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Phoenix/Scottsdale recommendations?

Phoenix/Scottsdale recommendations?
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  • Phoenix/Scottsdale recommendations?

    Post #1 - June 19th, 2005, 8:58 pm
    Post #1 - June 19th, 2005, 8:58 pm Post #1 - June 19th, 2005, 8:58 pm
    Hi guys. Any suggestions for the Phoenix/Scottsdale area? I will be there 4th of july weekend. I am staying at the Royal Palms as I have in the past, and so will have at least one fantastic dinner at T. Cook's. Last year, I also tried Restaurant Hapa (i think closed already), Roaring Fork (good choice), and elements at the Sanctuary (ok). Would be interested in trying out a couple of new restaurants. Any feedback would be appreciated.
  • Post #2 - June 19th, 2005, 9:45 pm
    Post #2 - June 19th, 2005, 9:45 pm Post #2 - June 19th, 2005, 9:45 pm
    We had an excellent meal when there last January, at House of Tricks, 114 E. 7th St. Tempe. (IIRC, Trick is the last name of the two owners.) It's in a relatively old (for the area) small house, with a large outdoor seating area. The food is contemporary American; I can't remember what we had, but it was very good.

    I'm also a big fan of brewpubs, and it's not far from Four Peaks Brewpub, 1340 E 8 St. - which had very good beers. My ladyfriend particularly liked their KiltLifter Scotch Ale.
  • Post #3 - June 20th, 2005, 3:43 am
    Post #3 - June 20th, 2005, 3:43 am Post #3 - June 20th, 2005, 3:43 am
    fusionfan wrote:Hi guys. Any suggestions for the Phoenix/Scottsdale area?


    You might wish to check this thread.

    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #4 - June 20th, 2005, 4:56 am
    Post #4 - June 20th, 2005, 4:56 am Post #4 - June 20th, 2005, 4:56 am
    I particularly like Gregory's World Bistro when in Scottsdale. Here's a blurb from the local alt paper about it:

    Gregory's World Bistro
    8120 North Hayden, Scottsdale AZ ; Tel. 480.946.8700
    It helps to know that the best way to order here is in small, three- to five-course tastings, following the order of the menu to build flavors from light to heavy. Practice asking with authority for this appetizer: torchon of foie gras, toasted brioche, Chenin Blanc aspic, sel gris and port wine reduction. Choose with confidence a salad of field greens, duck confit, roasted beets, sour cream dill and buckwheat blini. For a fish course with flair: lion's paw scallop, sweet vermouth, lobster broth, micro arugula and foie butter. And be a meat maestro with grilled Wagyu Kobe beef marinated in Japanese beer with shiitake mushroom potato hash. Gregory's is complicated. But it's also gorgeous. And that, good friends, is what makes a true gourmet experience
  • Post #5 - June 20th, 2005, 8:01 pm
    Post #5 - June 20th, 2005, 8:01 pm Post #5 - June 20th, 2005, 8:01 pm
    again all the advice is appreciated!
  • Post #6 - June 21st, 2005, 9:48 am
    Post #6 - June 21st, 2005, 9:48 am Post #6 - June 21st, 2005, 9:48 am
    I loved Cowboy Ciao, which despite the name is NOT BBQ. Also had a very good wine list, if idiosyncratically organized...
    7133 E Stetson Dr.
    SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85251
    6th Avenue and Stetson Drive
    In Downtown Scottsdale, Arizona
    (480) WINE - 111
    (480) 946-3111
    FAX: (480) WINE - 055

    We loved their chopped salad and their wild mushroom saute

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog.
  • Post #7 - June 23rd, 2005, 8:54 am
    Post #7 - June 23rd, 2005, 8:54 am Post #7 - June 23rd, 2005, 8:54 am
    I second the rec for Cowboy Ciao. Not at al the type of food you'd expect from the name of the rest. It's been years since I've been there, but I still remember the meal to this day! Wonderful food (I had a wild mushroom ragut served over the best polenta I"ve ever had) very friendly staff, and yes a good wine list too. I'd love to go back-----
  • Post #8 - June 23rd, 2005, 1:56 pm
    Post #8 - June 23rd, 2005, 1:56 pm Post #8 - June 23rd, 2005, 1:56 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    fusionfan wrote:Hi guys. Any suggestions for the Phoenix/Scottsdale area?


    You might wish to check this thread.


