Review: Elote Cafe - Sedona, Arizona
Another report back on a recent trip to Arizona. Here is a report back as a thank you to all.
Pictures can be viewed at:
This post is a report back on my original post:
What to do in Arizona???? Sedona always comes across one's mind for a beautiful and very scenic day trip or an overnight stay. After consulting various sources of where to eat, the consensus seemed to be Elote Cafe. Elote Cafe serves Mexican food that Chef Jeff Smedstad has learned in his travels throughout Mexico. The restaurant focuses on fresh, local, and sustainable. Always a plus!!!
Chips and salsa
The chips were nicely salted and were pretty standard. The salsa on the other hand, although fresh was severely under-spiced. I found myself dousing this salsa with the hot sauce provided on the table.
Elote - Fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese - 6.50
This dish reminded me of those Mexican corn cart vendors. These vendors roam around the streets, selling corn on the cob with all the fixin's you could desire. The same components are used in these carts as Elote's version, but instead Elote's is off the cob. The mayo and the cotija cheese impart a creaminess to this dish, while those same components with the lime give off an acidic tang and saltiness. With the sweetness of the corn and the tang, saltiness, and creaminess, all the components came together to create a tasty dish.
Cuitlacoche - Corn Soup - sweet corn and Mexican corn truffle soup - 8
This was one of my favorite courses of the night. The soup was silky and smooth and tasted of real corn and with the addition of truffle, which was definitely present, was just the right touch to make this soup even more luxurious. I wanted to pick up my plate and lick it clean.
Carne Asada - Grilled Vintage Farms skirt steak with guajillo sauce, Shaft blue cheese, avocado and rajas - 18.50
Blue cheese lovers rejoice!!! This is the dish for you!! I, unfortunately, like blue cheese, but don't love it. The Vintage Farms skirt steak was nicely grilled and tender for skirt steak. The avocados and the blue cheese added a creaminess that helped to balance out the spice of the guajillo sauce and the pico de gallo. I enjoyed this dish but could definitely see a blue cheese lover loving this dish.
Pepita Snapper - pumpkin seed crusted wild pacific snapper with roasted corn salsa pumpkin seed crema with guacamole - 18
The other winner of the night was the pepita crusted snapper. As opposed to the usual breading of flour or bread crumbs, the chef used pepita seeds to encrust this beautiful piece of snapper. Despite either being pan-fried or deep fried, this dish still felt light. The use of various textures and flavors really pleased the palate. I loved the creaminess of the guacamole, the freshness, spice, and sweetness of the corn salsa, and flavor of the pumpkin seed crema. Loved every aspect of this dish.
Rice and Beans
Usually not a big fan of rice and beans, I actually enjoyed these quite a big. A perfect complement to the various dishes we had for dinner.
For all my readers out there. The whole 2 of you out there (this would be including myself). See if you can figure out this riddle? Figure it out yet??? Answer down below.
I'll give you a hint if you haven't figured it out yet. It has to do with the name of the restaurant. Translate the name of the restaurant to English and you shall have your answer and a high five from me.
When in Sedona, go to Elote Cafe. Simple as that. I am usually against eating Mexican cuisine that is priced higher than $5 to $10, because most of the time I usually don't find the food worth paying more than that and I can easily get a cheap Mexican meal. Elote Cafe is the exception to past experiences. Fresh, seasonal, inventive, and delicious. This is definitely the place to go to when in Sedona.
Mexican food is almost always consistently on the bottom of my cuisine choices, but Elote is an absolute exception. I was in Sedona and asked at the National Parks Tourist Office for a good restaurant -- the best restaurant in town. The woman at the desk drew blanks, but an unlikely fellow tourist officer suggested Elote, which gave the woman even more blank stares. We drove past, and Elote is in a humble hotel, and has little curbside character.
We did the Sedona tour, and had some time to kill, so I decided to 'check out' the menu -- likely, in my mind, to be expensive burritos, tacos and other similar suspects. I read the menu, and thought it imaginative, and interesting, and signaled to my friend to come of the car and look also. She resisted at first, read the menu, and we traipsed upstairs to check it out. Again, don't let the humble interior decor of a restaurant fool you. The woman who opened the door for us (it was well before opening), said they have line ups outside the door starting at 6:00PM.
We decided to come back later, and if indeed there were lines and the place was packed, we'd stay. If not, it was off to Reds which also had a nice American menu.
After seeing a lovely sunset from the Sedona Airport, we headed off to Elote and indeed, the place was packed. Blood Orange Margaritas were the drink specials (we were both still freezing from watching the sunset, so we passed), and in forty minutes we had a great table over looking the balcony which has a lovely view of the Sedona hills.
Service was extremely friendly, no pretensions, and great recommendations.
We started with drinks of a Mohito for my friend, and a Blood Orange Margarita for me -- both terrific. The server recommended the elote (why not, given the name of the place), and took some pains to describe it. We also ordered a small side of guacamole to start. The elote was terrific, the salsa and chips were excellent. The only minor disappointment was the guacamole (I've had better at home).
My friend ordered a goat cheese burrito (she's a big goat cheese fan), but alas they ran out, and she quickly went to her second choice of halibut. I ordered the pork cheeks.
The halibut on the mole verde was delicious. Fish not overcooked -- in fact she remarked that it was better than the dinner the evening before at the Arizona Biltmore, where she had a lovely grouper. My pork cheeks were not quite a perfectly tender as I had hoped, but were nevertheless tasty, full of flavour. Not spicy, but hints of heat.
I, like TNT, and as I mentioned earlier, am not a big Mexican food fan. My friend is more so, but this evening's food was the subject of great discussion and all of it positive.
To top it all off, I was offered a copy of Jeff Smedstad's cookbook from Elote Cafe, which I purchased. Jeff came out, chatted with us, signed the book. Going to have to do some cooking from it.
So, when in Sedona, go to Elote -- oh, and if you're not convinced, dinner, including drinks, and the cookbook, was about half of what we spent at the Biltmore the evening before.
I have found Elote to be quite consistent and probably one of the least overrated restaurants in Northern Arizona. That previous post was definitely a "minority report".
I could not get over the deep fried part of the pepita snapper. It was probably good, but I ended up sending it back without trying it. They were quite gracious about replacing it with something else. At one point they had a snapper wrapped in a cornhusk which was tasty, light and quite pleasant.
Minority report: Elote is decent, but inconsistent & overrated, imo.
My wife likes it, so we go now & then, and I'm generally vaguely dissatisfied -- if not more. Last visit, I had the carne asada. My reactions were about like yours, eh, and I love blue cheese. Combo just doesn't work.
In the past, sometimes the snapper is pretty good, sometimes old & fishy. Pork roast was dynamite one time, dried out the next.
Good service, pleasant place, and there aren't many first-rate places to eat in Sedona. But don't get your hopes too high.