Arizona…yes, it’s a desert, and yes, it’s hot — really hot. With long stretches of open terrain littered with rocks and cacti, you might think it’s not the friendliest place. But if you were to think the people here aren’t some of the friendliest you’d ever met, well, you’d be wrong.
This is Tempe. A town that’s most often thought as “that place where ASU is.” But it’s way more than just a college town.
A cannabis-themed sandwich joint, an authentic wine bar, and a chef that whips up farm-fresh dishes on the spot. Count us in.
How do we stumble upon all of these bits of Tempe knowledge? By the help of Paige Yeaton and her boyfriend, Gabe Williams. We meet up with them at our first spot, The Local Joint.
THE LOCAL JOINT
Arizona’s a medical marijuana state, meaning you need your state-certified MMJ card to get the goods. That by no means is stopping The Local Joint from fluffing their feathers to the public.
As you walk up, your eyes immediately gravitate towards a giant mural, painted on the entire building. It truly is a work of art.
Inside, we meet up with The Local Joint’s manager, Brittany Beaulieu, who tells us they always ask their customers (first-time patients to regulars alike), “How can we make you feel good?” She says, “Everyone can smoke a joint to get high but we want the education out there so people can medicate better.”
Brittany points to a number of photos on the wall. At first glance, they’re beautifully shot images with people and cannabis. But when you look closer, you realize each photo is of a different consumption method. “It gives people ideas of how they can medicate and it’s a talking point for our staff to speak about what works best for them.”
Paige grabs some pre-rolls and we head out for coffee.
CARTEL COFFEE LAB
A long standing bar next to the baristas pulling oh-so-good espresso shots. An old school coffee roaster in the corner kicking out a floral aroma of coffee goodness. And an art installation of bicycle wheels (tires missing, of course). This must be the Cartel Coffee Lab.
Sipping on a latte and cold brew with hints of rich dark chocolate and a strong but surprisingly smooth finish, Paige and Gabe tell us about their organization The Cannabis Retreat.
The Cannabis Retreat started as a way to come out of the cannabis closet, and now it’s shifted to be about a cannabis community. The annual event allows people to experience yoga, explore cannabis, and discover themselves in a judgment-free environment. But now, on to discover a world of cannabis-themed sandwiches.
A sub shop that has sandwiches in three sizes: nug, pinner, and blunt. The Cheba Hut vibe is of a California taco shop; stickers of cannabis brands are everywhere. This place, by the way, existed in its exact form before marijuana was even medically legal in Arizona.
All the subs are named after different strains, and our first pick is a self-made hybrid called the Red Widow, a combo of the White Widow and Jamaican Red subs. It’s creamy, spicy and the sauce soaks into the bread, so while you get a crunch from the crust, the rest is just saucy goodness.
Next up, the Pakalolo — an almost Italian style sub with pineapple chunks and added jalapeno for a spicy kick. To round it all out, a sub based on the popular strain AK-47. Its roast beef is so juicy, it melts away just as you get one hell of a cheese pull from the provolone.
Some wine to wash it all down perhaps.
A wine bar that’s not trying to be anything other than its most authentic self. Postino is just that, a no-frills place where you can grab a killer glass or bottle of wine, sit back, relax and watch as the misters outside try to beat the desert heat.
As one must, we get an order of olives as Paige and Gabe tell us about how they got into cannabis.
Before working as a photographer and musician full time, Gabe held a corporate job and cannabis was simply a conduit to release stress. Paige, on the other hand, openly talks about her eating disorder and that cannabis helps her manage it.
The two have befriended a local chef and in a recent post, Paige said: “Enjoying life through food with one of my favorite Arizona chefs @rene.chito at @ghostranch_az #NotGuilty” And so, we take that to heart and head over to Ghost Ranch.
Meet Chef Rene Andrade. Let us tell ya, you’ve never been welcomed with such a warm smile. Rene immediately joins us and almost apologetically says, “I can’t sit down, I’ve got the energy of a 2-year-old, every time I hang out with these two I have to get up and make some food.”
As Rene whips up something in the Ghost Ranch kitchen, we indulge in the craft-forward cocktails such as the Ghost Town, which oddly enough comes garnished with corn kernels…and it’s delicious.
Rene returns with a plate of food, telling us that a local farmer just brought him a watermelon, and so he creates a dish right on the spot. There’s a sweetness to the watermelon, topped with radishes, crispy tortilla pieces, fresh avocado with cotija cheese and tajin sprinkled on top.
Joy shared over a meal with people telling stories of days gone by, not a bad way to say goodbye to this town.
Until next time, Tempe.