Saturday, December 20, 2014

La Bocca Wine Bar & Urban Kitchen

It certainly looks the part of a sleek urban wine bar. Unfortunately the menu struggles to hold up its end of the bargain.  The bread shines with the bruschetta but weighs down their pizza.  

The 'Must Try'- Get a selection of bruschetta 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lenny's Burgers

This place hearkens back to a simpler time when we just wanted a tasty burger and we didn't need the overpriced and overwrought sandwiches that currently dominate the burger landscape.

The 'Must Try'- The Cowboy Burger
Lenny's Burger on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blue Agave Mexican Cantina

More sports bar than authentic Mexican experience.  But in an area not especially proficient in 'South of the Border' the Agave is a great option for those wanting to catch a game and grind tacos.

The 'Must Try'- The Baja Shrimp Enchiladas

Blue Agave Mexican Cantina on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Diego Pops

This eclectic and gussied up taco stand does just enough to distract your attention from the famed Barrio Queen around the block. While not as authentic it offers a more gringo flavored menu full of flavor.  A particular nod to their various salsas.

The 'Must Try'- The Brussels Sprout Nachos

Diego Pops on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Angry Crab Shack and BBQ

Looking for a casual and reasonably priced spot to enjoy the splendors of the sea?  This is your place.  A great environment that many of the the better heeled local establishments would love to replicate.  Only complaint is that we wish you'd get more flexibility to mix, match, or resize some of the bags.

The 'Must Try'- The Shrimp Bag with all of the Extras

Angry Crab Shack and BBQ on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 24, 2014

Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar

One of the better 'gathering spots' downtown.  The perfect spot for drinks and a light meal prior to a night on the town. A well executed menu that offers plenty of options without being overwhelming.

The 'Must Try'- The Seared Salmon with Polenta

Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Make it at home: The Churrasco of Beef Tenderloin at Deseo

Deseo is one of the premier destination resort restaurant and it features some of the best upscale Latin cuisine in town.  This recipe is one of our favorites.

Churrasco of Beef Tenderloin

Yields: 6 servings
Ingredients for Churrasco of Beef Tenderloin
1 T garlic, minced
3 ea bay leaves
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 T chili powder
3 ea jalapenos, rough chopped
1/2 C Opal basil chiffonade
1 C basil chiffonade
3/4 C olive oil
2 ea shallots, minced
1 lb crab meat
1/2 ea red onion, small diced
1 ea red and yellow peppers,
small diced
2 T mayonnaise
3 T cilantro, minced
1 T chipolte adobe juice
2 T ketchup
1 T lemon juice
dash habanero sauce or hot sauce
6 ea 8 oz fillet mignons,
spiral cut (butterflied)
Method for Churrasco of Beef Tenderloin
• Puree the first 5 ingredients to form the base for the chimichurri, fold in the next 5 ingredients, season then pulse for 1 second with the immersion blender. Set aside for service.
• Combine the ingredients for the spicy crab salad and season.
• Set aside cold until service.
• Grill the steaks to the desired temperature.
• Plate and top with chimichurri and serve the crab salad as side along the steak.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery

Sleek setting, somewhat slow service, and some of the best executed Thai in town.  Many might complain that it has been watered down to better accommodate the Western palate but we doubt you'll mind.

The 'Must Try'- The Yellow Curry (Tried and True)

Soi 4 Bangkok Eatery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Our love affair with the dumpling: The Phoenix guide to the best stuffed treats

Soon after man learned to harness the heat of the fire for purposes of cooking he learned the value of stuffing  various vittles in dough to be fried, baked, steamed, or boiled to tasty perfection. No matter if it is called a pierogi, empanada, dim sum, or chimichanga the dumpling concept is one of those universal truths that is loved on a global scale.  We wanted to take a moment to call out our favorite spots in Phoenix. In this entry we highlight three distinct regions whose food is found here.

Latin America
 From the Tierra Del Fuego to our southern border the Empanada has permeated just about every kitchen in Latin America.  While names and recipes may vary slightly the overall dish and taste remains the same.  We prefer Republica Empanada in Mesa when we crave this satisfying treat.

Republica Empanada
An invention a little closer to home is the chimichanga.  This Arizona icon can be found in countless places but we find the version at Carolina's to have the best balance of crunch and succulence.  One other dish  that has benefited from a cross border fusion is the chile relleno.  Nothing tops one used with hatch chiles and the stuffed peppers served at Castillon's in North Phoenix will have you contemplating whether or not this is the best innovation since the introduction of the drive-through.  Their peppers are stuffed with chorizo and are wrapped and fried in a won-ton shell. 

All Pierogi Kitchen
For some reason the more cold and bleak the place the better the dumpling.  This holds true in the cool climes of Continental Europe, specifically those nations from the coldest parts of the Cold War.  Our favorite is the pierogi of Poland.  Warsaw doesn't exactly grace too many covers of Condé Nast but that doesn't mean that its people aren't capable of serving up some of the best comfort food this side of fried chicken. In Phoenix you want to make the trip out to Mesa to try All Pierogi Kitchen. This is all they do and it is all they need to do.  

Let's head west to Cornwall to discover another cold clime gem, the Pasty.  You won't need the appetite of a 15th century tin miner to savor the filling goodness of this hearty turnover.  Make a point to visit the Cornish Pasty Company. There are various locations throughout the Valley and they have dressed their pasties up in so many different ways that it will take multiple visits to truly appreciate this dish.

Spaghetti Calzone at Spinatos
Finally, let's head down to the sun kissed shores of Southern Italy for our next European contributions. Italy does so many things right that it should be no surprise that it also serves up some of the Continent's best comfort snacks.  Let's start with the ravioli.  While it can be prepared many ways our favorite is toasted.  Hit up Vito's in the East Valley for their interpretation.  Forget a salad, this is the perfect way to start a meal.

Another tasty contribution from the 'boot' is the calzone.  Some say its origins are in Naples, others say New York.  We don't care so long it is stuffed with generous portions of marinara and mozzarella.  For a traditional calzone there is no better spot then Pinos Al Centro in Central Phoenix.  For something a little more unique go with the stuffed spaghetti versions at Spinatos.  Yes they are as good as they sound.

The Orient
The Baynchaiv at Reathrey Sekong
Many experts speculate that the dumpling has its origins in China so it only makes sense that we spend a few moments to highlight some of its best offerings including potstickers, jiaozi, and dim-sum.  Phoenix isn't a noted hotbed for Asian cuisine so you have to head down South to Chandler to find pockets of expats here supporting our technology sector.

Dim Sum is a great way to explore the depth and breadth of Chinese cuisine and there are multiple options for those looking for a dumpling experience. China King offers the most authentic experience in our opinion . They also serve some of the best spring rolls in town.

Pork Buns at Nobuo House
China doesn't have exclusive rights on the dumpling, there are several regional dishes that are also worth mentioning.  The first is the Baynchaiv at the lone Cambodian stand out in town, Reathrey Sekong.  It is a cousin to the savory crepe.  Up the coast and downtown is the Japanese gold standard, Nobuo House.  Their pork belly wraps are a perfect illustration of the sophistication, flavor, and creativity of Japanese cuisine.  This might be stretching it a bit but we also consider the soft shell crab sandwich part of this category.  You feel differently?  Too bad, it is worth mentioning in just about any context.

We are hungry and exhausted from compiling this list, mainly hungry.  We've only scratched the surface of the dumpling and there are many more places in the Valley where you can get your fill?  Did we miss a place?  Shame us and list it in the comments section.  We will quickly repent and make a point to visit.