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GIrl's Trip to Phoenix

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I will be in the Phoenix/Tempe area in two weeks for a Girl's Trip. Mos tof the people I will be tripping with are not food people. I would still like to try some good food. We will have a car and will be staying clsoe to the Mills Mall. Good Mexican, Italian, lunch spots? How about in Scottsdale? Thanks.

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  1. Arizona Mills and its immediate environs are dominated by chain restaurants: Rain Forest Cafe, Joe's Crab Shack, Waffle House -- you get the picture.

    If you drive east along Baseline Road, there are some good independent choices buried in the various strip malls along the way. At Baseline and Rural, there is an excellent pizzeria called "Classic Italian Pizza," which is actually run by Bosnians. It's not an order-a-slice-at-the-counter type of place, but instead a charming little place serving handcrafted pizzas with salads, beer, wine, and usually an interesting desert selection that is one of the few nods to the restaurant's Bosnian ownership. It's a little hard to find, but look for it at the NE corner of Baseline and Rural in the far NE corner of the shopping center that contains the BOVA furniture store. It's open for dinner only.

    For Italian, you might want to go west across the 10 Freeway into Phoenix and then 2 miles south along 48th St to Elliott Rd. On the SW corner of Elliott and 48th, you'll find a good Italian place known as Venice Ristorante.

    Also on the Phoenix side of I-10 is the Farm at South Mountain, which is an interesting reminder that South Phoenix, although developing rapidly, was still quite rural just a few years ago. I've had casual meals the Farm Kitchen several times after hiking at South Mountain, and they've all been excellent. There's also a new full-service restaurant there called Quiessence. I haven't tried it yet, but I've heard great reviews.

    http://www.thefarmatsouthmountain.com...

    Back on the Tempe side, there are numerous other choices along Baseline, Guadalupe, and Elliott. Many of them are somewhat adventurous: Indian, Turkish, Japanese, etc., so I'm not sure if these would appeal to your crew. One potential safe choice is Mac's Broiler and Tap at the SW corner of Guadalupe and McClintock. It's a casual, neighborhood burger-and-brew place. See my review from a few months ago:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/337279

    5 Replies
    1. re: silverbear

      hey silver-

      question about the farm... i've been wanting to go there for some time, and i've driven by it plenty of times so i really have no excuse except that something about it intimidates me. i guess i just wonder where exactly you go when you get there to go to the kitchen restaurant. all i see is a long driveway and i'm just wondering where everything is! =)

      1. re: abbefaith

        The casual farm kitchen part is on the right after you enter. You have to drive a bit down the road toward a cluster of buildings. The casua restaurant is, I believe, the first building on the right. You'll see tables outside.

        1. re: silverbear

          hi, i love the farm :) there are actually 3 restaurants..the first is the sandwhich stand when you first pull in, the other 2 are at the end of the long driveway..there's also a couple of cool stores there, and that's also where maya's farm is - she grows and sells organic produce, at the downtown market on saturdays, and on weekends at the farm..since the weather has been all wonky i'd check first to see what she has from the farm ;)

          1. re: winedubar

            thanks for the info! =) i really need to get over there since it's like 5 minutes from me.

            1. re: winedubar

              Thanks for the clarification. It's the sandwich stand where I've eaten before. I look forward to exploring the other two in the future.

      2. House of Tricks in Tempe is a great spot for lunch, cocktails and/or dinner. It's located in downtown Tempe, just off Mill Avenue. They have a lovely outdoor area that is perfect this time of year. You can park at Trick's and dine or have cocktails and then stroll down Mill Avenue and visit the shops and bars and restaurants.

        Not sure of the age range of your group, Mill Ave is basically on the campus of ASU, so it's a younger crowd, but very mixed. Going during the day or early evening might be your best best.

        Check out the House of Tricks menu www.houseoftricks.com

        And I second Silver Bear's rec for The Farm...it's fabulous!

        4 Replies
        1. re: geg5150

          I used to be a huge fan of Tricks, but recent visits and other reports have been disappointing. They changed their menu sometime ago, trying to go higher end, more creative, and definately more costly. I can get a much better $30 entree elsewhere. But I still recommend the bar for a drink - the best place in the E. Vallel for this experience, I think.

