Phoenix - Roy's, El Chorro, Jade Bar/Elements, and El Encanto Dos
Some nice meals we've had in the last few weeks.
I had been to the original Roy's in Honolulu, but that was many many years ago, and we decided to go to Roy's at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge for my birthday last month. Original plans were for my favorite restaurant - Binkley's - or something fun like Trader Vic's. However, there were eight of us getting together, and with everyone scattered over the valley and wanting to celebrate with wine and cocktails, logistics were getting difficult regarding hiring a driver, taxis, etc. When we found out that the JW Marriott had drivers, that clinched it - we decided to drive over and leave the car, and other couples who wanted to could hire a driver and car back to their house (35-60$ depending on location) so we could celebrate with cocktails and relax. Nice bonus for what turned out to be a great meal. We met early at the Vista Lounge off the Marriott Lobby. Such a nice start to the night - enjoying cocktails and wine on comfortable sofas near the firepit, with palm trees and a full moon, overlooking the waterways. We then walked over to Roy's where we were greeted by the friendly hostess and seated right on time at a large table overlooking the kitchen. Dinnner began with a thoughtful touch from my wonderful Chowhound friends back in Boston when the bar manager came over with a birthday cocktail from "my friends in Boston". Thanks so much guys! Dinner was excellent. It turned out to be one of those meals where everyone raved about their dishes, and since everyone shared, I was able to try a few. For appetizers, highlights for me were the lobster potstickers, Kalua duck spring rolls, the ahi pokitini with wasabi tobiko aioli, and lobster truffle bisque. When I saw the butterfish (I love this fish) on the menu, of course, I had to order that. It didn't disappoint - fantastic, perfectly cooked with a sake/miso glaze, just delicious, served with a "Chinese sizzling soy vinaigrette". Around the table, everyone was just as happy. One of the dishes friends were still talking about the next day was the "Kaffir Lime Dusted Sea Scallops", served in a bento box with a rice noodle salad and watermelon 'nam pla'. We had excellent service too - she was friendly, helpful, and entertaining, and were able to finish such a nice meal when she introduced us to the chef so we could thank him. We were full but shared a variety of delicious desserts, including the signature chocolate souffle. They also had a nice outdoor patio with tiki torches that looked very pretty - next time we'll reserve a table out there. One final cocktail back out by the Vista Lounge firepit, and it was a wonderful birthday.
The next week I was meeting HeatherMB, a Boston CH who was staying with her family at Sanctuary and having dinner at Elements, for after-dinner cocktails. My husband and I decided this was a good opportunity to make reservations at El Chorro Lodge. I had heard about this Valley institution, set on 14 acres, with a beautiful patio and serving a classic old-school menu. What a nice dinner we had on the that patio, seated at a table along the curved wall on a beautiful night, and early enough to catch the sunset. Friendly service too, though I was a bit confused at the outset as cocktail and wine orders had to be taken by a different person than our waitress. I started with a well-made Manhattan and E a vodka martini. We both enjoyed our dinners too, including the oft-mentioned sticky buns in the bread basket. Soup came with dinner, so I started with a refreshing fresh fruit gazpacho whlle E chose the tomato basil soup (flavorful but too pasta-sauce thick). Entrees were the half-order of the fried lobster for me, and one of the house's signature dishes for E - the chicken fried steak. We ended by splitting a Pink Lady cocktail with ice cream since we were meeting HeatherMB at the Jade Bar at Sanctuary.
We arrived at Sanctuary just as HeatherMB and her family were finishing up dinner on Element's beautiful patio (where they all agreed that dinner was excellent). The three of us were fortunate enough to eventually get one of the front tables on the Jade Bar's patio - what a view on a perfect clear night. We had a such fun evening, catching up, and enjoying some of those delicious cocktails that I love at this place, including a seasonal cocktail made with sugar-snap pea infused gin and garnished with a fresh sugar-snap pea. The cocktails are pricey, but the Jade Bar is one of my favorite places in the Phoenix area for their well-crafted, creative cocktails.
For Cinco de Mayo this past Monday, we decided to check out El Encanto Dos. We haven't been to the original in Cave Creek yet, but this one was closer to us on E. Carefree Highway. It was pretty busy, with a long wait for the patio which looked lively with its outdoor taco bar. We put our name in for a table inside, but decided to grab a couple of seats at the the indoor bar instead. The bartender was friendly and efficient, and she recommended the special to me, which I enjoyed - grilled chicken and spinach enchiladas with a creamy green chili sauce - while E liked his mole enchiladas. Pretty good margaritas too, and it was a nice spot on a Monday evening.
5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
5350 E Marriott Dr, Phoenix, AZ 85054
El Encanto Dos
1112 E. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85085
El Chorro Lodge
5550 E Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
Roy's is consistently good. Been to the one in Hawai'i, Los Angeles and Phoenix. Never a disappointment.
Thank you for the informative review. We've had very good meals at many of the Roy's sites, both on the Mainland and throughout Hawai`i, but have not done the J W Marriott location yet. Glad to know that it's on track with all of the others.
elements has always been a favorite of ours, but have never done the Jade Bar. We've done many dinners, and even events across the patio, and they have never left me wanting.
El Corro has been a bit of a disappointment with us, but maybe we were expecting too much, or hit on several bad nights. Still, since we always had visitors in tow, I tend to shy away from it. Sounds like you had a great meal and good, albeit odd, service there.
Have not done El Encanto Dos, but it sounds good.
Nice to have great friends too! [Insert big grin here]
Appreciate your taking time to do this review. Maybe we'll rethink El Chorro Lodge again.
re: Bill Hunt
I think we we enjoyed El Chorro specifically because I had read a few reviews and was prepared for the negatives - overpriced, the pretty basic menu, and sometimes indifferent service. As a result, we were pleasantly surprised with the friendly service. Also, our bill ended up lower than we expected since entrees included soup/salad so we skipped apps, and cocktails were very reasonable. It's certainly not a Chowhound destination for food alone, but factor in the history and atmosphere, and it's a nice spot to enjoy some wine, along with fried lobster and a great (albeit pricey) chicken-fried steak on the patio. In fact, we have friends visiting from Boston this coming weekend, and I just made reservations for an early dinner for 6 of us on the patio Friday night. Let's see if we enjoy it as much as we did on our initial visit.
My last visit was so very long ago, as to be moot in any discussion of El Chorro now. I need to go back, keep my mind open, and just relax and enjoy.
As I've had ups-n-downs with several restaurants, here (Valley of the Sun) and elsewhere, it would behove me to give them another go. It's just that with the number of great restaurants here, and so little time to try them all, I hesitate to spend an evening, to be disappointed. Still, I need to get back, and "eat my words," should they really come through. For a period of time, we had sworn off Lon's, but they made a lot of changes, and the last 5-6 meals have been great.
Thanks for the urging to go back,