Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Exploring Phoenix: Chandler

Can you tell life has been a little hectic lately? Lots of emailing has been going on with job searching, home buying stuff, and school work in general, so it's been hard to find time to finish these posts. I'm just waiting for May 11th, when testing is over, our home will *hopefully* legally be ours, it'll be just me in the classroom again, and my work on the ELLISA project will be finished. Then, just one more month of teaching! In any event, I'm going to try to finish this series when I can :). 

So, onward to Chandler! 

Chandler was another place we were seriously considering living. In terms of community, we were told it would be the most similar to the Bay Area, thanks to the company Intel having their headquarters there. It's a little more diverse, a little more liberal, than neighboring cities. You can see from the map that  its southeast of Ahwatukee and much more spread out. All the area south of 202 is pretty new. 

According to Wikipedia, the population was 236,123 according to the Census Bureau 2010. The population was only 30,000 in 1980, so this area has seen explosive growth in the last 30 years. It also has satellite locations for many technology companies, including Intel and Orbital Sciences Corporation.

In 2010, the city was 73.3% White, 4.8% Black or African American, 1.5% Native American, 8.2% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 21.9% Hispanic or Latino, and 8.3% other. This area has one of the larger Asian communities in the area and is slightly more diverse than others. 

Interesting fact? 
Chandler is noted for its annual Ostrich Festival. Initially, agriculture was the primary business in Chandler, based on cotton, corn, and alfalfa. During the 1910s, there were ostrich farms in the area, catering to the demand for plumes used in women's hats of the era. This demand ebbed with the increasing popularity of the automobile, but the legacy of the ostrich farms would be commemorated by the Ostrich Festival. 

Visiting this area, Ed and and I really enjoyed the feel of the town, especially it's historic district. We headed there for lunch right after our first day of house hunting. 

On our last visit, I'd enjoyed a beer from the San Tan Brewing Company, so we decided we should check out the actual brewery, and we weren't disappointed. 

I ordered the Amber Ale, while Ed ordered the Golden Ale, and both were great. I think I had a slight preference from the Amber. We also discovered that you could get "growlers" (large jugs) of the beer to be enjoyed at home. 

The food was also excellent! I had this awesome burger that had bacon ground into the patty! Topped with gouda and caramelized onions, it was the perfect meal after a very long morning. Ed also thoroughly enjoyed his pulled pork sandwich. 

This seems like a very fun and happening place to come and be with other people close to our age. They have lots of fun events (like movie nights!) and performances. Though, of course, we aren't exactly the going out all the time people, but, who knows? Maybe we'll be different in Arizona :). 

The downtown, as I mentioned, was very cute, with its historical buildings. 

After lunch, we walked around, checking out some of the shops in the areas. 

Later in the week we went back again, this time for dinner! We went to a wine bar, Vintage 95, that was located just down the block from the Brewery. 

(from website)

The inside was very dark and romantic, complete with a live musician playing guitar! It seemed like, again, a place where a younger crowd hung out, and seemed great to come just for a drink, with all the comfy leather chairs and couches. There was also an outdoor patio, which we did not visit (because it was *gasp* a little cold in the evening), but it would be fun to visit another time. 

Instead of ordering regular meals, we went for a serious of "small" plates. Small is in quotations because even though these weren't full entrees, it was a lot of food. In celebration of finding and getting the home we wanted, we also got a bottle of wine. 

We started with the bruschetta, and choose four from a list of six. We went with Brie, pear and onion jam; fig chutney, house made ricotta and proscuitto, marscapone, pistachios and dates; and artichoke and mushroom. Our favorites were the ones with proscuitto and the artichokes, but all were good.   

Next, we had a plate that was recommended online. Porkbelly, roasted, with apricot mustard BBQ sauce, collard greens, and jalapeno cheddar cheese grits. We'd definitely get that again!

After that, we were starting to get full, and decided to look at dessert. However, after looking at the choices, none of them were really speaking to us. So, we went with the cheeseboard instead. We're so glad we did - it was massive! And, the perfect end to our evening. 

While we'll be living in Gilbert, we'll definitely be visiting Chandler as well. For this phase of our lives, Chandler's downtown fits us well and will be the perfect place for date nights. 

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