How many agaves are too many? 10, 100, 1000? Cien Agaves seems to have settled on 100 as the right number. And, people seemed so happy with that number of agaves at the Old Town Scottsdale location that they decided to open a second location in north Scottsdale, technically bringing the total to doscientos agaves. But whatever, I was there for Mexican beer and Mexican food, not Mexican math.
Once again, I found myself at one of the Phoenix area’s seemingly endless supply of breakfast/brunch spots. This time it was a place called Scramble in Scottsdale. Scramble is one of those places where you order at the counter, which is all good and well until there’s only one person at the counter with a line out the door and a bunch of empty tables inside. But I digress, as even with that wait to order it probably took just as long to get my food as it would have if I had sat down and ordered at the table.
Tacos, tacos and more tacos. That was the premise of the Rockin’ Taco Rumble in Downtown Phoenix on March 2nd, 2018. $45 got you unlimited tacos, six drinks and a wooden nickel to vote for your favorite taco. It took place at Events on Jackson, which was a pretty cool venue, but what was much less cool was the fact that some spots were already running out of tacos by the time I arrived and the lines were crazy long. Nevertheless, I persisted and was able to identify some favorites.
I love old school greasy Mexican places. The types that have been around from years, have a stable menu and don’t try to introduce something crazy to the menu (I mean I like those too, but there’s a special place in my heart for the former). Ajo Al’s in Scottsdale is one of those old school places. Maybe it hasn’t been around since some of Phoenix’s older spots, but it opened in 1986, which is like 100 years ago in Arizona years.
Being in the media has its advantages. Case in point: getting to check out the menu and beers at SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler. For this event, SanTan wanted to highlight beer pairings and the normal menu without any specials, but also showed off the backroom where the brewing is actually done. Unlike other breweries I’ve been to, we were encouraged to bring a beer along for the tour, and that beer was the StrataBlaster IPA, part of the brewery’s pilot series and a great place to start.
Green hatch chiles may be known as a New Mexican thing, but they are unquestionably popular in the Phoenix area as well. Case in point – Jalapeno Inferno. Despite the name, the restaurant is totally willing to bring in other peppers and the deliver on this with their annual Hatch Chile Harvest, in which they bring in hatch chiles from New Mexico and incorporate them into some special dishes until they run out. Unlike the green chiles in a can, these carry some burn.
Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more breakfast spots in Scottsdale for me to visit, I give you First Watch. Now, First Watch actually has locations in 17 states, so it’s not entirely special to Scottsdale. And from what I had been told, it was not entirely special no matter which location you went to. Yet, that didn’t stop me from finding the one thing on the menu that seemed unique and unvegan.
Long before it was cool to do fusion food, Chino Bandido arrived on the scene in Phoenix. This was back in 1990 when interracial marriages were barely okay, let alone interracial food. But Chino Bandido found something that worked – Asian and Hispanic food and hasn’t looked back. So while the name is a reference to Chinese and Mexican food, things like Cuban Beans and Teriyaki Chicken tell a larger tale.
Hot on the heels of visiting perhaps the most overpriced (but still tasty) Mexican place I have ever been to, La Hacienda, I took a trip to Scottsdale Quarter to eat at Sol. Sol’s prices may not rival La Hacienda’s, but it is certainly in the upscale Mexican food family. Of course, it is not lost on me that while “sol” means “sun” in Spanish, it is also the name of the money in Peru.
The word “princess” does not exactly evoke words like “affordable,” down to earth” or “reasonable.” So, when I found out we were going out for Mexican food at a place called La Hacienda at the Fairmount Scottsdale Princess Hotel, I braced for the worse in terms of how expensive the meal would be. I truly just can’t understand the purpose of expensive Mexican food unless the place is blazing new trails. I hoped that La Hacienda would do just that.