I’ll be the first to admit that long ago I wrote off Kona Grill as a generic bar and grill kind of spot with reheated food for yuppy types. Yet, when my coworkers and I ventured out for lunch one day and found ourselves at Kona Grill in Chandler, I didn’t protest because it still deserved a fair shot and who would I be to not give it one?
Scottsdale goes on forever. I mean, like, you drive north and north and north and you think you’re in Flagstaff but you’r still not even at the end of Scottsdale. Somewhere up there is Local Bistro, which recently was named one of the 25 Best Burgers in Phoenix. Thus, while the menu had some intriguing options, I knew the burger had to be mine.
Sometimes burgers build up a reputation. Whether by winning awards or word of mouth, it happens. This happened to Aioli Burger in both ways. Yeah, it won some burger battles, but also people told me about it and that doesn’t happen as much in Phoenix as it did in LA and Pittsburgh, so I figured it had to be real. Plus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I got a taste of Aioli Burger at the Scottsdale Culinary Fest earlier this year. Basically, the hype was real.
When you’re in Moab, Utah, it’s probably best to be as Moab as possible. This might mean crazy mountain biking, death-defying humvee riding or long hikes. Or it could mean a meal out at Miguel’s Baja Grill, a Mexican restaurant right in the middle of town. But it’s not enough to simply go to Miguel’s – the key is to eat Miguel’s M.O.A.B. (Mother of all Burritos).
The Phoenix area is wealthy in greasy Mexican fast food. These places generally have drive-through and are open 24/7. Moreover, they quite simply make the world a better place. Take Armando’s in Deer Valley, for example. I was hankering for something good on the way to northern Arizona, and Armando’s stood out like a shiny beacon calling for me.
Everyone knows that the best pasta in the world is gnocchi, but what about the best pasta sauce? Sure, pesto is great and bolognese makes a strong claim, but can anyone actually dispute the supremacy of carbonara? It is perfectly fit for an unvegan, and when I paid a visit to Picazzo’s in Phoenix, I couldn’t think of ordering anything else.
In my latest edition of Fox Restaurants, I went to The Arrogant Butcher in Downtown Phoenix. It’s kind of like a steakhouse, but it also has a lot of the food that you can find at other Fox Restaurants, which is either great or meh depending on how you feel about variety and creativity. So, we started off with a couple of appetizers before getting into the meat of the meal.
There’s little not to love about Tex-Mex, but it’s also hard to distinguish the difference between Mexican food that happens to be served in Texas and Tex-Mex. I have a theory that queso is the difference. Sure, queso literally means cheese in Spanish, but in Tex-Mex it means melty cheesy sauce. Torchy’s Tacos (originally from Austin) in San Antonio had some attractive queso on its menu, but I was also eager to eat its namesake tacos.
Tex-Mex is its own category of food. It seems weird because it gives the impression that Texans just somehow bastardized real Mexican food and had the audacity to put Tex before the Mex, but when you remember that Texas was once a part of Mexico, it begins to lose its weirdness. There is probably no place in the state of Texas where the former Mexican history is at the forefront of thought than in San Antonio, home of the Alamo (remember it). And in San Antonio is Mi Tierra, an old school Tex-Mex place with a full on panaderia to boot.
There’s really very little in life that can compare to a true apples to apples comparison. Or, if you’re in Lockhart, Texas, a meat to meat comparison. You see, Lockhart is the BBQ capital of Texas and literally after finishing up the brisket (or shoulder clod depending on who you are asking) at Kreuz Market, I headed right around the corner to Black’s BBQ, which a member of my family said was even better. In few moments, I would quickly decide whether he was foolish or praiseworthy.