I spent my Spring Break eating my way through Salt Lake City

Most people spend their Spring Break heading to beaches or somewhere exotic. I spent my Spring Break road tripping to Salt Lake City to explore the city and food scene. I enjoyed meals at locally owned restaurants based on the recommendation of my friend who has spent the last year living in the area.

The 10 hour drive from Phoenix to Salt Lake City we knew we’d have to stop for at least one meal on the way up. Heading through Page and past Lake Powell into southern Utah you don’t have a lot options once you cross the border. Most meals were under $20 with a couple just above.

First 24 hours in Utah

We decided to stop for dinner in Kanab and pulled into Big Al’s Burgers Drive-In. Kanab is the main route as you head from eastern Arizona to the national parks of southern Utah and points north. A nice little town before you head up the back roads towards I-15. Big Al’s is exactly what you’d expect, burgers, fries, shakes and a few other drive-in favorites. I went with Double Rustler Burger value meal, a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake. Friendly service and made to order food made for a positive first impression of the Utah food scene. It was also my first experience being asked if I wanted “Fry Sauce”. Expect to be asked for this mayo ketchup combo in Utah when ordering fries and other fried foods. I declined as I prefer only ketchup but did taste my friends sauce. It was exactly what you’d expect.

After we made our way through the canyons and over the mountain pass into the night and a snowstorm we arrived late in the night at our destination.

After sleeping in and eggs and coffee at my friend’s place for breakfast we made our way for a mid-afternoon dim sum lunch at Cafe Anh Hong. In a small strip mall full of far east restaurants Anh Hong wasn’t the traditional dim sum restaurant. No ladies pushing carts full of dim sum delicacies but a picture menu under the plexiglass table top. Tell them what you want and everything is made to order. Many dim sum favorites to satisfy your dim sum cravings.

A late dinner was a homemade 24 hour sous vide short rib over risotto prepared by my host was so good I had to mention it.

Breakfast & lunch in Salt Lake City

Waking up the next morning we made our way to the Draper location of La Barba Coffee. Considered one of the if not the best coffee in SLC we sat there sipping our coffee pondering where to go for breakfast. Sipping on a Guatemalan drip coffee I paid more attention to it than I normally would a cup of coffee, it was good cup.

Desiring a breakfast burrito we drove to Taqueria El Gallo Loco in Sandy. I went with Chorizo burrito which was a little light on chorizo for my liking. My friend went with a bowl of Tripe thoroughly enjoying it. We ordered the Flan for dessert (yeah at breakfast) and glad we did, it was topped with toasted coconut and was so good. The owner and our server were friendly and offered good service. I’d give them another shot at a Chroizo burrito.

A mid-afternoon lunch had me desiring an Italian deli sandwich and my friend knew right where to go. We made our way to the 15th & 15th location of Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli where I went with The Caputo. Prosciutto, mortadella, salami, provolone and all the fixings. They dress it with balsamic vinegar as opposed to red wine vinegar which was an interesting choice. Served on an artisan roll I’d come back again. Check off Italian deli off my list.

Enjoying the neighborhood that Tony’s is in we went across the street to Sweetaly for a cup of gelato. It hit the spot after my meaty sandwich.

Park City here we come

With the ski town of Park City less than an hour away we headed into the mountains for lunch. It’s “Mud Season” in Park City so some restaurants close down for a few weeks. We found out the hard way when we wanted to grab a bite to eat at High West Distillery & Saloon. We wound up the brew pub of Wasach Brewing with brunch in full effect. Sipping on an Apricot Hefe with my Wasach burger made for a tasty Park City experience. The Wasach burger is made with buffalo meat and topped with a spicy Cajun remoulade.

I vetoed lunch a Tekila for the brew pub but my friend highly recommends it.

In case you’re wondering dinner at friend’s house back in SLC for homemade corn chowder and cake.

Final day in Salt Lake City

A lazy Sunday morning had us getting a slow start and finally motivating in early afternoon. We picked up a friend and decided to head for something new to me.

