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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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Playing in Park City

As a surprise, I kidnapped the hubby and took him to Park City, Utah for a long weekend. Neither one of us had been there, but with so much publicity about it, especially during the Sundance Film Festival, I figured it would be fun to go check it out.

We stayed in a villa at Marriott’s Summit Watch which is right on Main Street. They also have another location up on the mountain but, since it was low season and no snow, I am really glad that we stayed in town.

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The room was very cozy and, in true Marriott fashion, the bedding was super plush and there was a large soaking Jacuzzi tub that tall people will relish. We arrived really late on a Saturday night but took a quick walk around the deserted Main Street enjoying the crisp air before bed. On Sunday morning, we woke up late and enjoyed a cup of coffee while lounging by the fire. Being in search of a sports bar to watch the Steeler’s game, we headed over to Collie’s Bar and Grille.

As dog lovers, we appreciated their slogan of “Where good food is herding people together”. J Clearly Collie’s is the place to watch games because they had EVERY game on and a chart of what tables to sit at depending on what game you wanted to watch. Talk about a serious operation! We hoped to try their Green Chili Cheese Fries but were told that they were out so we settled for some chips and queso. They were good and the queso had a small amount of spice, so it wasn’t as bland as just melted cheese sauce. We wanted to try some of their BBQ so we split the Devils Friend with brisket and burnt ends and paired it with the coleslaw and corn bread. I think the winner of this plate was the brisket and coleslaw. The corn bread was okay, a little dry and not served with any butter. We washed lunch down with a local Park City’s Hooker Blonde Ale and Moab Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout.

Then we went out for a stroll to see historic Park City in the daylight. Being low season, there was not the rush of people that I assume arrive in the winter or in January for the film festival. This made for a nice leisurely walk. We took the free trolley up to the top of the hill and walked down stopping at all the shops along the way. There were lots of shops selling high priced winter gear, art, and other Park City tourist items. It was fun to look at but since we are from the warmer Phoenix valley, I decided to avoid spending $200 on a pair of furry boots that I could never wear, even if they were made in Canada from the tears of polar bears.

 

Since we were not used to being at 7,000 feet and it seemed drier than the Arizona desert, we were starting to get a little altitude headaches so we headed back to the room for a nap. We stopped on the way at a fun little doughnut shop called Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. I had never seen a shop where they create your donut toppings when y14925641_10209436713467194_1549364469874266443_nou order! They dip the donut into the warm frosting and then into the desired topping giving you fresh and creative made to order donuts. Since we like to try different flavors, we order a six pack with black and gold sprinkles (Steelers, baby!), maple bacon, chocolate chip, cherry pie, and banana Nestle crunch. I am glad they are small because they pack a rich sugar punch for sure!

 

After our nap, we tried to decide on a place to have dinner. Since many of the places were closed on Sunday and Monday and we didn’t have a car, we thought we were limited to options so we stopped for pizza and wine at Vinto Pizzeria on the Marriott property. Big mistake. Firstly, every child in town seemed to be in the restaurant with their family and all of them seemed to think words needed to be shouted. Secondly, we were tucked way back in the forgotten corner and I seriously thought I was never going to see a waiter. Remember, this is “low season”, imagine how they handle it when they are busy. Yikes! I ordered a cup of tomato basil soup and got a bowl. Then we ordered a bottle of wine, but were finished with our starter of goat cheese and pesto on pita before it ever came to us. We were told the bar was backed up but we didn’t see a single other table with drinks. So either that was a lie or they were sooooo far behind that no one had their drinks yet. The pizza was fine enough and afterwards we ended up at High West Distillery Saloon for a cocktail. Man we should have started here for dinner!

