Located on the 15th floor of the Talking Stick Resort and Casino, Orange Sky is one of our new favorite places for dinner. It starts with the elevator ride up. Once you pass the second floor, windows allow to see you the Valley as your rise above the desert. Once you reach your destination, you’re greeted with an elegant bar and a nice place to enjoy a cocktail while you wait for your table. The menu, the cocktails, and the service are all devine. A killer patio tops it off. What we love about it the most though, the private booths. If you can, reserve a private booth just before sunset. The table faces a giant window that overlooks the entire Valley. There’s something beautiful about enjoying a glass of wine while the sun is setting behind Camelback Mountain.
In a week where instant mashed potato dispensers in Singapore 7-11s dominated food headlines (watch the now viral video here), let’s just say we sifted through the odd, marinated on the gross and poured over the monotonous to bring you the most worthy consumable news (not a zombie joke). Here’s a redux of this week’s happenings in our favorite food blogs:
Let’s start with an appetizer aka an unusual headline or two:
For the main course, a serving of more traditional
foodie news local deals:
For some people the distinction between vegetarian and vegan is life changing, for others it’s more of a case-by-case basis. Regardless which classification best suits you, we believe everyone can enjoy vegan cuisine from time to time without feeling guilty about where their leather belt came from.
Even if you’ve mastered the art of vegetarianism, the crossover to vegan will likely bring about a whole new set of challenges – first and foremost: dining out. To help remedy this inevitable and delicious part of life, we’ve compiled a list of our 6 favorite spots for vegan dining:
Bombay Spice Grill and Wine is a perfect alternative to the sandwiches-and-salad vegan cuisine. With a separate and clearly specified vegan menu, as well as an international wine list, what could possibly be better?
The Pomegranate Cafe is a little East Valley gem that features fresh, local and organic ingredients in the entirely vegetarian (vegan upon request) cafe. Since the focus is on seasonal offerings and supporting farmers, you never know what the special might be.
It might be the 4th of July today, but all anyone seems to be talking about is Mexican food. Not that we blame them – few things bring smiles to our faces like a fresh taco and a margarita on a hot summer day. So, once you’ve had your fill of hot dogs and decided to turn off your scorching hot grill, here’s a redux of this week’s happenings in our favorite food blogs:
According to EaterAZ, Big Earl’s BBQ in Scottsdale is in the midst of a Mexican revolution, from a taquitos transition to a dabble in “tacotory” to full blown Mexico City cuisine. While you’re waiting for the online menu to become officially updated, have a read, or better yet, pay Big Earl’s a visit. Whatever you do, don’t order the barbecue.
Meanwhile in Old Town, America’s Taco Shop is opening a new location, as reported by Chow Bella. Known for being “the home of the greatest carne asada in the Valley, ” this location will bring the restaurant’s count up to five (including the location in Arizona Mills Mall). Are they being franchised? Find out here.
If downtown Phoenix is more your thing, you’ll find new Mexican food there too. Chow Bella has covered opening of Tediberto’s Mexican-inspired vegan restaurant on Roosevelt Row. Get the details here … or skip the vegan joint and dig right in to some Mexican barbecue. Phoenix Bites highlights the prix fixe barbacoa tasting dinner at Distrito in Scottsdale’s Saguaro Hotel. The three-course dinner (plus dessert) is available Wednesday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Click here for details.
If we still haven’t convinced you, feast your eyes on Mouth By Southwest’s Taco Tuesday roster. Not to mention how Barrio Cafe, Bianco’s Tacos & Tequila and Sir Veza’s Taco Garage will soon change the dining game for locals and tourists alike at Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4. Stay tuned for updates.
Looking for a classy way to celebrate Independence Day in style and in air conditioning? Why not at the top of a Valley resort, in front of floor-to-ceiling windows where you can view firework shows stretching from Phoenix to Scottsdale?
The Phoenician’s J&G Steakhouse invites you to share this holiday in their restaurant’s open seating while enjoying specialty cocktails, a full a la carte menu or their Fourth of July-themed prix fixe menu Wednesday.
The July 4th Prix Fixe Menu includes three courses. Choose between local watermelon gazpacho, jumbo shrimp cocktail or heirloom Tomatoes with fresh raspberry vinegar and goat cheese for the first course. Next up is a grilled tuna burger, french fries, miso mayonnaise and yuzu pickles; barbecue sirloin tip with creamy local corn; or a grilled pork chop, cherry mustard and sautéed mustard greens. The third course includes your choice of strawberry charlotte sundae, popping cherry pie or warm chocolate nougat tart with praline ice cream.