A couple of doors down from dim sum was Kungfu Hotpot where I experienced Hotpot cooking for the first time. A pot of mild and spicy boiling broth we filled it with beef, pork, mushrooms, vegetables and more letting it cook to our desired temperatures. The All-You-Can-Eat restaurant had us ordering more piles of beef, greens and seafood balls until I threw down my chopsticks and said “no more”. An interesting experience I’m not sure I could find in Phoenix.

Just a few miles from downtown SLC we made our way to Temple Square to see the gardens, the state capitol and the University of Utah. One last stop before we headed to my friend’s place for the night, Dolcetti Gelato. The Blueberry Balsamic & Rosewater treat to finish my foodie visit to SLC hit the spot after the spicy hotpot.

SLC looks to have a great restaurant scene as I scanned local magazines and websites. Locally owned restaurants and several chains I’ve never seen before looked interesting. I hope to return one day to eat my way through more of what there is to offer. If you find yourself in Salt Lake City on a Sunday be aware that many restaurants aren’t open, even those you’d expect to be including coffeehouses.

To see pictures of my trip to SLC follow me on Instagram @SandyWass

Celebrate St. Patrick’s day now at Thirsty Lion Gastropub

No reason to wait til March 17th to celebrate the luck of the Irish as Thirsty Lion Gastropub’s have already started. Their St. Patrick’s Day Season Specials is available until the 17th and includes 9 edible options with a modern twist.

Bacon Cheddar Potato Cakes

Irish favorites include Traditional Scotch Eggs, Irish Shepherd’s Pie, Corned Beef Mac & Cheese and Oven Roasted Lamb Shank.

Raise your glass of Irish whiskey, beer and craft cocktails with your meal.

$2 of every Flight of Irish Whiskey, Irish Mule and Irish Old Fashioned will be donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. The foundation helps to fight childhood cancer.

celebrate
Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich

Rotating taps of Guinness Irish Stout and an Arizona Black & Tan, SanTan’s Devil’s Ale and Guinness are being poured.

Celebrate at the 3 Thirsty Lion Gastropub’s in the Phoenix area at Scottsdale Fashion Square, Tempe Marketplace and SanTan Village.

Tryst Cafe brings its healthy menu to new Chandler location

Owners Lisa and Sami Khnanisho have had their award-winning Tryst Cafe in the Desert Ridge neighborhood of north Phoenix for 9 years before expanding. With numerous offers to come to all parts of the valley they decided on a south Chandler location. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner Tryst serves naturally delicious assortment of sandwiches, salads, breakfast classics and more.

“We are excited to bring our affair with naturally delicious food to Chandler,” Co-Owner Lisa Khnanisho says. “The new location brings everything Tryst Cafe is about to the next-level.”

Egg Benedict

The healthy menu offers something for every diet and has been hailed by the vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian communities. Banana Quinoa Pancakes, Hawaiian 2-Egg organic Breakfast, Avocado Toast, Pork Adobo Tacos and a Bison Burger are a few of the dishes available.

The full service restaurant offers a walk-in coffee & juice bar, organic beverages including botanicals, Kombucha and a full bar.

The 3,500 square foot restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating, a private dining room and meeting space for 14 people.

“Our menu is natural, healthy, and clean with something for everyone from the vegan diner to the meat-and-potatoes lover,” Khnanisho explains. “We believe everyone can have an affair with naturally delicious food.”

Bison Burger

As part of the grand opening celebration Tryst Cafe will host an Organic Wine Taste & Vote event. On March 13th in Chandler (20th at Desert Ridge) guests can taste 5 organic wines and vote for one to be added to the wine list. The 21+ event is $10 per person with guests tasting appetizers. Guests staying for dinner will receive a free dessert.

Tryst Cafe is at 4205 S. Gilbert Rd Chandler 85249 and 21050 N. Tatum Blvd. Phoenix 85050. For more information visit their website.

Step up to the plate! Spring Training food & drink deals around Phoenix

It still feels like winter around the country but the boys of summer have arrived in Phoenix for spring training. The 2019 season shouldn’t disappoint nor will the food and drink deals Phoenix restaurants are offering fans. Don’t trash those Cactus League game ticket stubs too quickly because they will score you a food and drink deals at your favorite restaurant.

