In the short time I’ve spent living in Phoenix, I’ve had me a few burgers, but I until heading to Rehab Burger Therapy, I had not yet made my way to a place specializing in those delicious ground beef and bun combinations. I arrived in Old Town Scottsdale thinking I was going to go to town on some meat on meat action, but my meal took an unexpected turn.
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.
In my ceaseless quest to find the best breakfast in breakfast heaven (Arizona), I found myself at the creatively named Breakfast Kitchen Bar in Scottsdale. Yay for sarcasm. But while the name wasn’t creative, the menu had a few things I had never seen before, one of them being the Breakfast Pizza.
Aside from the deadly temperatures, one major thing I was worried about in moving to Phoenix was how I was going to get my Asian food fix. No, not sushi and orange chicken, but the real stuff. I heard about a place in Mesa called Mekong Plaza, which was supposed to have a bunch of good, real Asian restaurants and as luck would have it, it turned out to be between work and home. So, I paid a visit to Taiwan Food Express to see what they had to offer.
Is there anything better in the world for two brothers to do than to build a brewery? Well, that’s what one pair of brothers thought (allegedly) when they put together Two Brothers Brewery, a microbrewery with locations mostly around the Chicago area, but also one in Scottsdale because Chicago places seem to feel welcome here.
There are a few things that you can always assume I will want to try. One is cheese dip and another is gigantic burgers (among other things). So, when I heard that a place called Roaring Fork in Scottsdale had something called the Big Ass Burger, it didn’t take much convincing to get me there. Getting me to eat outside in the middle of the desert summer, on the other hand, was a different story. But such is life when you want to take advantage of what is one of the best happy hours in the Phoenix area.
And while the Big Ass Burger has a nice discount during happy hour, there is also a little something called Queso Con Puerco, which is a cheesy dip that has braised pork mixed in. It comes with tortilla chips for dipping, but I could have easily eaten this stuff by the spoonful. The queso has a perfect thickness and viscosity, while the pork adds a meaty dimension that really every dipping sauce should have. It’s cheesy, porky goodness and it makes the world a better place simply by existing.
As for the Big Ass Burger, it comes topped with smoked pepper bacon, cheddar, poblano pepper, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions. And also fries on the side. I ordered without the lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions, and at a medium-rare.
When it arrived, I could immediately tell that it lived up to its name. It was undoubtedly big, and would certainly contribute to the size of my ass. And somehow they found a bun to contain the meat. As I bit in, my mouth met with a juicy burger that was well-seasoned. Actually, it may have been a little too well-seasoned, as it was a little tough to handle the salt content of some of the bites. It was slightly overcooked, but not enough to really disappoint, and the bun was just a little too big. Now, with these complaints being said, they are all pretty minor and I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t like the Big Ass Burger.
On the contrary, I found it to be a very delicious experience and one that I won’t soon forget. Plus, there’s really no way to top the value for the money here during happy hour. My only hope is that next time (and there will be a next time) the meat is cooked a little more to my liking.
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.
My wise wife once said, “You can take the man out of Detroit, but you can’t take the Detroit out of the man.” When I was living in LA, one of the most exciting things to happen was the opening of Coney Dog, a Detroit-style chili dog spot. Due to probably a number of circumstances, that business failed. In Phoenix, however, a spot called Detroit Coney Grill seems to have made all the right decisions because it now has THREE locations in the area. And for some reason the Tempe location closes at 7:00, so I made my way out to Mesa to try it out for myself.
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.
Anyone who knows me knows that I hate mornings. Yet, I love breakfast food with all of its bacon and eggy goodness. It’s a conundrum that I am coming to terms with in the Phoenix area, which I believe to have the highest per capita breakfast restaurants. My latest was Snooze in Scottsdale, which is inappropriately named as far as I’m concerned, but the line of people waiting to eat there didn’t seem to mind.