Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The best "Off the Beaten Path" Burgers

Our old friend the tried and true Hamburger has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance these past few years.  A facelift might be a more appropriate observation.

The venerable ketchup, patty,  sesame bun combo we grew up on now has to share the top billing with sandwiches featuring exotic sauces, unique preparations, and different types of meats.  Ronald McDonald would be filled with equal parts trepidation and pride at what Burger 2.0 has become.

The Mahi Mahi Burger at Coconuts
Let us pay tribute to the best options in Phoenix for burgers that are off the beaten path.

The Real "Chicken of the Sea"?
Coconut's Fish Cafe up in North Scottsdale has created quite a buzz by transporting the super fresh and beloved recipes from Maui and bringing them to our beloved desert Valley.  While their entire menu is worth exploring their true standout is the Mahi Mahi burger.  The fish is mild, tender, and can be prepared multiple ways.  The toasted bun, crispy slaw, and tiger sauce complement the meat perfectly. Be generous with the napkins.  This is a great sandwich, but also a very messy one.

Beijing Noodle House

Marco Polo Was Right
We in the West are just beginning to explore the breadth and depth of Chinese cuisine.  We are especially limited here in the Valley but there are few notable exceptions like the Beijing Noodle House in Mesa.  We will maintain the theme of this article and focus on their pork burger.  The rest of the menu can be explored at a later date.  At its core the sandwich has delicate and flavorful pieces of pork enclosed by the best english muffins this side of LGO.

The Meats of Marrakesh
Innovative chefs have fused the standard burger with culinary elements from every nook and cranny of our tasty globe.  The Fez in Central Phoenix does a top notch job of introducing our staple to the flavors and spices of Northern Africa.  The Lamb Sliders are a full embrace of Morocco while Fez Burger meats you half way by using the familiar high quality Angus with cinnamon pears, feta, and lemon garlic aioli.

Who Said That Meat was Needed?
Heathen Burger at Bourbon Steak
Vegetarians can rejoice because Hillstone offers a hearty veggie burger made with beets and beans, covered in a tangy soy glaze and melted Jack cheese, and served on a sesame bun. This and the veggie offering at Zinburger are our favorite local choices.

Ode to Gluttony and Excessive Living
Sometimes you just want to throw caution and sensibility out the window, live in the now, and indulge in something absolutely laden in guilt and luxury.  The Heathen Burger at Bourbon Steak answers the call when this inclination visits your taste buds.  The line up reads as Kobe beef, foie gras torchon, napa cabbage slaw, and port glazed onions.  The only thing missing is some gold leaf and an inflated sense of self-worth.

The "It Sounds So Wrong But It Tastes So Right" Category
Not to be outdone by Bourbon the good folks at Paradise Valley Burger have been stretching the limits for a few years now.  The pièce de résistance is the Burger Brulee which features a fried egg, onions, burnt sugar, and a layer of soft and mild havarti cheese.  Another notable item is the Country Fried Burger.  No need to explain that one.

We could list a few more but we will rely on you to fill out the offerings in the comments section. This article made us exceptionally hungry and we are out the door in search of some more exotic burger offerings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scottsdale Food Truck Caravan

Saturday night fast approaching and you and your significant other can't decide over where to eat?  Why not split the difference and go to a place that offers multiple options?  The answer, my friend, is the Scottsdale Food Truck Caravan!

Located just off the heart of Old Town there are plenty of options in the area to keep you company after you indulge in the offerings of one of the many food trucks.  Click the link above and explore all of the varying options.

No more excuses for a boring Saturday night at home!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

To dine with a view

While the Phoenix dining scene has only truly come of age within the last 15 years, the beautiful desert vistas and spectacular colored sunsets have been a Valley staple since long before the Hohokam wandered these foothills.  We wanted to spotlight those singular places that fuse the culinary arts with our unique landscape.

For many this is the gold standard.  Nestled against the north backside of Camelback mountain you will have unrivaled views of the setting sun and the famed Mummy mountain. While you are drooling over the view the all-star cooking staff that chef Beau MacMillion has assembled is artfully creating a menu that will challenge you to select only one item.

Elements at the Sanctuary in Paradise Valley

Lets head up to North Scottsdale for our second candidate.  This time the featured view is Pinnacle Peak and the McDowell mountains.  I have to admit that you will be a tad confused by the end of the evening.  With the ambiance created by the upscale rustic farmhouse setting and the Southern Italian inspired menu you will swear that you were somewhere in Campania.

Different Pointe of View
At this place the featured star is downtown Phoenix.  You will be hard pressed to find a better location that frames our uptown and downtown skylines.  While the menu doesn't stand up to some of the other destinations on this list it offers up enough well executed staples to make your evening more than worthwhile.

