The foodie benefits of living in Tempe

I’ll admit it: I love food.

Dear reader, you may be asking: “If you love food so much, Ashley, why don’t you marry it?”

Unfortunately, we can’t always get everything we want in life.

To be more specific, I love simple and well-cooked food. Tempe is a fantastic place to try new cuisines and libations, and there’s certainly no shortage of great meals at all hours of the day. With the growing popularity of food trucks, delicious treats are now mobile and catered especially to those of us on the go.

I’ve noticed a recent trend in food: excess.

Giant portions, high calories and tedious preparation are becoming commonplace in restaurants. These meals are also sold at higher prices, which means most of the food in this college town is almost out of a college student’s price range.

Besides this excess, food trends have made the dining experience more complicated and confusing for those just looking for a bite to eat.

I have to admit that I had not heard of red velvet cake until a few years ago and thought that sushi should be left in the ocean.

I’ve since changed my ways, but I know that these ever-evolving trends still persist. This leaves most diners wondering: What is aioli? Does braised mean the same thing as broiled? Did this free-range chicken have friends? Why is there popcorn in my salad? Why does everything have bacon in it?

One of the most recent episodes of the NBC comedy, "Parks and Recreation," poked fun at how pretentious and absurd the bar-going experience has become: Their drinks come to the table infused in lotions, and cotton candy in a pint glass represents a “Bud Light.” As Ron Swanson says, there is a wrong way to drink alcohol.

I think this same excessiveness is reflected in the dining experience.

As exciting as a culinary creation is to enjoy, complicated textures and combinations leave diners unsatisfied and confused. When I go out to eat, the whole point is to avoid the complication of cooking, not to experience it at a higher price.

It’s fantastic to live somewhere that is a hub of activity and dining experience. Some Valley restaurants are pioneers of exceptional food that is unique and fresh. Even better, ASU is surrounded by local venues with this same specialty.

There’s a reason that a place like Matt’s Big Breakfast located a stone’s throw from the Downtown campus does so well.

Its menu is a generous one-page catalog, its ingredients are fresh, and its portions are reasonable. You don’t leave a whole meal on your plate in leftovers, and this degree of portion control reflects an efficient establishment. Plus, your meal is cheap — even better.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some eating to do.


Reach the columnist at or follow her at @soupsnake


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