Here’s my line-up for this years food and drink deals.

Original Breakfast HouseStart your day loading up on 5 new breakfast meals for just for spring training. Chile en Nogada Omelette, Steak and Portabella Mushroom Hash, Shrimp and Grits, Cajun Andouille Sausage and Gouda Scramble  and Tres Leches Pancakes. No ticket stub needed. Original Breakfast House is at 13623 N. 32nd St. Phoenix 85032.

Arcadia TavernSame day game day ticket stub from any team will score you a draft beer for a penny! 4801 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix 85018.

Cider CorpsCubs and A’s fans take your game day ticket stub from one of the Mesa stadiums for $1 off  a pint of cider. On March 14th all pint are $3.14 for National Pi Day(ticket deal not available this day).  Cider Corps is at 31 S. Robson Mesa 85210.

Photo courtesy of Cider Corps

DorianFirst select glass of wine, bottle of beer or well cocktail for $3 with same day game ticket. 7419 E. Indian Plaza Drive, Suite B Scottsdale 85251.

FOUND:RE Phoenix HotelNeed a place to stay when in town, check in with the Play Ball Package and receive 10% off standard room rate, a bucket of beers and peanuts & Cracker Jacks. Reservations good from Fed. 22nd – March 28th. FOUND:RE Phoenix Hotel is at 1100 N. Central Ave. Phoenix 85003.

Urban MargaritaFree steak, chicken or carnitas taco with same day game ticket from any game. Urban Margarita is at 6685 W. Beardsley Rd., #180, Glendale 85308.

Urban Margarita.

Starlite BBQAll day happy hour pricing with same day ticket stub starting Thurs. Feb. 21st. for 1 drink or food item outside normal happy hour times. Starlite BBQ is at 7620 E Indian School Rd #101, Scottsdale 85251.

Thai Chili 2 Go- All 6 Phoenix area location will trade you your same day ticket stub for a FREE drink or order of Thai Dumplings. See website for a location near you.

Thai Chili 2 Go dumplings

Fired Pie- Score 10% off all pizzas when you dine-in after the game with same day game ticket. Find one of their 19 locations near you at http://firedpie.com/

Macayo’s Mexican Restaurants- Show your ticket stub and get a FREE Famous Cheese Crisp. Over 20 Happy Hour food and drink deals are priced $3-$8. Steal 2nd and take 3rd with that deal. Available at all 8 locations around Phoenix. http://www.macayo.com/

 

 

Farmboy American Fare fights childhood hunger with Red Tractor Lunchbox program

Full service caterer Farmboy American Fare has begun a boxed lunch service for perfect group picnics, sales meetings and more. “The Red Tractor Lunchbox” program offers lunch for groups of 10 or more and a portion of all boxes sold will benefit childhood hunger programs. 25 cents from each box sold will be donated to the Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB). When ordering online customers can choose to donate more.

“Growing up on the farm, you didn’t think twice about helping someone in need. It’s just what you did to be a good neighbor,” said Zach Gibbs, owner of Farmboy American Fare. “The Red Tractor Lunchbox” giving campaign is our way of carrying on that tradition. I can’t think of a better way to do that than by feeding people, which is what we love to do.”

Each meal comes individually boxed and customers can choose from salads, sandwiches, wraps and BBQ. A Blue Ribbon Prime Rib Sandwich, Harvest Bounty Plate, Southern Fried Chicken are a few options. Executive chef Mike Scoplitte brings over 30 years of experience to Farmboy American Fare. In addition to catering Farmboy also schedules pop-up dinners offering fun culinary experiences.

One in four children in Arizona don’t get consistent meals they need to grow and thrive. “Children who are focused on their growling tummies can’t focus on learning,” said Angie Rodgers, president and CEO of AAFB. “Through special grants and donations like the “Red Tractor Lunchbox” giving campaign, we work to support our community in making sure kids get the nutrition they need through programs such as the Summer Food Service Program, School Meals and Alternative Breakfast Models.”

Once prepared the lunch boxes will be delivered to your door or office and may arrive via tractor.

To place an order visit their website.

