It’s been 3 years since the closing of Phoenix favorite Havana Cafe by owner BJ Hernandez and fans of her Latin style cuisine were wondering if we’d ever taste her food again. Thank god Hernandez is back in the kitchen as co-owner of the recently opened The Latin Kitchen in Mesa with her recipe book dusted off and cooking.
The Latin Kitchen dishes
Hernandez will be serving her popular made from scratch Cuban cuisine along with Latin American dishes that regulars of Hernandez’s cooking will recognize along with new dishes. Fans will smile with the return of her signature Cuban sandwich, empanadas, Ropa Vieja and more from here ever-changing menu.
Lighter and hearty dishes are also available taking into consideration people’s dietary needs including gluten-free wraps and salads.
Don’t worry dessert will be served including Flan, Tres Leches and Lime Tart. After a successful lobster dinner recently special dinners are planned including a pig roast, “Havana Nights” and Paella dinner.
A full bar is available that will feature Latin inspired cocktails such as the Mojito, sangria and other classic cocktails.
New to Mesa
Why Mesa after the success in north Scottsdale and along the Camelback Corridor in Phoenix Hernadez says “Originally I started looking in Scottsdale, but the rents were too high for what I wanted to do, a casual place where you could eat delicious, healthy and authentic food at a great price.” She then partnered with restaurant industry veteran Elisa Nolan to get the new restaurant opened.
Near the Tempe border The Latin Kitchen seats 115 up to people in two dining rooms and the bar. Currently serving only lunch Hernandez will serve dinner once the summer comes to an end.
The Latin Kitchen is close to the Loop 101 at 540 W. Broadway in Mesa. For more information call 480-306-7266 or check out their website.
Scottsdale’s Crust neighborhood Italian eatery closed the doors on the original location on Indian Bend recently. Come August owner Michael Merendino opens the flagship restaurant a mile up Hayden Rd. to 3,500 square foot location in the hip Mercado de Lago retail center.
The larger, state of-the-art location will offer guests a welcoming atmosphere as they enjoy the same delicious east coast Italian food Crust has offered over the years. An outdoor patio is expected to be popular as is the 25 seat bar where diners will enjoy an extensive wine and beer list from around the world along with a hand crafted cocktail menu.
Merendino will continue to be community minded with the Crust Cares program and thanks the community for their continued support.
If you can’t wait for the new Scottsdale location to open check out their downtown Chandler location at 10 San Marcos Pl. 85225.
Crust will be at 8300 N. Hayden Rd. Suite F101. Scottsdale 85258. For more information see their website.
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.
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.”
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.
Restaurants around the valley are shifting gears to lighter and seasonal focused menus with the arrival of summer. Gilbert’s Nico Heirloom Kitchen recently shifted into their summer menu with the addition of 6 dishes from owner and chef Gio Osso.
With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients including fruits and vegetables these are then new menu items.
Stone Fruit Panzanella – Peach, apricot, cherry, arugula, chevre, day old bread and vanilla balsamic.
Heirloom Grain Salad – Farro, quinoa, blueberry, apply, almonds with white balsamic.
Salmon Croquette with capers and Calabrian chile aioli.
Flat Iron Steak – Cocoa-lavender rub, summer squash hash, charred spring onion and blueberry demi.
Fruite de Mare – Chef’s fresh catch, tomato and white wine.
Summer Dining Experiences
Nico will host a series of “Summer Dining Experiences” with the first scheduled for this Thursday June 14th. The “Gin & Bear It” dinner will pair a 4- course dinner with gin cocktails. The dinner will start at 6:30 and cost $45 ++ per person.
Update: Shortly after I posted this I was informed that due to supply issues this event is being postponed. I hope to have a new date for you in next couple of days.
Negroni Week is coming to an end and one restaurant is ending it in world record-setting style. The Sicilian Butcher will set the record for the Largest Barrel Aged Negroni by combing 3 ingredients into a 500 liter barrel.
Making the World’s Largest Negroni
On Sunday June 10th from 2-4 p.m. customers are invited to witness history as a representative from the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to witness the filling of the barrel.
Sheldon Wiley, Beverage Director of The Maggiore Group will use 14 cases each of three Italian spirits, Carpano Antica Formula, Malfy Gin Originale and Campari. Once combined the barrel will hold approximately 132 gallons, 504 bottles and 16,722 ounces of the cocktail.
