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May 10, 2007 09:41 AM

Review: Phoenix City Grille - Phoenix

Phoenix City Grille (PCG) is a place Tara first tried for lunch while working in that area. She really liked it, so we tried it for dinner and we both really enjoyed it. She loves the pot roast. I've had the ribs and the burger the previous times we've been there and we are pretty sure I liked them. It had been a while since we'd eaten there, but not for lack of trying. We'd stopped in twice on the fly and found huge waits both times. Tuesday night we decided to go and called ahead for reservations. So of course when we get there, it's only half full. Figures. We were immediately seated and started looking the menu.

Tara was thinking about the pot roast until I reminded her we were making one at home on Wednesday. After that, she looked over the menu and decided to go with one of the nightly specials, a steak on top of beans and corn cakes with a chipotle bbq sauce (on the side for her, since she doesn't do spicy) and topped with fried onions. None of the entrees grabbed me but several of the starters/small plates did, so I decided to get two of them. I chose the pork carnitas and the shrimp and lobster quesadilla. Tara also got a coke and I got an iced tea.

Our entrees took a bit to arrive, but it might have seemed longer since there was no salad or appetizer course. Tara's steak came as advertised. The only problem she had was she ordered it medium or medium-well and it was mostly well-done. She said it was still good, but got a bit chewy. The corn cakes were really good and she loved the crunchy onions. She didn't care for the beans. I tried them and they weren't bad, just not something I liked. I also tried a taste of the chipotle bbq sauce, and it seemed like Heinz sauce mixed with hot sauce. No chipotle flavor, just hot.

My dishes both arrived on large triangular plates. The pork carnitas was a good chunk of pork with piles of pickled onions, fresh cilantro/chopped onions, pico, shredded cabbage, and a ramekin of white cheese and one of green salsa in the center. It came with a container of corn tortillas on the side. The pork had a really good flavor and shredded easily. I rolled up some tacos and the flavors melded perfectly. It reminded me of the street tacos we'd get in Dallas. I got quite a few tortillas and had some leftover. The pork wasn't spicy so Tara tried some and like it as well.

The shrimp and lobster quesadilla was really good too. Sliced into quarters, it had drizzles of a citrus cream sauce on the top. There was a good amount of shrimp and lobster and the cheese had good flavor too. I saw one piece of lobster that was nearly a whole chunk of claw meat, so they weren't skimping. The flavors of the lobster and shrimp both came through. My only problem was I'd eaten most of the pork before, and couldn't finish the quesadilla. It was good the next day for lunch, though, so it didn't go to waste.

Service was ok. There were times our drinks got empty, but they were usually refilled without us having to actually ask. One thing I did notice was that a table of four girls across from us sat for a LONG time with their menus before their order was taken. I started timing out of curiosity and got at least 15 or 20 minutes before their waitress stopped by. They all had their menus closed, so it wasn't like they looked like they were still deciding. Considering the restaurant was at least three quarters empty by this time, it seemed a bit excessive. Our first trip there for dinner we had a similar bad experience with one of their waitresses. She'd stop by all the surrounding tables, but never came to ours.

Our bill came to just under $50. The steak special was $24, my pork carnitas was $9, and the shrimp and lobster quesadilla was $12.

We'll definitely go back. I also am curious to try their sister restaurant, Sierra Bonita Grill. I really enjoyed my carnitas and I'm wondering how the more Mexican-influenced SBG is. The only things to be careful of are the possible crowds and occasionally questionable service. It's located at Bethany Home and 16th Street. It's on the SW corner, facing 16th Street.

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  1. I tend to go for Sunday brunch. It starts at 10am. There is never a crowd, and I only had one bad service experience, when a server was a no-show. The corn cakes are unique. You can't go wrong with real maple syrup.

    I've only been to Sierra Bonita once. I remember decent squash soup and a swordfish special. My thought was that a better deal can be had at Richardson's for a moderately priced seafood dish like this. Definately quality food and a different atmosphere that might be more appropriate for family outings vs Richardson's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: johnseberg

      Sierra Bonita accepts reservations; Richardson's does not. To me, that's worth a small premium.