    I want to make sure to point out Los Dos Molinos, which is talked about in the thread that Gary pointed you to. Don't miss it. It's some of the best New Mexican cooking in the region.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - January 16th, 2009, 5:28 pm
    Post #9 - January 16th, 2009, 5:28 pm Post #9 - January 16th, 2009, 5:28 pm
    For informational purposes only (as opposed to all the other uses, some not doubt unmentionable, for which this board is used), Phoenix now has an off-shoot of Jimmy's Restaurant in Forest Park

    Jimmy's of Chicago Brings Taste of Illinois to Gilbert

    The story includes an interesting comment by someone who identifies himself as Jimmy Moccio
    jimmy moccio says:

    This is the former chef at jimmys place in forest park. I didn't quit I was fired ! The owner couldn't stand the fact that the BBQ restaurant SMOKIN M'S (7507 roosevelt rd. in forest park) was doing so well and getting so much publicity (the hungry hound,chicago tribune,etc.) Anyway, neither restaurant has all the correct recipes,as your as your taste buds will soon find out.

    Jimmy's of Chicago
    3107 S. Gilbert Rd. (at Pecos)
  • Post #10 - January 16th, 2009, 6:27 pm
    Post #10 - January 16th, 2009, 6:27 pm Post #10 - January 16th, 2009, 6:27 pm
    I'd like to add Noca to this list. I highly recommend it.

    I also posted in detail about several other places I ate in the Phoenix area.


    3118 E Camelback Rd
    Phoenix, AZ 85016
    (602) 956-6622
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #11 - February 29th, 2012, 10:43 am
    Post #11 - February 29th, 2012, 10:43 am Post #11 - February 29th, 2012, 10:43 am
    Three years is long enough for a thread to lie dormant.

    Turns out we're heading to the area (our first time, actually) at the end of March - a bit of an unplanned trip to visit some folks. What's happening in Phoenix these days? I am, of course, expecting Dom to jump in with recommendations, but there must be more LTHers visiting there with great recs! :)

    For higher-end, I've heard good things about Posh and Binkley's, and we'll probably try to secure reservations at one or both places. Would love to hear opinions, pros/cons on either.

    For lunch and casual places, I have no clue... this is where I'm hoping for lots of help. It behooves us to treat our hosts to a dinner, but they have a 6-month old baby and are not very adventurous eaters, so appropriate suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, I have only limited knowledge about what is quintessentially Phoenix/Arizona cuisine, and would be very interested in exploring examples of these.
  • Post #12 - February 29th, 2012, 10:53 am
    Post #12 - February 29th, 2012, 10:53 am Post #12 - February 29th, 2012, 10:53 am
    I'll give a plug for my childhood friend, Mike O'Dowd, who is the Executive Chef at Kai at the Sheraton Wildhorse Pass Resort. (

    I, unfortunately, haven't made it out there yet but it is supposed to be wonderful and one of a few restaurants offering cuisine native to the region. PLEASE report back if you get to go--I've been hoping to get a firsthand account for a while but no luck yet!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #13 - February 29th, 2012, 10:31 pm
    Post #13 - February 29th, 2012, 10:31 pm Post #13 - February 29th, 2012, 10:31 pm
    Here's sort of a current list of faves. I need to note up front that I've come to know the folks at FnB, Noca and Posh and consider them friends.

    Really Tiny Sloppy Joe @ Binkley's

    You have two great choices in Binkley's and Posh. I doubt you'll be let down by either. Binkley's is fine dining when it comes to food, though in a more casual setting (as is the case with most high end restaurants out here). He's a very playful chef, and like to pile on amuses. You might have a dozen of them throughout the meal. I was a little underwhelmed on my first pass about five years ago, but I went back about a year ago and had a really delightful meal. One thing that rubs some people the wrong way is that he does a lot of "exploded" plates, with components kind of strewn (carefully placed, of course) all over the plate. Doesn't bother me, but it's a common criticism and most people who don't like it know that they don't, in my experience. Just a heads-up.

    Crab Chawanmushi @ Posh

    Posh's hook is that you get a ballot with various ingredients and can cross out ones you don't like, circle ones you especially like, make special requests, etc., then you choose your number of courses and take it from there. Of course, I advocate just telling them anything goes. Josh has a really nice touch. He casts a wide net in terms of flavors and techniques, but integrates them very minimally and elegantly. Expect very clean, assertive flavors that play off of each other nicely without getting too busy. He does a great bruleed foie torchon... though I always request it for dessert :-) Posh is stylish but casual, and there's a huge counter surrounding an open kitchen, and Josh loves to hang out and talk, especially if you can get a seat near the pass. It's a great place to dine at the counter.

