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.
There are certain aspects of the Phoenix area that are tough to get used to. Not in the sense that they are bad in any way, just that they are different. You see, I spent much of my life thinking that good food is a pretty rare find in a strip mall or as a standalone building in the parking lot of a strip mall. But, when a city is basically all strip malls, the good food simply has to be there. Thus, while my expectations of BBQ spots are generally a bit less pristine than a strip mall, I couldn’t pass up the chance to check out Naked BBQ in Scottsdale.
We can all agree that Phoenix is not LA. Good, now that that’s settled, Phoenix does appear to get an event or two on occasion, and the first since I made the big move was the 8th Annual Arizona Taco Festival, which converged at the Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. While the place is better-known for MLB spring training, the vast field was put to good use in hosting dozens of vendors pushing mostly tacos, but also drinks, desserts and the occasional t-shirt.
Movie theaters have come a long way over the years. Comfier seats, better picture and sound, and booze in the lobby. But while I’ve seen food in a theater, I’ve never quite seen a theater like Roadhouse Cinemas in Scottsdale. You see, Roadhouse Cinemas doesn’t just have a food, they have a full on restaurant in which you can order at and then choose whether to eat at the restaurant or in the theater with fancy seats and trays that rotate out.
When you name a restaurant Grassroots, you have to assume that meat lovers will be fearful. Aside from awesome 60s music, the name evokes a hippy dippy vegan spot. Yet, it is anything but. Sure, this Scottsdale spot caters to the veggie-loving crowd, but it caters to unvegans no less so. Plus, let’s not forget that it does harken to the 60s music crowd.
On a quest for a good burger I found myself at Twisted Grove in Scottsdale speaking with a hostess. She said something about the fact that they did not have a burger to speak of. Yet, as I began to walk to the exit, she said they did have an amazing tri tip sandwich. Like any good unvegan, I turned back around and took a seat at an open table.
After a fruitless attempt to grab happy hour down in Scottsdale town, we consulted a nifty little thing called NoWaitApp and found out we could get seated immediately at The Vig in McCormick Ranch and made our way there. The Vig seemed to be a combination of trendy and sports bar-esque food that was right up my alley. So far up, in fact, that I had to consult the waitress before choosing what to order.
EDIT: This location is closed, but there seems to be a couple other Uncle Sam’s still standing.
On our way out of Arizona, the girlfriend thought it would be nice to visit a place of nostalgia for her so we could pick up some sandwiches for the road. The place was called Uncle Sam’s and was so patriotic that they had water misters spraying all over the outside just to prove how America has conquered the desert. Also, because everything was red, white and blue. The general style and ambiance of the place reminded me of the USA Cafe in Lansing, Michigan that I used to frequent in my youth, so Uncle Sam’s was a bit nostalgic for me, too.
LA isn’t the only place in the world to offer a restaurant week. Arizona also flexed their restaurant week muscles last month. At $29 for a three-course meal for every restaurant listed (as opposed to LA, which has three different price levels), it’s important to pick the right place. They also note that the price is $58 per couple. Thank you, but I can do math. I know that 29 x 2 = 58, so if you’re not going to offer me some sort of couples discount, I really don’t see the point of showing me this. Mathematical anger aside, we decided to head to Bloom, a fancy American restaurant.