wanted to know which one is the best taqueria on McDowell, so we tried all three in the ultimate taqueria showdown.


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Salty Señorita v. Loco Patron: Scottsdale's Chicken Nachos Showdown

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Josh Chesler
Salty Señorita's tremendous plate is a new spin on nachos.

With all of the Mexican restaurants in the Valley, coming up with an order of winning chicken nachos in all of metro Phoenix would be like picking the best ice cream flavor -- everyone would have a different favorite. The basic combination of chips, cheese and chicken is often complemented by beans, chili, pico de gallo and a bevy of other Hispanic accoutrements, and can be found at nearly any Mexican establishment.

So we narrowed this battle to Old Town Scottsdale.

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Burger Battle: Hopdoddy vs. Paradise Valley Burger Co.

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Natalie Miranda
Will Hopdaddy hop on top?
Nothing beats a juicy burger, on a perfect bun with melted cheese, and the oils dripping off the burger. We put Hopdoddy Burger Bar and Paradise Valley Burger Co. in the ring to see who takes the prize in the battle of the burgers.

In This Corner: Hopdoddy Burger Bar

The Setup: Hopdoddy is a burger and beer joint that touts their fresh, natural ingredients, including their homemade buns. Walk in and the host will hand you a number, proceed to the line to order and your meal will be brought to you. The have Four Peaks Brewing Co. on tap, as well as Santan and Grand Canyon Brewing Co. One of their best sides is the green chili queso with fries to dip. The chili is so fresh and the cheese so good you'll want to drink it.

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Pane Bianco v. Tutti Santi: Lasagna Battle

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Natalie Miranda
Layers of pasta and parmesan make up the lasagna at Pane Bianco.

Pasta noodles layered with cheese and smothered in fresh tomato sauce: Nothing is more comforting than a plate of homemade lasagna. The classic Italian dish is easily found at restaurants in the Valley, and to be honest, there are some places that should just leave it to the chefs who really know what they're doing.

Instead of popping that over-priced frozen lasagna into the oven, read who we think has the best lasagna plate in our latest showdown.

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Tacos Sahuayo vs. Tacos Chava: Taco Truck Take Down

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Natalie Miranda
Tacos from Tacos Sahuayo truck on McDowell Road.

Taco trucks serve up some of the best tacos we've had, and it's always a thrill to pull up to a random truck and scope their menu to see what they have that the last truck didn't have.

Phoenix has a seemingly endless supply to choose from for those late-night cravings for fresh Mexican food. We took on two trucks in the Valley, Tacos Sahuayo and Tacos Chava, to compare which one serves up the best food.

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La Purisima Bakery vs. La Reyna Bakery: Pan Dulce Battle

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Natalie Miranda
Pan dulce from La Purisima Bakery.

Pan dulce, or sweet bread, is the poster child for Mexican sweet treats. It's cheap, sweet, and easy to find in the Valley. Pan dulce is to Hispanics as biscotti is to Italians, and something many have come to enjoy because of the vast amount of panaderias throughout the Valley. The hard part is weeding out the inferior sweets.

We pitted La Purisima Pasteleria in Glendale and La Reyna Bakery in Phoenix against each other to find out who has the better selection and better quality of the two panaderias.

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The Mission vs. Barrio Queen: Table-Side Guacamole Tumble

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Natalie Miranda
Table-side guacamole from The Mission in Scottsdale.

As far as we are concerned, it's always the right time for some guacamole. There are so many ways to dress it up or down, and it can be given a savory flavor or be prepared with a sweet note.

The Mission and Barrio Queen, both located in Scottsdale, make their own house guacamole tableside for guests and we tested out both eateries to find out which restaurant delivered the best bowl.

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La Grande Orange vs. AZ 88: The BLT Battle

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Natalie Miranda
The Guacamole BLT from La Grande Orange stacked with classic ingredients.

The BLT: bacon, lettuce, tomato. It is a classic American sandwich that is just as good plain as it is dressed up with sauces and extra toppings. According to the Big Apple, the BLT stemmed from the Bacon Mit Tomato sandwich, which was named for the New York City subway line circa 1936. The BLT as we know it is said to have come out of Chicago and supposedly was named after the columnist Bert Leston Taylor from the Chicago Tribune.

Either way, we're glad this sandwich came to be, and we love to scout new favorites around the Valley. La Grande Orange Grocery and AZ 88 add their own touches to the BLT and we set out to find out which sandwich tops the rest.


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