 

Check out the new lunch menu at Ghost Ranch in Tempe

One of the “Best New Restaurants” in 2018 was Ghost Ranch which recently introduced a new lunch menu. The south Tempe restaurant opened in August and it’s not un-common for a restaurant to make changes to their menu. Seasonal availability of ingredients is one of the biggest reasons restaurant mix it up on a regular basis.

With then popularity of the local restaurant scene to keep people coming back you need to offer new and exciting dishes on a regular basis. New restaurants open daily around the Phoenix area and people can easily be distracted with the latest and greatest restaurant.

New lunch menu

The new lunch menu offers a variety of delicious meals for everybody and includes….

Torta—Chile Colorado braised pork, avocado, tomato, cabbage slaw, aioli, Noble Telera Bread and served with choice of Rancho Papas or side salad.

Tacos—Choice of protein (pork, steak or chicken), homemade tortillas, cabbage slaw, pico de gallo, red and green salsas. Served with rice and beans.

EnchiladasChoice of pork, chicken or veggie with red or green sauce. Served with rice and beans.

Rice Bowl—Choice of pork, chicken or veggies, rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and cotija.

Soup and Salad—Cup of Pumpkin Soup and ½ salad.

Ghost Ranch also mixed it up with their Happy Hour menu. Everyday from 3 – 6p.m. guests can enjoy selected $3 appetizers, $5 selected wines by the glass, cocktails and well drinks or $1 off beer.

Ghost Ranch is at 1006 E. Warner Rd. Tempe 85284.

Sierra Bonita Grill goes back to its roots with new menus

Change is inevitable in restaurants, some changes follow food trends, decor, some are changes in a brand and customer service. Some changes come often with seasonal availability of ingredients. Some changes are years in the making  and that’s the case at Sierra Bonita Grill.

This is the restaurants first major menu change since 2011 and is about getting back to its roots and paying tribute to Sierra Bonita Ranch. The ranch down in Wilcox is Arizona’s oldest continuous family run ranch and where the restaurant got its name.

The popular central Phoenix restaurants menu is influenced by Southwestern and Mexican cuisine but owner Nate Hopper wanted more of a western influence.

Vegetable Noodles and Shrimp. All photos by Debbie Wolvos

“When I first learned about Sierra Bonita Ranch, I knew that I wanted Sierra Bonita Grill to honor our state’s ranching heritage. The updated menu now puts more emphasize on ‘out on the range’ cowboy-style cooking, while still integrating ingredients prominent in Mexican and Native American cuisine. We’re representing the old west, with a modern approach,” said Hopper.

“From the Ranch” at Sierra Bonita Grill

Longtime favorites Buttermilk Chicken, Grilled Fish & Carne Asada Tacos, Smoked Red or Green Chile Pork Roast and the SBG Signature Burger are staying along with others.

Guests will notice separate lunch and dinner menus with lighter options at lunch and heartier dishes at dinner. Included are more salads like the Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with grilled shrimp ($16) and The Bacon Wedge Salad ($16).

Other lighter menu additions include Vegetable and Noodle Shrimp ($28) and Avocado Toast ($10).

Sierra Bonita
Bacon Wedge salad.

The biggest change on the dinner menu is the “From The Ranch” section featuring steaks, chops and chicken. A few include a 14 oz. NY Strip ($38), an 18 oz. split bone-in Ribeye ($42), a 10 oz. bone-in Pork Chop (24) and half roasted chicken ($27). Entrees come served with a choice of side dish and homemade sauce.

Side dishes include a baked potato, seasonal vegetables, green chile mac ‘n’ cheese or green chile scalloped potatoes. Choose a sauce from a selection of horseradish cream, roasted tomatillo, roasted guajillo chile au jus, and chimichurri.

Sierra Bonita Grill is at 6933 N. 7th Street, Phoenix, Ariz., 85014. 602-264-0700 To see their new menus check out their website.

 

Chef Sacha Levine brings her cooking and philosophy to Singh Meadows Cafe

You probably tasted dishes Sacha Levine has prepared at restaurants FnB, Rancho Pinot Grille and Ocotillo and never knew it. Sacha is one of the most respected chefs in the Phoenix restaurant community that many have never heard of, until recently.