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High West is a large operation that we just learned was sold recently for $160M dollars to Constellation Brands making them a sibling to other high quality brands like Prisoner Wine Co. and Ballast Point Brewery. For such a big operation, the saloon in Park City was so charming and comfortable. The décor recreated an old-west saloon feel and all the servers looked dapper in their buttoned shirts and vests or denim and boots. Even the music fit the vibe playing some bluegrass and folk songs like Mumford and Sons and other bands in that genre. Bill ordered an Old Fashioned Old Fashioned which was the less sweet version and made with their Rendezvous Rye and an orange twist. I wanted to try something a little different so I got the Rusty Miner, which is made with their Double Rye! and smoked honey syrup. I was so sad to learn later that the smoked honey syrup was a special creation and not something that I could pick up at home.

 

Monday we used the free bus service again and took a trip to Kimball Junction to visit the Olympic Park. After taking the long way back on the bus and seeing some of the neighborhoods, we came back to downtown for dinner at Adolph’s. A former Swiss ski racer, Chef Adolph Imboden opened this amazing restaurant more than 30 years ago. The inside looks like a mixture of a ski chalet  and a memorabilia shop with all the pictures of skiers who have come to dine at Adolph’s. Again since it was low season we were lucky that we could walk right in and get a table at this warm and welcoming place. We were even greeted by Adolph himself who was answering phones and seating guests.

We started with the house specialty of Swiss Onion Soup that was divine! Creamy, delicate, and flavorful. It was like French Onion Soup but only four times better and without the soggy bread. We also tried the Swiss specialty of Bündnerfleisch, which is dried beef sliced thin and served with prosciutto, pickles, tomatoes, bread, and butter.

For dinner, Bill ordered the veal chop special served with a morel mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. He couldn’t get over how tender and flavorful the chop was and had to resist licking his plate clean. I ordered Veal Adolph’s, which was thin pieces of veal in a creamy mushroom wine sauce and served with a hash brown type of potato. It was so incredible! The flavors and the textures all blended together so perfectly.

Dinner had been so amazing; we couldn’t pass up trying one of the desserts. We ordered the Viennese Apple Strudel, which came with a warm vanilla sauce, and I tried a glass of the pear brandy. I normally don’t like dessert cocktails, but when in Rome, right? The brandy was strong but went so nicely with the rich and flaky strudel. Such an incredible end to a great meal.

We were relishing the cool crisp air and the evening had been so amazing that we didn’t want it to end. After getting a cab back to downtown, we found ourselves back at High West for another cocktail (or two or three).

Now it was day three and we have to head back later on that evening. I made another trek on the trolley to the top of the hill and stopped at Wasatch Brewery to buy Bill a Polygamy Porter sweatshirt he wanted and decided to stop at the bar for a quick pint of the smooth porter on draft. I paired it with a cup of creamy ham and pea soup and some fried pickles with a spicy dip for a quick lunch.

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Determined to get in one more restaurant visit, we stopped by Butcher’s Chop House for an early dinner before heading to the airport. Besides having a beautiful wood bar, there is also a nice view of the mountain and part of downtown. It is great to people watch while enjoying some happy hour treats. Their slogan of “Elegance without arrogance” seems spot on. It was comfortable and welcoming while being good quality. Since it was low season, we even enjoyed a special pricing on entrees and got one dinner free. Naturally, we tried some steaks since we were at a chophouse. Bill and I both ordered the prime rib with a mixture of bacon Brussel sprouts, jalapeno mac and cheese, or sautéed asparagus. I am not sure when Brussel sprouts started coming back in fashion but I do know that over the past few years, I have regained a new love for the small little cabbages and now crave them sautéed, roasted, broiled, or flash fried. Especially if it comes with some bacon or pancetta. Nom nom nom!

After a quick three days in Park City, it was time for us to head back home to Arizona. While the shopping and some of the tourists we ran into may be a bit pretentious, the spirit of the town and the people that work there make this a place we would love to come back to see again. Maybe next time there will be snow and those cocktails at High West will be even more enjoyable while we warm our toes by the fire.

Until then – cheers!

