Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

macrosan

Greater Phoenix Dining: Where To Eat?

Recommended Posts

One more thing to keep in mind about Pizzeria Bianco--it gets crowded, so you'll either have to expect a 45-90 minute wait (they have a lounge where you can get some wine while you wait), or show up early (like 4:30, a half an hour before it opens), or get a group of 6 or more to get a reservation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just got to Malees in Scottsdale today. Thank you Esther, the food was marvelous. A friend of mine flew in from the East yesterday and I took her there. She too thought the food was just great. We ate outside and it was so pleasant. Thanks again for the advice.

Bev

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
With the proliferation of chains and everything vanilla restaurants, I believe that the average local anywhere won't know the difference.

Willie, my brother, who owns a fine dining restaurant in the Seattle area, calls the chain restaurants "vomitoriums". Rest assured, tho' dwindling, there are still a few of us who would rather visit an actual one that step foot across the threshold of another PF Changs or Bupa de whatever. Oh, and bro must be doing something right, he made Wine Spectator last year, so at least there are a few people who can still recognize the difference. :raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought I'd jump in with a few comments.

Indian food: I also agree Jewel of the Crown is probably the best Indian food in town. Copper Kettle is right by my house, and while I really like the veggie stuff there, the chicken is often fatty.

Thai food: I'm not a huge fan of Malee's. I prefer Mint Thai Cafe in Gilbert. It's had several owners, but the same menu for years. If you want mild, it's mild. If you want incendiary, it'll put a lovely fire in your mouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For Thai, I've only been there once, but I really liked Swaddee in Scottsdale. We had a really good seafood soup there, and I had dish with basil leaves and chicken, I think, that was wonderful.

Hmm . . . I was planning on trying out Song Hau for Vietnamese this weekend, but maybe a repeat visit to Swaddee is in order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi!

The first part of June, DH (dear husband) and I are driving over to Phoenix. He will be in meetings all day and we have dinners most evenings that have already been arranged by the group.

We're staying at the JW Desert Ridge Resort and Spa and I understand that there are some nice restaurants there which is good because I'm afraid (but don't know for sure) that most of the group dinners will be held there. I could be surprised!

Anyway, I'll have the days free. I have a friend in Scottsdale that I hope to spend some time with. We're tentatively planning to get together for a Sunday Brunch. Any suggestions?

Also how about lunch spots? I'll be on my own during the days unless I can convince my friend to go antiquing/junking with me. And if anyone has suggestions for that, I'm interested, too!

I want cheap antiquing places as it's for re-sale. As far as dining goes, there is no price limit. I like most any food except sushi/sashimi. Other than that, I'm open to adventure! Great food at local dives is great as long as I'll feel safe there alone.

Thanks!!


Deb

Liberty, MO

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(Also posted on another forum)

I entertained an out of town guest (my boyfriend) for a long weekend last week, and this is where and what we ate:

Thursday night we hit Barrio Cafe. I'd been wanting to go for ages, but the no-reservations policy and reports of the place being crowded scared me off, as I'm usually dining alone or with very impatient dining companions. We got there shortly after it opened, and were relieved that there were plenty of tables. I may just go back there by myself after work sometime. We shared a queso fundido appetizer (gooey and addictive). Boyfriend had the cochinita pibil, which was very tender. I had the tamarind-chipotle duck, and the combination of the succulent meat and the spicy/slightly sweet sauce was so good, I ate twice as much as I needed to. We finished up with crepes with cajeta, goat milk caramel, ice cream, a few berries, and some amazingly-flavored candied cinnamon-y nuts. This was the best dessert either of us has had in a while. The candied nuts alone had more of a flavor punch than a lot of restaurants have in any of their desserts. Total bill was about $55. We were very pleased with the place, and I'm kicking myself for not trying to go there earlier.

Friday morning we met a friend at the Eggery in Phoenix for breakfast. This was a choice based mostly on convenience of location. I had some pancakes, the boyfriend and friend had Southwestern-y egg dishes. Honestly, I don't think I'd be all that enthused about much of anything after the dinner I'd had the night before. We just enjoyed the company.

Friday afternoon I had a seminar to attend, so I stopped by Pane Bianco for a sandwich. The market sandwich (dried beef) didn't appeal, so I got the tuna and arugula sandwich, which had a nice tang to it.

