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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.

 
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Posted by on 07/22/2017 in Latin

 

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Espos – March 2017

Espos Mexican Food

3863 W Chandler Blvd|Chandler, AZ| 85226

480-588-7377 |https://www.espos.co/

Organized by: Jen and Don

Hidden right in the middle of bustling Chandler is a fast casual gem that has been serving up Mexican favorites and good times for the people in Chandler. Whether it is tender and juicy carne asada or fresh and tasty green chili pork, Espos originally started serving the farm worker community and has been dishing happiness for over 40 years.

We visited Espos on a beautiful April Sunday in Phoenix before the heat melted our skin off so we enjoyed sitting outside in the comfortable patio. There is no table service, rather you order inside and then find a seat. The margaritas are only $2 and they are quite delicious and refreshing on a warm afternoon. You can also order a bucket of beers and they will literally put them on ice for you. Even though the patio is sitting right on Chandler Blvd, it feels secluded and inviting, making you forget that a huge mall is just right down the road.

The portions are plentiful so be prepared to possibly take leftovers home or share a dish. You would think that with this kind of quality ingredients, prices would be high but they are not. A red chili burrito is under $6 and it is not a baby burrito! There are also a variety of snack options such as corn or flour chips with a whole variety of dips such as queso, green chili beef, or pico de gallo. The rice and beans are good, but unless your plate comes with it, I would rather focus my laser sights on enjoying the tasty main dishes. You won’t be hungry, that’s for sure!

So bring your friends, order some good food, and chillax on the patio with a margarita or a frosty cerveza and let summer roll on by…

https://www.espos.co/special-event-pictures

 
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Posted by on 03/26/2017 in Mexican

 

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April 23, 2016 – Flo’s

Flo’s Tempe

788 E Baseline Rd

Tempe, AZ 85282

480-588-7922

http://www.madebyflo.com/

Organized by: Karna and Fred

 

In April, we visited one of the three locations of Flo’s, a local Arizona restaurant opened in 1997 and focused on spicing up your experience with Asian cuisine. Their motto of “Traditions with a twist” illustrates that there will be plenty of recognizable dishes but with some twists to wake up your senses.

We made our place on the back patio and, even on this windy day, it was a really comfortable setting with the added bonus of twinkle lights. We certainly enjoyed the San Diego type weather before the Arizona summer rears its ugly head.

As with almost every dinner, we started with cocktails. Ann ordered a Pomerita-Florita, made with tequila, triple sec, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, sweet & sour, and soda water. To cut down on the sweetness, she ordered it without sweet & sour and it was still plenty sweet and probably more refreshing. Well done Ann! We also ordered some beers like Kiltlifter and the Japanese beer, Asahi, which is similar to a Heineken and a few bottles of Riesling. Just out of curiosity, we also ordered a taster of the Hakutsuru Plum Wine. Yes, it was just as sweet as imagined, but this was different. It was a thicker, more fragrant sweetness. Sound crazy? The best way I can describe it is to say, imagine the difference between drinking the juice of a plum versus the empty, hollow sweetness of a processed candy.

Never one to shy away from apps, we tried the lettuce wraps, potstickers (chicken, pork, and veggie versions), and the spicy wontons. The spicy wontons were hands down my favorite of the night! Shrimp and pork wontons served in a chili oil plus a soy and vinegar sauce. Nom nom nom! The lettuce wraps were a nice surprise as well. Unlike the drier versions that you find at PF Chang’s and Pei Wei, the lettuce wraps are covered in a tasty sauce. Be careful of using the red chile sauce, it carries a yummy but spicy kick!

Kelly and Tony ordered the Hot and Sour Soup, but little did hey know that they would receive a cauldron! Entrees included Thai Fried Catfish and Chile Sauce; Katsu Chicken, which is panko breaded chicken on egg-fried rice with teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds; Yellow Curry Chicken; and Yuxiang Pork, a twist on an imperial dish with bell peppers and onions. The sauce on the Yuxiang was surprisingly sweet considering it was on the “spicy China” side of the menu. Perhaps I needed to order it with more spice? The Spicy Orange Chicken was delicious! If you have ever been to Panda Express, do not make the mistake of thinking this is the same. Instead, think less bread and more flavorful sauce.

Sadly, we didn’t get to try the Peking Duck which is on the “hidden treasures” menu and needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance. For dessert, we enjoyed the Chocolate Won Tons, which were little crisp pastries filled with chocolate ganache and a tasty wrap up to the night.

Overall it was good, but there were plenty of intriguing dishes that we just didn’t have the chance to try. I guess it just means we will have to go back. 🙂

Prost!

