RSS

Category Archives: Latin

July 22 – Boca Taqueria

Boca Taqueria

1674 N. Higley Rd., #101
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
Phone: (480) 306-8690

http://bocataqueria.com/

Organized by: Sarah and Bill

It was quite a small group for July with just 5 DDs. Much of our group was traveling or had family events going on so it was a small group of Fred, Karna, Ann, Bill, and Sarah.

We tried a local taco place that opened a second location in Gilbert. The place is fast casual where you order at the counter and they serve you at the table, but don’t worry the quality doesn’t seem rushed. There is a great happy hour every day until 6pm with some good drink and food options.

Portions are plenty for the full plates or you can get some good a la carte options if you aren’t famished. The Macho Nachos (pictured below on left) are a big plate of nom noms with plenty to share with friends. The enchiladas are tasty and the during the fall you can get the Green Chile Pork ones with a butternut squash sauce. It is really tasty and quite unexpected. Ann tried the seafood enchiladas with green sauce. The flavor was good even for a non-seafood loving person as myself! We also tried the tilapia and chimichanga, served enchilada style.

The margaritas are cool and refreshing or they also have a small but good selection of beers on draft. The atmosphere is light and super casual. It’s a great place to stop by for a quick bite or grab some take-away. According to their website, they also have a food truck and offer catering options as well.

It was a fun and casual night with our small group of peeps. Good times on a hot monsoon night.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 07/22/2017 in Latin

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

August 29, 2015 – El Chullo

El Chullo Restaurant

2605 N 7th St.

Phoenix, AZ 85006

http://www.elchullorestaurant.com/

602-279-8425

Organized by: Bill and Sarah

Tonight the Double Ds went south of the equator and traveled to Peru. Well at least in the culinary sense. This family-run restaurant in Phoenix is named after the traditional hat worn in Peru. The website describes it an accessory that was “worn by the Incas to differentiate villages, wealth, social status, and even age.”

Beverages are a tasty way to start the dinner and we didn’t hold back. Pisco Sour is a traditional Peruvian drink with Pisco Porton, lime, simple syrup, egg whites, and bitters. It is a sweet cocktail but tastes like key lime pie. Yummy! I had the passion fruit puree version called a Maracuya Sour. It was tasty and topped with possibly nutmeg for a surprising flavor. Don had the Cocktail de Algorrobina

We started our food adventure with some appetizers like the Causa Rellena, a potato cake with a chicken salad type of filling; Papa a la Huancaina, bolied and diced potatoes covered in cheese and Aji Amarillo sauce; Ocopa, a slighty spicier version of the Papa dish plus huacatay peanuts; and Anticuchos, marinated grilled beef heart kabobs served with a spicy salsa and potatoes. The group was divided on the beef hearts, although it was like sliced tenderloin some didn’t like the texture but many others loved the flavor and tenderness of the dish. The last appetizer was the Ceviche Mixto, with fish and seafood, sweet potatoes, and corn. We have some big ceviche fans in the DDs and they gave it a big thumbs up. Even with the split on the beef hearts all of the apps were a hit!

Jay and Ann reminisched about some of their adventures last year in Peru and Jay was excited to get to enjoy a Diet Inca cola again. This Peruvian soda tastes like a Mountain Dew cream soda. I am not a cream soda fan, but it was really good.

Entrees were a glorious mixture of meats, rice, potatoes, with explosions of tasty flavors. Lomo Saltado is a dish with marinated strips of tenderloin served over thick french fries and roasted tomatoes and onions. Tacu Tacu is a dish so divine they had to name it twice. You take a mash of beans and rice and cook it into a patty and then top it with scrumptious topping of tender beef or seafood, onions, and tomatoes.

