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Mar 6, 2012 05:10 PM

Graduation party

Friends, I need some ideas for restaurants for a college graduation party. Early May. Party of about a dozen of us. Need a place that is relaxing, but sumptuous. Impeccable, American menu. Nothing too eclectic (no Japanese-Southwestern fusion......). Perhaps a place with a unique story or atmosphere. Should be within 15-20 miles or so of Tempe-Phoenix. Needs to be "one notch" below $$$$$$$$ for cost. A special place where eating is an experience, not just a meal.

Daughter has suggested several that I am not familiar with:

- El Chorro
- Caffe Boa
- Arrogant Butcher
- House of Tricks

And one that I am familiar with and like:

- Camelback Inn

I am thinking however that it would be fun to go somewhere that is new to all of us, and a stand-out in terms of the experience.

Still TBD: whether we go out for lunch and/or (my preference) for a nice evening dinner.

Thank you in advance.


House of Tricks
114 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

Caffe Boa
398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

Caffe Boa
5063 E Elliot Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85044

El Chorro Lodge
5550 E Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

Rita's Kitchen at Camelback Inn, A J.W. Marriott Resort
5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

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  1. From the list you currently have, I'd say that House of Tricks (a.k.a. "Tricks") comes closest to meeting the criteria you've spelled out here (good food, not too exotic, lovely setting, pricey but not too pricey, attentive service).

    Lon's (at the Hermosa Inn) might also work, though, the prices there could be an issue. You should look at the menu and wine list online to see if it slips under your 8-dollar sign threshold.

    Another possibility is The House at Secret Garden. I haven't been there myself, but it would also seem to match up well with what you've described here.

    House of Tricks
    114 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

    Lon's At the Hermosa
    5532 N Palo Cristi Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

    The House at Secret Garden
    2501 E Baseline Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85042

    3 Replies
    1. re: hohokam

      Hohokam, interesting that you bring up Lons at the Hermosa, as that has come up on my radar screen since posting.

      What, if anything, do you know about these places:

      Different Pointe of View, http://www.tapatiocliffshilton.com/di...

      Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, http://www.sanctuaryoncamelback.com/f...

      Palo Verde at The Boulders, http://www.theboulders.com/Dining/Pal...

      Wright’s at The Biltmore, http://www.wrightsbiltmore.com/

      THX for your insight. Much appreciated.

      1. re: northxnortheast

        I don't do much resort dining locally (or anywhere, I suppose). As such, I don't have any personal experience with any of those places. Perhaps others will chime in on those, though.

        One other possibility is Quiessence. I was keeping that one to myself because of potential price concerns, but I'll let you be the judge of what's within your budget for this occasion. The menu changes on a daily or near-daily basis, but the current menus (available online) should give you a feel for the type of cuisine and the pricing to expect there.

        6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

        1. re: northxnortheast

          Different Pointe of View can be hit, or miss. We have dined there, from when it was Etienne's, before it became a real part of the Hilton, through Chef Jeffery Beason, until now. As we live on their golf course, they are close, and we have dined there often, though not always with the best results. The last two trips WERE good, and the view is great.

          Wright's has also been up and down. Last two trips were brunch, and all was very good, but have not had "great" in some years.

          Sanctuary and elements, WAS great, but again, we have observed a slide, and even in their catering for events. Once, they were a major fave, and that did include the catered events, but lately? Well, not so much.

          Wish that those did not have the ups and downs, as each has great potential, and each has been great at times in the past.


      2. Dick's Hideaway has a beautiful private room and great food.


        2 Replies
        1. re: Lolaclaire

          hohokam, Bill Hunt, Lolaclaire:

          Thanks very much for your feedback. This has been helpful, and I appreciate it very much.


          1. re: northxnortheast

            To add just a bit, my wife just did a dinner at elements @ The Sanctuary, and found things to be great, like they always once were. Much has changed, with regards to the floor space, and room designs, and the food was more like what we once knew. While I have not been recently, I will bow to her reviews, as she grades as toughly, or maybe even more so, than I do. Also, the venue is excellent, and sunset can be awesome.