Someone once tried to tell me pumpkins were almost worthless vegetables. “Other than carving them for Halloween and making pies out of them at Thanksgiving, what are they good for?” he argued. Most cooks, however, know pumpkin has a multitude of uses. Here are some of the best pumpkin-related food and drinks available at East Valley restaurants (most are seasonal, so enjoy them while you can):
Pumpkin stir-fry: Pumpkin has long been a staple of Thai cuisine, which uses it in a variety of dishes. At Papaya Thai (2706 E. University Drive, Mesa,  964-3171; 1731 E. Broadway Road, Tempe,  921-2678) slices of pumpkin are stir-fried with ground meat, vegetables and sweet basil ($8.95). Also on the restaurant’s everyday menu: tender pieces of pumpkin in a red curry paste ($8.95).
Pumpkin soup: Enjoy a bowl of pumpkin bisque at Havana Café, 4232 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee,  704-2600) until their pumpkin supply runs out, probably in February. Cups are $5.25 and bowls $6.50. The soup also is sold to go by quart and half-gallon. For an extra treat, the café recommends pairing the bisque with a tasting of its Lustau East India sherry.
Pumpkin beer: Microbreweries love concocting special seasonal flavors. Four Peaks (1340 E. Eighth St., Tempe,  303-9967) just unveiled its annual Pumpkin Porter ($4.50 per pint, pictured at left), which should be available through November. BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse (3155 W. Chandler Blvd.,  917-0631) also should have its Pumpkin Ale on tap for another month.
Pumpkin bread: Breadsmith (2831 N. Power Road, Mesa,  981-7600) sells 6-inch loaves of pumpkin and pumpkin-chocolate chip bread ($6.25), as well pumpkin scones ($1.50), through Thanksgiving. Simply Bread (2117 N. 24th St., Phoenix,  244-1778) also sells both types of pumpkin breads ($5.99) through the end of the year.
Pumpkin cake: The seasonal Pumpkin Cake ($3.99, pictured at top) at Joe’s Farm Grill (3000 E. Ray Road, Gilbert,  563-4745) features alternating layers of pumpkin spice cake and cream cheese filling, and it’s covered with a warm maple caramel sauce. Double your pumpkin pleasure by pairing it with one of the grill’s Pumpkin Milkshakes ($3.99).
Pumpkin bread pudding: The Pumpkin Bread Pudding ($6) at The Mission (3815 N. Brown Ave., Scottsdale,  636-5005) is one of best desserts you’ll find in the Valley. Pumpkin bread is soaked in custard, drenched with a butterscotch sauce (made with actual Scotch) and topped with cinnamon gelato, toasted pepitas (the inner part of pumpkin seeds) and pomegranate seeds.
Pumpkin ice cream: Udder Delights (1385 E. Warner Road, Gilbert,  507-3859) currently is dishing up a couple seasonal flavors — pumpkin and pumpkin cheesecake. Scoops start at $3.50, and the ice creams also are available to go in pints ($5.99) and quarts ($7.99). You also can get either flavor in an ice cream pie ($14) or in various size ice cream cakes ($19.95-$38.95).