Friday night, the boyfriend had a boys night out, and I had leftover cochinita pibil for dinner. Not quite as good as the night before, but still plenty tasty.

Saturday was my birthday. We had an early lunch at Cyclo. We started off with salt and pepper shrimp on toast (tasty, but a bit soggy with tons of sauce), and the tamarind and basil pork short ribs, which were terrific. Loved the licoricey-flavor contrast with the fatty goodness of the ribs. We got Hanoi beef (beef with Vietnamese pickes and rice noodles, some assembly required) and mixed grill, which included a nicely flavored pork chop on broken rice. This was way too much food for us, but oh so delicious.

Then I insisted on going to Angel Sweet for gelato. I had the straciatella (love the contrast between the neutral, unsweetened base and the chocolate) and the hazelnut. Boyfriend had peanut butter, and a strongly-flavored panna cotta, which he said overwhelmed the flavor of the peanut butter. I really love the smoothness of the ice cream--much better than other, snootier gelato places I've been.

After quite a few hours' recovery time, we went to Gregory's with my parents for the farewell tour. We started off sharing escargot and mushrooms in phyllo packages with a pesto sauce. This was my first taste of escargot, and I really couldn't tell what I thought of them--the phyllo and the mushrooms and the pesto were so good, just about anything would taste good with them. We all got salads of some sort. I had a green salad with duck prosciutto, which was tender and flavorful. Boyfriend had fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, and the mozzarella was fabulous. For entrees, I got flatiron steak with sort of Asian-y seasonings and a tempura-fried nori-wrapped rice thingy. Boyfriend got a Middle-Eastern flavored chicken and couscous entree. We switched plates halfway through. The steak was terrific, but the tempura-rice thingy was disappointing. I've been spoiled by the sushi places in Seattle doing wonderfully inventive and decadent things with tempura rolls, so nori wrapped around ball of rice with carrots and bell peppers is not that exciting, flavor-wise. The chicken was a bit bland, but the couscous were great. We thought if you put the steak together with the couscous, you'd have a pretty fine plate. My parents both had lamb dishes, which they enjoyed. For dessert I got the pot-de-creme/creme brulee combination dessert, which wasn't quite as stunning the second time around, but was still very, very good. Boyfriend had a bread pudding that he liked, and Mom had a lemon tart that she said was very good. Dad poached off everyone else's plate. I'm sad that the restaurant couldn't make it (especially when places with far inferior food are inexplicably wildly popular), but I hope that Gregory gets to do what he wants at T. Cook's, and brings some new energy to that place.

On Sunday we met a few friends for lunch at Efes Turkish Cuisine in Tempe. We sat in the pillowed area with little tables, which is a lot nicer than the area with ordinary tables and chairs. I was disappointed to find that the bread, which was freshly made on my first visit (and terrific), was now clearly purchased-and-reheated pita bread. Aside from that disappointment, the food was good. I got some spicy ground lamb dish (not kefta), which was nicely spiced and not dried out.

Boyfriend and I decided to go to Marble Slab for ice cream afterwards. We both got ice cream with peanut butter mixed in, which is a pretty decadent experience. I think I prefer the lighter ice cream at Angel Sweet, but this is pretty good, too.

After that, our long hedonistic eating weekend came to an end. It was fun while it lasted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there aren't any price or caloric limits, the Sunday brunch at the Terrace Dining Room at The Phoenician was pretty lavish and amazing when I went a couple years ago. This is the sort of place that will have prime rib, lamb, seafood, and all sorts of breakfast stations, as well as a whole room devoted to desserts.

I was quite pleased with my recent visit to Barrio Cafe a few days ago. The cuisine could best be described as "idiosyncratic Mexican." They're open for lunch, but don't take reservations.

Pizzeria Bianco is a terrific place if you can get there early (like before it opens at 5 p.m.) or if you have the patience to wait 45 to 90 minutes for a table (another no reservations place, unless you have a party of 6 or more). The pizza gets most of the raves, but the spiedini appetizer and the antipasto plate are the things I crave the most. Fanatical attention to locally-grown, fresh ingredients are the hallmark of this place. They don't serve lunch, but have a small, very limited (3 sandwiches on the menu, plus one special) sister restaurant called Pane Bianco.

