Fun, Cheap, Unique near PHX
A couple of friends and I are headed down to the PHX area for Spring Training in a few weeks. I'm the designated "Chowhound" of the group and have been tasked with finding some interesting places to eat.
*Relatively cheap. We can do whatever price, but we're not looking for the 4 Seasons/Ritz Carlton menu. I also tend to find that less expensive places have a more "chow" feel to them.
*Something that would tough to find in another city. I imagine it will be some thing in the Tex-Mex or Native American vein, but I'm up for surprises and anything else that
*Near one of the Spring Training parks would be preferable, but we'll be driving all over the place too, so no big problem there. ( I see some interesting things up in "Cave Creek" would it be worth the trip out there?)
Just from reading the boards Los Sombreros, Barrio Cafe and Fusion sound like places that will fit our plans. Thoughts on these or other recos?
Yoshi said that they were going to be driving all over the place anyway, I'd say everything but Queen Creek and Apache Junction are fair game (not that there's anything worth eating out in AJ... just sayin').
You can't really find good Tex-Mex around here. You have to go two states east for that. There's chains that serve up Tex-Mex (On The Border for instance) but I haven't found a single one worth recommending.
For something like what you've requested, I'd have to say go to Chino Bandido Takee-Outee. There's two of them, one in north Phoenix and the other in Chandler. Neither is very close to any of the stadia, but I'd say it's worth the drive from Tempe Diablo down to the Chandler one. It certainly fulfills all three of your requests, being one of the most unique restaurants I've been to. It's a quick-service Mexican/Chinese/Caribbean restaurant. I always get some kind of combination plate, which is two of the 14 items they have on the menu, plus rice and beans. Any of the entrees can either be served as-is, or as the filling of a burrito or quesadilla. This leads to some rather interesting combinations... for example, a Jade Red (similar to sweet and sour) Chicken quesadilla and Jamaican Jerk Chicken burrito with BBQ Pork fried rice and Cuban black beans, all washed down with a snickerdoodle cookie for dessert. Despite the cookie, when I go to the Chandler one I inevitably have a second dessert course at Angel Sweet gelato right across Chandler Boulevard. Their Super-Dark Chocolate gelato is serious stuff.
Something else to definitely have while you're touring around town if it gets late and you're in a predominantly Hispanic part of town is a Sonoran style hot dog. Yes, I know you're going to be scarfing lots of hot dogs during the games, but these are different and I have no idea why more baseball parks don't offer something as unique as a Sonoran hot dog. The bun is more sturdy than your average white bread bun, and it has to be. These make the iconic Chicago dog look polite and restrained. The dog itself gets wrapped in bacon before cooking, and then is topped with mayo, tomato, chopped onion, beans, mushrooms, cotija and Cheddar cheese, guacamole, tomatillo salsa, and jalapeños. My usual place for getting them is Nogales Hot Dogs on Indian School and 20th Street, just east of the 51 freeway. Certainly no real atmosphere (it's a cart in a parking lot for a vacant building, with some folding banquet tables and a small TV tuned to a Spanish station), but it's some serious eats, and a dog with everything (con todo- if you want to order sounding like you speak Spanish, the D in spanish is very soft: "cone TOE-though") is only 2.50. They do have Mexican bottled sodas (including the legendary Mexican Coke made with real sugar like Coke should be) for $1 (might be $1.50) each.
1825 W Chandler Blvd Ste 2, Chandler, AZ 85224
Angel Sweet Italian Gelato
24 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85225
15414 N 19th Ave Ste K, Phoenix, AZ 85023
Nogales Hot Dogs
1945 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Los Sombreros is great, and only a 5-10 minute drive from Scottsdale Stadium where the Giants play. Also not too far is Ranch House Grille, for one of the best breakfasts in town.
Los Sombreros Cafe & Cantina
2534 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
Ranch House Grille
5618 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
phoenix ranch market - its like a lunch time trip to mexico - lots of food stands, fresh juice, they make crema and cheese daily. sure, its in a grocery store, but do yourself a favor and walk around - its pretty cool :) and CHEAP. personally i like it better than tradicciones next door..
i like the one on 16th st and roosevelt the best
also - carolina's - darn great mexican food, i could drink their enchilada sauce. their tortilla's are sublime..its a tiny dive, hole in the wall place, and i wouldn't recommend any visits after dark. boy - do they do some kind of lunch time business. it'll be PACKED with people from all walks of life - hipsters, neighborhood peeps, the fire dept is always there eating ;), power brokers in suits, its one of my fav places for food that truly mixes people from every walk of life, all the time.
Phoenix Ranch Market III
1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006
Carolina's Mexican Food Restaurant
1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix, AZ 85034