Festive 4th of July cocktails are available for $12 and include Red: Sour Cherry Caipirinha (Pirrasunga 21 Cachaca, cherry, lime), White: Vanilla Cream Soda (Svedka Vanilla Vodka, caramelized Sugar and club soda) and Blue: Blueberry Lemonade (Ketel One Citroen Vodka, lemon, blueberries and Sprite).
The July 4th Prix Fixe Menu is $45, is available Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m.
Now that we’ve all dusted off the ol’ grill and eaten our fair share of barbecue (not to mention all of the seasonal sides, deserts and drinks) in a feeble attempt to enjoy the summertime like the rest of the country, here comes July. Not to worry, it’s all about grand openings and summer menus this go-round. Here’s a redux of this week’s happenings in our favorite food blogs:
First, the newly opened and soon to open:
Chow Bella has introduced us to Mad G’s Grill & Tavern in Tempe. Brought to you by Allen and Traci Thompson, owners of The Grind and Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar, this new spot off of Broadway and Mill opened June 15.
This past week marked the opening of The Habit Burger Grill‘s fourth Phoenix location, which nearly rounds out the new assortment of eateries at the corner of 7th Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix.
Unless you know someone in the Valley with a time machine disguised as a 1981 DeLorean or plan on buying a pair of Nike’s $37,000 Marty McFly shoes, we recommend you celebrate the past as well as the future by attending “Mack’s Back to the Future” party Saturday.
The event, hosted by Iguana Mack’s in Chandler, will commemorate the staff, drink specials and games that made the East Valley roadhouse famous over the past 10 years, while welcoming a new menu and a new look under the new management.
Participate in live lizard races, beer pong, flip cup, beer chugging, cornhole and hoverboard racing (you wish) beginning at 11 a.m. Prizes will be given away all day. Live music by local bands (sorry, not The Pinheads) kicks off at noon, followed by a patio barbecue and drink specials beginning at 1 p.m. Guest DJ’s, drink specials and games will continue until close (which, of course, is when need the time machine).
So, set your Casio digital calculator watches because the past, er, the party is something you won’t want to miss.
As you know, food truck culture (aka gourmet mobile dining) is alive and well in Phoenix. What you may not realize is that a food truck lunch does not mean barbecue and hot dogs. In fact, when it comes to the wide range of food truck specialty offerings throughout the Valley it’s quite the opposite.
The next time you find yourself at a food-truck-worthy event, look out for our favorite local, vegetarian-friendly food trucks:
T-Licious Teazy Tacos – choose between the no meat in me taco and the Diablo Cheese Nachos
Sunshine and Spice - you’ll find a variety of options including a soy shrooms burrito, guacamole rangoons with sauce and a good old veggie burger.
The Venue of Scottsdale has announced plans to open a new “back East pizza and beef joint” in the space next door.
Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.), a fast-casual concept eatery boasting simple ingredients and classic big city food, is expected to open by late July.
Under the command of chef Anthony Crocenzi, a native of Chicago, the restaurant will feature Chicago and New York style pizzas (whole or by the slice), Italian beef, Italian sausage and New York Italian grinder sandwiches, Chicago dogs and antipasto salads.
Also projected to open in the two-story space adjacent to the venue is V2 Lounge (pronounced “V squared”). Stay tuned for details or visit the K.I.S.S. Facebook page for more information.
There’s something about summer that has Arizonans craving change. It could be the temperatures, it could be allure of an ocean (however far away) or it could just be the exceptional measures Valley restaurants take to accommodate that summer state of mind.
Like many Valley restaurants, Seasons 52 has introduced a new summer menu that features seasonal offerings in celebration of those of us who stick around for the not-so-tourist season.
Known for its fresh grill and wine bar, Seasons 52 changes its menu four times a year to capture the flavors of the season.
“… the summer menu features a variety of grilled vegetables, seafood and poultry that depict the essence of the season,” said Cliff Pleau, Senior Director of Culinary at Seasons 52.