 
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Posted by on 04/24/2016 in Asian fusion, Chinese, Thai

 

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A night for bons vivants – homemade pasta and wine at VinciTorio’s

VinciTorio’s 
1835 E Elliot Rd C-109
Tempe, AZ 85284
480-820-2786
http://www.vincitoriosrestaurant.com/
Organized by Fred and Karna S.
 

The Double D’s met up again in July to experience VinciTorio’s Italian Restaurant in Tempe. And yes, I mean not just visit, but experience it. The night we visited was also the night of the dueling pianos in the wine bar (Enoteca) section of the restaurant. There are other live music offerings in the wine bar during the week – such as Sarah Vanell who we have seen before at Vintage 95 – however the dueling pianos are only once a month, so reservations are required. There is a quieter dinning side if you are not in the mood for song and dance, but trust me…you would be missing out.

We started with a bottle of 14 Hands Chardonay (Washington) for some and a bottle – then another – of Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah (Sonoma County). The Syrah was delicious and a little bit lighter, which was nice for the summer evening.

All of our entrees came with a choice of soup or salad. Surprisingly all the men chose a salad and all the ladies ordered the cream of mushroom soup, at Karna’s recommendation. The soup was tasty and quite thick and creamy with little pieces of mushrooms included.

The entrees were well-prepared classic rustic Italian dishes: Raviloi di Formaggio (four cheeses), Raviloi Carbonara (sauteed bacon), Spaghetti Bolognese, Raviloi di Zucca (butternut squash), Linguine Vongole (clams), and Gnocchi Garganico – just to name a few. What sets these dishes apart is the focus on quality. The raviloi, trofie (short rolled shells), and gnocchi are all made in-house by Mario and his team. The remainder of the pasta is imported from Italy and made fresh daily. The tomato-basil sauce on top of the cheese raviloi and the gnocchi was refreshing and flavorful as opposed to a heavy marinara sauce. There was an extra abundance of sauce on the raviloi which could probably be reduced but it was tasty all the same. The linguine with clams was quite a bit heavier than expected and it is a large portion but the white-wine broth was good. The special of the evening was chicken stuffed with cheese in a marinara sauce paired with gnocchi in a cheese sauce. It was a lot of food, but delicious. Don enjoyed the gnocchi so much that he wished he could secretly lick the plate before they whisked it away. To sum it up the food was not overly pretentious, rather it was classic dishes with simple quality ingredients that allowed you to enjoyed the meal and not overwhelm your senses.

The service was exceptional. Mario (the owner) was very visible walking around the restaurant making sure that all the guests were taken care of. Water glasses were regularly filled, dishes were cleared quickly after you were done, and question or need was quickly addressed by a courteous employee, and all this with a very packed house. You could see the staff bustling around and clearly focused on making sure that everything was taken care of. Even when we left, staff that we had not even seen before were thanking us for coming and bidding us good night. This made for a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere during the entire evening.

The dueling pianos was a special treat which was lively and entertaining. Some of the girls in our group were dancing fools and enjoying every minute while some of the guys (I’m looking at you two, Bill and Don) were in agony. They are not fans of their wives dancing and signing at the table and this just gave them the freedom to do it all night and quite loudly.

All in all, it was an extremely fun evening with singing, dancing, lots of laughter, good food and wine, and great friends. Another successful DD’s event – thanks so much Karna and Fred!

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Posted by on 07/28/2013 in Italian, Pizza, Wine Bar

 

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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.

 

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

 

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Hula’s Modern Tiki

Hula’s Modern Tiki
4700 N Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Ph 602.265.8454
http://hulasmoderntiki.com/
Hours: M-Th 11a-10p/Fri 11a-2a/Sat 10:30a-1a/Sun 10:30a-10p
Organized by: Jay and Ann
 
Aloha oukou! Come with us as Jay shares his Hawaiian memories with us at Hula’s Modern Tiki. This restaurant which opened in 2009 is part of the gentrification of downtown Phoenix and is helping to bring life back into the old soul of our city. We can be more than just wagon wheels and dusty roads and the City of Phoenix’s adaptive reuse program is helping to make that happen. Mahalo nui loa!
 
This building has so much character starting with the comfy outdoor Lanai (patio) with fire pit and umbrellas and finishing with the unique octagonal window, both which look out onto Central Avenue. The cocktails are delicious and cheers to the mixologists! For the first time ever, I enjoyed a MaiTai or two or three…
 
For appys we sampled some of the Hawaiian Ceviche and the Island Style Poke (Poke-eh). If you didn’t know, like me, Poke is not something you do to someone (sorry Ann) rather it is raw fish, usually Ahi, in a sauce. This time it was mixed in a soy sauce with avocado, onions and macadamia nuts. Jay, the resident Poke connoisseur, said it was good but it’s hard to top the Poke at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion.
 