Orange Sky
Different Pointe of View in Phoenix
Not far from Taliesin West is Orange Sky at the Talking Stick Resort.  It boasts views that would have had Frank Lloyd Wright second guessing the location selection of his famed getaway.  With its elevation and location away from development it is the best place to watch Camelback get framed by the brilliant blues, reds, and pinks of the famed Arizona sunset. Not to be outdone by the view the restaurant and menu are of the quality we've come to expect from our great local resorts.

Wrigley Mansion
The original room with a view, this has long been one of the 'go to' spots when you want a dinner that is out of the ordinary. Geordie's steakhouse offers the traditional fare we've come to love but in a setting that is truly unique.  To top off the experience you are just close enough to be able to heckle the bluebloods golfing at the Biltmore.

J & G Steakhouse
Just spent the morning at the Zoo or 'Hole in the Rock' and you want to see what they look like from a distance?  This is your spot. It's got the same great resort feel that you get with the Elements or Orange Sky with the added bonus of being able to overlook their elaborate and super fun pool complex.  Also very attentive wait staff eager to bring you some of the better seafood in town.

Incredible atmosphere at Isabella's Kitchen
Isabella's Kitchen
While the food here might not stack up against some of the heavyweights in this list this place is unrivaled when it comes to providing a casual and fun spot to bring the whole family.  Located right off one of the greens at Grayhawk the back patio is elevated just enough to give you an unobstructed view of the Valley below. Sit back, let the kids play in the grass, and enjoy a decent Italian dinner.

Rustler's Rooste
The Valley looks pretty good from the south as well.  Located in the foothills of the South Mountains this is a great spot to have a casual 'Western' themed dinner. Another great spot to unwind or bring the friends or family from out of town.
The Compass Arizona Grill at the Hyatt in downtown Phoenix

O.S.H.O Arcadia
If you haven't noticed by now we'll come clean and admit that we are big fans of Camelback.  The city would look very drab without this brilliant landmark to offer contrast to our big blue skies.  And in our opinion the back patio at O.H.S.O is the best way to soak in its granite grandeur.  The pub fare is top notch and if you like the brews this place will not disapoint.

Compass Arizona Grill (Hyatt)
For the most part the best views are on the outskirts of town looking into the action.  The Compass Arizona Grill is the grand exception and holds the distinction of being the only revolving rooftop restaurant in town.  You want to impress your date prior to an evening at the Symphony?  This is your place.

We could devote some more ink to few other notable spots but we wanted to give you the chance to catch your breath, gas up the car, and plan a date to one of these places first.  Did we miss one of your favorite spots?  Feel free to reach out and let us know what else belongs.

The view from  the J&G Steakhouse

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Normal

The place is reminiscent of the Hotel Valley Ho with its 'hipsterish' take on the mid-century modern look.  The menu has a fresh local approach to comfortable diner fare.  The dishes while somewhat original don't really fulfill the their promise.

The 'Must Try'- The After School Special Brisket Sandwich

The Normal Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Carvalho’s Brazilian Kitchen

A great spot that gives you a more intimate and less corporate chance (I'm looking at you Fogo de Chao) to taste the diverse flavors of Brasil. The staff adds another layer to the experience and the love of their culture definitely shines through in their service, knowledge, and ambiance.  

The 'Must Try'- Picanha Grelhada

Carvalho's Brazilian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Isabella’s Kitchen

Put this place in a strip mall and it becomes a slightly better looking cousin then Macaroni Grill.  The food isn't exceptionally memorable. Don't worry though, what sets this place apart is its atmosphere and location.    You will be hard to pressed to find anywhere else in the Valley that offers such a setting.

The 'Must Try'- Decent food but better view and atmosphere

Isabella's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 20, 2015

Matt's Big Breakfast

What else can be said about the near unanimous preferred Phoenix spot for the perfectly presented breakfast?  Forget about the wait or drive and enjoy the how tasty a simple waffle can be when made the right way.

The 'Must Try'- The best Waffle in town

Matt's Big Breakfast on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tottie's Asian Fusion

A perfectly fine prototypical strip mall Asian eatery.  It does have a varied menu that allows the casual dinner to comfortably explore the safer dishes of the Pacific Rim.

The 'Must Try'- Panang Curry

Tottie's Asian Fusion on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cafe Lalibela

Even though I can still hardly make out the difference between the majority of these dishes and what one encounters at the local Delhi Palace I do say that I love what these guys are doing with lentils and veggies!  The prices are splendid and this place could easily turn me into a 4 day a week vegetarian.  Three cheers for Injera!

The 'Must Try'- I'm not exactly sure how it's pronounced but try it!  Veggies never tasted so good.

Cafe Lalibela on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Chef Cullen Campbell has created more then another great Italian restaurant, he's given us a stamped passport to further explore the culinary excellence of the famed peninsula .  Each dish is expertly crafted and the menu is set up to allow you the chance to affordably navigate and enjoy his craft.

The 'Must Try'- Many splendid options but you absolutely must get the Squid Ink Risotto

Crudo on Urbanspoon