We know summer means
warmer blazing temperatures, but in the desert it’s easy to forget that with summer comes exciting seasonal offerings, lighter fare and brighter colors. So besides all the tropical drinks and excuses to grill (which we are huge fans of, by the way) here’s a redux of this week’s happenings in our favorite food blogs:
Here in the Valley of the Sun, we can take year-round farmer’s markets for granted, so take some time this summer to support local farmers and enjoy their goods. Our friends at Chow Bella profile a summer staple, the Farmer’s Market Salad at St. Francis. While you’re at it, take a peek at their piece on Binkley’s Heirloom Tomato Dinner, also courtesy of a local farmer. Just in case you’re now feeling inspired, here’s a list of local farmer’s markets, courtesy of Haute Living. »READ MORE
Eating foreign foods and bumbling over the basics of another language may sound like components of an unforgettable trip abroad, but we’re actually referring to international dining around the Valley. Much like traveling, food is best when shared with loved ones and good friends. Here are four international suggestions guaranteed to please the vegetarians and the carnivores in every group.
Mijana in Scottsdale is a Lebanese restaurant that has it all; flavor and class, more vegetarian options than you could possibly consume and live music and entertainment. Catch the buffet Wednesday through Sunday from 6 to 10 p.m. After 2 a.m. the place transforms into Hoookahmania lounge and offers a wide variety of Hookah flavors. »READ MORE
Because June is about dads and grads, we’ve pulled out all the stops and brought back a sophisticated classic this week. The Boulevardier, courtesy of Mastro’s Restaurants, is not only a super manly cocktail with an interesting history, but also is defined as a wealthy and fashionable socialite (no joke, check Google). But hey, if the shoe fits.
3 count Bulliet Straight Rye Whiskey
2½ count Vya Sweet Vermouth
1 count Campari
1. Build in bucket glass over ice.
2. Garnish with a large orange garnish or orange twist.
There is an inexplicable connection between dads and grilling. Perhaps it’s because there is something quite manly and almost primal about using fire to cook a big slab of meat and provide for one’s family, but any way you slice it, they’re both deserving of a little celebration this month. Should you consider firing up the grill on dad’s behalf this weekend, here are six tips to grilling the perfect steak courtesy of the executive chefs of Mastro’s Restaurants in Scottsdale.
1. Use a great cut of meat to get a great quality of steak. Whatever you put on the grill, you are going to get back out. Buy a prime grade, wet aged or dry aged, does not make a lot of difference, and speak with your butcher to get the best quality you can.
2. Let the steak come to room temperature. Putting a cold steak on a hot grill will cause the meat to tighten and tense up, if this happens, you have already lost the battle. »READ MORE
If the charbroiled cheeseburger is as classically American as it gets, the veggie burger would be the nation’s unsung hero. The reality of dining out is that every vegetarian hopes to find a fresh and savory meat-free option on any menu they might encounter, but that is
not always almost never the case. The veggie burger may not always be the first choice, but is guaranteed to come through for you when searching for sustenance in say, an airport, in a drive-thru or at a sporting event. But why should we penalize this hero with a “last resort” stigma because of our lack of options or poor planning? This week is about revisiting the flavors and varieties that make the veggie burger unique and timeless. Here are five exceptional places to find the most worthy of unsung heros:
Should you find yourself in a steakhouse, let’s hope it’s Houston’s. Their House-Made veggie burger has come to the rescue of so many vegetarian diners. Don’t be deceived by the Monterey Jack cheese, onions, pickles, lettuce or tomato, the magic is in the veggie patty itself. Which is why the “secret” recipe has created quite a buzz over the internet. To say it’s worth duplicating is putting it mildly. »READ MORE
Truth be told, most carnivores don’t understand vegetarian cuisine and are often afraid they’ll be forced to eat a flavorless, textureless excuse for a _________ (fill in the blank). All while pretending they’re enjoying it.
In a feeble attempt to dispel such myths, we present the first installment of Mock Meat Monday: a classy look at the local vegetarian scene. Hopefully the next time you have guests in town from Portland or you end up on a blind date with a “veggie” you will call up one of these tasty suggestions. Win-win.
Where else would a respectable vegetarian voyage begin, than from the mecca, the almighty, the godfather: Green. Self-described as “New American Vegetarian,” Green is actually 100 percent vegan and features a gluten-free menu as well. And face it, it’s just plain trendy.
The menu includes traditional comfort food dishes made slightly different than one might be accustomed to, but the flavors and ingredients do not disappoint. With fresh salads and fruit, sandwiches, noodle and rice bowls, pizza (and we’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend the appetizers) supplemented with vegan cheeses and “mock meats” there truly is something for everyone.
