La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval emerges with a new look and menu

Plenty of Mexican food can be found around Phoenix but not many fine dining Mexican food options. One of the best is La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess which offers a new look and menu. One of the things that has not changed is the history and heritage of the restaurant.

According to General Manager Jack Miller, “The leadership at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is committed to making sure the heritage and history of this local dining landmark is honored while bringing the design and menu forward. We are determined to make sure La Hacienda continues to be the top ranked Mexican restaurant in Arizona for another generation.”

The new Short Rib Barbacoa. All photos courtesy of The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Authentic dishes at La Hacienda

Influencing the menu comes when chef Richard Sandoval and chef Forest Hamrick visit their families and new restaurants in Mexico. Popular dishes including Lobster Tacos, Filet a la Parilla and table side guacamole returned when La Hacienda re-opened in late September. New dishes include Short Rib Barbacoa and Pescado Zarandeado, a barbecued Sea Bass with charred aioli, heirloom tomato and avocado.

Make sure you try the trio of Sweet Corn Tamales, the sweet spicy mole is “lick the plate” worthy.

Another new attraction are the 21 new specialty cocktails that have been introduced. All use less than four ingredients to highlight a specific flavor. “Smoked Cocktails” highlight the new cocktail menu that use Mezcal to give it the smoky flavor. La Hacienda features over 150 tequilas and a growing selection of Mezcal all picked by Tequila Goddess Katie Schnurr.

Black Currant Margarita

A new look and expansion

The exciting new menu is compliments the new look of La Hacienda created by Judith Testani. Testani is a local designer with her own firm, Testani Design. Testani says “The goal for the re-design of La Hacienda was to align the interior of the restaurant with the sophisticated palette of the chef and menu.”

The Bar at La Hacienda

An expanded lounge and bar allows guests to gather and offer communal dining at high top tables. Tequila bottles are on the new display shelf across from the agave wall crafted by a local artist.

Large light fixtures drop from the ceiling are new as is furniture and accessories from Mexico. Guests will notice light-colored stucco walls, detailed blacked steel and renovated restrooms.

Guest can dine at La Hacienda daily at 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. and 10 p.m. on Fri. & Sat. To view the menu and more information view their website.

 

Downtown Chandler to host Rockin’ Taco Street Fest

Food festival season is starting to get ramped up as the summer slowly comes to an end. On of the first festivals is the 7th annual Rockin’ Taco Street Fest on Saturday September 15th in downtown Chandler.

This years festival hosts 20 restaurants and food vendors making more tacos than one can eat. Restaurants such as Las Palmas, Taco Guild and Nando’s Mexican Cafe are just a few restaurants breaking out the recipe book to create unique tacos. Specialty Poke tacos, cactus and Korean chicken tacos are a few of the non-traditional tacos being served up at the family friendly event.

Downtown Chandler
Evil Waze. All photos ciourtesy of Jen Pruett of HDE Agency

More than just tacos

You can’t eat tacos for all 9 hours of the festival so entertainment from Santana cover band Evil Waze will take the stage. Metalachi, the world’s first and only mariachi heavy metal band will headline the festival.

A custom low-rider car show with In the Streets magazine will show off over 60 cars, bikes and trucks. Lucha libre wrestling and food eating contest will be going on throughout the day.

Get your tickets here

General admission tickets on-line are $10, $15 at the door with kids 12 and under free. The 21 years old + VIP tickets are $100 and available on-line only. VIP ticket holders get a private area, 6 alcoholic beverage tickets, catered food and shaded area. 

The Tequila Tavern tickets are $30 on-line get you 10 tequila samples and unlimited chips and salsa.

A portion of the proceeds from the festival will be donated to the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership. The non-profit DCCP mission is to use leadership and resources to promote the downtown Chandler area.

Tickets are available at http://www.rockintacoaz.com/ 

The festival is from 12-9 p.m. and is at Dr. AJ Chandler Park in downtown Chandler.

