This was not an official dinnerclub but a few members happened to be in Sedona and we went out to dinner at Elote Cafe. The food was so incredible it almost seemed criminal not to document the magical night. The creations of Chef Jeff Smedstad are inspired by the markets of Mexico and he focuses on incorporating sustainable, local, and healthy products to the savory delight of his guests.
Tucked away inside the King’s Ransom Inn on Hwy 179, Elote Cafe sits like a obvious yet undiscovered gem amongst the magic of the Sedona red rocks. Although travelers from out of town may not always know about Elote, clearly the word has gotten out with average wait times of an hour, even if you arrive just after 5pm. But have no fear, while you wait you can enjoy some tasty cocktails from the beverage window or margaritas made from 100% Agave tequila. You can have the El Roble with oak aged Tres Agaves Anejo and Grand Marnier or even a special one with chili pepper flake. Jenn and Ann said it was quite delicious and not nearly as hot as the jalapeno mojito at Distrito, which is a good thing.
After waiting about an hour and people watching by the pool, we were seated on the outside patio. It was hot and humid but soon the sun started to set and the patio became fantastic, not to mention the incredible view just to the north.
For starters, we tasted the Guacamole that is simple in its design of avacado, cilantro, lime, and jalapeno yet knocks a punch with its flavor; Roasted Duck Empanadas crispy turnovers of decandent slow roasted Duck, cheese, guacamole and Salsa Verde; Green Corn Tamales which are handmade with fresh corn and roasted chiles topped with Salsa Verde and Crema; and their name sake, the Elote. This corn dish is fire roasted corn that is taken off the cob and mixed with spicy mayo, lime and Cojita cheese. Be careful! It is addictive and will cause you to order more and eat until you transorm into an ear of corn!
As if there was room, we then moved on to the main course. We each ordered many different dishes but then had the chance to taste each of them to sample the genius of Chef Jeff Smedstad. If you go, you MUST try the Lamb Adobo. According to our server (and the best one out there) Shauna, this dish “put Elote on the culinary map” and when you try it you can see why. It is a braised Rosen Farms Colorado lamb shank , with a sweet and spicy Ancho chile sauce and Cilantro crema. Not only is it cooked to perfection, converting this eater who used to avoid lamb for the greasiness, but also it is so tender you can literally pull the bone out clean with two fingers. It is a wonder how the meat stays on the bone while traveling out from the kitchen.
We also had the Pork Cheeks in slow-simmered tomato sauce with corn cake, lime aioli, and dry Jack Chicharron; the Roasted Beet Salad with poblanos, goat cheese and citrus-honey dressing; delicious Chile Rellano; and the Carne Asada which is skirt steak sublimly grilled and served with a Pasilla negro sauce, guacamole, and Niman Ranch bacon. Bacon with Carne Asada, you ask? YES! It is like they were meant to be together.
We paired all these dishes with a couple bottles of Conundrum white wine, which were an excellent choice to sooth both the heat of the evening and the spice of the food.
Then because we are slaves for punishment, we moved on to dessert. Not because we had room but because we absolutely had to try some of the amazing creations on the dessert menu. After some “discussion” as to what we needed to try, we finally settled on the special that evening of Ancho chile skillet brownie with homemade cinnamon ice cream, fresh wipped cream, and sweet pecans; Crepas de Cajeta which are fantastic crepes served with cinnamon ice cream, tequila-apple compote, sweet-spiced pecans, and Black Mesa Goat’s milk caramel; and the Pastel de Elote, a corn cake served with homemade Dulce de Leche, raspberry jam, and sweet corn ice cream. While we also couldn’t agree on what was the favorite, we can agree that with all of the homemade desserts, Elote served up some magic.
Not to forget the great service that we experienced by everyone on the staff, inlcuding Shauna. She was such a gem and was able to keep up with our group which is a feat in itself. We can be a handful sometime and she didn’t miss a beat. It is obvious that she has a passion for the restaurant and the menu that you don’t often find. Cheers to Shauna!
So, now I won’t say “if you go” instead I will say “when you go”, because visiting Elote is a must! Just make sure you bring some corn back for me…