      1. re: silverbear

        i just saw this comment - richardson's takes reservations, just for parties of 4 or larger...

    2. I'm a big fan of both PCG and Sierra Bonita. Neither has ever failed me. The black bean soup and cornbread is my favorite item at PCG.

      1. As someone who has been a fan of PCG, I have to say that I was a bit taken aback when two separate friends reported having less than stellar food and poor service at PCG on two separate occasions.

        Deciding to try my luck, I can only tell you that we nearly walked out on our meal about three weeks ago.

        Our waitress was too busy showing photos on her camera phone to the bartender and kitchen staff to refill our water glasses. After waiting for 45 minutes for our salads and appetizers, I approached a manager who said he would look into it. Our waitress arrived back at our table with a pitcher of water and a full pitcher of attitude. Apparently we were in the wrong in asking about our meals.

        Our meals finally did arrive and they were lukewarm. We quickly finished our meals and I had to return to the manager to retrieve our check because our server had disappeared. We paid our bill and I mentioned to the manager I would be calling back or sending a letter.

        To this day, now three weeks later, no one has not returned my two calls or answered my letter.

        Something is wrong at PCG. Sadly, it will be at least six months before I even consider going back. Perhaps in that amount of time, they will have fixed whatever problem is ongoing at PCG.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Seth Chadwick

          That is shocking. I've never had a problem myself, but my last visit was months, not weeks, ago, so something might have changed. Let's hope it gets fixed.

          1. re: Seth Chadwick


            I have been a long time fan of PCG as well but my experience this last Christmas Eve was beyond poor. When I mentioned the mishaps of service to the manager he literally rolled his eyes and said "I know, I know we are having some service issues. It seems like 5 months later they have not been resolved. As much as I love the food we have not been back since that visit.

          2. PCG is one of my very favorite neighborhood places. I know it's not great, but it's pretty good and a reasonably good and reliable value. I love the griddled corncakes, and since I'm a big eater, I struggle with ordering them vs. some of the entrees, not to mention the already mentioned black bean soup w/cornbread.

            I'm a chound but I eat home a lot. I'm, er, between girlfriends right now so I've been going out even less. I't's not like I'm in PCG every week like some of my lunch places. Even so, I would say service has slipped from what once was a solid standard. It may be the classic case of expansion spreading things too thin. Perhaps since Sheldon Knapp opened Sierra Bonita, PCG gets less TLC from the top. Shouldn't spread hearsay, but several fellow fans of PCG who have sampled Sierra Bonita (I have not yet) didn't like it very much. I really want to like it when I eventually get there. We'll see.

            1 Reply
            1. re: misohungrychewlow

              We went to PCG a few days before xmas this year. The black bean soup was stellar, as it always is, and the pork carnitas and other dishes we've had there have always been excellent. BUT the service varies from average to downright neglectful. We waited, with empty glasses and plates, for literally a half hour, before the waitress even checked on us at all, and by then we were chomping at the bit to get our check and get out of there. (Although, on a side note, that half hour of completely uninterrupted time apparently gave my fiance the time and courage to propose marriage...which he did that very night, over those very empty glasses. So there was a definite silver lining to the whole experience for us! :))

            2. Nancy Nosher and I are fairly reugular isitors to PCG when we are in town (we r sno birds) and we frequently take our visitors there. We ate there the other night and had a very enjoyable meal. As usual we had the griddled corn cakes hich are hard to pass up as is (are?) the carnitas. The meat special was shortribs which I enjoyed thoroughly especially after being disappointed by them at House of Tricks. N had the fish special which was Ono. It was delicious. Service was quite good and our guests, Frieda and Freddie Fresser enjoyed their dinners as well. amazingly, they are locals and had never been there.
              N and I ate at Sierra Bonita last week and enjoyed it thoroughly.

              1 Reply
              1. re: neville nosher

                I'm a huge fan of the corn cakes. The perfect combo of savory and sweet.