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david coonce

Phoenix & Tucson Dining Recommendations

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Hello all,

I'll be in Phoenix and Tucson in November for my honeymoon. What are the good restaurants - money is no object. I prefer new american-style cuisine, but will be very happy with a traditional mexican place that serves pig's head and brains.

Let me know!


"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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I should preface this by saying that I don't live in Phoenix, so I only get to eat there several times a year when I visit my parents, so...these recs aren't the absolute freshest. That said, in descending order of reliability:

Don't miss Sea Saw.

And...this shouldn't be your "big night out", but I've had some really wonderfully adventurous comfort food at Medizona. It's a very small room, 6 or 8 tables, so reserve. The rabbit baklava is pure goodness. Note: Medizona's marketing is boneheaded and their website is terribly outdated and ramshackle...don't let that deter you. My last meal there was in April, and it was very good.

My mom normally takes me to Cowboy Ciao, which she really likes for the wine (their wine list is really something). The food can be spectacular if you order right. I always seem to order something great while mom's success rate is patchier. The elk tostada I had last time was excellent. She had the duck + brie sandwich, which looked amazing, but pretty much just tasted like its ingredients (if that can be a criticism). Either way, if you're in Scottsdale and you like wine, you should definitely go for a drink and a bite at the bar.

And if you need a dark crowded neighborhood bar with good southwestern food, I've not seen a better one than Richardson's. My dad took me there the first 15 times I visited Phoenix, so there's a bit of nostalgia in it for me, but I've never had a bad night there, although I can easily see how you could have one. If you think of it as a bar with food I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Hopefully a real local will chime in shortly and confirm/deny these....

I'm sure I'll think of more....

mark


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I don't live in Arizona but had two SPECTAULAR meals a few years back.

Yes, Sea Saw for sure and BINKLEY'S which is a bit of a drive but fantastic. I believe it's in Cave Creek, AZ. Absolutely incredible cooking.

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Phoenix Best Bets:

Sea Saw

Binkley's Restaurant

Zinc Bistro

Cyclo

Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Kohnies-Coffee, Breakfast and Best Scones

Pizzeria Bianco

Pane Bianco

Arlecchino Gelateria

Lisa G Cafe Wine Bar...Casual Lunch

As for Mexican in Phoenix, Barrio Cafe, Los Sombreros and Pepe's Tacos get recommended quite a bit.

In Tucson, Cafe Poco Cosa, Janos and the J Bar at La Paloma would be where I would start.

Good Eating,

Molto E


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Tucson:

El Corral for greatr prime rib & steaks - you must order the tamale pie rather than potato

El Torero in South Tucson for Mexican

The Grill at Hacienda del Sol for fancy eats

Also Janos for uptown food.

Bistro Zin or Wildflower for great lunches.

Terra Cotta and Cafe Poca Cosa just because they get so much press.

All these are locally owned, which is an important issue here in Tucson.

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Tucson:

El Corral for greatr prime rib & steaks - you must order the tamale pie rather than potato

El Torero in South Tucson for Mexican

The Grill at Hacienda del Sol for fancy eats

Also Janos for uptown food.

Bistro Zin or Wildflower for great lunches.

Terra Cotta and Cafe Poca Cosa just because they get so much press.

All these are locally owned, which is an important issue here in Tucson.

RC,

You did give nice choices to dine while in Tucson, but U.E. has exposure to national and international dining so some of those I feel will be a grave disappointment to him.

El Corral- I like that salad and if you are speaking of VALUE dining then you are dead on, but the meat served is not of the Prime grade.

Bistro Zin and Wildflower are somewhat pedastrian

Terra Cotta because it gets so much press...why...don't you think the food has not been the same since it relocated to its new location

El Torero was my go to choice for that style of mexican eats...chimis' and enchiladas at a reasonable price

Have a great visit U.E.

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hel313.

Thanks for that comment - I'll take it as a compliment.

While I do want to get to some uber fancy places, part of why I like traveling (although it probably doesn't show in my photos and blogposts *sheepish*) is discovering the local flavors and hole in the walls... so to speak...

Pedestrian is never a good thing, but unique, at any level, is always a plus. El Torero, I gather, fits the bill for the latter... yes? :biggrin:

Thanks for all of the suggestions eGulleteers! You guys are the greatest!

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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hel313.

Thanks for that comment - I'll take it as a compliment. 

While I do want to get to some uber fancy places, part of why I like traveling (although it probably doesn't show in my photos and blogposts *sheepish*) is discovering the local flavors and hole in the walls...  so to speak...

Pedestrian is never a good thing, but unique, at any level, is always a plus.  El Torero, I gather, fits the bill for the latter...  yes?  :biggrin:

u.e.

U.E.,

I understand completely a spot does not have to be ritzy to be good. As far as El Corral, the quality of the meat, IMO, is around the Outback level. El Torero is definitely in that category. What I mean by pedestrian is that they are owned by a restaurant group that seems to tailor their offerings to "safe" cuisine. Look at their menus, I do not think you will find anything unique in there. There are neat breakfast spots in Tucson and some of them have been covered in the threads.