    A few others to consider on the higher end:

    Spanish Sea Bass Stew with Tepary Beans @ Kai

    Boudreaulicious' suggestion of Kai is totally on point. It's a great restaurant, and as mentioned, it's a particularly good choice when visiting Phoenix because of the Native American influences on the menu and the focus on some unusual local ingredients you're unlikely to find elsewhere. It's a little more formal than the rest... the only one that I think falls into a more traditional fine dining category. We had a very nice meal there, though I think their shorter tasting menu is designed to be a little safe (tomato salad, tenderloin, etc.). When I go back, I'll either do the larger tasting or order a la carte.

    Shrimp and Sea Bass Mushimono @ ShinBay

    Also consider ShinBay. They opened late last spring, and it's some fabulous upscale Japanese. They do a name your price omakase ($100 - $200) and start sending out food. The sashimi and nigiri were, for me, bordering on jaw-dropping. They just made the James Beard long list for best new restaurant... I'm not sure if they'll make the cut to the short list, but it's a spectacular joint. Instantly one the best restaurants in town, IMHO.

    Butter Poached Lobster with Salsify @ Noca

    One that sort of straddles the nicer/casual line is Noca. I loved it under the previous chef. I actually haven't gotten here since a chef change about... 5-6 months ago now? But I hear great things, and the guy who runs the place, Eliot, really knows his stuff -- great people, great products. I just can't speak to how it's been under the new regime.

    Braised Leeks with Mustard Breadcrumbs and Fried Egg @ FnB

    I know you mentioned to me that you weren't so sure about FnB due to comfort-y overload, which I understand, but take a look at the menu and think about it. I don't know that I'd consider it comfort food. It's definitely a heavy farm to table vibe, but I haven't eaten at enough of the new places in Chicago that I could say whether it's more of that or very distinct from them... hopefully somebody else can jump in there. The big thing is that Charleen absolutely rocks vegetables, and they get fabulous product. Another fun thing is that Pavle is a wine nerd, and a huge champion of Arizona wines, which will probably surprise you. So again, you have a really, really nice local angle going there. So think about it.

    Gamberoni Reali alla Brace @ Andreoli

    A perfect lunch stop is Andreoli Italian Grocer. It's the Italian restaurant I'd been seeking for ten years. It's run by a Calabrian who used to own a white tablecloth place in Phoenix maybe ten years ago, then sold it off because he got sick of dealing with diners who just didn't understand his food. So instead, he opened a little grocery with maybe 8-10 tables, and all of the Italians come in and hang out and watch soccer and drink espresso and he just cooks. And WOW can he cook. There's a huge board of sandwiches and some antipasti and a few vegetables, all of which are good, but the magic is on the white board with maybe a dozen specials every day... a soup, a couple of antipasti, a few pastas, a couple of seafood dishes, a couple of meats... and it's all just perfect. Straight up traditional, simple preparations, killer ingredients, beautiful, beautiful touch. The guy really has a gift. And he does it all. He cures all his meats, he bakes his bread, he makes his fresh cheeses, he does all of the pastries and desserts... everything. Because it's Scottsdale, a lot of people are put off by the fact that you're eating in a little grocery (though I find it very cozy and comfortable), that you order at the counter, that the service is perhaps a little detached until they get to know you (authentic Italian!), etc. The food nerds know, but this town doesn't know what a gem it has in this place. He also just put in a wood oven outside, and I've only been once since its installation, but I hear he's doing some really neat stuff -- pizzas one night, whole roasted pig the next, etc. Anyway, fabulous lunch stop. Favorites include any pasta, whole grilled fish if available, and though it seems like kind of a pedestrian choice, the patatine fritte are fabulous.

    Rosa (Red Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, Pistachios) @ Pizzeria Bianco

    I feel like Pizzeria Bianco is less of an urgent rec given the recent explosion of great thin pizza in Chicago, but still, the stuff is fabulous and it's a great lunch stop. With the addition of lunch hours and the fact that he now does some pizzas over at Pane Bianco, the massive waits are becoming a thing of the past. I've gone for lunch four or five times and never waited more than half an hour.

    Oaxaca Special (Chorizo, Beans, Potato, Cheese) @ Carolina's

    Green Corn Tamale and Machaca Burro @ El Bravo

    Oddly enough, I'm not yet much help when it comes to Mexican. I'm still making my peace with the scene here. It's ubiquitous, of course, but it's heavily Sonoran, and I keep getting frustrated by the lack of diversity within the Mexican scene, so I haven't dug a whole lot yet. Coming from Chicago, I haven't yet had anything that I'd say you've got to try. I do hear a lot about Los Dos Molinos, which is kind of New Mexican (though some folks I know from New Mexico say it isn't strictly correct in that sense), so that'd be one to check out for local flavor, but I can't vouch for it personally. I had some really wonderful green corn tamales and machaca at El Bravo, but it's not so amazing that I'd be in a rush to send you across town while you're on vacation for it. Carolina's makes burros (they're burros here, not burritos), and I have to say, they're pretty damn good. The tortillas are cooked to order, and they're really dynamite. It's one of those dives that the whole town stops at -- crazy diverse crowd.

