When I left LA to move to Phoenix I had one major concern. No, it wasn’t the heat in the summer, it was the lack of ramen. You see, LA spoils you with a lot of Asian food, but ramen is easily one of the best of them. People go through life only knowing ramen from a dry cup and I feel terrible for those people, but is it better to have ramen and lost it than to never have had ramen at all? Lost or not, ramen has returned to my life in the form of Ramen Hood in Scottsdale. I headed out for the grand opening to see if it would fulfill my needs.
Traveling for work can sometimes take you to big cities with tons of food. And sometimes it can take you to places like Idaho Falls, Idaho. It’s a place with a surprising amount of options considering the airport only has three gates, but, I mean, still. So on my first night there I went straight to a restaurant within a hotel, which is usually not a good plan, but I had read good things. It was called Bee’s Knees.
Some BBQ places have a reputation that precedes them. Others, you just kind of drive by a bunch and decide it’s time to pay a visit. Porkopolis in Scottsdale is the latter, and I finally decided to pay that visit. I was greeted by possibly the friendliest waiter a BBQ restaurant has ever seen and the scent of smoke and meat juices.
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).
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.
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.
Scottsdale and breakfast go together like peas and carrots. Well, assuming those peas and carrots are nowhere near me. But having breakfast near me is good, so it became time to check out Ncounter in Scottsdale, its third location after presumably finding success in Tempe and Phoenix. I’m not sure what the “N” stands for, but the rest of the name is descriptive of the ordering style of the restaurant, so that made sense.