A couple of places that I love, which may not be "destination restaurants" but simply produce lots of tasty food consistently are Havana Cafe in Phoenix and Cafe Istanbul in Tempe. Both of these are places where you can order anything off the menu and know that it will be good, which is more than can be said about a lot of high-end places. Havana Cafe is Cuban, Cafe Istanbul Lebanese. Both places open for lunch, and both places have generous portions.

For local dives, one that I've just discovered thanks to some other food lovers is El Tlacoyo. Service is leisurely (bordering on nonexistent), but their tortas are terrific. On Saturdays and Sundays they serve lamb, which is very very good. I've eaten there alone and felt perfectly comfortable.

I don't know anything about antiquing--hopefully someone else can help you with that.

Hope you have a lovely trip, and be sure to let us know the culinary highlights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks much for sharing your dining experiences. I have been meaning to get to Barrio Cafe, but just haven't yet. I do love Cyclo, although I haven't been there in several months. (Having a new baby and a toddler entering the terrible twos kind of kills dining out.)

I wish I'd gone to Gregory's before it shuttered. I did hit T. Cook's last fall, so I'll be curious to see what the food is like with Gregory at the helm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For lunch spots, a couple of good restaurants to try are Tea Light Cafe and Flo's.

Tea Light is a small Vietnamese spot that serves outstanding sandwiches and some other traditional Vietnamese dishes, including pho. I just went there recently, and really enjoyed my sandwich. I had chicken, served on a crusty roll with plenty of cilantro. Also had spring rolls, which were good, but not great.

Flo's can best be described as Asian food with a twist. You'll see plenty of familiar dishes that have a little something extra added, or that simply taste better than what you've had elsewhere. Lunches come with a salad. There are a few different Flo's concepts, but the original is the one I'm recommending. If you go, you must try the chocolate wontons for dessert.

Flo's

Tea Light Cafe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the Desert Ridge hotel, you'll be right across the street from a great Thai restaurant, and close to another excellent one. Malee's is in the middle section of the huge Desert Ridge shopping center, and although its white tablecloths may make you think, "This can't possibly be authentic or 'real'," it's absolutely awesome. Their spicy crispy fish is superb, though for some reason it's always better at dinnertime than at lunch. Good lunch specials, though.

Cheaper and much more casual is Thai Pan, on Miller just south of Pinnacle Peak. (From the Desert Ridge hotel, head north on Tatum to Pinnacle Peak -- 2 miles or so -- then turn right. Miller is the first traffic light after Scottsdale Road, and Thai Pan is in the shopping center at the southeast corner of that intersection.) At Thai Pan, you order at the counter, and they bring the food to your table. Very quickly. But everything is made from scratch, and (speaking as someone who dines there every couple of weeks) it's all good. However, their curries are out of this world.

I'm not as fond of Flo's as is Mrs Inkling. I like it but don't find it all that special. I do agree that Havana Cafe can be great, though somehow I never think of it when I'm trying to come up with a place for lunch or dinner.

Another good place -- that's not far from your hotel -- is The Persian Room. It's on Scottsdale Road, south of the 101 and north of Bell Road/Frank Lloyd Wright. It's usually very quiet, the sort of place where you can have a conversation with your tablemates, and it's also suspiciously pretty. The menu is heavy on kebabs (which are great), but you could easily get just one kebab plate and share an appetizer platter. Or if it's just you for lunch, have the appetizer platter alone. This is another restaurant that puts attention on the details; they make their own yogurt, for instance. But do save room for the Persian ice cream.

One option for Sunday brunch is dim sum. We've always driven all the down to Chandler to C-Fu Gourmet (at Ray and Dobson, I believe), though I've been told that other spots in town are at least as good. I love the ambiance at C-Fu, though: a *huge* room with Chinese ladies rolling the carts up and down the aisle.

Can't help you on the antiquing. You mean people do things on vacation other than eat?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C-Fu Gourmet is at Dobson and Warner. C-Fu The dim sum there is pretty good. I wouldn't recommend it for dinner, though. The last few times I've had dinner there, it's been disappointing.

