I work in East Mesa, AZ, and while there are quite a few restaurants close by, there are always more locally owned places to check out and scratch off my list. My mission this week was to drive around and find at least a couple new places to pop in and try. I happened to find two right next to each other in Gilbert’s Agritopia area.
The Spot- 1493 S Higley Rd., Suite 102 Gilbert, AZ 85296/ www.thespotaz.com
The Spot is just the sort of place I was looking for as I was driving around. It’s a tiny restaurant wedged into a strip, with tons of character, locally owned and operated. There were a couple of things I noticed straight away that I liked. They have a vintage bicycle which they use for local deliveries(something I haven’t seen in any other Arizona restaurants) and their tagline “Food you’ll like” is hilariously direct. I will say, I think they could use some signage on their front gate, because I had trouble figuring out how to get into the restaurant. After some help from patio guests, I eventually made my way in.
The decor was bright, retro/mod, and perfect for the tiny space. The stairwell to the right led up to a loft, which had some small tables, couches and a tv. I’d imagine it’s a great area to have some coffee and do some work on a laptop, while the downstairs and patio seating have more room for plates of food. The music I heard on my two visits were classic 80′s hits that fit the upbeat mood really well.
The menu is fairly straightforward, featuring All-Day Breakfast, Sandwiches, Salads, Shareables (mostly variations on French Fries), Flatbreads, Kids Menu and some Wine and Beer. Both times I visited and asked for recommendations, the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich was the first thing recommended. The sandwich was loaded up with shredded chicken, pepper-jack cheese, onions, peppers, mushrooms and a chipotle sauce which was more smokey than spicy. The bun was not too bready and the steak fries that accompanied it were crisp and soft in the middle. I enjoyed the sandwich on my first visit, but my guest said the chicken was a bit dry when he tried it on my second visit. Other reviews I’ve read have mentioned that consistency may be an issue, but I certainly enjoyed the sandwich.
The Aegean Flatbread was topped with Feta, Mozzarella, Red Peppers, Spinach, Oregano and a nice hit of fresh Garlic. When it arrives, it looks a bit like a pizza, but it’s definitely all about the bread and the garlic. It’s not a wallop of flavor, but instead a nicely cooked bread with a cheesy topping that has a lingering salty garlic finish. It’s large enough for two people to share, or as a side dish for a group of 4-5, and at the price(9.45), I’d consider it a deal.
All-in-all, I really like The Spot for its vibe and decor, and while the menu isn’t trying to do anything new and different, they deliver on flavor well enough. The question is, how does it stack up to it’s neighbor at the Bold Roost, or more importantly Joe’s Farm Grill which is just across the street…
The Bold Roost Coffee Bar- 1489 South Higley Road #103, Gilbert, AZ 85296/ www.theboldroost.com
Comparing the Bold Roost to The Spot is probably unfair to both restaurants, since one is clearly trying to be a coffee shop, and the other a restaurant. BUT, they do happen to be right next to each other, and both are options for lunch. The sign outside the Bold Roost advertises the Best Espresso and Panini, and I happen to like both those things! Definitely worth checking out.
The interior is very relaxing, with plenty of space, large comfortable chairs and local artwork hanging on the walls. They’re going for more of a hip, urban style than a grungy hole-in-the-wall local coffeehouse, and given the trendy Gilbert Agritopia community nearby it’s probably the right look and feel. The staff were welcoming.. Actually, that’s an understatement. If I took anything away from my visit to the Bold Roost, it was that the staff were super friendly and happy to serve.
Janelle, I believe, greeted me and mentioned an espresso tasting they were offering to showcase a couple of different beans. I tried the El Salvadoran which was creamy and bitter with a fruity berry finish. I also indulged in an Iced Chai Tea, which was a blend I can’t recall out of Tuscon. It was a nice change from the standard Tazo or Big Train I’ve had elsewhere. The menu is really just breakfast or lunch panini sandwiches. I opted to try the “Spinach and Artichoke” which also has turkey, cream cheese and aioli. The nice crunchy bread and creamy aioli made for a great bite, though the sandwich was light on artichoke flavor, and more about the turkey.
I feel like the Bold Roost could definitely benefit from a pastry case, or some other sort of snack or side dish on the menu. I love a good panini, but if it’s the only option on the menu, it has to be a realllly good panini! Even with the limited menu, I can see myself coming back to the Bold Roost for the ambiance, friendly staff, coffee enthusiasm and good paninis.
Both The Spot and The Bold Roost were good enough to visit again. Their real trouble lies about a block to the west, with the legendary Joe’s Farm Grill and Coffee Shop combo. Two very well established restaurants, within walking distance that deliver amazing sandwiches, salads, specials, coffee drinks and award winning cupcakes and pastries. It feels a bit like a local newcomer stepping into the boxing ring with a giant. I certainly hope there’s enough business to go around, but I know when I bring someone out for lunch, I’d probably still drive the extra block to Joe’s or the Coffee Shop, if i’m eager to impress.