The last thing you’ll want to do is to forget to save room for dessert. Green’s infamous Tsoynami’s are nothing short of a vegan blizzard. Not to mention the pastries, espresso and other treats that will remind you how glorious the experience of trying new things can be.
For locations, menu and hours, click here.
If you’re asking yourself where to go for breakfast in Old Town, you’ve got two options: Breakfast Club and, well, Breakfast Club’s other half of the room – that is, unless you’ve heard about Dottie’s.
Dottie’s True Blue Café has been quietly open for about a little about two months and hasn’t really told anybody because the owners—Brent Abney and Joe Green—wanted to get their act together first. Read full review after the break. »READ MORE
Praying Monk is as casual as can be. Lay back in shorts and flip flops on the couches by the bar, or dress up in the dining room. Or better yet, don the flip flops and tees in the dining room, or wear a suit while martini-ing in the bar.
The pig ears are a must, as we guarantee you’ve never had them this snacky and, well, this okay-to-eat anywhere else in town. The corndogs were a little short on the dog and heavy on the breading, but the breading was sweet and airy and amazingly delicious. You could add chunks of it to the club, the burger, anything really, and it would only enhance. We knew fries were coming with the sandwiches, but our server talked us into an order of the crispy potatoes (halves and quarters and random pieces) covered in shaved Parmesan and chives with an cloud-like truffle aioli ($9). Thank you, server, those potatoes are a must for future visits. And the aioli is good enough to bottle.
Another must: the first beer on the list of about 50 (15-ish on tap)–Blanche de Bruxelles, $6. It’s like a cloudy Hef mixed with a little sandy beach vacation and easy summer sippin’. Honestly, what a discovery. We highly recommend you give it a try. Betcha order two.
7217 E. 1st St.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
And so will guys too. What’s not to love at the new Arcadia eatery. Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar, from the creators of The Grind, who kept us waiting for months and months, teasing us with rumored opening dates. Now, finally, Chick is open at 40th Street and Camelback for rotisserie chicken-loving foodies to dine in or take home. So here’s what I recommend to eat: Anything. Everything. »READ MORE
If you’re from Chicago, you’ve probably heard of Mia Francesca.
I’m not, and I hadn’t heard of the Italian restaurant with a cult (Illinois) following until a colleague invited me to dinner. And there’s one thing I learned — if Chicago transplants have a home away from home in Scottsdale, Mia Francesca’s is the place. The restaurant’s newest location in D.C. Ranch is jammed packed with Midwest accents all excited to have a slice of home in Arizona.
But forget Chicago dogs and deep dish pies. Mia Francesca’s takes the Windy City’s Italian culture and infuses it into its scribbled, err…handwritten, menu. We’re told the selections change every few weeks, hence skipping regular visits to the printer, but the look conveys a sense that chefs have a little creativity. And we liked how Mia Francesca’s rolls with the season’s ingredients instead of being bound by a menu.
However, we end up trying two of the few dishes that are mainstays — quattro stagioni ($10.99) and pollo arrosto alla romana. The quatto stagioni pizza, highly recommended by the manager, is served with proscuitto, artichoke, mushrooms, olives and an egg. Yes an egg! Now here’s the cool part. When the pizza is delivered piping hot from the oven, a raw egg is added to the top, tableside. The chef makes a cameo to the table to scramble the egg, which cooks itself solely from the heat of the pizza. Check our video below. The final presentation is perfection, and by far our favorite from the evening.
Pollo arrosto alla romana ($15.99), a roasted half chicken with garlic, shallots, rosemary, lemon and olive oil, is talked up to be a Mia Francesca classic but it unfortunately fell short. Salt dominated this dish and any hints of rosemary or lemon were lost. The server, however, did explain that a bite of dark meat tends to be saltier. True, but nonetheless, a bit too salty for our tastes.
We couldn’t resist trying one of the rotating entrees- salmon pagliacci ($22.99). Although it will probably be long gone by the time this is published, salmon pagliacci should be a staple, especially in the summer months. I always enjoy a colorful plate and this entree is just that. Jazzed up with some of the most surprising ingredients, the salmon is topped with avocados, cherry tomatoes and green veggies in a white wine and garlic sauce. Salmon pagliacci needs to find its
way to backyard summer barbeques, but until then, I’ll get my salmon fix (sans the boring lemon juice and dill that most restaurants default to) at Mia Francesca’s.
Mia Francesca’s in Scottsdale is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Visit www.miafrancesca.com for the full menu and happy hour offerings.