Esterschindler: You just reminded me about Thai Pan. I haven't been there yet, but want to go. The guy in charge, Mark Gerding, seems pretty nice. I took a cooking class from him a few years ago at House of Rice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You just reminded me about Thai Pan. I haven't been there yet, but want to go. The guy in charge, Mark Gerding, seems pretty nice. I took a cooking class from him a few years ago at House of Rice.

He IS nice! And the food is consistently good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was in Phoenix last month and had a terrific time at Elements restaurant at the Sanctuary spa & resort on the north slope of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale.

The food & wine were top notch and the view and sunset were stellar. Reservations, even mid-week, are recomended.


Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Zinc Bistro is also woth considering.

I had the veal cheeks special one evening last month--rich, lean & delicious. My friend had the steak & frites which he said was wonderful as well.


Edited by liamdc (log)

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I strongly second the Barrio Cafe--Their web site.

It gets crowded at lunch with lawyers and the Sunday Brunch is also very popular. I have heard that it is easier to get a table for dinner, but that is second hand info.

The restaurant is casual and offers a creative menu that is a great value.

I had the slow roasted achiote pulled pork sandwich....excellent. The seafood enchiladas where were overflowing with succulent seafood and rich decant cream sauce that had enough heat to make it interesting.

The table next to us ordered the chocolate and almond sauce stuffed chocolate cake. It looked and smelled so amazing that I was tempted reach over and help myself. Only my wife's quick reflexes stopped a potentially embarrassing incident.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We Scottsdale types rarely head west of Central Avenue. However, we're going to be attending the science fiction convention, Westercon, which will be held at the Wigwam Resort. The Wigwam itself is lovely -- I ran a conference there back in 2000 -- but I don't recall Litchfield Park as a hotbed for foodies.

We're trying to arrange to have dinner with out-of-town friends who'll also be attending the Con. I don't need a fancy, white-tablecloth place... just something that's a couple of notches above Coco's or the crapshoot of "what the heck is near here?"

Is there anyplace, within a reasonable driving distance, that's worth the trip?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Litchfield Park is my hometown, and was I surprised to see its name in a subject line on egullet! I was just out there for a visit about a month ago, so this information is current as of then.

First, the bad news. If it's more than a year or two since you've been out there, you're in for a shock. The area has been insanely built up, strip malls and poorly-planned housing developments abound. On Litchfield Road, on the way from I-10 to Litchfield Park, you'll find about eight million chain restaurants, including a Friday's, an Applebee's, I think (the horror!), an On the Border (truly scary and awful - what the hell happened to the Taco Cabana that was there six months ago?) and the best of the lot - a Romano's Macaroni Grill. I happen to hate Romano's, but maybe you don't, who knows.

The Grille on the Greens on the golf course at the Wigwam is always good, but if you want to get away from the resort for a while, there is a reliable and quite friendly Italian place called Bella Luna (a little more "upscale" than the chain restaurants, which is to say you can be perfectly comfortable in khakis and a golf shirt, or you can go a little fancier. Not much, though) on the southwest corner of Litchfield and Indian School Roads (the former Litchfield Road, the one that runs N/S through the middle of Litchfield Park, is now OLD Litchfield Road. The former Indian School Road, which also runs through the middle of Litchfield Park the E/W direction, is now Wigwam Boulevard. Confused yet?), in the shopping center with the Blockbuster Video and the Driver's sports bar (that's a fun bar, by the way. Two years ago, slkinsey and I watched the Jets annihilate the Packers there, surrounded by Packers fans vacationing in the warmth, and me, the lone Jets girl).

In Litchfield Park proper, across the street from the Wigwam in the shopping center at Wigwam Boulevard and Old Litchfield Road, there is a delightful little coffee place that actually makes GOOD cappuccino, a really nice wine shop that holds tastings with cheese and other munchies, and the Old Pueblo Cafe, which started out very weak but has improved pretty significantly and is now a good choice for local Mex, although I still prefer Raul & Theresa's in Avondale. It's definitely not upscale, though.

I'd stick with Bella Luna. It's not particularly "authentic" Italian food, but I've now been there twice and liked it both times, and they have a good wine list.

Hope this helps!

K

Edited to correct stupid spelling errors and one sentence fragment that somehow ended up in the wrong paragraph, making no sense whatsoever.