Much anticipated Ghost Ranch to open August 27th

One of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of 2018 is happening as August ends when Aaron Chamblerin’s Ghost Ranch opens on the 27th. It’s been a busy year for Chamberlin having opened Taco Chelo in downtown Phoenix and Ghost Ranch’s neighbor Tempe Public Market. He also sold his central Phoenix restaurant St. Francis to focus on opening Ghost Ranch.

All photos courtesy of Ghost Ranch

Eat at Ghost Ranch

The modern Southwestern restaurant located is on the same corner as TPM at the northeast corner of Rural & Warner. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner on weekdays and brunch and dinner on weekends.

The menu will focus on cuisine from northern Mexico, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico combining the culinary talents of Chamberlin and chefs Rene Andrade  & Roberto Centeno. Both chefs come to Chamberlin Hospitality from other Phoenix area restaurants and will offer dishes from their upbringing in Nogales.

Ghost Ranch
Chile Relleno

“One of my favorite things in the world is the smell of roasting chiles, and it was that smell that made me want to open up a restaurant that embodied the bold flavors of the Southwest,” said Chamberlin. “Rene and Roberto have such a deep understanding of the history, culture and flavors of the region — they are the perfect talents to help make my dream a reality.”

The menu includes red and green chile smothered enchiladas, cowboy steaks, seasonal vegetables from local farmers and grilled trout from the wood smoking grill. Seasonal soups and salads will be on the menu as well.

A beer and wine list has been carefully created as are signature cocktails made with regional ingredients and spirits.

Follow my Instagram @SandyWass as I will be headed to preview Ghost Ranch next week and will be posting from there.

Ghost Ranch is in the Landis Crossing shopping center at 1006 E. Warner Rd Tempe 85254. http://GhostRanchAZ.com.

Former Z’Tejas chef opens Cocina Madrigal in south Phoenix

After years of honing his culinary skills in restaurants in Mexico City and the United States for somebody else, Leo Madrigal decided to take those skills and open his own restaurant. The Oaxacan born Madrigal did just that recently with the opening of his Cocina Madrigal on the corner of 16th St. & Wood in south Phoenix.

All photos courtesy of Kassidy McDonald at Evolve Marketing

The 1,900 sq. ft. restaurant seats up to 140 people once the patio opens including the bar that’s serving signature margaritas and a unique section of tequila. “From the moment our guests walk into the restaurant, I want them to feel welcomed, appreciated and at home. I’m so excited to share my commitment to service and high quality food at our new location in South Phoenix,” says Madrigal.

Cocina Madrigal signature dishes

Madrigal wanted to always share his vision of Mexican cuisine at his own restaurant after working in restaurants such as Z’Tejas, Eddie V’s and Taco Guild after arriving from Houston. The menu is inspired by growing up in Oaxaca and he giving it an American twist with such dishes as Oaxacan Con Queso with American & Oaxacan cheese, Mango Steak Salad, Tres Mushrooms Enchiladas and Grilled Elote with Cotija cheese.

Mexican food staples tacos, enchiladas and burros are given Madrigals twist as well.

Cocina Madrigal is open for lunch and dinner Sun.- Thurs. from 11 a.m. -10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. with Happy Hour Mon. – Fri. from 2:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Cocina Madrigal is at 4044 S. 16th St. Phoenix 85040. (602)243-9000 For more information check their Facebook page.

 

The Rafter Room offers cocktails upstairs in Tempe’s Social Hall

The Rafter Room opened this weekend offering guests a rum and tequila focused cocktail list. The newest cocktail hideaway is upstairs in the loft of Tempe’s Social Hall which opened in January. With the completion of The Rafter Room the two-story facility offers guests over 10,000 square feet of space perfect for happy hour and hanging out.

Social Hall cocktails

The Rafter Room design

The Rafter Room was designed Camila Gibbs and offers ” a moodier, edgier evolution” compared to downstairs. The converted barn has triple vaulted ceilings, vintage voting booth lights, patina walls and a raised stage for presentations and live music. According to co-owner Mike Kenney “The space has an industrial, secret hideaway type of vibe that really sets it apart from the restaurant down below.”

