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Tag Archives: good happy hour

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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