Thanks to SW Chowhounds
I just got back from a trip to Las Vegas and Phoenix over the Thanksgiving holiday, and would like to thank the Southwest Chowhounds for recommendations on where to eat. I visited five places discussed on this board:
Commander's Palace - Now I know what all the fuss was about! I had the Creole Lunch which included the turtle soup, pecan catfish, and bread pudding souffle. Each was spectacular, and the bread with seasoned butter was a meal in itself. This was my first time eating turtle, but it was very tasty. The catfish could not have been done better, and the souffle was perfect. Of course, I had to try 3 of the very good 25 cent martinis - the chocolate one with dessert was perfect. Now I need them to open one in Sacramento!
The Buffet at Wynn - In my opinion, this is the best buffet in Las Vegas, if not the world. It is very expensive, but everything was perfect and well made. I especially enjoyed the fresh seafood, perfectly cooked meats (prime rib and lamb chops both tender and juicy), freshly made chicken alfredo, and the desserts (chocolate & passion fruit gelato plus pastries) - even the raspberry iced tea was good.
I was unable to make it to Lotus of Siam and Luv-It Frozen Custard.
Heart Attack Grill - The burger was very good, especially the bun. It was a little overcooked and the fries were very undercooked. The manager did reply that during busy times they do not always make the fries well. The beer and scenery were also good, but if I go back I will order the burger bloody and the fries crispy.
Fry Bread House - A nice little gem in central Phoenix, I enjoyed my fry bread taco with red chili beef and the fixings. The bread was perfect without the excess grease common to fair stand versions. The fillings were also perfect. Unfortunately I did not have any room for a dessert fry bread. This visit was especially unique since I had visited the Heard Museum just before lunch - also a treasure.
Tradiciones - WOW! This place was awesome. The new restaurant is very well done and festive. I began with the sopacitos with chorizo and red sauce; they were perfect and fresh with lots of meat and produce. The chips and salsas were fresh and excellent. Also, try the basic margurita - fresh lime juice and fairly strong. The main course was the lomo azteca which had a sauce that was close to heaven. The meat was perfectly cooked and abundant with nice beans and forgetable rice. Fortunately the meal came with fresh flour and corn tortillas to soak up all the delicious sauce. Dessert was the tres leches cake which was also well done. I will be coming back here often, hopefully to try the grilled meat platter with a bigger carnivore group!
Also, if anyone is near the Chandler Fashion Mall, make sure to try Espo's on Chandler & McClintock. I discovered this place in high school and it is still very good. The tamales are perfect in a nice red spicy sauce. Beans and rice are also above par. The tacos are OK, but are included in the combo platter - upgrade to carne asada or chicken to get much more meat.
Thanks to you, I had some excellent dining on my trip!
Thanks for the great post! I'm moving out to Phoenix on the 9th of this month (less than a week!), and I've started to make a list of all the local eateries that have come highly recommended here on this board and others. I'll definitely have to try some of the places you gave high marks to, and look forward to what else Phoenix and its surrounding cities/states have to offer (I'm a SoCal/LA native).
I think that you might find a dearth of varied "ethnic" cuisine in the PHX area, but will find some great food, none the less. While I always favor the chef-driven, stand-alone, restaurants, I had to change my tune, when I moved to PHX (from New Orleans via Denver) and not dismiss the restaurants in some of the resorts. In the early days, the resorts could court the top chefs from around the world. Some stayed and opened their own spots, but some of the resorts still do a fabulous job. This is in no way intended to dis' the stand-alones, as they are great, only to point out that just because a restaurant is located in a resort, doesn't mean that it is corporate food. Enjoy!
BTW, with a very few exceptions (personal taste, I guess), the recs. on this board are right-on, regarding the restaurants in the area. Either they are that good, or the 'hounds here know their stuff.