Black Friday was the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season. Across the East Valley, bargain-seekers are expected to jam malls and shopping centers for the next month. If you’re like me and want to avoid the crazy crowds, here are five restaurants where you grab a meal and do a little shopping at the same time:
Del Piero: Enjoy an omelet sandwich on rosemary foccacia for breakfast or a turkey sandwich with brie, sliced apple, caramelized onions and fig tapenade for lunch at the Queen Creek Olive Mill’s Tuscan-inspired eatery. Afterward, wander the aisles of stuffed olives, flavored olive oils, spreads, wine and bath and body products. 25062 S. Meridian Road, Queen Creek, (480) 888-9290.
Liberty Market: Whether you’re craving one of Liberty’s wood-fired pizzas, farm-fresh sandwiches or expertly prepared espresso drinks, now you can bring the ingredients home with you. The market recently bulked up its retail section (pictured at left) with everything from the Molinari sausage it uses to its own chai tea concentrate, plus all its wines and beers. 230 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, (480) 892-1900.
Pastis: Try some of the Eastern European favorites like sirloin sausage links called chevapi served with Bosnian bread called lepinja at this Serbian-American restaurant. The retail section boasts a lot of European imports. Be sure to grab a bottle of sparkling French lemonade and a jar of ajvar, a sweet and smoky red paste known as “Serbian caviar.” 1935 S. Val Vista Drive, Mesa, (480) 926-3354.
Toby Keith’s I LoveThis Bar & Grill: Fried bologna sandwiches, deep-fried macaroni and cheese and deep-fried Twinkies are just three of items you’ll find on the menu at the superstar country singer’s gigantic Riverview restaurant. A large gift shop sells all things Keith-related, from shirts hats and CDs to belt buckles, playing cards and sets of album-themed shot glasses. 1065 N. Dobson Road, Mesa, (480) 844-8629.
SanTan Brewing: This microbrewery makes all its beers, many of which are used in delicious sandwiches, pizzas and desserts. For $8, you can buy one of SanTan’s custom 18-ounce glasses, specially designed to enhance your beer-drinking experience. You’ll also get half off your next beer. Take home a 64-ounce growler of your favorite ale for $14. 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler, (480) 917-8700.