As most nights, there was no room for dessert but we couldn’t leave without trying some of the Peruvian sweets. There was Crema Volteada, a creamy Peruvian cousin to flan. There was also the Alfajor, a dulce de leche cookie covered in sugar. Lastly, we tried Helado de Lucuma, a creamy ice cream with a slight coffee aftertaste and made with the Lucuma fruit. According to our server, this fruit is only grown in Peru, “I don’t care what Ecuador says!” 🙂

Dinner was delicious and it was super fun to explore a cuisine that many of us had never tried before. We all agreed that this place is a MUST to repeat. Clearly we weren’t the only fans of El Chullo, New Times was in love as well, just check out this New Times article.

Until next time – Hasta la próxima!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 10/11/2015 in Latin, Peruvian

 

Tags: ,

Art and cuisine on Calle 16

Barrio Café
2814 N 16th St
Phoenix, AZ 85006
602-636-0240
www.barriocafe.com
Organized by: Janice
 

Besides being an integral part of this neighborhood in Phoenix, Chef Silvana has created a place of legend with the original Barrio Café. Although she has now expanded to Barrio Queen in Scottsdale and even offers samples of her treasures to travelers at Sky Harbor Airport, it was a treat to be able to visit the place where it all began.

Barrio Café is not big, nor is it ostentatious with a ritzy location. Instead it is in Phoenix on 16th street at the entrance of an urban neighborhood and surrounded by strip malls with local businesses. The place is decorated in art by local artists which rotates every few months, showing Chef Silvana’s focus on promoting the people in our community. In addition, the exterior is covered in clever, colorful, and creative murals as part of the Calle 16 Mural Project, which celebrates the vibrant culture and Mexican heritage of the area. (for more on this check out our Links section!)

No reservations are accepted and seating is strictly on a first come, first serve basis. This means you need to get there early if you have a large group because Barrio Café has a reputation for magic and it is only growing with every passing day.

They do have a Happy Hour with super great discounts on their margaritas and Buck any Tacos but the downside is that it is only from 3-5pm on Tuesday thru Friday.

We tried a few different margarita options such as the Flaca (skinny marg with organic silver tequila, agave, and lime); the signature Lowrider (Don Julio Blanco with lime and Cointreau), and the Sergio el Suave (Milagro Anejo with pineapple, lime, agave, cilantro, and candid jalapeno). Warning these margs are smoooooth and go down like water but they pack a punch!

We started with the Guacamole del Barrio and Esquites (similar but not the same to the signature dish of Elote). The table-side guacamole was insane. So fresh with large chunks of avocado instead of just green mash. A special seasonal treat of pomegranate seeds were also included which gave it a nice bit of sweetness. Many of us also ordered the iconic dish of Chef Silvana which is the Chiles en Nogada (roasted poblano pepper filled with chicken, apple, pear, dried apricot, and pecans topped with almond cream sauce and cilantro, queso fresco, and pomegranate seeds). This dish was delicious! The sauce was much sweeter than expected and if you tried the pepper with just the filling it had a nice soft spice that could easily stand on its own without too much sauce.

We also tried a couple different Pescado del Dia since it was wild Alaskan Halibut; Veracruz style with onion, tomato, and black and green olives; and del Mar topped with shrimp, scallops, crab, chorizo, onion and roasted poblano. Yum!

Bill absolutely raved about his Enchiladas Suizas red onion, cilantro, Mexicana crema, and topped with chorizo. He said the chorizo was so perfectly done and not too greasy. It was so good he HAD to finish it all and left with “painfully full” tummy.

Don who is our resident Mole connoisseur ordered the Pollo en Mole and tried both the sweeter black and the spicier red. Both passed the Don test with a thumb’s up! Fred K had the center cut bone-in pork chop with chile sauce. He said it was cooked perfectly and the sauce was a sweeter chile sauce, which he enjoyed very much.

For dessert we sampled the Flan de mi Mami (traditional flan topped with candied pecans) and the Churros Rellanos de Cajeta de Cabra (churros filled with goat’s milk caramel and served with vanilla bean ice cream, more caramel, and candied pecans.) Whoo – talk about sweet but rich in flavor! But I wouldn’t expect anything less from a chef that started in a family Mexican bakery.

