The new The Latin Kitchen has a familiar taste to it.

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
Photos courtesy of The Latin Kitchen

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 Babbo Italian Eatery home to 50 pound cheese wheel

If you’re a fan of savory cheeses like me then the new 50 lb. cheese wheel at the Scottsdale location of Babbo Italian Eatery should be of interest. The bowled out Parmesan wheel is 9 in. tall and 17 in. wide and will be used to prepare a weekly special created for the occasion.

Babbo Italian
Photos courtesy of Babbo Italian Eatery

Those guests that want to taste the cheesy creation will be able to Wed.- Sun. To find out what each week’s new dish will be the restaurant will be releasing it on their Instagram page @BabboItalianEatery

There are 8 family owned Babbo Italian Eatery’s around the Phoenix area with Scottsdale location at 8840 E. Indian Bend Rd. 85258. To find a location near you visit their website.

Crust re-locating around the corner in McCormick Ranch

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.

 

This Saturday’s Suds & Slides is summer camp for the big kids

Most of us remember how much fun it was to go away to summer camp and be with friends. Now that were big kids, this Saturday’s Suds & Slides summer camp themed event let’s us re-live summers of our youth. Mesa’s Riverview Park will host the 21+ event from 5-10 p.m. with water slides, beer pong, giant pillow fights and a lot more.

Suds & Slides
All photos courtesy of Jen Pruett at HDE Agency

Tickets for Suds & Slides

Tickets for the evening will gain you access to unlimited fun and games. Food and drinks can be purchased separately. Ticket’s are $15 online, $20 at the door and groups of 4 can purchase tickets for $50, a savings of $30 off day of pricing. Tickets for the Suds & Slides can be purchased here.

A portion of the proceeds will go to Foster Hope Foundation that helps to inspire foster children. The foundation provides supplies, classes, lectures, activities and workshops to children within the foster care system.

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.

Pita Jungle launches Seasonal Crafts Menu June 19th

People want options for their diet and next weeks launch of their Seasonal Crafts Menu, Pita Jungle gives customers options. With 7 new dishes, 7 protein options and 3 sides guests will have plenty of options to mix and match with.

4 new drinks will also be available on their cocktail menu along with a new Vegan and Gluten-Free menu.

Veggie-Quinoa Stir Fry with Kimchi. All photos courtesy of Pita Jungle.

Seasonal Crafts Menu

Whether your diet allows you to eat all on the menu or you prefer Vegan or Gluten Free dishes all diets are accommodated.

  • Avocado Hummus Tostada: baked corn tortilla, avocado hummus, Tuscan kale and cabbage slaw, avocado, pickled onions, garlic, pico de gallo, jungle damage green sriracha and cumin-yogurt sauce
  • Barley & Beluga Lentil Fetoosh Bowl: toasted barley, beluga lentils, Tuscan kale, roma tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, red bell pepper, radish, red and green onions, garlic, fresh jalapeno, fresh mint, roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, pomegranate vinaigrette and pita chips
  • Veggie-Quinoa Stir Fry with Kimchi:  red quinoa, broccoli, carrots , mushrooms, baby spinach, red onions,  minced garlic and ginger, cage free egg, jungle damage green sriracha and kimchi
  • Crouching Kale & Hidden Berry Bowl: Tuscan kale, blueberry, pomegranate seeds, carrots, fresh jalapeno, white and red cabbage, red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, fresh mint, toasted almonds and Thai-tahini dressing
  • Avocado & Garbanzo Southwest Bowl: avocado, chickpeas, red quinoa, roma tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, celery, roasted jalapenos, organic blue corn chips, pickled onions, fresh mint and parsley, minced garlic, pumpkin seeds, cumin and herb-honey-apple-cider vinaigrette
  • Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich: gluten-free brownie, vanilla ice cream, strawberry and blueberry
  • Super Perfect Yogurt Delight: barley, pomegranate seeds, pistachio, blueberry, local AZ honey, Greek yogurt, cinnamon and rose-water

    Avocado Hummus Tostada

Sides and Protein Add-Ons

Add a protein or experience one of these new side dishes to satisfy your appetite.

Sides:

  • Lebanese Potato Salad (contains eggs)
  • Gingered Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Barley & Beluga Lentils

Protein Add-Ons:

  • Wood-Fired Norwegian Salmon
  • Grilled Marinated All-Natural Chicken Breast
  • Mediterranean Meatballs (grass-fed beef)
  • Taco Style Ground Beef (grass-fed)
  • Organic Baked Marinated Tofu
  • Cage-Free Skillet or Boiled Egg
  • Baked Falafel

To find a Pita Jungle location near go to http://www.pitajungle.com/

Summer menu now available at Nico Heirloom Kitchen

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.

Heirloom Grain Salad

Summer menu

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.
  • Diver Scallops with sweet corn nage, crispy prosciutto, balsamic marinated mushrooms.
  • 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.

    Stone Fruit Panzanella

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.

For more information or to make a reservation visit http://www.nicoaz.com/

Nico Heirloom Kitchen is at 366 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234 (480)584-4760.

Score World Cup deals at Over Easy Biltmore

Soccer fans are getting ready for the World Cup that starts June 15th thru July 15th and Over Easy Biltmore has the games on live. Start your mornings by coming in to  get food and drink deals when the games are on.

World Cup deals

When the games are televised live customers can score these food and drink deals.

  • $1 off Red or Green Chilaquiles with choice of pork or chicken (Reg price: $9)
  • $1 off Hot or Iced Irish Coffees (Reg price: $8)
  • $4 Biltmore Sunrises

The Biltmore Sunrise was created just for the event and is perfect for the mornings here in Phoenix when the games will be televised. It layers tequila, orange juice, pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine.

Over Easy Biltmore is at 2398 E. Camelback Rd. (NE corner of 24th St & Camelback) Phoenix 85016. EatAtOverEasy.com

Iced Irish Coffee

 

Not your typical happy hour at Bar Crudo

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
All photos courtesy of Crudo

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.

Bar Bites

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.

Crudo is at 3630 E. Indian School Rd. (around back) Phoenix 85018. http://www.crudoaz.com

 

It’s National Italian Beef Week at Portillo’s

Chicago foodies around the country get ready as your favorite hometown sandwich, Italian Beef is celebrated at Portillo’s the week of May 21st-27th with National Italian Beef Week.

All 50 plus Portillo’s around the country are celebrating with 2 regular Italian Beef  sandwiches for only $10.

Portillo’s Rhyme Time Challenge

In addition to the great food deal customers are invited to submit rhymes for their Rhyme Time Challenge. Known for the rhymes that staff call out when customers orders are ready such as “Number 9 it’s time to dine” or “Number 7 you’re in heaven” customers can now create their own rhyme for prizes.

Customers are invited to submit their rhymes here during National Italian Beef Week. All entries must end with the number 1-9, not already being used, no inappropriate language and must be a rhyme.

The winner will receive Portillo’s food for a year and have their rhyme used nationwide. 2nd and 3rd place winners will get a swag bag and a $25 gift card.

For more information and to find a location near you check their website.