          Another strong suggestion for dinner for your group would be Tradiciones. The sit down full service Mexican restaurant at Ranch Market, 16th & Roosevelt. Depending on the size of your group, you can contact the GM, Michael Braeden. He will take great care of you, and don't miss the cilatro and/or blueberry margaritas. (a more full review from me will follow later this week.)

          1. re: jkgourmet

            I agree with your assessment of House of Tricks. Yesterday, my boyfriend and another couple went there for lunch before the show RENT at Gammage. Service was really slow, took about 1 and 1/2 hours and we didn't order any appetizers. The big disappointment was their rasberry lemonade. They used to make fresh lemonade with rasberries. Now it's already made pink lemonade, kinda like the Minute Maid lemondae that you can get at the grocery store and then they added the rasberries. The lunch itself was ok, not exceptional.

            One of my favorite places in downtown Tempe is Cafe Boa. They have really good sandwiches, salads and their pasta is out of this world. My favorite pasta is the pola pola which is an artichoke ravioli with 1/2 homemade tomato basil sauce, and the other 1/2 is garlic cream sauce. http://www.cafeboa.com/

            1. re: sundevilgirl

              I'll second Caffe Boa on Mill, it's just about the only place on Mill I recommend, anymore. Lovely room, large patio for streetgazing, amazing flavors, and killer happy hour specials on wine. The servers all seem to be attractive ASU students, but Jay and Christine seem to make sure their training is flawless before they send them out on the floor.

              They're also happy to split plates, so in a group you can get more tastes without racking up a crazy bill.

              1. re: sundevilgirl

                I concur regarding Boa, but a little clarification is in order. There are two restaurants called Caffe Boa / Cafe Boa. They were once affiliated but went their separate ways years ago. The double f Boa domain name caffeboa.com is owned by the restaurant in Ahwatukee at 51st and Elliot. I've never been there. It may be perfectly good, and it's actually a bit closer to AZ Mills, but it's an unknown in terms of food and service quality.

                The single f domain name cafeboa.com belongs to the restaurant mentioned in this thread. I ate there just two weeks ago and agree that food and service are both quite strong at the Mill Avenue restaurant.

          2. Ok, it's been several months since I've been to Tricks, sounds like it's slacking a little.

            1 Reply
            1. re: geg5150

              WE haven't been in over a year. I'm disappointed to hear it's not what it was! We've always had good experiences there. What a shame.

            2. a few suggestions...

              Oregano's - this may not be a chowhound favorite, but i would definitely recommend it for what you are looking for. every girl i know loves this place whether she's a foodie or not. the atmosphere is fun, the service is great, and while the food may not be specatacular it is always good and consistent. it's a casual italian joint with pizza, pasta, salad, etc. the best part is the pizzookie. it's a cookie (chocolate chip or white chocolate or half and half) 3/4 baked in a pizza pan with ice cream on top. it's heavenly and girls (and men too i'm sure) dream about it! make sure you save room. you can't go to oregano's without trying it! there are a few locations around town. the closest one to you would probably be the one on mill ave but the one on dobson and southern is about the same distance and a little bigger with better parking. the only problem with oregano's is the wait is always long, so a good time to go would be around 5 for dinner.

              http://www.oreganos.com/

              Va Bene - this is a good place for more upscale italian at pretty reasonable prices for what you get. they take reservations so you don't have to worry about waiting and the food and service are both great. there's also a new gelato place a few doors down, but i haven't tried it yet so i can't say how good it is (although i really can't say i've ever had BAD gelato.)

              http://vabeneaz.com/

              Tradiciones Restaurant - great mexican food located next to the phoenix ranch market (another cool thing to check out) at 16th and Roosevelt.

              http://www.prosranch.com

              some good breakfast/lunch spots:

              dilly's deli - http://www.dillysdeli.com/
              picazzo's pizza - http://www.pizzapicazzo.com
              cracker's and company - http://www.crackersandcompanycafe.com/

              some other fun places to check out that i think you girls would like

              delux - http://www.deluxburger.com/
              az88 - http://www.az88.com/
              postino - http://www.postinowinecafe.com/
              pasta brioni - http://pastabrioni.com/

              have fun and report back! =)

              1. Oh! And don't forget LGO for breakfast/brunch/lunch. www.lagrandeorangegrocery.com

                do a search for La Grande Orange on the board, you'll find loads of stuff.