    One other interesting stop to consider, just because it's so unusual, is there's a newish place down in Chandler called Chou's Kitchen that serves Dongbei cuisine, which is that of Northeastern China. I only just got there for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and while I wasn't *astounded* or anything like that, it was a really delicious lunch full of some things I've never seen elsewhere. I need to do more research and go back a few more times. It's heavy on griddled meat pies and dumplings, big on wheat, not so much on rice, some interesting vegetable salads, some dishes that almost come across like Sichuan but not quite... interesting stuff. Just a thought. A good dessert after that is Paletas Betty in downtown Chandler. Cute little place, very modern, killer paletas.

    Oh, and fabulous ice cream, some very creative flavors, at Sweet Republic. They've gotten a lot of national attention, and deservedly so. Jan and Helen. They're friends, too (full disclosure alert).

    Binkley's Restaurant
    6920 E. Cave Creek Road
    Cave Creek, AZ 85331

    7167 E. Rancho Vista Drive
    Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Kai ... -pass.html
    5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Boulevard
    Phoenix, AZ 85048

    7001 N. Scottsdale Road
    Scottsdale, AZ 85253

    3118 East Camelback Road
    Phoenix, AZ 85016

    7133 E. Stetson Drive
    Scottsdale, AZ 85252

    8880 East Via Linda
    Scottsdale, AZ 85258

    Pizzeria Bianco
    623 E. Adams Street
    Phoenix, AZ 85004

    El Bravo
    8338 N 7th St
    Phoenix, AZ 85020

    Carolina's Mexican Food
    1202 E Mohave Street
    Phoenix, AZ

    Chou's Kitchen
    910 North Alma School Road
    Chandler, AZ

    Paletas Betty
    96 W. Boston St,
    Chandler, AZ 85225

    Sweet Republic
    9160 E. Shea Blvd.
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and
  • Post #14 - February 29th, 2012, 11:02 pm
    Post #14 - February 29th, 2012, 11:02 pm Post #14 - February 29th, 2012, 11:02 pm
    Also going to be in Phoenix/Scottsdale the last week in March. On previous trips my family and I have enjoyed:

    Rancho Pinot - unassuming strip mall location, but great food
    Bink's Cafe - believe it's run by the wife of the chef at Binkley's, very casual with nice heated covered patio
    The Mission

    Have heard of a new place called Beckett's Table.....has anyone been there or heard anything about it? Any other new places worth visiting? We are staying in the very north part of Scottsdale so would be interested in places in Cave Creek or Carefree as well.
    Last edited by kimzy on March 1st, 2012, 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #15 - March 1st, 2012, 12:58 am
    Post #15 - March 1st, 2012, 12:58 am Post #15 - March 1st, 2012, 12:58 am
    Rancho Pinot is a solid spot. Very straightforward kind of Cal-American stuff. It's more the kind of place that I think of as casual night out while at home rather than a vacation meal, but it's good food. Incidentally, the bartender there, Travis Nass, is awesome. Very, very traditional sensibilities. He uses his creative twists judiciously and effectively. But every drink I've had from him has been top notch.

    The Mission's a really good place too. Matt Carter's a pro.

    I've only had a couple of things from Beckett's Table, and it's been good, but it's not the kind of place I'd send visitors. His whole PR pitch when the place was opening was something along the lines of "I make the food you make at home, just better." I think it's a great place to have in the 'hood. It's not a place I'd choose to visit while out of town. But again, small sample.

    Oh, kimzy, in Cave Creek there's a really good BBQ joint called Bryan's BBQ. Great lunch spot if you're up north. Unfortunately, I'm not terribly familiar with that neck of the woods, so Bryan's is all I've got. I've been meaning to get to Bink's, though. Andreoli shouldn't be too far, actually... just a little ways around the loop.

    Rancho Pinot
    6208 N. Scottsdale Rd.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85253

    The Mission
    3815 N. Brown Ave.
    Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Beckett's Table
    3717 E. Indian School Rd.
    Phoenix, AZ

    Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue
    6130 Cave Creek Rd.
    Cave Creek, AZ
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and
  • Post #16 - March 1st, 2012, 1:39 am
    Post #16 - March 1st, 2012, 1:39 am Post #16 - March 1st, 2012, 1:39 am
    Oh, oh!