All photos courtesy of Social Hall

Social Hall cocktail and food offerings

The Latin inspired menu downstairs will be available upstairs with Pork Belly Street Tacos, Chicano Steak Frites and Huevos Rancheros and more. “Expect an elevated tequila and rum bar program, small-batch and barrel-aged spirits, among other offerings,” said Kenney.

The cocktail program was created to compliment the menu of Social Hall.

Social Hall is at 715 S. McClintock Dr. Tempe 85281. 480-747-3851. For more information see their website.

Chef Michael O’Dowd & Julian Wright to open Las Palmas Cantina in Chandler

Chef Michael O’Dowd is making his way back to the valley’s restaurant scene running the kitchen of restaurateur Julian Wright’s(Pedal Haus Brewery and others) new restaurant Las Palmas Cantina in downtown Chandler. When the restaurant opens in May it will serve coastal cuisine with Yucatan inspiration that Wright found when traveling to Playa del Carmen and Tulum areas of Mexico.

Executive chef Michael O’Dowd

O’Dowd returns to the valley after most recently working in Sedona at L’Auberge de Sedona as executive chef. When in Phoenix O’Dowd scored the coveted AAA Five Diamond  and Forbes Five Star Award  while executive chef at Kai at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of downtown Chandler and to bringing one of my favorite regions of the world to this community,” said Wright. “ I love that Chandler is still very independent. Everyone is still very much your neighbor.”

Las Palmas Cantina menus

O’Dowd’s menu will highlight the “sand to table” concept with seafood from local fish monger Chula Seafood along with “high country” ingredients. Fish available will include Pompano, Triggerfish, Snapper and more for ceviche and other dishes.

Las Palmas Sandia cocktail

Sweet & spice are tastes you’ll find at Las Palmas Cantina with your shared plates and lighter dishes that will include a jerk chicken Shaken Greens and Cochinta Pibil.

“I haven’t really seen anyone in Arizona exploring this type of cuisine or region,” said O’Dowd. “Being able to learn about the culture and history of the Mayans and create a way to pay homage to the past while creating new ideas, dishes and flavors is what I thrive on.”

Just in time for summer, Las Palmas Cantina’s beverage program will offer refreshing tropical specialty cocktails and Mexican inspired craft beers brewed exclusively for Las Palmas. A selection of tequilas, mezcals and agua frescas will be offered and used as ingredients in the cocktail program.

Need a job

The 5,000 square foot restaurant is currently hiring and those interested can apply in person at the restaurant at 95 W. Boston in downtown Chandler on online at their website.

 

 

Mario Lopez welcomes Danny Trejo & Frankie Quinones to Cinco de Mario

Not many people have a festival named after them but actor/TV host Mario Lopez is a modern day personality that has his own Cinco de Mario festival and it comes to Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza on Saturday May 5th. Hopefully there is still room on your party schedule as this is a busy day with both the Kentucky Derby & Cinco de Mayo festivities around town.

Cincio de Mario
Actor & host Mario Lopez

It’s Cinco de Mario that will have bad ass actor turned taco & donut entrepreneur Danny Trejo on stage with Mario along with comedian Frankie Quinones and legendary hip hop group Sugarhill Gang.

Cinco de Mario events

Cinco de Mario
chili peppers

The day long festival starts at 11 a.m. and for the next 7 hours festival attendees can head to the Super Mucho Merchado for gourmet foods and traditional Mexican fare in a farmer’s market setting.

Attendees will be able to sample tacos and more from El Jefe, The Mission, Don Jose Mexican food and other local food producers. Make your way to the craft beer garden and rose wine garden to quench your thirst from all the spicy foods.

Fun will be had when “Saved By The Bell” alum and  festival host Mario judge’s a “Saved by The Bell”  look a like contest and local bands Mariachi Rodriguez and Ritmo Latino perform before we get down with the Sugarhill Gang’s old school performance.

A lounge to watch The Kentucky Derby will be available.

Comedian Frankie Quinones

Getting your tickets

General Admission tickets are $15 online and $20 at the door. Mansion VIP tickets are $100 online in advance and get a plate of food from The Mission, 5 drink tickets, private bar and a lounge area.

