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.

 

Waimea Canyon then back to the east end of Kauai

After my day at sea I continued west toward Waimea for the night so I could drive through Waimea Canyon and where else the road would take me. I pulled into Waimea Plantation Cottages for the night to refresh and enjoy the beachfront accommodations.

A bit higher than I wanted to pay for less than 24 hours I ponied up the cash for the studio($184) and enjoyed the surroundings. Since this was the western most part of the island I was staying on I hoped to see a sunset from the beach but the clouds put a damper on those plans.

A bit disappointed with the amount of insects in the room my $25 resort fee was refunded. That’s what you get with arid temperatures near the ocean.

Up to Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park

I woke up energized and made my way up Waimea Canyon Dr. (550) towards Waimea Canyon State Park taking in the views of Waimea area and the Pacific.

Winding roads climb in elevation as this area is where hunters, hikers and campers head to enjoy the outdoors. Many pull-offs to stop to take pictures I make it into the park and view steep green and brown cliffs and waterfalls.

In the distance you hear but barely see the helicopters taking tourists even closer.(See below). After several pictures and “oohs” and “aahs” I exit the park and continue toward Koke’e State Park.

I pass military outposts that take advantage of the farthest west part of the U.S. and high elevations to protect our country. Koke’e State Park offers views of Napali Coast from Kalalau Valley Lookout and  Pu’u O Kila Lookout. There are breathtaking views from high above of steep rock formations spiking upwards. Hiking trails lead to beaches through the green lined cliffs. Shorter hikes can be done and you should always prepare accordingly.

Down the road and heading back east

After two hours taking in breathtaking views I head down to sea level and cruise back through Waimea towards Lihue making stops along the way. First stop was Kauai Coffee Company to taste the locally grown coffee and take a self guide tour. Much what you’d expect of coffee samples, gift shop, a coffee museum, local plants and rows of coffee trees. Free tours are available and so is a small sandwich shop. Definitely worth  a stop to take in the local culture and surroundings.

I was hungry so I made my way to Koloa and grabbed fish tacos from a food truck before I strolled the village. Old Koloa Town is a plantation village with shops, restaurants and rich in sugar plantation history….and filled with chickens roaming and singing. I love the trees in the area as their canopy offers shade and seem very nicely manicured.

I headed back through the resort town of Poipu past small local beaches and condos towards the Spouting Horn geyser. Taking a few minutes to watch the surf erupt through the lava holes forming spouting geyser. A nice stop to view the surf crashing and let mother nature do her thing.

I made my way to Kapaa to Bubba Burger on a recommendation from a friend for dinner. Using local Kauai beef Bubba Burger is tasty and easy on the wallet. Sit above the street and watch people and traffic go by along the beach road. After my burger I U turned it back to Hilue for my night at The Tip Top Motel.

Hiking Hanalei and helicopters

The Tip Top Motel, Cafe & Bakery made for an ok stay as accommodations were fine(as were other places I stayed) but the breakfast wasn’t the 4 stars I saw on Yelp!. An average breakfast and no complimentary coffee other places I stayed have offered. At $120 a night(taxes & fees incl) for basic accommodations a couple of cups of coffee would’ve been nice. They say it’s the little things that matter the most.

Checking out during the morning rain I continued my way east towards Hanalei hoping the rain would end so I could hike that I previously mentioned. As I drove I saw blue sky peeking trough the clouds giving me optimism my hike would happen.

In no hurry I turned off Kuhio Highway often to drive along the beach and hills to see the sights. Not being able to see a sunrise or sunset due to clouds or my location on the island I was glad to see a rainbow over the mountain.

A quick left over the single lane bridge into Hanelai is the road that leads into the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge and the Okolehao Trail. The only car in the parking lot I was skeptical but determined to head up the steep and muddy trail. Grabbing a walking stick I made my way up through the forest trying to keep my balance.

