Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.
40: Pizza and Wurlitzer tunes at Organ Stop Pizza
Organ Stop Pizza
has been a local institution in Mesa for more than 40 years, and it's no ordinary pizza parlor. It offers what might be the most surreal backdrop for an evening of feasting on pizza and beer: The airy, two-story restaurant is home to the largest Wurlitzer theater organ in the world. Every evening, one of the restaurant's resident organists performs from a vast songbook of popular hits and classic movie theme songs, to an enthusiastic crowd of families and assorted music lovers.
Think about that for a moment – pizza and beer, paired with tunes played on what is believed to be the world's largest Wurlitzer pipe organ. How many places in the world can you get all three of those things in one setting? It's all part of the magic of an evening at Organ Stop Pizza. Probably, few will argue that Organ Stop has the best pizza in town – the pies are thin, crusty, and about on par with what you'll find at most kid-friendly pizzerias. But the combination of pizza and Wurlitzer tunes is singular, the kind of thing you should experience at least once. Plus, there's a salad bar, beer and wine, a pasta and sandwich menu, and even an ice cream counter.
All that stuff is great, but the moment of glory is when you work up the nerve to put in a song request. There are scraps of paper provided where you can write down your request, fold it up, and make your way to the platform stage to deposit the paper in the organist's box. Will the organist on duty play your song? That depends on what you request. On one night, you might hear the theme song from the Indiana Jones
movies, or maybe a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballpark." No matter what it is, it will sound slightly thundering and clear as a bell – this organ has more than 5,000 pipes, after all, and the room has killer acoustics. The rousing music will make the simple act of eating pizza with your family feel slightly more exciting and poignant than you ever imagined it could.
The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguini carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George's Kitchen.
44: The Baja Spinach & Feta Cheese Chimi at Mi Patio.
43: Dinner at Rustler's Rooste.
42: Gyro Omelet at Mel's Diner.
41: Zipps Wings at Zipps Sports Grill.