Dinner entrees were da’ bomb with the Jawaiian Jerk Butterfish (pictured) topped with jerk sauce and paired with fried sweet plantains and jamaican johnny cakes which have a consistency similar to a zucchini or banana bread. We tried a new menu item which is the Kalbi ribs; Korean marinated short ribs paired with refreshing macaroni salad and rice cooked with coconut milk. ‘Ono! (delicious!) We also sampled the Cajun Burger which was okay but when visiting this place, you definately need to go with their specialties! Kelly and Tony raved about the Thai Chicken Bowl which had a spicy sauce paired with jasmine rice and Pat ordered the Bali Hai BBQ Ribs; tender pork ribs with mango BBQ sauce and sweet potato fries. Nturally we also ordered a side of the mac n’ cheese which was fantastic! The comfort food classic was so similar to “mom’s mac” that it transported me back home to family dinner. Food that can induce time travel? Who knew?! The surprise delight for me came from the Blackened Wasabi Hapu (for Sarah and Jen) and Ahi (for Jay), also pictured. Lightly blackened with a drizzle of wasabi cream sauce and paired with wasabi mashed potatoes and *perfectly crunchy* cooked snap peas. There is a bit of a kick but just drink some MaiTai if needed and you will be all set!
 
There were no deserts tonight, just happy satisfied friends having a good time. It was such a pity to have to end for the night, but until next time…Malama pono and A hui hou.
 
(once again we find ourselves missing Jay and Bill in the photos. Just in case an alibi is needed…these shy little devils naturally found a way to weasel out of the picture frame. But we have a new addition to the gallery, Ann’s finger! This adorable little digit makes an appearance and photo bombs the food pics. See you next time little digit!)
 
wasabi ahi tiki patio tiki group modern tiki
jawaiian fish
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
(outdoor images of Hula’s Modern Tiki are from bing.com/images)
 
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Posted by on 02/24/2013 in American, Asian fusion

 

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Pestos Pizza and Wine Bar

Pestos Pizza and Wine Bar
1960 W Ray Rd Suite 4
Chandler, AZ
Ph 480.821.2949
http://pestospizza.com/
Organized by: Jen and Don Westhafer
 
Merry Christmas! It’s time again for the DDs holiday party and wine exchange! This year we had a theme of Scarves and Hats. You can see from the pics who chose what to wear. Please pay special attention to Ann’s “honey bee” hat for it is quite adorable.

Pestos is a favorite of many of the DDs but we have never visited there as a group, so this was a great choice for our holiday get together. We started with some appetizers which included a sampler of Stuffed Mushrooms, a special dish of figs wrapped in bacon (hello, heaven!) and tasty bruschetta.

Dinner included various dishes from lasagna, calzones, meat pizzas (hello, heartburn), and grilled chicken dishes. Pestos also does a great job with cocktails especially the Blueberry Lemondrop (pictured).

Jay and Bill again did their best to avoid the camera but Sarah was able to sneak one picture of the ever mysterious Jay-man. This evidence should sell for millions on eBay!

The wine/beer/alcohol exchange was again a fun time with some tears of loss offset with tears of joy as gifts were stolen. We missed the company of Fred and Karna but know that we will see them soon. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

apps and martini group jay and bill jay ladies

 
 

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FEZ

FEZ Restaurant & Bar
3815 N Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85012
ph: 602.287.8700
fax: 602.287.8708
http://www.fezoncentral.com
Organized by: Ann and Jay H.
 
Finally the weather has cooled down for outdoor dining and the Double Ds did not let the opportunity pass us by. For October we visited FEZ on Central just north of Osborn. I was immediately struck by the fun decor like the long community table that was filled with grass and topped with glass or like the large opaque glass panels hanging from the ceiling that seperates the bar from the restaurant. We were seated outside to enjoy the great patio that had a nice fan for circulation. The music was a little loud and we had to shout a bit to talk even with a smaller than normal group but the seating otherwise was very comfortable.
 
Since FEZ is celebrating their 7th anniversary we were lucky to get to enjoy Happy Hour until 7pm. We started with ordering some beers and trying their signature rocks margaritas. The pomegranate margarita was very tasty and sweet but not overly so, while the watermelon margarita was very sweet and included a surprise gummy worm. We discovered that all “melon” related cocktails come with a gummy worm which we found a little strange. I am not sure if every customer is on board with this little gimmick because I even found an unwanted gummy worm smushed on the floor by a nearby table.
 
