While the many outstanding Phoenix and Scottsdale restaurants and resorts tend to get most of the local and national praise, other parts of this historic region also deserves merit of its own, particularly Mesa, with its fabulous Fresh Foodie Trail.
Established a few years ago in order to showcase some of the area’s top farmlands and family-owned businesses, Mesa’s Fresh Foodie Trail allows visitors to explore sections of the Valley of the Sun that are often overlooked but definitely shouldn’t be.
Although any of the notable stops on the Fresh Foodie Trail are well worth a visit, here’s a look at five new and refreshing places with exceptionally fine cuisine, yet in a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere.
3000 E. Ray Road
Gilbert, AZ 85296
Clearly one of America’s most unique neighborhoods, Agritopia is a fascinating, mixed-use community with a special particular emphasis on urban farming. Spread across 166 glorious acres in the Town of Gilbert, the land of which Agritopia resides has had a long history of farming dating back to 1927, when the Reber family owned it and Gilbert was affectionately known as the “Hay Capital of the World”. Jim and Virginia Johnston purchased the land in 1960 and several decades later, eldest son Joe led the development of the property that combined a close knit residential community with commercial properties. Today, visitors will undoubtedly be in foodie heaven as they can explore the Farm at Agritopia, enjoy gourmet food at Joe’s Farm Grill, located inside the Johnston family’s original home or sample some of the delectable treats inside Barnone, a collection of highly skilled craftsmen representing intriguing retail stores like Lettercraft and Prickly Pear Paper, and restaurants, like the Fire & Brimstone and Uprooted Kitchen, then capped off with a premium glass of wine at Garage East.
Related: Five Top Attractions In Las Vegas
Hayden Flour Mills At Sossaman Farm
22100 S. Sossaman Road
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Hayden Flours Mills is an extraordinary family owned business that produces some of the world’s oldest varieties of wheat (and most flavorful) known as ancient or heritage grains. Located just south of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in the Town of Queen Creek, the flour mills who name was inspired by a historic mill in nearby Tempe, are an integral part of a sprawling 1,000-acre, family-owned property that is in the midst of celebrating its 100th anniversary in business. Although a tour of the flour mills is by appointment only, that visit is highly recommended and their retail store featuring exquisitely hand cultivated heritage grains like Stone Ground Oatmeal and White Sonora Wheat Berries, gourmet crackers, gifts sets and more, makes a trip that much more worthwhile. Led by the father-daughter team of Jeff and Emma Zimmerman, Hayden Flour Mills was selected as one of the food winners from Martha Stewart’s Third Annual American Made Program in 2014. A year later, the business was featured in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.
3434 N. Val Vista Dr.
Mesa, AZ 85213
The Greater Phoenix Area isn’t necessarily well known for its barbecue brisket as compared to other American cities like Austin, Kansas City and Memphis. But the Valley of the Sun really does deserve a much closer look at its many outstanding BBQ joints, including one that may just serve the very best smoked meats in the entire state – Jalapeño Bucks, along the Fresh Foodie Trail in Mesa. Located adjacent to the oldest orange grove in Arizona, Jalapeño Bucks is a wildly entertaining BBQ shack known for serving fabulous “New Wave Mexican Soul Food & Buzzsaw Brand BBQ”. Led by Duaine Burden and his very charming wife Diane, the BBQ is so good here that hungry customers start lining up before it opens at 10 a.m. from Tuesday through Saturday. There are several food items to try but among the favorites are the Green Chili Shredded Beef burrito with signature salsas, Green Beef or Pork Quesadillas and unsurprisingly the ¼ lb. pulled pork and ¼ lb. beef brisket sandwiches with its finely burnt ends, as well as ½ lb. options for a few dollars more. There are plenty of picnic tables surrounded by eye-catching signs for outdoor dining.
Insider tip: try to get a peek inside the shack of the hardworking cooks preparing the multiple orders.
Queen Creek Olive Mill
25062 S. Meridian Road
Queen Creek, AZ 85142
Also recommended in the Town of Queen Creek is the Queen Creek Olive Mill, yet another world-class, locally owned family business that harvests from 7,000 olive trees across 100 acres and produces extra virgin olive oil right on site. Founded by the very personable Detroit native Perry Rea and his wife Brenda, Queen Creek Olive Mill has been in operation for more than 20 years and also features a large gourmet Marketplace, multiple daily tours and ongoing special events. Daily tours of this popular business along the Fresh Foodie Trail showcases Perry Rea’s extra virgin olive oils are approximately 45 minutes long and are first come, first served and cost just $7, with reservations not required for groups of eight or less. The Marketplace offers what seems to be everything that is extra virgin olive oil, including exceptionally tasty stuffed olives, olive tapenades, a unique Olivespa featuring luxurious yet moderately priced home and spa products, balsamic vinegar and of course, their award winning extra virgin olive oils. Due to its continuing success, Queen Creek Olive Mill opened another retail store, the Marketplace at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale.
Superstition Dairy Farm
3440 S. Hawes Road
Mesa, AZ 85212
For families with children visiting the Fresh Foodie Trail, Superstition Dairy Farm should be at or near the top of their list. Located just north of the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Superstition Dairy Farm is far more than its name suggests. For starters, there are twice-daily tours of the 27-acre farm, featuring a guided hayride where guests can see hundreds of curious cows, a petting zoo with several rescue animals, like goats, sheep, chickens, horses and even a miniature donkey, a Moo-University to learn more about life on a dairy farm and the Milk Bar, where guests can taste some of the farm’s milks. There’s also a SuperFarm SuperCamp for kids ages 5 to 14 that’s set to begin on Memorial Day May 27-August 2 but also includes an optional day drop in and last but certainly not the least, the award-winning Udder Delights ice cream shop, featuring year round favorites like Arizona Sunset, Superstition Farm and Very Cherry Chip, along with seasonal flavors and year round dairy free flavors like Raspberry Sorbet, Mango Sorbet and Smitten. Udder Delights also has another and more larger retail shop in Gilbert, with a pastry chef on staff and where milk shakes and root beer floats are also offered, as well as an ice cream truck, an ice cream bike and ice cream tent that are available for special events.