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Recommendations for Phoenix Restaurants

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We will be in Phoenix next week. This will be our
umteenth visit to this city. We would be appreciative
for restaurant recommendations. Most of the
restaurants we have tried there leave a great deal to
be desired. As the host of a food program here in NYC
recently commented about the fare at a local
restaurant: "...all the food had one or two too many
ingredients". In Phoenix I have found that restaurants
there have at least three too many ingredients. I have
followed Penelope Corcoran's (the restaurant reviewer
for the Arizona Republic) in the past which proved to
be quite disappointing.

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  1. hey peter, how are ya'll?? have you tried the Phoenician?? or the Roaring Fork? 602 947 0795 Happa??602 998 8220 enjoy

    6 Replies
    1. re: stephen kaye

      here's a repeat of what I posted
      last March about my experiences
      chowhounding in Phoenix....

      I did manage to find some real food
      this land of strip malls and food
      franchises. The best was San Diego
      Bay in Guadalupe. Guadalupe is the
      historic home of Phoenix’s Latino
      population, and, in the days before
      the sprawl fueled by cheap air
      conditioning, it was a small
      community in the desert outside of
      town. It’s since been surrounded
      by the “creeping pink” of
      frighteningly homogenous
      subdivisions, but retains both it’s
      civic sovereignty and the only soul
      in the Valley of the Sun.

      San Diego Bay is run by Guadalupe
      Martinez (“Just like the town,”
      she says), a native of Ensenada
      who brings fresh seafood up from
      the Mexican coastal states of
      Guaymas and Sinaloa. I started
      with the tostada especiales, a crisp
      corn tortilla mounded with
      chopped squid, octopus, and
      shrimp that had been marinated in
      lime juice, tossed with finely
      diced cucumber and green onion,
      then drizzled with a thinned sour
      cream and topped with sliced
      avocado ($3.50!!).

      The ensalada nopalitos (another
      bargain at $2.75) was served in a
      flat, rectangular ceramic tray
      about 4 by 8 inches. Diced cactus,
      red onion, tomato, and avocado had
      been tossed with a simple,citrusy
      vinaigrette. I went with the house
      special shrimp, butterflied
      prawns stuffed with an assortment
      of chopped seafood, then wrapped
      with bacon and broiled. They were
      served in a mushroom cream sauce
      that was a bit thick, but not bad.
      My wife Judith ordered snapper
      filets al mojo de ajo, and the garlic
      sauce was thin, intensely flavored,
      and delicious.

      I didn’t try it but saw a bowl of
      one of the seafood stews go by.
      Clear broth, fresh vegetables, and
      an ocean of snapper, shrimp,
      octopus, or the combo called seven
      seas. This is definite chowhound
      destination. Across the street is a
      fruit and vegetable market with
      blood oranges, freshly smoked
      chipotle chilis, fire-roasted green
      chilis from the propane-fired
      rotating drum in the parking lot,
      and lots of other good stuff you
      won’t find in the supermarket at
      the corner strip mall. I brought
      home a dozen fresh tamales which
      I’ve got stashed in the freezer.

      I also ate at an taqueria in Tempe
      that had good tacos and barbacoa.
      Didn’t write down the name, but
      it’s right next to the REI at Priest
      and Southern Avenues.

      We went to Arizona to hike the
      Grand Canyon, and the food at the
      Phantom Ranch (in the bottom of
      the canyon and accessible only by
      foot or mule) was decent. We opted
      for stew, but the steak eaters
      (those are the only choices)
      seemed happy, too. A dinner at the
      upscale and highly touted El Tovar
      at the South Rim was
      disappointing. Overpriced and a
      little bland, I think you’re paying
      more for the historic atmosphere
      and the chance for something other
      than the feeding trough fare served
      at the other cafeterias in the Park.
      It is a very nice building, but a
      better option is breakfast.

      San Diego Bay is at 9201 Avenue
      del Yaqui in Guadalupe (south
      Phoenix, between Tempe and
      Awahtukee), phone (602) 839-
      2991.

      1. re: Jim Dixon
        j
        jonathan gold

        And don't miss Pizza Bianco, right downtown,
        which is extraordinary.

        1. re: jonathan gold
          p
          Peter Palmieri

          Thanks for the good tips--will give them a try. We
          usually stay at the Phoenician but the place had no
          rooms. The food there is ok and good for Phoenix--the
          brunch is enjoyable. Stephan, all is well here--am
          planning another trip to Italy for this coming April.
          This one will be to southern Italy. I have a pretty
          good bead on the good places to eat. Can't wait to try
          the famous pizza and the "street food" in Napoli. We
          will also be exploring several of the small mountain
          towns in the Region where I am sure we will find some
          terrific trattorie.

          1. re: Peter Palmieri

            Not that he needs it, but I would enthusiastically
            second Jonathan Gold's recommendation of Pizzeria
            Bianco in Phoenix (right downtown in the shadow of the
            ballpark).

            Extraordinary pizza, sandwiches, and salads...the
            ingredients are impeccable. Be prepared for a
            wait..it seems to be always crowded...and check which
            night it is closed.

            Don't miss it.

            Jim Zurer -- Washington DC

            PS I also had a very mediocre meal at RoxSand's...too
            fussy and too many jumbled flavors. Also a risotto
            that was inedible...gummy and underseasoned.

            1. re: Jim Zurer
              p
              Peter Palmieri

              Jim, my experience was the same at RoxSand's--I will
              be going to the places in Phoenix suggested on this
              thread.

            2. re: Peter Palmieri

              Peter - I know we seldom agree on Foodwine, but I'd be
              curious as to which restaurant you ate in at the
              Phoenician, and why is was just "OK". Also, are you
              serious when you say that their brunch was just
              "enjoyable"? I'd be curious to hear of a better one, in
              or out of Arizona.

      2. Caffe Boa in Ahwatukee AZ off OF I-10 at the cross streets of 51st st and Elliot Rd is a must visit. Outstanding food and service with exceptional ambience.

        Link: http://www.caffeboa.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: ll
          j
          Jennifer Lightman

          In response to the mention of Caffe Boa in Ahwatukee, I agree, i thought it was cool place unlike what you see around the Ahwatukee area. There was live jazz band on the patio and the food was really good with presentation. I would recommend it.