Walking into the new Daphne’s California Greek at the Scottsdale Promenade, my first thought was “This is a Greek place?” It seemed like I had accidentally walked into a Rubio’s. I quickly learned that maybe that initially impression was not too far off base. Following an aggressive expansion that was caught up in the recession, a new ownership group took over and the former Daphne’s Greek Cafe underwent an Extreme Makeover: Restaurant Edition, coming out as a fast-casual restaurant, a “hybrid” of California-meets-Greek cuisine, with an emphasis on freshness.
Bright colors, hip music focusing on independent and up and coming artists, and a new menu prominently displaying calorie counts of the menu items combine to give Daphne’s a more modern feel. As CEO Bill Trefethen explained, “I like to use my 16 year old son (and his friends) as my focus group. If they don’t think it’s ‘cool’, maybe it’s not.” Of course, Mr. Trefethen listed mountain biking and surfing as some of his hobbies and counts pro surfer Kelly Slater as one of the partners in Daphne’s, so he might have some idea of how to get that ‘California vibe’. »READ MORE
Cask 63 is Gainey Village’s latest restaurant that hopes to dazzle diners with its chic, crisp look and American favorites with culinary twists.
Wine is obviously the focus at Cask 63 (a cask equals 31.5 gallons multiplied by two to represent the two business partners), but ironically, it’s the cocktail menu that’s the star. If the month of October were to be a drink, it would be the cider bellini ($9), a impressive blend of pressed apple cider, Courvoisier V.S.O.P., cinnamon, cava and apple crisp. The new fashioned old fashioned ($11) had a feminine touch but all of the expected flavors of this classic drink. Cask 63′s version is made with sazerac rye, a sugar cube, angostura bitters, crushed orange and brandied cherries. Already on the list to order next time: smoke and ginger margarita ($11) and Irish coffee cocktail
The food at Cask 63 almost lives up to the creative cocktail menu. The executive chef, Brian Feirstein, whips up an impressive menu that any red-blooded American would enjoy. You may remember Feirstein from his days at The Capital Grille and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood. »READ MORE
Housed in a natural adobe building originally built in the 1930′s, Lon’s at the Hermosa is the embodiment of classic southwest architecture, stunning desert vistas and amazing cuisine.
While a drink on the patio at sunset, like the Lon’s “Folly” for founder Lon Megargee, one is left to behold the the beautiful colors of the Arizona sky and some of the best panoramic views of the Valley. If you are enjoying the open air ambiance and a hand crafted cocktail outside, why not stay for dinner and have some real cowboy grub? Every Sunday, Lon’s hosts a Chuckwagon BBQ that features a whole Berkshire suckling pig cooked over the ‘Cowboy Cauldron’ that doubles as a fire place and a conversation piece. Or why not wander innside… »READ MORE
The Cheesecake Factory, like other similar restaurants and many liquor companies, has jumped on the “skinny” bandwagon, touting healthier menus and dining options. We’ve seen it, you’ve seen it – low-cal, low-fat, skinny-licious – taking over menus and cocktails everywhere. And before you read on to what we thought of The Cheesecake Factory’s new Skinnylicious menu, understand this: There’s no skinnylicious cheesecake. Not a sliver. Not even one bite of the Original, Strawberry or Oreo Cheesecake from the cheesecake-licious bakery you are forced to ignore while walking to your table. But what you will find are skinny cocktails, appetizers, salads and entrees, nearly 50 items under 590 calories and six signature cocktails with 150 calories or less. Calorie-conscious, they may be. But taste-conscious, is a stretch.
Like I said, there’s been so many “skinny” menus popping up, I was willing to give one a try and TCF was willing to offer up their menu. As was my friend Adam Maielua, lead trainer at The Body Lab in Scottsdale which recently opened their second Valley location, who was willing to offer his time and tastebuds with me. Though there wasn’t anything on the menu that we absolutely loved, we agreed that overall, if a Weight Watchers diet or NutriSystem diet works for you, TCF is a viable option for eating out and keeping on track with your weighloss plan occasionally. Mostly, portions were cut to what we feel were more “normal” from their infamous platter-sized meals, so that helps save calories and fat right off the bat. Also, the Skinnylicious menu options are scaled and measured to the precise caloric content listed so you know the exact calories consumed, if you’re still into counting them. But overall, what was skinny, wasn’t necessarily “licious.” Here’s the skinny on what we tried: