Visits this week - Dillon's, Roberto's Mexican, and La Perla
Thanks to the 'hounds, these are some of the places we checked out this week.
Dillon's - How convenient to have a place just minutes away to satisfy my husband's (who is from Texas) craving for bbq brisket. I had just enjoyed an early dinner after meeting ArizonaGirl (thanks for everything, and the rec for Dillon's!), but he had had to go when I told him about it on my return home. So off we went. I ordered a small cup of chili with beans and chunks of brisket, though really was too full to enjoy it, of course. E ordered the bbq beans with brisket and smoked sausage. We even bought some by the pound to bring home, including a pint of their tasty potato salad. I also liked that Dillon's sometimes has 'burnt ends' - my favorite. An extra bonus was the half-price wine by the glass on Wednesday nights.
Yesterday we decided to check out a couple of places I had read about here - Roberto's Mexican Food, and Albuquerque Tortilla Company. At Roberto's, E had the carne asada torta and I had the carnitas taco. Great. I love that they deliver too. Located in a gas station, this is the kind of Chowhound place I love to know about. Also, we were told they just bought a building near the Wal-Mart in Anthem, so that will be their newest location.
Alas, the Tortilla Co was closed when we arrived there at about 6:00. However, we made up for it with the great shopping in this diverse area, everything from Asian to African. We stopped at a strip mall area that had a little Mexican bakery, a Oaxacan seafood restaurant (we'll have to check it out the next time we return to the Albuquerque Co), and a great Vietnamese market. We stocked up at the bakery - unfortunately, they had run out of bolillos, but we did buy empanadas with cream filling, and chocolate and vanilla pan de huevo (so good sliced and toasted in the oven with coffee this morning). The Asian market also had a butcher counter and fresh fish too - the woman ahead of us was having one of the men filet a whole fish for her, and I bought some nice-looking oxtails, and some pork belly for a recipe from the Chowhound Cookbook of the Month on the Home Cooking Board (pork simmered with bourbon), along with various other ingredients to stock my pantry.
To top off our food-filled fun day, we drove to downtown Glendale to 'celebrate' NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY (yep, any excuse) at La Perla. Great fun - we enjoyed the mariachis in the Fiesta room and a couple of jumbo margaritas. E had mole with homemade flour tortillas which was good, though we've been spoiled by a woman who runs a small restaurant in East Boston (she's from Puebla and wow her mole is fantastic). Inspired by Seth (heh), I ordered my first cheese crisp - what a tasty appetizer, I can see why these are so popular, especially mine with strips of roasted chilis and dollops of their hot salsa. My machaca chimichanga was just as satisfying. We had a good time at this place - filled with locals, friendly service, live music, and good food (though the bathrooms were quite 'rustic'). We'll be back.
We're having a good time exploring the area, and are looking forward to many many more finds thanks to you all.
Finally, tomorrow I'm really looking forward to our first visit to Tapino. I'm taking E to a 'locavore' dinner - a meal revolving around local foods "from Arizona farmers, ranchers, artisans and winemakers". The menu sounds fantastic, it's going to be a beautiful day, and I can't wait to try some of the local wine, produce, and meats that Arizona has to offer.
Hi Tatamagouche! When are you coming to visit?
BTW, we really enjoyed the 'locavore' dinner at Tapino.
We liked Tapino right away - greeted enthusiastically by the friendly hostess, the vibe was energetic because you could tell that the staff and chef was excited about the upcoming dinner. Whenever we go to a restaurant for the first time, we always make a point to arrive early enough for a predinner cocktail to check out the bar. They had a nice outdoor patio with low tables and white sofas lined with billowy curtains, but we opted to sit inside as it seemed cozier. A custom-made curved glass wine wall delineates the room and adds to the sleek but warm atmosphere. I also have to say, coming from Boston where happy hour is illegal (!), I'm quickly taking advantage of this here. We arrived at about 6:00, and the happy hour menu looked so good (5$) that we ordered our drinks and also decided to try a couple of appetizers. I started with a glass of vinho verde, while E opted for sangria (very good by the way). We loved our appetizers. We had the lobster corn dogs - two crispy mini lobster-sausage corn dogs served with a trio of dipping sauces (truffle ketchup, honey mustard, and Thai chili sauce), and duck confit tostadas with huitlacoche. The tostadas were my favorite - piled high with mounds of tender duck. A promising start, the other two couples we were having dinner with soon arrived and joined us for a cocktail, and then it was on to dinner.
· Arizona Desert Sweet Shrimp Farm shrimp with roasted garlic and charred cactus relish (Callaghan 2005 - Lisa’s Selection),
· Slow-roasted house-smoked Konrath Farms pork belly with candied Green Valley pecans (Callaghan 2006 - Buena Suerte)
· Arizona Citrus sorbet,
Wood-oven roasted Dobson Farms lamb with Sphinx Ranch medjool dates and native tepary beans (Callaghan 2005 - Z5),
· Hickman's double chocolate souffle with Rainbow Valley Farmers cream and mini prickly pear vodka slushy
The chef spoke before and after dinner, though I was a bit disappointed not to hear from the purveyors or winery. I did speak to a woman, though, who said that the nice gentleman from Konrath Farms was at her table and they were able to ask questions and learn more about the farm. So, while our table was already full because we had six in our party, I love the fact that they sat each purveyor at a different table to engage the patrons. Excellent idea. The only other disappointment was that the dates were MIA at our whole table for the lamb and date entree. The lamb itself was delicious though, as were all the other courses. My favorite was the melting tender and flavorful pork belly, and the chef made converts out of others that had never tried it before.
So all in all, great meal and wonderful idea. With all the chains in this area, supporting local food and chef-driven restaurants is of course something that we on this board support, so it was nice to see the enthusiasm at Tapino. They had a nice turn-out also; I think they mentioned 70-80 people. We were enjoying ourselves so much, that we all retired to the comfortable bar for a drink (I enjoyed a couple of Hennessy Sidecars), where they had a jazz guitarist. We really liked Tapino, and it's on our list of places to return to.
Great news if anyone is interested!
This was such a nice event, that I just booked reservations for Tapino's "Locavore 2: Synchonicity" on Thursday, June 19.
Not only a wonderful opportunity to show support for the local vineyards, farms, artisans, etc, but a bargain too at $40 per person for 5 courses with wine. BTW, coincidentally, I also recently enjoyed wines from both of the showcased vineyards recently - Arizona Stronghold/Page Springs at Cafe Elote in Sedona, and Pillsbury at Pizzeria and Bar Bianco this past weekend.
Menu and more info here:
Oops! Should have posted the links w/maps:
Tapino Kitchen & Wine Bar
7000 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
La Perla Cafe
5912 W Glendale Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301
Albuquerque Tortilla Company
1507 W Hatcher Rd, Phoenix, AZ
675 W Union Hills Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85027
La Soledad Panaderia
10430 N 19th Ave # 1, Phoenix, AZ
La Oaxaquena Mexican Restaurant
10430 N 19th Ave Ste 7, Phoenix, AZ 85021