There is live music on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, as well as on Sunday afternoon. When we were there on a Saturday evening we enjoyed an upbeat duo with a guitar (and perhaps a conga drum?). Either way, they were fun, upbeat, and they graciously sang Happy Birthday to our very own Fred S. J

There was so much riding on this visit for me because of all the great things I had heard about it already and I am so pleased that they lived up to my every expectation! I can now say that I was able to enjoy the Barrio Café experience.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 09/14/2013 in Latin, Mexican

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Classy and casual – the southwestern kitchen at TQLA

TQLA 
1840 S Val Vista Dr
Mesa, AZ 85204
480-813-8752
http://tqla.com/locations/phoenix
Organized by Jen and Don
 

TQLA is a Southwestern Kitchen and Agave Bar with a location in Houston and a recently expanded location in Phoenix area that opened in Oct 2012. The ambiance and decor of the building is very upscale and rustic Southwestern which matches the menu. There is a really nice outdoor patio with tables and lounge cushions but also flows really nicely into the clean and modern-rustic dining room, which contains a full bar. And I mean FULL, the sucker is huge!

They have a Happy Hour from 3-6:30pm with all appetizers half-off and specials on margaritas and Mexican drafts. The margaritas are good, but that is up to the taste of the drinker. The bar tenders can even mix up any kind of drink if you want to be creative. Jen loves a special spicy jalapeno one that she created with the bartender! Some are huge fans of the margaritas while I crave the Perfect Storm margaritas across the street at Nando’s, but really it is all about personal taste preference. The chef also really creates some exciting and fun twists on normal Mexican dishes on the appetizer menu such as a Wild Mushroom Tamale and the BBQ Duck Tamale. Muy delicioso! The chips and salsa is also quite good – which is a test for me of any Latin/Mexican/Southwestern restaurant – and be sure to try the habanero salsa, it’s bright orange…you can’t miss it. 🙂

All the dishes are very tasty. They all feel fresh and not overly loaded with cheese, rather you are able to really enjoy the flavors of each ingredient. A favorite of mine is the Chicken Tortilla Soup, which has a nice spice because of the tomato chile mixed with the queso fresco and avocado, and topped with Mexican crema. Even their Ensalada de Casa is not boring and stands out from the crowd. It’s just a simple house salad but they mix in picked onions and a tequila mango vinaigrette to give it an extra kick and stand out from the crowd.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 05/18/2013 in Latin, Mexican

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ticoz Resto Bar

Ticoz Resto Bar
5114 N 7th St 
Phoenix, AZ 85014
602-200-0160
http://www.ticozaz.com
Organized by: Ann and Jay
 

Thanks to our exceptionally socially conscious Ann, we were able to participate in Dining Out For Life. This annual event raises money for AIDS service organizations. Ann was quite familiar with it in the Seattle area and was super excited when it came to Phoenix! We were happy to join her in benefiting a good cause!

Ticoz was selected from the participating restaurants because they had a large portion of their profits that night (75%) going directly to the organization. We also lucked out that it was an enjoyable place as well. 🙂

The trio of dipping sauces with the house made chips was to die for! Spicy Choirzo Queso, Pork Chili Verde, and Lobster Spinach Queso. yum, yum! My favorite was the Pork Chili Verde because I am always a sucker for green chilies and pork anything. There was a very interesting combination of guacamole and garlic hummus called Guacammus and it was surprisingly very tasty. Not every culinary “mash up” always works and this was a tasty exception. 

On to the entrees, first there was Pork Chili Verde Mac N’ Cheese. Stop it. Right now. Hold the phone. That was insanely delicious! Then there was the Blue Corn Enchiladas, which received rave reviews online and rightly so. It has blue corn tortillas with shredded chicken, green chile, cheese, and a sour cream green chile sauce. You can also get it topped with a fried egg if you wish. You can also get the Pork Chili Verde in an enchilada as well, because really, can you ever have enough Pork Chili Verde?

