I visited Phoenix (well, mainly Scottsdale) last week and here's a brief description of the places I went to. A more well-rounded post is on my blog: http://gourmetla.blogspot.com/
8/15 dinner- Pita Jungle (Scottsdale/ Phoenix
)I had this gigantic "burrito" called the Medchilada which was more like a burrito wrapped in lavash and covered with cheese and tomato slices. I realized belatedly I don't enjoy lavash. After a while, I was excavating the thing for chicken. The side of brown rice was over cooked and flavorless. I have to say they did make pretty good humus! I liked the roasted red pepper one and the jalepeno one topped with pico de gallo. The regular hummus needed some more olive oil and perhaps flavor (it was better two days later after the flavors had melded together).
8/16 lunch- Ajo Al's (Scottsdale)
I tried the chicken taco salad for lunch. The taco tostada was too stale but the chicken was well flavored. I do give this restaurant the thumb's down for terrible salsa. Pace picante is better than what they tried to give us. And according to a friend, their "hot" salsa was not spicy as well. I found this very disappointing.
8/16 Late night- Four Peaks (Scottsdale)
I ordered an Arizona peach cider and the buffalo tostadas (there were three mini ones). I've never had buffalo before- well seasoned and flavored. I ate two and the third was still good even after being microwaved. Though queso fresco has no flavor to me, I like the mellow balance of the cheese to the spices in the buffalo meat.
8/17 lunch- Croque (weirdly enough they pronounce it like crock)-- Scottsdale
I had the Croque Monsieur (which had fresh sliced mushrooms in it but I liked it). The garlic sauce was definitely subtle and desirable on the crispy baguette. I do wish my split pea and ham soup was more warmed up. It was fine but probably better hot.
8/17 snack-Sugar Bowl (Old Town Scottsdale).
I needed the break of mint chip ice cream and iced tea! I've had better ice cream but the shop is very charming and full of regulars.
8/17 dinner-- Flo's (Scottsdale).
I had the panfried noodles with "everything" (beef, shrimp, chicken and calamari). It was tasty though salty. I also liked our veggie lettuce wraps and fried calamari appetizers.
8/17 drinks- "Brennan's Pub n Grub" (Scottsdale)
I had a couple of greyhounds and a couple of rum and pineapples-- all well made. Our waitress was very nice and offered her recommendations for shots (which I didn't take but you're welcome to try the Washington Apple and tell me about it later). Our friend didn't seem to enjoy his chicken quesadilla. He described the chicken as "worse than McDonald's chicken mcnuggets."
8/18 lunch: Delux (Scottsdale)
Compared to my recent Father's Office experience, I would have to say I liked the burger in Santa Monica (LA) better only because the beef was a tiny bit more tasty (could be because it was aged there but it also had a lot more carmelized onion flavor made really rich and smokey with the applewood bacon). The Delux version was very similiar but with less arugla, less onions and a little bit over cooked. If I hadn't had the recent experience, I would say it was way up there. It's probably in my top 10 burgers though I would try to order a diferent bun or maybe it get it with the lettuce wrap because I didn't really think the foccacia went with the burger. I think it's fun they served the fries in shopping carts.
8/18 gelato: Gelato Spot (Scottsdale)
I could not decide between the amarena (sweet cream with sour cherry) or the baci so I got both. Oh yes, this is why I prefer gelato over ice cream any day. It's so rich and creamy.
8/18 dinner: North (Scottsdale)
North, a modern Italian restaurant is in the Kierland shopping center. It was a fine meal, very lovely and just what I needed. The only problems were the undercooked fingerling potatoes and the overcooked artichoke hearts (so overcooked they were brownish green). But my skirt steak was actually pretty good and I was in love with the roasted tiny onions. I also liked the olives and bread (with a roasted red pepper butter) they gave us before the meal. The waiter tried to sell me a fancy cocktail but I ordered a vodka tonic. He also tried to persuade me to try the Delmonico steak rather than the skirt steak but I am not a fan of the NY steak cut (and was horrified they served it pre-sliced) and much prefer the more flavorful skirt cut (also pre-sliced but that's acceptable).
8/19 lunch: RA Sushi
RA Sushi is at the Kierland shopping center (good ol' Kierland). I thought the restaurant smelled fishy in a BAD way. I decided to order cooked stuff. I didn't trust the look of the tuna which looked mushy and old. But I do have to say the green iced tea was really good- it had that smoky flavor usually lost with green tea from a powder mix. Actually, all the iced tea I had the entire week was really good. I was happy the food tasted better than the smell in the air. My unagi bowl was good- the sauce wasn't too heavy and I liked the ring of shredded cucumber surrounding the unagi (although sliced a little bit too thin). My Arizona roll (okay, so I go for fun party rolls) was bland and devoid of any spicyness or flavor. It was supposed to be a spicy salmon flavored with jalepeno. Even the avocado was tasteless. I liked the calamari roll, spicy yellowtail and spicy tuna rolls better my friends had ordered. The best part was probably discovering our drinks weren't charged. I suppose it was part of their lunch special. I do have to note the bar smelled strange as well as the ladies' room. The restroom had that liver of sulfur smell and the bar just plain smelled bad. If you don't have a sense of smell, this might be a good sushi place for you.
8/19 drinks & appetizers: Claim Jumper's (Scottsdale)
We had seared tuna rolls, avocado rolls, calamari and onion rings. I enjoyed the seared tuna rolls (piping hot with lots of noodles), calamari and onion rings best. Although I normally enjoy avocado rolls (something decadent about the squishy fatty tasting avocado), I felt I had better at Cheesecake Factory. My CJ Mojito was a little too sweet (not enough lime) but fairly decent.
8/19 late night drinks & appetizers: Rock Bottom Brewery (Scottsdale) I ordered the green pork tostada and the hot wings. Both were fine though I enjoyed my vodka tonic more.
re: Seth Chadwick
Not only are they both in Phoenix, they are about 50 feet from each other. :) We went to Delux on Sunday for lunch and decided to try The Gelato Spot. We sampled quite a few of their gelatos but decided on the Roche'. It was amazing. So skip the ice cream at Delux (it's Haagen Daz anyways) and go here for dessert. :)
I'm pretty sure the Flo's was in Scottsdale as it wasn't far from our hotel.
Whoops, will revise the Delux-Gelato Spot listings.
Thanks for the extensive report. It's a shame you were steered to these restaurants, few of which would have been recommended on this board. Your lack of enthusiasm over these places clearly indicates the value of Chowhound when traveling.
I did post looking for recs but didn't get very many (unfortunately, I didn't get to the Sombreros or Ranch Market).
Thanks, I just started the blog and am finding my way around food writing.
Oh, I should try Taste of India- I see it all the time since it's around the corner from my friend's place.