    Sonoran Hot Dog @ Nogales Hot Dogs

    And for a late night snack, a Sonoran hot dog from Nogales Hot Dogs. They set up in a parking lot on the south side of Indian School just east of 51. They pull up the van with a small kitchen trailer, put up a couple of canopies, set out a few folding tables and a bunch of chairs, and you grab a dog and eat outside. They start at 6:00 PM and go until about midnight, later on the weekends (until around 2:00). But it very much depends on how business is.

    Nogales Hot Dogs
    1945 E. Indian School Road
    Phoenix, AZ 85016
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and
  • Post #17 - March 1st, 2012, 9:58 am
    Post #17 - March 1st, 2012, 9:58 am Post #17 - March 1st, 2012, 9:58 am
    Thanks, Dom and boudreaulicious. So far, only one reservation made (Posh for a Sat night - it seems like it has a very interesting product selection, and unconstrained preparations). I'm going to leave the other 2 nights open to give our hosts some flexibility. Will definitely get in the Sonoran dog as a late night snack one night. I think lunches will also depend on our location. Heck, I don't even know which part of town they're staying in!

    Looking forward to reporting back...
  • Post #18 - March 1st, 2012, 6:38 pm
    Post #18 - March 1st, 2012, 6:38 pm Post #18 - March 1st, 2012, 6:38 pm
    Dom's posts give me faith for my move to the Valley. :)
  • Post #19 - March 2nd, 2012, 12:18 am
    Post #19 - March 2nd, 2012, 12:18 am Post #19 - March 2nd, 2012, 12:18 am
    Good stuff, uhockey. Looking forward to your posts from the area.
  • Post #20 - March 10th, 2012, 10:46 pm
    Post #20 - March 10th, 2012, 10:46 pm Post #20 - March 10th, 2012, 10:46 pm
    Day 1 for me today in Phoenix (sorry no pics). After we landed, the first stop on the way to the ballpark was to Carolina's for Mexican. Much like the ordering procedure that GWiv drills into everyone at Uncle Johns' (tip-link combo sauce on side), many people have told me at Carolina's it is Red machaca burro, foot long, enchilada style. I did not stray from this advice. It was worth it, the brownish sauce was rich with a beefy flavor, and it was spicy without being overpowering. Just enough to make your lips tingle. For $7 it was well worth it.

    Dinner was at Pizzeria Bianco where we were lucky enough to get in on a Saturday with only a 25 minute wait. We split 3 different pizzas, the Margherita, the Sonny Boy (olives and salami), and the Wiseguy (roasted onions and fennel sausage). The Sonny Boy was really interesting but very salty, so the Margherita was probably the top choice. Was it the best pizza I have ever had? It makes the short list, wonderful blistered crust with a chewy collar, very fresh ingredients, very thin without being soggy. It was much better than Stop 50 which is of a similar style. I think it is better than Grimaldi's, but that it is not a total mismatch from my memory.

    Later in this trip I will hopefully hit Carlsbad Tavern for New Mexican, and try to survive some non-foodie friend's chain choices.

  • Post #21 - March 10th, 2012, 11:20 pm
    Post #21 - March 10th, 2012, 11:20 pm Post #21 - March 10th, 2012, 11:20 pm
    Glenn... I've only gone late at night, but everything I've had at Carlsbad has been really, really mediocre.

    I haven't been yet (criminal, actually), but for New Mexican, it's supposed to be all about Los Dos Molinos. Though I understand some will argue that it isn't strictly New Mexican (I'm still fuzzy on the distinctions).
    Dominic Armato
    Dining Critic
    The Arizona Republic and
  • Post #22 - March 12th, 2012, 1:54 pm
    Post #22 - March 12th, 2012, 1:54 pm Post #22 - March 12th, 2012, 1:54 pm
    kimzy wrote:
    Have heard of a new place called Beckett's Table.....has anyone been there or heard anything about it? Any other new places worth visiting? We are staying in the very north part of Scottsdale so would be interested in places in Cave Creek or Carefree as well.

    My husband and I dined at Beckett's Table last summer. It was an incredible meal. The flavors were perfect and service was friendly and attentive. We really enjoyed it and were tempted to return the next night... but didn't. We went to Pizzeria Bianco the next night and wish we had gone back to Beckett's Table. :(

    Editing to add that on that same trip we had brunch at the Mission. Really enjoyed that meal as well. Just wished it wasn't so loud.
  • Post #23 - March 15th, 2012, 9:39 pm
    Post #23 - March 15th, 2012, 9:39 pm Post #23 - March 15th, 2012, 9:39 pm
    Dmnkly, unfortunately Los Dos Molinos is closed on Mondays, or else I would have been there.

    So Monday night instead we hit Carlsbad Tavern in Scottsdale. I love New Mexican, and while Los Dos Molinos is high on my list of places to try, it was not an option this trip. Carlsbad was hit and miss. I loved the Carne Adovada along with the sopapillas drenched in honey. They now charge for the chips and salsa, as well as refills on the fountain drinks. The chile relleno was only fair, and service was inconsistent.

    Tuesday evening we were in Old Town Scottsdale after the baseball game, and was delighted to see that the famous Pink Pony steakhouse which closed a couple of years ago after the owner died, had re-opened. Didn't get a chance to eat there (though we did have drinks) and it still had the same 70's era dark clubby vibe to it, along with the memorabilia, and the prices were still in the upper teens for all of the steaks (which on previous visits were pretty good).

    I was outvoted on dining there so we strolled a few doors down to Grimaldi's for pizza. I didn't mind this because it gave me a chance to compare it to the recently visited Bianco. The verdict is that Bianco's is definitely better. However, Grimaldi's is good, and does a few things as well as Bianco (such as the super fresh mozzarella, the chewy collar), and that is in no way an insult.

    For dessert, we walked across the street to the Sugar Bowl ice cream parlor. This would be another certain GNR if we had them in Arizona. Great old fashioned ice cream parlor of my youth feel, huge fresh scoops, even some creative flavors. The turkish coffee ice cream is probably an acquired taste, and while I wasn't super crazy about it after the first spoonful, I have to admit I am craving it as I type. Definitely worth a visit.

  • Post #24 - March 25th, 2012, 10:27 am
    Post #24 - March 25th, 2012, 10:27 am Post #24 - March 25th, 2012, 10:27 am
    Yesterday was our first day in Phoenix.

    We hit up Pizzeria Bianco for lunch, rolling in at around 11.15 and (very luckily) nabbing the last 2 seats in the house. Enjoyed some bread and sopressata to start - interestingly, the sopressata is sourced from Creminelli Fine Meats in SLC, a place I've been hearing a lot about and am very interested to visit when we hit SLC in June. Then, the pizzas - we got the Rosa and a Biancoverde. Noticed surprising differences (inconsistencies?) in the crust between the 2 pies. The Biancoverde's crust was far superior, with the soft-crispy middle and nice char on the edges compared to the relative underdoneness of the Rosa. Still, both very good pies, although I'm not sure I'd crown it the best pizza in the country.

    After tooling around Phoenix and Scottsdale, we then hit up POSH for dinner. Dom has a few posts about this place on his blog, and the concept of the restaurant is interesting - they hand you a ballot sheet with ingredients on it, you pick the number of courses you want, cross off any items you don't like, and hand the sheet back (it's like an inverse Eleven Madison Park). Of course, like any respectable LTHer, we went for the full tasting and told them to go wild. What followed was a deluge of courses - 19 in all (including the amuse and treats at the end), in a span of ~3 hours. Amazing value for $110 each (we took advantage of Happy Hour pricing). I can't go into every course in detail, but I particularly enjoyed the dishes with an Asian inflection. In fact, my favourite dish of the evening was a course of furikake-seasoned monkfish served with braised Japanese eggplant and daikon - reflective of the chef's time spent in Japan. A close second was a tandoori-spiced tuna with a red curry oil and coconut milk ricotta... you get the picture. All in all, a very fun evening, especially if you get seats at the kitchen counter like we did.

    The night ended less fortunately than it began... we had planned to hit up Nogales Hot Dogs for supper on the way home from POSH, but my phone mysteriously died sometime during dinner. Not only did we fail to find the hot dog place, we had a hell of a time trying to find our way back to our hosts' house in Surprise, AZ. Better luck next time...

    Today we're going to the ballpark in Surprise... perhaps there will be something to report back on, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
  • Post #25 - March 25th, 2012, 3:06 pm
    Post #25 - March 25th, 2012, 3:06 pm Post #25 - March 25th, 2012, 3:06 pm
    Puppy, Good luck finding anything in Surprise, the place is chain hell. If you do find anything, please report back. I go there every year for Rangers spring training, so I would love to find something in that area.
  • Post #26 - March 26th, 2012, 7:53 am
    Post #26 - March 26th, 2012, 7:53 am Post #26 - March 26th, 2012, 7:53 am
    glennpan - I see your point. We were at Surprise Stadium as well, for the Royals spring training. There really doesn't seem to be anything around here. That being said, we did indulge in some Culver's :oops: Now that we're living in San Diego, it's kind of nice to have that bit of the Midwest...
  • Post #27 - April 2nd, 2012, 12:16 pm
    Post #27 - April 2nd, 2012, 12:16 pm Post #27 - April 2nd, 2012, 12:16 pm
    I have to give a shout out to my friend Eliot Wexler, proprietor of Restaurant Noca in Phoenix. Noca recently received 2 very favorable write-ups from Howard Seftel at The Arizona Republic, including a 4.5-star review (out of 5) and recognition of new chef Matt Taylor as the Best Chef Transition in the past year.

    Noca in Phoenix, 4.5 stars
    at, Howard Seftel wrote:Before all these modern currents and issues, people went to restaurants because they wanted to eat really tasty food that they couldn't begin to make at home.

    That's the story at Noca, where owner Eliot Wexler has brought in Canadian-born chef Matt Taylor to replace Chris Curtiss, who departed last summer. They're reviving the now almost-quaint notion that eating out can be fun and anxiety-free.

    That notion struck with full force during my happy encounter with the foie gras poutine ($23). This unholy duo of thick-cut fries topped with cheese curds and gravy (a specialty of Quebec) accompanied by a slab of foie gras -- a dish apparently designed to get lumberjacks with refined palates through a Labrador winter -- seems "wrong" on many levels. I cheerfully concede that you could make a case against it on health, culinary and even moral grounds. Except it's lip-smackingly delicious. So how can it be wrong when it tastes so right?

    Best Chef Transition: Noca
    at, Howard Seftel wrote:Independent operator Eliot Wexler isn't a chef himself. But he has a knack for spotting young, up-and-coming kitchen talent.

    Four years ago he nabbed Chris Curtiss, who put Noca on the fine-dining map before departing last summer. His replacement, Canadian-born Matt Taylor, is keeping it there.

    While still in his mid-20s, Taylor had done first-rate work at Scottsdale's Metro Brasserie before he left in 2009 to work for Michael Mina in Las Vegas. At Noca, he's painting on his broadest canvas yet.

    Congrats, to the team at Noca!


    Disclosure: Since my last post on Noca, I've acquired a minor financial interest in the restaurant but obviously, I've been a fan and a friend since well before then.
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #28 - April 2nd, 2012, 2:57 pm
    Post #28 - April 2nd, 2012, 2:57 pm Post #28 - April 2nd, 2012, 2:57 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote:Congrats, to the team at Noca!.

    Thanks for posting this Ronnie, I have been eating at Noca pretty regularly since you first posted about it here several years ago. It is in my regular rotation of restaurants on my very frequent trips to Scottsdale and I have had every type of experience there, from solo dining at the bar, business meetings of all types, guys night out and dinner with my wife and kids. Noca is versatile and easily my favorite restaurant in the Valley. I have barely noticed a difference since the new chef took over (other then the addition of poutine on the menu). Anyway, I should have posted earlier that the food quality and experience are as good as ever.

    If you like Noca, you should also check out Fnb in Old Town and Cafe Bink in Carefree. Both have the same sensibility as Noca. Cafe Bink is really great and worth checking out-i like it betteer then Binkleys.
  • Post #29 - May 23rd, 2012, 9:12 am
    Post #29 - May 23rd, 2012, 9:12 am Post #29 - May 23rd, 2012, 9:12 am
    We're going to Scottsdale to visit some friends near the end of June and are looking for some dining recommendations. We're going to have our 2.5 year old, and we're finding it hard to come up with non-chain places that are also appropriate for kids. I'm not worried about "kids menus". We just need places that are more casual and child-friendly. (Unfortunately I think we'll have to skip pizzeria bianco as there's no way our little dude would wait that long for food!) Anyone have suggestions?
  • Post #30 - February 25th, 2013, 4:07 pm
    Post #30 - February 25th, 2013, 4:07 pm Post #30 - February 25th, 2013, 4:07 pm
    If I can just get through February, then winter is annual prayer.

    I miss living in Chicago, used to be very easy to do a quick getaway. You can fly non-stop anywhere in North America, so winter trips were just a matter of picking a likely warm spot on a map and vamanos. Indianapolis, not so easy. But Phoenix is one of the few warm places you can get to from here non-stop that aren't Vegas or Orlando, so Phoenix it was!

    This was the fourth time my wife and I had been here together, but it was always tied in with a business junket so we hadn't had much flexibility previously on where to eat. But wow, we had some really good meals on this trip, I didn't realize Phoenix has become such a foodie haven.

    We had an ungodly 6am flight which landed at 8:30 local time, so first order of business was getting a decent breakfast. Orange Table Bar in Old Scottsdale sounded pretty good from our research, so we stopped there. Liked this place, waiter was very enthusiastic which is always a good sign. They cure their own corned beef, so he strongly suggested their hashes and flannels (basically a variant on hash, they ran out of things to call their hash options I guess). My wife had the green flannel with scrambled eggs (pictured) and I had the chimichurri hash with poached egg, both were delicious. We also split a side of jalapeno/pecan pancakes - unusual combo to say the least, but these things were excellent. I'd definitely recommend this place for breakfast:

    We booked our stay at the Phoenician, not giving it much thought other than it was a Category 5 Starwood property so we could have a cheap stay for cash & points at just $90/night. But pulling into the grounds and walking into the lobby it was suddenly, whoa - this place is nice! When we were checking in I finally put 2 + 2 together and realized this was the marble palace that 1980's S&L swindler Charles Keating built as his San Simeon. I've been lucky to stay at a lot of nice hotels, especially the Starwoods, and Category 5s are usually nice but ho-hum but the public areas of this place are awesome. I should've taken a panoramic picture of the lobby, because it's just a huge horizontal expanse that beautifully frames the mountains and hotel grounds. If you've got any starpoints stashed keep a look out for this hotel offering cash and points, it's a real bargain:

    Dinner first night was at FnB in Scottsdale, of the locavore, farm-to-fork ilk. We started with a couple of their cocktails - my wife had a Sundowner, which is sparkling wine & Aperol (first time I've tried this combo, very tasty I'm going to steal this for at home) and I had a 007, which is basically the James Bond vesper. Fine way to start the meal, but between the long day and strong cocktail and dim lights and no flash the rest of the pictures went downhill rapidly. We made a meal of the small plates, and everything was very good. But be forewarned, the starters are very sizable portions. We ordered six and were buried with food, didn't come anywhere close to finishing everything. The menu changes a lot but our favorites dishes were the baked beans with goat cheese and bread crumbs, the fried cauliflower, and the lamb dumplings with yogurt:

    The Phoenician conveniently sits right at the foot of Camelback Mountain, so it was nice to get up early and climb up and sweat out the big dinner from the previous evening.

    Plus then you feel you deserve a reward for your efforts, and indulge yourself with huevos rancheros for breakfast and a ridiculously decadent wagyu beef green chili cheeseburger with tater tots washed down with a local Hefeweizen for lunch (both meals were at the hotel, the food was really good here too - we'll definitely be coming back to this place):

    Definitely wanted to have some Mexican food while we were here. Tried getting into Mission, but they were booked up and even the concierge had no pull with getting us a table. She recommended Los Sombreros instead, but the name gave me hesitation. Sounded too Carlos Murphy-ish to be any good but she insisted we'd like it. Glad we went, was one of the better Mexican meals we've had in awhile. Started with a good guac and chips with excellents salsas. My wife ordered a couple of chicken tacos dorados (which turned out to be deep fried chimichangas) which were ok, but she also had the corn cake souffle with mole poblano - it just sits there innocuously on the menu, but this was a fantastic dish. Lots of depth to the beautiful mole:

    I had the carnitas (outstanding), which come mixed with pico de gallo and a side of guacamole. You get a choice of two sides, none of which sounded overly exciting so I went with the usual beans and rice. The refried beans were just amazing, best I've had in ages. This place was a real sleeper, I really didn't expect much but the food was excellent definitely recommend this if you're looking for good Mexican in Scottsdale:

    We'd booked this trip back in November or something and just picked this particular weekend because it didn't conflict with anything. But as serendipity would have it, this coincided with the spring training opening game for the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Got to see a baseball game, so now spring is officially here woohoo! Btw food at this place SUCKS, eat somewhere else before you go here. Had an Italian sausage and a bratwurst, and both were boiled and utterly tasteless. Boiled? WTF???? But a nice sunny day and the beer was cold. Paul Konerko's first AB of the year, the Last of the Mohicans:

    Had our final dinner that night at the J&G Steakhouseat the hotel (J&G, as in Jean-Georges Vongerichten). Beautiful room, on the top floor of the hotel overlooking the lights of downtown Phoenix. Class, pure class. Too bad some very good and expensive food was marred by clumsy and amateurish service. The waiter was trying to hold it together while he was doing the canned intro, but when I asked a simple question about the wine list he crumpled. Busboy tried clearing the first course in one fell swoop, but half the dishes when clattering to the floor when he took his first step away from the table. Then there was an interminable wait between the first and second course (I mean c'mon, it's just steak man). Too bad, because the oysters and steak frites were excellent - especially the hanger steak, super beefy and delicious. I suspect Monsieur JGV's involvement was designing the menu and slapping his name on the place and that's it, because if he were around this night he'd be smacking these stooges upside the head until they got it together. They upstaged some really fine food.

    So yeah, Phoenix - I get it. We shall return.