After 25 minutes I made my way to a great vantage point for viewing Hanalei Bay and the farms below. I continued 200 yards through thicker forest, with rain clouds in the distance I figured I’d seen enough and headed down.

On my way down I met a hikers on their way up who mentioned I made it to the best point to see the view. The trail goes higher and steeper I was told that captures a view of the whole island. With the clouds I doubt I would’ve seen it all, perhaps on my next visit.

Pulling into Hanalei village I walked to the beach to fill a container with sand for a friend who collects sand(???). I then made my way to Tropical Taco for Ahi tacos for a#TacoTuesday lunch.

Leisurely I headed back to Lihue pulling off Kuhio Highway to see the sights on the northern side of the island. I stopped at Island Helicopters to book a flight and found myself on a flight 90 minutes later. Island Helicopters is the only helicopter company to land at Jurassic Falls. I didn’t take that tour but did take the Grand Deluxe tour ($180 cash/ $187 cc) which lasted 50-60 minutes. I did my research and Island Helicopters offers the best price for helicopter tours on the island.

With a front row view we lifted off from the Lihue Airport heliport and had amazing views of Kauai. Mountains, waterfalls, farms, over the ocean, Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon you see everything and many only visible by air.

Our pilot Joseph is a Kauai native and knew about everything we flew over from who owned what land, what it used to be used for, what movies we’re filmed where on the island(The Descendants, Seven Days & Six Nights and Jurassic Park, etc) and so on. An amazing adventure that I almost talked myself out of.

After the hour in the air I walked to Smiley’s Local Grinds for dinner. A small restaurant in a Lihue strip mall filled with locals and people taking out dinner. Good Hawaiian food ( I had Smiley’s Chicken in Garlic Chili sauce ($11.85) at good prices. Nothing fancy just good food and a smiley face whether you’re on a budget or a big spender. Go where the locals go.

The last two days of my trip will be relaxing though I will be out to see and eat more. See ya soon!

***Check out my Facebook & Twitter @SandyWasserman Instagram @SandyWass #SandyTakesKauai for photos and video.***

 

 

TEXAZ Grill serves up its annual Texas State Fair Fare

TEXAZ Grill owner Steve Freidkin has been serving food in Arizona for over 30 years but he’s loyal to his home state of Texas. So much so he serves up Lone Star State favorites year round at his restaurant known for Chicken Fried Steak. Once a year he adds to the menu dishes made famous at the Texas State Fair. Guests can enjoy this years Texas State Fair Fare menu daily from September 28- October 21st.

This year’s dishes include a cocktail and 2 fair favorites both with a little history lesson of their origins.

“Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dog” ($6)

As perfected by vaudevillians Neil and Carl Fletcher of Dallas, TX, “Fletcher’s Original State Fair Corny Dog” has been a State Fair of Texas staple since 1942. Two Corny Dogs served with a bag of Frito’s.

Frito Pie ($5.50)

Said to be invented in the 1930’s by Daisy Dean Doolin, mother of the founder of the Frito-Lay Company, this dish is a Texas original. TEXAZ Grill’s version features its homemade chili presented in a small bag of Fritos corn chips, topped with onions, cheese and served with a plastic spoon-now that’s authentic!

Cotton Candy Lemonade ($7)

Everyone’s favorite spun sugar in liquid form! The cocktail is made with cotton candy vodka, lemonade, Blue Curacao and garnished with a lemon slice. For the adults who are kids at heart!

TEXAZ Grill is at 6003 N. 16th St. Phoenix AZ. 85016. 602-248-7287. http://www.texazgrill.com/

 

 

Ocean Prime heats up your love life with a Summer Date Night

Has your love life cooled off as our summer temperatures have heated up, if so head to Ocean Prime for a Summer Date Night with your special someone. Every Thursday until September 20th couples can enjoy a 3-course all-inclusive dinner to share and heat things up in your love life.

All photos courtesy of Ocean Prime

The menu is as follows….