The food was excellent and pretty much every dish was delicious. Sadly the cocktails did not live up to the caliber of food. We are a group of drinkers so I guess we are a little picky with our alcohol standards. The margaritas were okay and the mojitos were way way too sweet. I even tried the Sangria, but it was nothing compared to the nectar-of-the-gods at Rita’s Kitchen. I ended up just settling on a safe Stella Artois, which was okay because it left my taste buds free to enjoy the splendor of the food. There was a party in my mouth happening, Pork Chili Verde style!

 
the gang Dining Out For Life

the gang Dining Out For Life

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 04/25/2013 in Latin, Mexican, New Mexican

 

Let’s Get Devoured

Today some of the DDs made it out to Devoured Phoenix Culinary Classic 2013 held at the Phoenix Art Museum. There was a bazillion different restaurants and wineries providing tastes of their creative culinary skill. The event is organized by Local First Arizona, which is a non-profit designed to promote the benefits of buying locally and strengthening our local communities. Through this organization we have uncovered an amazing community of restaurants and an emerging gastronomic culture that is putting Phoenix on the culinary map.

Being held at the Phoenix Art Museum is a nice treat because once you are finished eating and drinking your way through the event, you can walk it off by perusing the museum exhibits.  

A word of warning, it seems like ALL of Phoenix comes out to this event and it is wall to wall people. The beer tent opened 30 minutes prior to the food tasting so naturally everyone piles in there and begins with the marathon drinking. Thankfully they did have some desserts available to sample or else we probably would all be a little closer to hammered before we even hit the food.

Below are some of the great places we experienced:

JJ’s Brownies: Chili and Cinnamon fudgy brownies topped with sea salt and caramel drizzle – decadent taste with a spicy kick that hits you in the back of the throat later. http://jjsbrownies.com/
Citizen Public House offered a duckling ham but be careful about asking what that is, they may respond with “it’s a duckling that’s been hamed”. oh yeah? well this is a dish that is just ok http://citizenpublichouse.com/
Tuck Shop (with next door neighbor Astor House) never fails to deliver and today they had a TuckRib which is a boneless rib sandwich on a soft roll topped with red onion and pickle. Delish! http://www.tuckinphx.com/
The Windsor (which is a new place for me) served a beer braised pork with chorizo hash. O.M.G. can i have another?! This is definately a place we are going to have to try. http://www.windsoraz.com/
Federal Pizza (part of the North Phoenix restaurants corridor with Postino’s and Windsor) served a refreshing cocktail of grapefruit and ginger beer as well as a short rib ravioli topped with a mushroom au jus. Definately a winner with many and another place on the list to try. http://federalpizzaphx.com/
Caduceus Cellars was on site and we sampled both the (unavailable) 2009 Nagual de la Naga which is a fantastic blend of Cab and Sangiovese and the Merkin Vineyards Chupacabra, which is a red blend of Petite Syrah, Syrah, Cab, and Viognier. https://caduceus.org/frontpage/
House of Tricks (one of our local favorites in Tempe) offered a foie gras taco, which I am told was very tasty, and duck pasole that had a delicious green chile flavor that was not overpowered by duck. http://www.houseoftricks.com/
Pig and Pickle is a new player in town just recently opening in Scottsdale and serving an amazing pork shoulder tostada with ginger aioli and topped with an unexpected homemade kimchi. The spice of the kimchi was not too overpowering for the port and instead gave is a nice punch. There was also an Elvis dessert of peanut butter with chocolate which was okay, but why eat that when you can just savor the pork tostada a little while longer. http://pigandpickle.com/
Bliss Re-Bar had a bacon meatloaf which I was told was quite good but it takes a lot for me to try a meatloaf. Maybe next year I will take the plunge. http://blissonfourth.com/
Short Leash Dogs was an unexpected treat for me. I have longed to try this mobile gourmet hot dog eatery but can never seem to be in the right place at the right time. Apparently today was my day because I was able to sample their bratwurst on a pretzel roll with saurkraut and german mustard. They also offered a crispy dog made from Schreiner’s jalapeno cheese brat and served in a crispy tortilla. yum! The food truck revival is on a roll! (get it..heh heh) http://shortleashhotdogs.com/
Atlas Bistro is a local BYOB with an intimate dining room but a staff that is passionate about what they do. Today they treated us to blistered watermelon radishes from Duncan Farms with a triple brie with peppercorn crust and raisin mostarda. So good it required a double visit! http://www.atlasbistrobyob.com/
District Kitchen offered a mac n’ cheese chorizo with snack cheese puffs on top. The cheese puffs were a little strange but the mac n’ cheese was good. http://www.districtrestaurant.com/
Gallo Blanco Cafe was a special treat since I have heard rave reviews of this local gem. We were treated to very tender goat tacos. http://galloblancocafe.com/
Beckett’s Table served up a super delicious deep fried deviled egg with a spicy aioli sauce. Not something that sounded tasty but ended up being a hit (with most of us). http://beckettstable.com/
Relish Burger Bistro which is located in the Phoenician had a winner with deviled eggs served with pork belly on a skewer, which will find their way to the menu this spring and tacos in a crispy shell that I was told were very good  http://www.thephoenician.com/relish-burger-bistro/
Santa Barbara Catering hosted some samples inside the museum’s cafe Palette such as the sausage and peppers (I’ve had better), a Dulce de Leche Twix Bar that was really too sweet, and a pork belly ruben with ale mustard. The pork belly sandwhich was good but their offerings today were a little disappointing as we have been at events catered by Santa Barbara before and the food has been fantastic. http://www.santabarbaracatering.com/
The event was packed and I am sure I missed some of the places we tried but with so many options, it is to be expected! We walked, ate, and drank our way through everything and ended up stuffed, tipsy, and slightly overdone from the sun. Even so this is a terrific sampling for the burgeoning foodies in AZ and not an event to be missed!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Windsor
 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

