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Feb 10, 2010 05:27 PM

Yearly visitor seeking updated recommendations

We are Chowhounds from Seattle who are making our 16th annual visit to PHX and seeking some restaurant joyfulness. Over the years we've developed some repeat stops and had some disappointments. Some faves have folded up the tent (SeaSaw, Mosaic are 2 biggies) and Pizzeria and Pane Bianco , Los Reyes de la Torta, Tradiciones remain beloved. Lee's in Peoria was a treasured find last year. Cyclo good, but LOTS of Vietnamese in Seattle, so not a destination stop unless we find ourselves there. Kai was great and if a friend pays again, we go again! Binkley's same. Rancho Pinot, noca also a repeat if we can find time. Los Sombreros and Los Dos Molinos good and maybe again. Barrio Cafe, same (and maybe the one time was a slightly off night). I guess I'll stop there...just tryjng to give a range of the places we have tried, liked and are willing to find more of. We will be staying N of 101, S of Troon but travel to Peoria (Mariners games) and around the area for a worthy food find.
We love anything with quality and without pretention hopefully.
Suggestions? Free associate or deliberate...whatever!
Thanks. Happy to return the favor if visiting the Pacific NW.

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  1. FnB in the old Sea Saw / Digestif space. Focuses on lots of local ingredients, prepared simply but executed very well. I have yet to be disappointed by a single dish.

    Posh Improvisational Cuisine. No set menu, instead you get a card with a list of proteins, you select what you don't like and preferred cooking temp, and you get what you get. Cool concept, I've had some really great dishes. Foie gras ($15+) is topped w/sugar and done brulee-style - really great. 4-7 courses, $45-75, $110 for full-tasting. Wine supplement is $8/course.

    The Mission for dinner or brunch. Amazing almejas, braised short ribs, fish tacos. Brisket torta for brunch is great. $16 pig roast on Sundays for all you can eat tacos. Excellent cocktails and bloody marys.

    If you're near downtown and want Mexican...Gallo Blanco (order the naco torta and guac) at the Clarendon or La Condesa (order the cochinita) Gourmet Tacos. Both put Traditiones to shame.

    Hope that helps.

    2 Replies
    1. re: azhotdish

      Thanks for all of the great ideas. We are in the area from 3/17-27 so hopefully we'll make it to several on the lists. I thought I ran across the mention of a Carolina's somewhere west...if so, what's the word on that one?
      One of the folks we are meeting who ventures to the area more frequently these days, mentioned having a great--if not adventuresome--meal at Cartwrights. I've not seen that on anyone's fave lists (in response to my post or several other threads over the years)
      And Thanks again!

      1. re: slowens24

        Carolina's is a favorite. It is an inexpensive, counter-service place. There are 3 locations:

    2. I would also add Sushi Roku and Roka Akor for the Japanese fix.

      1. I don't see any Mexican in there except for Barrio Cafe and Los Reyes. Phoenix has some great hole in the wall Mexican places worthy of a visit and oft mentioned on this board:
        Carolina's (the original)
        Condesa Gourmet Tacos
        Las Taquitos

        Also in the category of unique dining is Lo Lo's Chicken & Waffles (original downtown location).

        I'm really starting to like what's happening downtown probably due to light rail. Pasta Bar, Sens, Roosevelt Tavern, Etc.

        For breakfast, Matt's Big Breakfast and Over Easy are both outstanding and unique.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Poerz

          Humble Pie north of the 101 on Tatum is good for a handmade pizza & wine lunch stop. Carolina's North (Cave Creek/Cactus) will be worth your while but only if you promise to get one of their freshly made buttered tortillas! Zinc Bistro at Kierland Commons is very good. There were lots of changes at DC Marketplace (Pima/Thompson Peak) this year with a few new places, though I haven't tried them yet. It's been a fairly light year for new restaurants in N. Scottsdale.

          1. re: AllPhoenix

            I actually think the food at Carolina's North and certainly the dining room comfort are superior to the original Carolina's but the original has "character" that you will be talking about when you get home.

            1. re: Poerz

              I still don't think my MIL has forgiven me for letting her experience the "character" of the original.

        2. All good suggestions above. A few more from a Central Phoenix / Tempe perspective. These are all new openings or menu changes within the past year.

          St. Francis -- Getting a lot of buzz in the national media for its emphasis on oven-roasted foods and updated, modern American fare. Local media review have given it a B+ for being good but not taking enough riks. I'm fine with it though. If you go, try to sit at the small counter facing the kitchen.

          Nine 05 -- "Modern Asian" Downtown. Took over the old Fate spot and upgraded it. Interesting takes on a variety of Asian foods.

          Caffe Boa -- The Mill Avenue Caffe Boa landed Chef Payton Curry, best known for his work at the now defunct Digestif. Service is slow, so go when you have time for a leisurely meal, but the food is excellent. The menu is less Italian than it once was, and now has more of a farm-to-table emphasis.

          1. For some casual grub, check out America's Taco Shop and The Main Ingredient. Both in downtown Phoenix.