Wiley currently hold the world record as The World’s Fastest Bartender and holder of two other world records.
The Sicilian Butcher gives back
Once tapped The Sicilian Butcher will be selling Negroni’s for $5 with 25% of sales being donated to CORE(Children of Restaurant Employees). CORE, a non-profit helps to support children of food and beverage service employees going through life altering circumstances.
The Sicilian Butcher is at 15530 N. Tatum Blvd. Phoenix 85032. For more information see their website.
Expansion is in the air for downtown Phoenix’s Angels Trumpet Alehouse as owners Sharry & Mat Englehorn are planning to open Angels Trumpet Arcadia in early August. The new location will be housed in the former Sears Auto Center on the southeast corner of Thomas & 44th St.
“We live right around the corner, so we’ve had our eye on this building for years,” says Sharry Englehorn. “We know from personal experience that this stretch of south Arcadia is missing a fun and welcoming all-day hangout, where you can pop in for a tasty lunch or sip drinks on the patio and watch the sun set on Camelback Mountain.”
The past and future of Angels Trumpet Arcadia
The 10,000 square foot mid-century modern building is undergoing needed updating and repairs after decades of dirt and grime as an auto repair shop.
“Originally built as a Ward’s Auto Center in the late 1950s, this is the last remaining building of the former Thomas Mall,” Mat Englehorn says. “So we wanted to honor that history and preserve the wonderful architectural bones, as well as preserve elements of the tire shop by keeping the industrial look, and the beat up floor–just adding a lot of polish.”
Once work is completed the building will also house the owners newest idea of a craft cocktail bar and lounge called Tall Glass. Future plans include a small microbrewery which is being described as “an intimate brewer’s playground”. The same food menu as the downtown Phoenix Angels Trumpet Alehouse will be available as will the indoor/outdoor vibe.
The cocktail lounge will have its own entrance on the west side of the building and feature a cocktail menu made with craft spirits from beer distillers including Rogue Spirits and Ballast Point Brewery’s “Cutwater Spirits” in San Diego.
Tall Glass will offer a small gourmet bar bites menu with guests available to order from the full menu at Angels Trumpet.
Tall Glass will open in the late afternoon until midnight and Angels Trumpet will open daily at 11 a.m. until midnight. For more information and updates see their Facebook or Instagram page @AngelsTrumpetAlehouse
Who doesn’t love a good happy hour, food and drink at reduced prices to end the day. Award winning fine dining restaurant Crudo offers happy hour 5 days a week and it’s not your typical bar food, well drinks, house wine or mass-produced beers. Tues.- Thurs. from 5 p.m. til closing and Fri. and Sat. from 5 p.m.-7p.m. in the bar known as Bar Crudo is where you’ll find craft cocktails and gourmet dishes.
Bar Crudo Happy Hour
In the front door to the left is where you’ll find Bar Crudo and be able to take advantage of 23 classic and modern cocktails for only $7 each. Refreshing summer drinks such as Daiquiri, Dark & Stormy and grapefruit tasting Paloma are just a few.
If a cold craft beer is your go to drink during the summer you’re in luck as they’re only $4 a piece. Wine enthusiasts don’t worry, worldly selections are only $6 a glass.
Why not grab a bite to eat from chef & owner Cullen Campbell as he prepares gourmet bar bites such as homemade and imported cheeses such as Burricota, Grana, Ricotta and Strachiatella. Looking for protein in your meal how about the comfort of a classic Meatloaf Burger. Thick sliced meatloaf topped with Cheddar cheese, Arugula and sweet and sour agrodolce sauce means you won’t need to make dinner when you get home.
The Castlevetrano olives are smoked over local Pecan wood and offer the flavors of the Mediterranean. Don’t forget the popular Crispy Pig Ears that have been a staple at Crudo since opening. Ask yourself when was the last time you’ve seen pig ears on a happy hour menu. Even better is their topped with Fresno chile vinaigrette and chives to bring a bit of heat to this delicacy.
The unofficial start of summer is a week a way with Memorial Day weekend on the horizon and local restaurants are getting a head start on summer specials. Scottsdale’s Hash Kitchen is one restaurant with specials now available.
Hash Kitchen summer specials
The breakfast and lunch restaurant offers 3 specials to make the summer go by a little easier for you and your wallet.