Shared Appetizer — Choice of:

  • Caesar Salad with Crisp Romaine, Parmesan Garlic Dressing and Brioche Croutons
  • Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Golden Oak Mushrooms

Shared Entrée —

  • Chateaubriand 16-ounce sliced Filet with Asparagus, Roasted Potatoes and Bordelaise Sauce. Additional enhancements offered include Shrimp Scampi ($15); Sea Scallops $16 for 2); and Lobster Tail ($26)

Share Dessert — Choice of:

  • New York Style Cheesecake with Graham Cracker Crust
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with Peanut Butter Mousse and Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

The dinner is $95 and reservations can be made by calling 480-347-1313 or going to their website.

Ocean Prime is at 5455 E. High Street Phoenix 85054.

Press Coffee to open cafe at Scottsdale Waterfront in August

Press Coffee announced last week they’re opening the 9th location of the popular coffee shop/cafe at the Scottsdale Waterfront in late August. It will be the roasters’ 2nd Scottsdale location since opening in the Scottsdale Quarter. 

“Old Town Scottsdale is a great neighborhood for locals and Arizona visitors alike and we’re looking forward to being a part of the community,” said Press Coffee co-owner Jason Kyle.

Coffee and more

When Press opens their Scottsdale Waterfront location customers will be able to order from a new breakfast and lunch menu made on site and pastries from Phoenix Public Market.

Egg sandwich. All photos courtesy of Press Coffee

Espresso, pour overs and cold brews will be available using Press’s award-winning coffee roasts.

Donating to Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Once opened Press the Scottsdale Waterfront store will offer its daily drip coffee for $1 the weekend August of 24-26th with all proceeds donated to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “We’re glad we can start things off by supporting the amazing efforts of Phoenix Children’s Hospital at the opening.” says Kyle.

Flagship roastery in north Phoenix

The Scottsdale Waterfront announcement comes two months after Press announced it was opening a flagship roastery in Spring 2019 near 32nd St. & Shea Blvd. in north Phoenix.

Once opened it will handle all of Press’s roasting along with a cafe and plenty of meeting space. Co-owner Steve Kraus say’s “We are excited about the future of this iconic building. We wanted to go beyond just a production facility and create a space that allows us to share our love for coffee with the community.”

The new facility will double Press’s production and once opened the current facility will exclusively produce their cold brews.

The Scottsdale Waterfront location will be open 6:30 a.m. – 7 p.m Mon. – Thurs. 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday. Saturdays from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

It’s at 7135 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale 85251 For more information check their website.

 

 

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 Dressing Room founders to open daytime hangout The Larry

Riding on the success of their restaurant The Dressing Room the founders are opening The Larry a few blocks further south in downtown Phoenix’s warehouse district. The breakfast, lunch and happy hour hangout will be opening on Monday August 13th and will be open Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

All photos courtesy of The Larry

The Larry in The Lawrence building

The owners chose the warehouse district for its tech focused business community and to create a sense of community south of downtown. Located in The Lawrence Building, The Larry will have both indoor and outdoor seating among its modern decor.

“The breakfast, lunch and happy hour concept is one that really resonates with the Downtown Phoenix crowd,” said owner Kyu Utsunomiya. “The Larry is that spot where you can come network during lunch hour or catch up with a friend over cocktails after work.”The Larry

What to eat and drink

Executive chef Luis Arellano has created a healthy and colorful menu of dishes from around the world including Soba Noodle Salad and Korean Fried Chicken sandwich. A revolving pizza selection will be available along with other dishes and several meals will be available for grab-n-go.

Soba noodles

Baristas will be serving desserts and preparing coffee drinks to give you the energy needed to get through the day. Specialty cocktails including Pisco Punch are also on the menu.

Grand opening week specials

To make good with the neighbors and make new friends The Larry will be offering a half price menu during opening week ending on Friday the 17th.

An entire years worth of coffee(1 cup per week) is being given away and you can get in on it by going to their website to enter.