We also enjoyed some appetizers, even receiving one for free because of the special on parties of 7 or more due to the anniversary. Those who tried the calamari said it was crispy yet fresh and paired with a spicy paprika aioli. You know it is good stuff when they even opted to enjoy the fresh flavors without any sauce. We also tried the chicken phyllo packets filled with spinach, marinated chicken, roasted red pepper, and feta cheese paired with a roasted pepper aioli. The packets were good but surprisingly didn’t pack the flavor that we anticipated, however adding the pepper aioli made a huge difference and kicked up the flavor.
 
Dinner was filled with many different versions of burgers like the Fez burger topped with spicy honey molasses BBQ, cinnamon pears, feta and crispy onions; the Bleu Cheese Balsamic burger which had a great bleu cheese flavor with a hint of sweetness from the balsamic glaze; the Tan-Tan chicken sandwich with panko chicken breast topped by baba ganoush, green olives, and bell pepper aioli; the Duxelles burger topped with mushrooms, onions, and provolone; and finally the extremely tasty Tangier burger topped with a hummus spread and an amazing herb pesto, red onions, and manchego. mmmm, delish. The burgers were a little greasier than expected but thankfully they were served on a ciabatta bun which helped soak up some of the excess. Karna ordered the Crisp Pomegranate Chicken which is pan seared breasts with a pomegranate dressed spinach, roasted peppers, artichokes (yum!), chickpeas, apricots and croutons. Karna’s first impression was to say that the salad was too soaked in dressing but then proceeded to sop up every bite. 🙂
 
Some of us continued on with cocktails and some enjoyed a delicious bottle of Layer Cake Malbec. You can’t go wrong with a malbec from Argentina! Although we were all full, we did order the bananna creme brulee. When else can you try such an option?! There was definately a bananna flavor and the creme brulee was perfectly done. Just the right blend of creaminess with a perfect crunch on the top.
 
Parking is extremely easy with their own parking lot and a light rail stop close by on either Osborn or Indian School which makes it a good location for a night out.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Posted by on 10/20/2012 in American, Moroccan

 

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September 29, 2012 – St Francis

St. Francis
111 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85012
602.200.8111
http://www.stfrancisaz.com
Hours: M-Th 11-10/ F 11-11/ Sat 9-11/ Sun 9-9
Brunch served on Saturday and Sunday 9-2:30
Organized by: Jenn Harrison
 
There is something magical about visiting a restaurant that has such a fun archeticural style mixed with a great vibe and cuisine. St Francis is located in downtown Phoenix amongst large car dealerships but somehow all that falls away when you visit. The Double Ds seemed to have a place of honor at a great large table that is in a gorgeous glass alcove happily jutting out into the landscape. Named as an homage to San Francisco and the local St Francis community neighborhood, the restaurant is not only pleasing to the tastbuds but also to the eye with the beautiful exposed brick, modernly fashionable bathrooms, and appealing art that lines the walls.
 
Happy Hour is available everyday until 6pm and some of the regular menu items are available for less which is a great chance for you to try more than one dish.  It’s not Ds without cocktails and this night was no different. St Francis offers delicious signature cocktails such as St Francis Lemonade and Cucumber Cooler featuring homemade syrups. I had to make sure they weren’t a one-hit wonder so I tried another Lemonade, then another, then another…yup, always bursting with amazing flavors.
 
Dishes can be seasonal and this time there were some options with a fall twist. Karna and I tried the pumpkin soup which was very good and with an unexpected pomegranate seed. Fred enjoyed the Pork Chop with chestnut puree, savoy cabbage, bacon, and whole grain mustard pork au jus and I ordered the Pot Roast with sweet corn polenta, mushrooms, horseradish, celery, and fresh herbs. The flavor was fantastic but the cut of meat was too fatty for my taste in that dish. Many of the rest of the dinner dishes came from the happy hour menu but are also offered on the dinner menu as well. Tasty options such as the savory Pork Chili Verde; the not so bad Meatballs with moroccan spice,hen egg, and pearl pasta; and the killer French Onion Burger made with smoken bacon, gruyere, and crispy onions. It has bacon, of course it wins! Next time I really must try a pizza in their wood fired oven. So many dishes, so little time.
 
We were pretty stuffed but we had to try the deserts. We all shared the seasonal Pumpkin Cheescake in a Jar topped with candied walnuts and the Chocolate Stout Cake served with a cinnamon smoked chile gelato. Oh, yes. I said cinnamon chile gelato with moist chocolate cake. Nom, nom.
 
Parking is tough because of the limited space but a friendly and personable complementary valet is ready and waiting to help so you and your friends can have a wonderful D kind of visit.
 
 
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Posted by on 09/29/2012 in American, Pizza

 

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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!

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

 

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