                4 Replies
                1. re: geg5150

                  i still need to go there! i tried once and the line was too long, and i was too hungry!

                  1. re: abbefaith

                    If you can, go during off peak times. Even Saturdays at 1:30 or so are good. Or during the week between 9:30 and 11:30 or after 1. I definitely suggest you try it.

                    Re: The Farm above. There are a couple of options.
                    When you drive down the driveway, immediately on the left is a little house. That's the general lunch spot. Place your order, go down the line, pick up and pay and head outside to the picnic tables.

                    The Morning Glory is all the way at the end...just keep driving down the driveway. This is a seated cafe with wait staff for breakfast and lunch.

                    Next door is Quiessence the fine dining restaurant. I've not eaten there, but heard good things.

                    Don't be intimidated. Tell anyone it's your first time and they'll point you in the right direction.

                    1. re: geg5150

                      yes i will definitely try LGO soon. thanks for the tip!

                      also i appreciate the farm info. is all of the lunch/breakfast seating outside? i need to find an old timer to go with me... lol.

                      1. re: abbefaith

                        Funny..I just posted a topic on the Farm as we went out there today not having seen this post. Anyway, for the sandwich stand and the breakfast spot(Mornign Glory Cafe) the seating is all outside. The Cafe has table service, the sandwich stand doesn't and you seat yourself either on the patio or out at the picnic tables.

                        Quiessence has indoor seating for dinner.

                2. Ok, so in tempe a fun place for lunch is four peaks brewer. It is big with the college students and the food is good, beer is better. If you don't mind a little adventure for some good mexican try los picos it is on university just past alma school tiny place on the north side of the street. The drunken shrimp are great. Pita jungle on Appache inbetween McClintock and Rural is really good. House of Tricks is wonderful and so is Cafe Boa. Long Wongs has great wings. Hope this helps

                  1. Thanks for all of your suggestions! We were able to try a few of the spots mentioned. House of Tricks - I would have to say I agree with those who said it was a dissapointment...The service marginal. Ordered sodas, which were not carbonated,when we asked to have new drinks, the waiter just acted annoyed. The Salmon was overcooked, dry and had an old fish smell, salad served with salmon was ordinary. I tasted the Pork tenderloin dish, other than the sauce, it was dry and not flavorful. I would not recommend this restaurant.
                    Cafe Boa on Mill- Wonderful! Everything there we tried was delicious! The pastas were exceptional, The ravioli - crab stuffed, artichoke filled and the half and half dish someone mentioned earlier were yummy. One person ordered the chicken caesar, huge - big enough for two. The filet looked wonderful. One in our party had a dish made to order with linguini, chicken, broccoli - no problem. The bread was the dense, chewy type. Served with olive oil and parmesan. We asked for Balsamic, and they said it would be extra. Have you ever had that happen? Too full for dessert.
                    Aunt Chiladas - The chips and salsa were good, but that's about it,
                    US Egg - Good eggs florentine.
                    The Farm- We did a little shopping around there, a cute place. Tried several pastries-sweets at the lunch spot. The coconut cupcake was good, and the walnut brownie. The turnover was average. good cookies and raspberry bar. The sandwiches and salads looked good, we just weren't ready for lunch then. Headed over to House of Tricks, we would have been much better off to eat at the Farm. This would be a great place to take kids, they could run around outside on the grounds, while you sample great food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: slcook

                      Thanks so much for the follow-up report. It's disappointing to hear about the experience at Tricks. I sometimes end up there for business lunches, so I'll have to watch carefully next time I'm there to see if it's no longer as good as it once was.