May 26, 2012 – Distrito Scottsdale

Distrito Scottsdale – at The Saguaro
4000 N Drinkwater Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
480-970-4444
http://www.jdvhotels.com/dining/arizona/distrito
Organized by: Sarah and Bill Hancotte
 
Open: Weekday Breakfast 7-11am/Lunch 11a-3p/Dinner 5-10p
Weekend Brunch 11a-3p
 

We timed May’s dinner just right as it was at the tail end of Spring Restaurant Week in Phoenix. We rated our visit to Distrito an A+ all the way! Opened in 2011 by Iron Chef Jose Garces, the decor was fun and spunky with shiny multicolored table tops, walls decorated with either tiny fuzzy balls or ribbon in a lattice work design, the bar with butterflies encased in glass, and overhead lights decorated with wooden clothespins. The decor felt very modern yet with a retro inspiration. Some of the chairs reminded me of the old kitchen table chairs like my grandma had with metal frames and brightly colored chair pads, but yet comfortable and stylish. They have a nice patio seating area for when the weather is beautiful and a nice view of the Scottsdale Mall area and a great happy hour until 7 everyday (yes, even on Saturday!)

We made the best of happy hour and started with cocktails at the bar while waiting for everyone to arrive with Blood Orange Margaritas, traditional Margs, red Sangria, Pineapple Margarita, and a surprising Jalapeno Cucumber Cilantro Margarita. Yes, there are real jalapenos muddled into this marg and it gives it quite a spicy bite but it will keep you from sucking it down like juice. The Sangria was very tasty but many of us are a little partial to our own amazing recipe that we got from Rita’s Kitchen at Camelback Inn. My one suggestion for Distrito’s Sangria would be for larger pieces of fruit so you avoid the innevitable rogue piece that gets sucked into the straw and then shoots into your mouth like a pilot ejecting from a fighter plane. Except for the Michelada, which only had a few fans, we immensly enjoyed all the cocktails at Distrito.