 
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Posted by on 11/13/2016 in American, Pizza, Southern

 

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January 24, 2015 – Tuck Shop

Tuck Shop: neighborhood comfort food

2245 N 12th St Phoenix, AZ

602.354.2980

http://www.tuckinphx.com/

Organized by: Ann and Jay

 

In 2015, the DDs will celebrate 5 years of dining shenanigans! 5 years, people! I think this is a testament to the amazing group of people that we have. Love them all 🙂

Since we are at a milestone year, we did a little reminiscing by going back to an oldie but a goodie, Tuck Shop in Phoenix. The first time we visited this cozy home of deliciousness 3 years ago was after seeing it on an episode of Check Please Arizona. Now a few of us have made this a frequent haunt but we haven’t been back as a group since. It can sometimes be scary to revisit a love from the past because time and memories have a way of exaggerating our feelings, but today’s trip did not fall prey to that possibility.

The first time we visited was the first time I had experienced the gentrification that is happening in the historic Coronado district of old homes being turned into cozy dining places. I remember feeling like a behemoth the first time. Like some giant trampling around a quaint village and trying to fold myself into a small cube in order not to disturb other diners. Since then, we have visited many different locations that are “creative” with the limited space they have and I was pleased to see that Tuck Shop this time seemed roomy and welcoming yet intimate. Funny thing is that they didn’t change, I did.

Luckily the food hadn’t changed and was just as delectable as I remembered. As usual, we started with some cocktails such as my personal favorite the 12th&Oak, made with a dangerous mix of Southern Comfort and orange liquor. It is just sour enough for me and just sweet enough to make you forget that this should not be consumed in great quantities – if you plan on being upright tomorrow. We also really enjoyed the French75 that is made with bubbly, a rum cocktail, and a ginger mule. Muah!

Then we moved onto some appetizers that obviously included a few orders of cheese curds. This almost seems like an unwritten law when visiting Tuck Shop. Made from local dairy farmers and beer battered, they are light and creamy yet rich with taste. We also had the parsnip and potato poutine but this was not one of my favorites. I like my poutine to be a little messier. A little more sinful. The poutine at Tuck Shop was too clean. Too well behaved. The Fontina Sticks of cheese with panko & walnut crust were good but a little light in flavor however the sweet pear sauce was a nice touch. The Stuffed Medjool Dates with Schreiner’s chorizo, melted gruyere and dressed arugula was delish. The chorizo was a bit spicy but having it as the surprise middle of the dates made for an amazing balance of spicy and sweet.

For the main dish we had quite a variety of fantastic options. There was the Eggplant Parm which is not the standard dish you would imagine; the citrus-brined chicken (and a hint of honey) paired with white-cheddar waffles and green beans; the Pine AZ Spiced Steak dry rubbed and served with parmesan lentil mashed Yukons; and the red beans & rice made with fresh linguisa sausage and topped with a skewer of grilled creole shrimp.

There was also the Ropa Vieja Chili with corn johnnycakes, cojita cream, and super fine sweet potato haystacks. It had had a flavorful spice and even a green olive surprise. The roasted Brussel Sprouts with white wine, mustard cream, and crushed almonds were such a delight. The magicians at Tuck Shop turned something that is a childhood nightmare and made it into the stuff of dreams. Some of the guys also ordered the Meat and Three special which tonight was tender lamb shanks with tortilla soup and a Yukon Gold potato stuffed with bacon. Result = fantastic!

For dessert, we ordered both the chocolate bread with hazelnut frosting and the pear tart in a French pastry crust with homemade whipped cream. The chocolate bread was good but was a little dry and improved greatly when we tried it with the whipped cream. The pear tart was amazing and the crust was buttery and flaky. I typically don’t like whipped cream because it can taste empty and soul-less but this whipped cream was the real deal. You know, the kind that is rich yet delicate and mixed with the flavor of mom’s kitchen and sprinkled with Christmas.

Our trip down memory lane was not a scary episode and Tuck Shop made sure that they served up a dose of the magic that made us love them 3 years ago. The only thing missing was the rest of our group who couldn’t make it or else it would have been a perfect evening.

 May the roof above us never fall down and we friends below never fall out. – an Irish toast

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Posted by on 01/24/2015 in American

 

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