The Larry is at 515 E. Grant St. Phoenix 85004.

 

Ramen Hood opens serving Build-Your-Own-ramen bowls

The fast casual Build-Your-Own restaurant concepts seem to be catching more steam as Ramen Hood opened in north Scottsdale recently. The strip mall shop off the loop 101 at Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. already has a captive audience.

Ramen Hood
All photos courtesy of Ramen Hood

Guests enjoy ramen bowls made with authentic Japanese ingredients along with rice bowls and Japanese specialties including Gyoza, Karaage Fried Chicken and  Steamed Bao. Wash your meal down with the popular Asian soft drink Ramune aka Marble soda or a Japanese tea.

Why Ramen Hood?

“Ramen is one of my most favorite foods in the world. Every time I visit Japan, my first stop is finding a mom and pop ramen restaurant. The best ones are always very low-key, no frills, but always have long lines,” says James Xie, owner of Ramen Hood. “I realized there isn’t really anything comparable in Phoenix. I want people here to know what real ramen is like, and to not be intimidated in trying new styles and flavors.

Ramen bowl with tofu

Walk up to the counter at Ramen Hood and pick a Ramen or Rice bowl then add a protein(Cha Siu Pork, Tofu, etc) broth, sauce and toppings and in minutes you’ll have an Instagram worthy meal.

“Ramen can be way more exciting than the instant packets we ate in college. And at Ramen Hood, we make it just as easy to enjoy!”

“I’ve spoken to many ramen chefs throughout Japan who graciously gave me advice on combining different ingredients, as well as helped me come up with a few new ideas to create the perfect bowl of ramen,” says Xie, who has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 15. “I think it’s these trade secrets that will really make Ramen Hood stand out in the Valley and resonate with people who may not be familiar with traditional ramen.”

Ramen Hood is in the Gateway 101 shopping center at 15807 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Suite 105. Scottsdale 85260. For more information check out their website.

 

 

 

Zuzu releases dates for Monday Night Chef’s Table for coming months

Zuzu and executive chef Russell LaCasce  know how to pull off exciting off menu dinner events. Diners and wine geeks should be excited for their continued success as the next four months of their monthly Monday Night Chef’s Table is set.

The signature restaurant at Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho will offer guests a 4-course dinner paired with wines from prestigious wineries. A guest from the winery will be on hand to speak about the wines and pairings. Although all the menus are not finalized the wineries are and dates are as follows….

August 27th Frog’s Leap Winery– Guests can expect a menu of cabbage cured salmon, charred jumbo asparagus with prosciutto and lobster, dry aged pork chop, and chocolate pot de crème with almond crumble.

September 17th- Wagner Family of Wines

October 22nd– ZD Wines

November 12th– Willakenzie Estate

Each of the dinners start at 6:30 p.m. and cost $75 ++ per person and reservations can be made at http://www.hotelvalleyho.com/ or by calling 480-376-2600. Zuzu is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

 

 

EVO’s owner opening Breadwinner in downtown Phoenix

Nick Neuman owner of Scottsdale’s EVO has set his sights like many on downtown Phoenix with the August opening of Breadwinner. The sandwich focused hangout will be in The Churchill, the trendy retail & restaurant complex built with shipping containers on the northeast corner of 1st St & Garfield(901 N. 1st St.).

Serving lunch, dinner & weekend brunch Breadwinner will serve handcrafted sandwiches, wraps and salads of the traditional variety with Neuman’s creative twist. Expect the likes of oven roasted turkey, Cuban, Muffeletta or roast beef sandwiches or wraps ($9-$12) along with hearty side dishes, fresh salads and non-alcoholic beverages.

After guests order and pay at the counter their meal will be delivered to them at communal style dining tables in The Churhill’s courtyard.

The sense of community at The Churchill is part of the attraction to Neuman where Breadwinner employees will give 4 hours a month to community service as part of their monthly  “social rent”.