Then we moved on to the dinner. Since it was restaurant week, we picked from a set menu of three different courses. Distrito describes their cuisine as celebrating the “wonderfully diverse street food of Mexico City, known […] as Distrito Federal and Mexican Barbacoa, or barbeque” and is served in small plate or family style. This was perfect for the DDs since we love to share and try everything. Even better is that the dishes come out as they are prepared rather than everything all at once so we could taste, enjoy, and visit while new dishes came staggering out. For the first course we had fresh Guacamole with cojita cheese (which is made right at the guacamole and salsa bar) and freshly made tortilla chips; Tortilla Soup with tomato, chicken, a creamy pasilla chile broth, queso fresco and avocado (divine!); and Angelica’s Fresa which had spinach, strawberries, melon, cabrales, poppy seeds, red onion, all topped with a serrano-balsamic vinaigrette. So refreshing and delish! Last but not least we tried the special of Octopus with Romaine. I was hestiant to try it since I have never enjoyed Octopus but at Ann’s insistence, I tried a bite and was pleasantly surprised. The warm octopus was neither rubbery or slimy and the crunch of the romaine plus the hint of spice in the sauce made it rather enjoyable. I think I finally found a place the knows how to cook octopus!

Even with small plates, when you are sampling a little bit of everything, it catches up to you fast. We were starting to get full and suddenly realized we still had two courses and a side to go! So we buckled down and did our duty even to the dismay of our rapidly filling tummies. The second course had some big shoes to fill and it delivered and then some. It included Enchilada de Pollo with queso chihuahua, epazote and a red chile sauce; Nachos Ignacio (p.s. NOT a small plate) with black beans, tomato, queso mixto, jalapeno, radish, and chile de arbol; Tacos de Pollo (my absolute favorite!) with chicken ropa vieja, queso fresco, crema, and topped with shredded radish; and last but not least…Camarones Ceviche with shrimp, spicy tomato, avocado, and plantain chip.

Whew! It was like an amazing flavor bonanza and almost enough to make your head spin. So many flavors, our tastebuds were doing a little dance of joy. Hold on little taste buds, we still have another round…

Third Course and rounding the bases towards home. Carne en Adobo which is blackangus beef brisket and dry adobo that was so tender you could cut it easily with a fork; the also tender and tasty Conchinita Pibil – berkshire pork shoulder with achiote-pineapple BBQ; Tacos de Mahi Mahi (winner!) with Chipotle Remoulade, avocado, red cabbage and lime; Tacos de Carnitas – pulled pork, black beans, and pineapple salsa; and the vegetarian option of Huarache de Hongos which was like a flatbread of forest mushrooms, huitlachoche sauce, queso mixto, black truffle and corn shoot.

As if this wasn’t enough, you also order a side. Ugh, make room! We sampled the Frijoles Charros which are pinto beans with tomato and bacon; Platano y Crema which are the best darn plantains I have ever had with a black bean puree and queso fresco; and Esquites which gives you many of the flavors of Mexican corn on the cob without the mess. I mean seriously, finally somebody didn’t subject their customers to the embarrasing mess of devoring Elote in public view and instead put all the goodness of sweet corn, queso fresco, chipotle, and lime into a glass. Genius! Kelly ordered the Ejotes which is green beans with confit cherry tomatoes and roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette but by the time they came out we were so full she had to get the whole order to-go. In fact, there was quite a lot of food left over that we took home with us to enjoy all over again the next day.

Now we should have stopped there but another diner we met told us we couldn’t leave without trying their churros, so naturally we are glutton for punishment and got one order to split. That was about all that we could do but well worth it. The warm churros are perfectly seasoned with cinnamon sugar and served with a spicy Valrhona Chocolate sauce and cajeta crema, which seemed similar to dulce de leche.

The service was terrific and it was obvious that our waiter Keith and his colleagues were both knowledgeable about the dishes as well as proud of their work. The ambiance, decor, service, cocktails, and food all hit a home run for us and the Double Ds rated this an A++ visit to a great new restaurant in AZ!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 05/26/2012 in Latin, Mexican

 

Tags: ,