Experience it all and a meet & greet with Mario Lopez with VIP Mario Sky Deck for $200 online in advance that gets you food & drink all day from The Mission and high-end lounge furniture to relax in.

Entry to craft beer & rose garden is $20 for 8 tasting tickets.

Kids under 12 are free.  Purchase your tickets here.

 

Upscale Toca Madera coming to Scottsdale Fashion Square

With all the development going on around downtown Scottsdale you may have missed that Scottsdale Fashion Square was doing a major renovation on the north side off the Camelview parking lot. The new luxury wing will include upscale restaurants with Los Angeles based Toca Madera being one and Ocean 44 the other.

This will be the third location for Toca Madera with a restaurant in Dubai and the flagship West Hollywood restaurant serving traditional Mexican cuisine with a modern approach.

Adobo Steak

“Making something already exceptional even better is driving the luxury renovation at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and that means creating opulent settings for shoppers to unwind and refresh,” said Michael Guerin, Senior Vice President of Leasing, Macerich.

“The addition of market-exclusive culinary concepts like Toca Madera, along with some of the world’s most respected retail brands, reinforces the property’s reputation as the market’s dominant luxury destination.” 

Toca Madera eats

The menu emphasizes organic and locally sourced ingredients for bold flavors and plenty of options for diners including plenty of gluten-free and vegan dishes.

On the menu currently at the West Hollywood restaurant are Ensenada style fish tacos, A La Roca with American Wagyu beef, Enchiladas de Mole, Chipolte Dusted Tofu Tostadas and the popular Churro Ice Cream Sandwich.

Spill out cafe seating will be available for people to enjoy a bite to eat while sipping on a tequila or mescal, a farm to glass cocktail that uses fresh ingredients or a glass of wine from around the world.

Scottsdale is a market we’ve always wanted to be in,” said Tosh Berman, CEO and Co-founder of The Madera Group. “With Scottsdale Fashion Square’s exciting luxury expansion happening, we knew this was going to be the perfect location for us. We look forward to introducing Toca Madera to the community and showcasing what will be the ultimate in luxury dining.”

Check back for updates or visit their website.

Aaron Chamberlain’s Taco Chelo opens March 9th along Roosevelt Row

Food is an art form in itself but many restaurants are creating space for other forms of art and downtown’s Phoenix’s new Taco Chelo combines food and art when it opens on Friday March 9th.

The team bringing Taco Chelo to life is restaurateur Aaron Chamberlain, artist Gennaro Garcia and chef Suny Santana.

“Taco Chelo celebrates great food as well as great art, creating an experience unlike anything else in the Valley,” said Chamberlin, of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Café fame. “In terms of culinary and artistic talent, we’ve got the real deal, and it’s showcased in our menu, on our walls and throughout the restaurant in its entirety.”

Taco Chelo art

The 1,000 square foot Taco Chelo was designed by the internationally acclaimed Garcia and the restaurant adorns his art work that includes custom-made pieces from Mexico.

“What we worked to create here is an experience that caters to all senses,” Gennaro said. “I see this restaurant project as an ongoing art installation and a collaboration of the visual and culinary arts”.

In the kitchen

Chef Suny Santana will be for sure preparing tacos, but his menu goes beyond that creating dishes he learned from his mother as child on a farm in Monterrey Mexico.

Recipes include chicharrones, chips & guacamole and pinto beans stewed with bacon and pico de gallo known as “frijoles a la charra”. Salads are also available as is beer, wine and cocktails.

Chef Santana and Taco Chelo already has a fan in Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, “Downtown is experiencing a renaissance, now home to world-class arts, culture, nightlife and great culinary concepts that showcase the flavor of Phoenix,” says Stanton. “Taco Chelo — a restaurant with an emphasis on both food and art — is a great fit for Roosevelt Row. I can’t wait to try what Chef Suny Santana is cooking up!”

Taco Chelo will be open Sun. – Thurs. from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. from 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. and is at 501 E. Roosevelt St. Phoenix 85004. 602-368-5316. For more information check out their website.