Hel313


Edited by hel313 (log)

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hel313.

Thanks for that comment - I'll take it as a compliment. 

While I do want to get to some uber fancy places, part of why I like traveling (although it probably doesn't show in my photos and blogposts *sheepish*) is discovering the local flavors and hole in the walls...  so to speak...

Pedestrian is never a good thing, but unique, at any level, is always a plus.  El Torero, I gather, fits the bill for the latter...  yes?  :biggrin:

u.e.

U.E.,

I understand completely a spot does not have to be ritzy to be good. As far as El Corral, the quality of the meat, IMO, is around the Outback level. El Torero is definitely in that category. What I mean by pedastrian is that they are owned by a restaurant group that seems to tailor their offerings to "safe" cuisine. Look at their menus, I do not think you will find anything unique in there. There are neat breakfast spots in Tucson and some of them have been covered in the threads.

Hel313

Do you mean pedestrian?

Anyway, What do you mean "around Outback level", i've never eaten at Outback so I wasn't sure/

If the traveler is looking for more worldly menus as someone suggested, they may be disappointed. But the part about traveling is eating what the locals eat, experincing the city - any city - in what makes it unique.

While ZIn and Wildflower may have "safe" menus, the service there is usually tops.

R

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Do you mean pedestrian?

Anyway, What do you mean "around Outback level", i've never eaten at Outback so I wasn't sure/

If the traveler is looking for more worldly menus as someone suggested, they may be disappointed. But the part about traveling is eating what the locals eat, experincing the city - any city - in what makes it unique.

While ZIn and Wildflower may have "safe" menus, the service there is usually tops.

R

RC,

Sorry for the typo...What I mean by Outback level (which is another great VALUE dining spot) is that the quality of the meat is not of the Prime grade. If you are used to eating Snake River Farms Wagyu meat at Per Se and then you eat a $14.95 Filet or whatever at El Corral then the difference in meat quality can be jarring. If he has limited meals while in Tucson then I do not think that would be a place to recommend. I feel that based on what he is used to dining-wise that will be a hokey experience for him. There are other places that are unique to Tucson that the quality of the cuisine will be special. As far as Zin and Wildflower, I do not find those special or unique to Tucson. They have safe mainstream menus that appeal to the masses, not the epicure.

Hel313

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Do you mean pedestrian?

Anyway, What do you mean "around Outback level", i've never eaten at Outback so I wasn't sure/

If the traveler is looking for more worldly menus as someone suggested, they may be disappointed. But the part about traveling is eating what the locals eat, experincing the city - any city - in what makes it unique.

While ZIn and Wildflower may have "safe" menus, the service there is usually tops.

R

RC,

Sorry for the typo...What I mean by Outback level (which is another great VALUE dining spot) is that the quality of the meat is not of the Prime grade. If you are used to eating Snake River Farms Wagyu meat at Per Se and then you eat a $14.95 Filet or whatever at El Corral then the difference in meat quality can be jarring. If he has limited meals while in Tucson then I do not think that would be a place to recommend. I feel that based on what he is used to dining-wise that will be a hokey experience for him. There are other places that are unique to Tucson that the quality of the cuisine will be special. As far as Zin and Wildflower, I do not find those special or unique to Tucson. They have safe mainstream menus that appeal to the masses, not the epicure.

Hel313

There's a place for Snake River Farms Wagyu, and there's a place for cheap steak. Anyone who can only tolerate the first has allowed themselves a greater berth around the "masses" than they deserve.

The specific restaurants mentioned in Tucson may not prepare that cheap steak in an interesting or notable way, and that's fine to point out, as a diner in search of interesting meals shouldn't waste time there. But to state baldly that someone who dines on wagyu must be protected from cheap steak like the princess from the pea is a sad and unnecessary indulgence of the worst stereotypes that gourmands adopt as affects.

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Me and the family just had a beautiful dinner at The Farm at South Mountain's Restauraunt.

Check out the website:

http://www.quiessencerestaurant.com/

The owner's son happened to be out wine steward and offered an excellent tasting menu with fresh Arizona produce and protein.

A real gem!

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Heading to Phoenix the end of the month -- any updates to the suggestions here. Is See Saw still great? Other suggestions? Much appreciated.

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Phoenix Best Bets:

Sea Saw

Binkley's Restaurant

Zinc Bistro

Cyclo

Lo-Lo's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Kohnies-Coffee, Breakfast and Best Scones

Pizzeria Bianco

Pane Bianco - Chris Bianco's Sandwich Spot

Matt's Big Breakfast & Roosevelt Tavern

Arlecchino Gelateria

The Pork Shop

Postino Wine Cafe

Welcome Diner

Andreoli Italian Grocery & Deli

Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar

Lola Tapas

On the radar...

Yasu Sushi Bistro

with all the rave reviews, this place has got to be good...

4316 E. Cactus Road, Phoenix (602) 787-9181

Overeasy- New Breakfast spot from the Soy Y Sambra gang

Ranch House Grille- old school breakfast...very good


Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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