PHOENIX — Editor’s note: The stories have been edited for clarity and length.
Going out to eat at a restaurant is so much more than just eating food. For most of us, dining out is a social experience where we can connect with friends, family and the community.
With the coronavirus pandemic severely limiting social experiences like eating out, some Valley food bloggers are telling their stories about their most memorable meals in the Valley.
These funny, bright stories filled with food and fun provide a nostalgic look back at a time when we could be within six feet of each other and break bread.
Food that brings the community together -Lexy Romano
My most memorable meal in Phoenix is when my husband and I went to Taqueria El Fundador. We got to sit down with the owner, Joey, and he brought us one of his most famous dishes, the El Pastor taco. I totally understand why it put them on the map because it is so good.
But I specifically remember that first time when we got to break bread with Joey and talk about what he is doing within his community. He told us that he has a mission to bring the community together, especially the youth.
He will give out free tacos to kids who got good grades and bring in their report cards. He also makes skateboards and will give them out for free to kids to promote them getting outside, staying active and staying healthy.
The whole mission he and his family at Taqueria El Fundador are working towards is bringing the community together. It's a great example of small business owners getting out and bringing their communities together, and that's one of the things I love about the small business community in the City of Phoenix.
K-Dramas, Korean BBQ and mom -Chelsey Hauston
My most memorable meal is the time that I went out for Korean BBQ with my mom. She has been obsessed with K-Dramas ever since they came out on Netflix and all I hear about is how beautiful everyone is on the shows, especially the men, and how all they do is eat food around a grill.
I had to ask, "mom, don't you know that's Korean BBQ? I need to take you!" She got so excited, especially about eating all the meat. But when we get there they give her a pair of chopsticks and she looks at me like, "what do I do?" because she's from a tiny Massachusetts town and the most diverse food she eats is Italian.
My husband and I spent 10 minutes teaching her how to use chopsticks because she's holding them like two pencils. Then she discovered the daikon radishes and ordered seven servings of them along with five or six bowls of bulgogi chicken, with the best sauce she's ever tasted!
It was great because I could see why she loves watching those shows. We told funny stories, ate lots of meat and she was so excited about the meal and eating together. And her being excited made it a great meal.
When we left she told me it was her favorite memory she ever had and that makes it one of my favorite memories.
Chelsey runs the blog Let Them Eat This.
A side of history with your pasta -Angel Fuchs
My most memorable meal is at Tomaso's. It's an institution in the Valley full of old school charm with white linen table cloths and low ceilings. It's a place that transports you to another time.
But why I truly love this place is because it has one dish in particular: the Tortelli Di Michaelangelo Buonarotti. This is a 16th Century recipe that Tomaso's got their hands on.
Legend has it that this is Michaelangelo's favorite meal from when he was alive back in the 16th Century. It's a stuffed pasta with porcini mushrooms, veal, ricotta cheese and it's bathed in amazing sage butter.
It's creamy from the ricotta cheese, it's savory from the mushroom and the veal. It just melts in your mouth and every bite is sublime. And when you're eating it you know you're eating centuries of history.
You can have pasta anywhere, but where else are you going to eat this 16th Century that a famous master artist loved so much that he wrote about it?
A little magic in the middle of the city -Shoshana Leon
My most memorable meal took place a few years ago at the Farm at South Mountain. I was working in an industrial area in Phoenix and there wasn't really anywhere good to go to lunch. So, the girls at my office said they were going to take me somewhere magical. And they kept using the word 'magical' to describe it.
We started driving in an industrial area by the airport and the next thing I knew we were by a farm. And it was this place where they are growing a lot of different vegetables which they then use in all of their meals and cooking.
There's a place with picnic tables and you go inside and they have great baked goods, jams and little things that they have made like that. You can order sandwiches and soups and then they serve it to you in a cute little basket. Once you've ordered you sit outside at the picnic tables. You don't feel like you're next to the airport, you just feel like you're on this farm.
The great thing about the farm and the other restaurants on the property is that they all use the food that they get right there. So, the menus are different every day. It brings farm to table eating to a whole new level.
The vegan food trick -Melissa Anaya
My most memorable dining experience, being born and raised here in the Valley of the Sun with so many great places to choose from, has to be seven years ago when I took my family to a vegan restaurant called Green in Old Town Scottsdale.
They’re not vegan, but I thought I would play a little trick on them. When we go there we ordered the crab puffs, we ordered the burgers, everything that they do great being a vegan restaurant and I decided to surprise them at the end and let them know what they were eating.
All of a sudden I started getting, “Oh my gosh! I thought that tasted different!” Or “I thought that tasted a little bit off!” Which, that was so not the case while they were eating all the food!
Playing that amazing trick on my family was probably the most fun I’ve had eating out with them.