Edited by bergerka (log)

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...if you want to get away from the resort for a while, there is a reliable and quite friendly Italian place called Bella Luna (a little more "upscale" than the chain restaurants, which is to say you can be perfectly comfortable in khakis and a golf shirt, or you can go a little fancier. Not much, though) on the southwest corner of Litchfield and Indian School Roads...

Bella Luna does sound like the best option. These friends don't eat mammals, which makes Italian food a safe bet. I'd been considering how long it'd take to drive to the gaggle of restaurants in Glendale, such as Haus Murphy, but German food wouldn't be no-mammal friendly.

Thanks for the help!

(Gosh, I'm spoiled by being in Scottsdale, where A.J.'s is my nearest grocery store.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all -- DC eG seeking advice on where to eat out during a week in Scottsdale later on this month. Here's the short list I've gleaned from previous threads (some fairly stale) on this board, please let me know if you think there are better options or if I've missed something new and wonderful. Would particularly welcome some more hole-in-the-wall recs for good Mexican food, something that just doesn't exist out our way. Many thanks.

Pizzeria Bianco

Barrio Cafe

Sea Saw

Elements

Christopher's Fermier Brasserie

Cowboy Ciao

Los Sombreros

Oceana


"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not in Scottsdale, but Los Dos Molinas is not to be missed for fiery Mexican. Eat the red chile sauce on anything and be prepared to sweat (I like it on the carne adovada chimichanga, personally). The building is a double-wide trailer in South Phoenix, so if that doesn't count as hole-in-the-wall, I don't know what does!

On the nicer side and closer to Scottsdale, brunch at Lon's at the Hermosa is lovely, particularly this time of year when you can sit out on the patio.


...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's see. Oceana is no more, so scratch that off your list. (It was near my house. I kept intending to go....)

Pizzeria Bianco is indeed a wonderful pizza. I confess that I'm not sure what the fuss is all about, but then I've never been a pizza connoisseur. Certainly a great pizza, though.

I haven't been to the others, except Christopher's. Given a choice, I'd follow the recommendation for Los Dos Molinos at South Mountain instead, but I'm a cheapskate who likes Mexican food. Other good Mexican (not necessarily hole-in-the-wall) includes La Parilla Suiza (two in town: one at 35th Avenue, the other closer to Scottsdale next to Paradise Valley Mall) and Manuel's (a local chain -- the one closest to me is at Via Linda and 90th Street) and Z'Tejas (at Tatum and Shea -- best for lunch, when the prices are very reasonable). These are more "neighborhood Mexican," the Phoenix equivalent of an Italian red-checked-tablecloth joint.

As I live in very north Scottsdale, it occurs to me that we don't have too many holes in our walls. For somewhat finer dining, I might head to the Persian Room (on Scottsdale Road, just south of the 101 freeway and north of Bell Rd/FLW). Wonderful kebabs, and their "everything" appetizer platter is not to be missed. They make their own yogurt and pita bread, which gives you an idea of the attention to detail. And they do something different with their Persian ice cream that I haven't been able to figure out, though I'm willing to consume a few quarts in the name of scientific inquiry.

For upscale stuff: Based on an egullet recommendation, I had one absolutely awesome meal at Convivo about a year ago. I haven't checked it out since - at 16th Street and Glendale (or thereabouts), it's a hike from where I live - but I'd go back there in a flash.

Hi all -- DC eG seeking advice on where to eat out during a week in Scottsdale later on this month. Here's the short list I've gleaned from previous threads (some fairly stale) on this board, please let me know if you think there are better options or if I've missed something new and wonderful. Would particularly welcome some more hole-in-the-wall recs for good Mexican food, something that just doesn't exist out our way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forgot a strong hearty-ho for Barrio Cafe, which is in Central Phoenix. It's more upscale than hole-in-the-wall, but still fun & casual. VERY tasty.

It also has the distinction of making one of the most straightforward and honest margaritas I've ever had - they call it the Sidecar - huzzah!


...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mosaic, from Chef Deborah Knight... very lovely food and atmosphere.

Acacia at the Four Seasons, right in the same neighborhood.

Cowboy Ciao is a fun place, and I second LON's at the hermosa.

Pizzaria Bianco is good, but I really prefer Pizzeria Picazzo.


"My tongue is smiling." - Abigail Trillin

Ruth Shulman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...