Bloody Wednesday’s gets you 50% off all Bloody Mary’s every Wednesday’s now until October 1st. Known for their Bloody Mary Bar with over 40 toppings guests can Build Their Own Bloody Mary(BYOBM) or go with The Original or The Virgin.
“Bottomless” Mimosa’s are available every Monday-Friday(except holidays) for penny refills after you’ve bought your first at $9. Refresh yourself with a blueberry, mango, guava, red grapefruit and other flavored Mimosas all summer long.
Mom Monday’s lets kids under 12 eat free until October 1st when mom or dad purchase an adult entrée except on holidays.
New locations planned
Today there are 2 Hash Kitchen locations in Scottsdale but later this year there are plans to open 2 more locations in Chandler and Arcadia. Scottsdale locations are at Gainey Village at 8777 N. Scottsdale Road and another at 14838 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. For more information check their website.
Staying cool and comfortable is at the top of the priority list for the summer months. One of the best ways is to refresh oneself is to stay hydrated and Zuzu at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale has several ways to quench your thirst and keep you cool this summer.
Chilled signature cocktails, Bloody Mary’s or Mimosa’s at the bar, frozen desserts and wine in the dining room are just a few of the ways Zuzu helps you beat the heat on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
Chill out in the Zuzu Lounge
In the Zuzu Lounge guests can enjoy craft cocktails daily including the bubbly prosecco Fizzy Lifting Drink made with Aperol, club soda, Campari infused blood orange foam and carbonated blackberry.
Looking for a more tropical cocktail then the Second Star to the Right is for you. The tiki styled drink includes two types of rum, tequila, sake, guava nectar, passion fruit puree, orange & pineapple juices and pear-lemon marmalade.
Saturday’s & Sunday’s offers a Bloody Mary + Mimosa Bar from 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. during brunch for guests to build their own drink.
Summer in the dining room
Start your dinner of with a cold dessert as Zuzu pastry chef Audrey Enriquez continues to dazzle guests with her monthly “Show Stopper” shake. The large dessert combines a variety of house made desserts for the whole table to enjoy. Cinnamon Horchata is May’s shake of the month.
Starting June 4th, every Sunday – Thursday guests can get 1/2 all bottles of wine when you dine at Zuzu. Guest can enjoy this deal all summer thru September 16th.
Monday Night’s Chef Table continues through the summer with wine dinners. The monthly four-course dinner is prepared by executive chef Russell LaCasce and his culinary team that pairs with wines from around the world.
“Farmer in the House’ is the theme for the dinner on May 20th with Duncan’s Trading Company and JUSTIN Wines.
June 18th brings New Mexico’s Gruet Winery to Zuzu.
July 16th special rose dinner brings four wineries to the table. -Chateau Gassier, Ferrari-Carano, WillaKenzie and Veuve Cliquot wines will be paired & poured.
The dinners start promptly at 6:30 p.m. and are $75 per person plus tax and tip. Reservations can be made by calling 480-376-2600 or by going to their website.
It’s good to see when successful restaurateurs plant their flag in re-vitalized neighborhoods, especially if you live in one of those neighborhoods. That’s been the case in my backyard the last year in south Scottsdale, specifically on the Skysong campus.
The public private partnership at McDowell & Scottsdale roads has seen the opening of Bitters Bar & Food, an original concept and the third location of New York Bagels & Bialys. Come September they will be joined by Fellow, an osteria & cocktail bar from the team that’s brought us Clever Koi.
Fellow at Skysong
The all day hang out spot will cater to guests that will want to dine-in on pizza, pasta, salads and cocktails along with those on the run that want to grab n go breakfast and premium coffee drinks. The custom designed 5,000 square feet restaurant is expected to be enjoyed by office workers at Skysong along with residents from surrounding neighborhoods.
This is the third restaurant for the newly founded Born & Raised Hospitality and its partners Joshua James and Nicholas Campisano after their two Clever Koi’s in Phoenix and Gilbert. James known for his mixology skills behind the bar will craft the cocktail menu and build craft beer and around the world wine list.
With high ceilings and communal space Fellow is being designed by architects Local Studio who designed the first Clever Koi in central Phoenix. The design highlight will be a big wooden cube over the bar where 3-D Arizona landscapes of iconic Arizona locations.
With a few months before opening there are always unknowns about certain details at Fellow but on thing is for sure they will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.