Levine runs the kitchen at Singh Meadows Cafe in Tempe where her locally sourced dishes available Friday, Saturday & Sunday’s from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“I have been a huge proponent of local, seasonal, and vegetable-driven food for the bulk of my career,” said Levine. “Preservation has always been a staple for me. We keep the larder stocked with pickles, sauces, and ferments that are sold in the market as well as used in the kitchen.”

Dishes from Sacha Levine

Working alongside Levine in the kitchen is Carlos Carbajal and Kevin Dragos helping to prepare breakfast and lunch. The menu offers a variety of delicious meal attractive to vegetarians, vegans and those looking for gluten-free options.

When I was there one Saturday morning recently it was hard for me pass up the Smoked Brisket Breakfast sandwich.

All dishes are under $12 and include Kimchi Fried Rice with pork belly, Indian Breakfast Tacos and Huevos Rancheros. Taste of the Meadows offers ricotta, honeycomb, fresh fruit, dates, pistachios and grilled Noble Bread.

On my next visit I’m going to have to try the Jerk Turkey Tacos.

“Cooking at Singh Meadows is a sort of coming home for me,” added Levine. “Working at the farm as a young cook helped to define me in the kitchen today. I am close to the source of what I get most excited about in the kitchen – beautiful, local produce.”

In addition to the fresh flavor of Levine’s menu, Singh Meadows offers fresh pressed and squeezed juices and a coffee bar. Fresh produce from Singh Farms is available as is locally sourced foods.

Singh Meadows is at 1490 E. Weber Dr. Tempe 85281. http://www.facebook.com/SinghMeadows

 

 

Starfire Grille introduces new chef and tee’s up a new menu

Scottsdale’s Starfire Grille has introduced new chef Robin Murphy along with a new menu. The restaurant is inside the clubhouse of the Starfire Golf Club in Scottsdale and is part of a $750,000 update at the course.

Chef Murphy bring her passion for food to Starfire and has cooked for Madonna, The Arizona Cardinals and other celebrities.

Starfire Grille
Starfire Grille Chef Robin Murphy

New additions at Starfire Grille

The biggest addition to the menu are wood fired pizzas cooked in the new wood fired pizza oven. Guests will be able to build their own pizza or order the Tomato & Basil, Meat Lover’s or Everything pizza. All pizzas are just $10- $13.

Because not everybody is a fan of pizza new sandwiches were added including The Italian Meatball and The Batman. Served on Naan bread The Batman is filled with bacon, arugula, mozzarella, tomato and avocado aioli.

The Batman. All photos courtesy of Rose+Moser+ Allyn Public Relations

“We are so excited to introduce these new menu items, and our new wood fired pizzas,” said Chef Robin Murphy. “At the Starfire Grille we are proud to support local farmers, producers and artisans and everything we serve is made fresh on site with the best ingredients available.”

The Starfire Grille offers Happy Hour and they’ve added clams and mussels to the menu. Sunday Brunch is served from 10 a.m – 1 p.m. and offering brunch favorites on a rotating menu.

Updated golf course

For the golfer’s there is an expanded 300 yard driving range and new course layouts with 5 tee boxes. The changes that are expected to speed up your game and will be attractive to all skill levels. Golfers will notice new landscaping on the 18 hole King Course and still offering a park like setting.

Starfire Golf Club is open daily from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily and is at 11500 N. Hayden Rd. Scottsdale 85260. For more information visit their website.

 

 

The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale now offers weekend brunch

In the heart of old town Scottsdale sits the colorful Saguaro Hotel and it’s signature restaurant La Senora. The trendy hotel started serving weekend brunch in January offering breakfast starting at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. For those looking for a more lunch inspired brunch the All Day menu starts at 11 a.m.

The breakfast menu includes Chiliquiles Verdes, Avocado Toast, Banana Foster Buttermilk Pancakes and a Citrus Cured Steelhead Trout Bagel.

The All Day menu includes Chicken Tinga Quesadilla, Cactus Tacos and The Saguaro’s take on a Sonoran Hot Dog. Like the breakfast menu there’s more offered to choose from.

The Trout Bagel. All photos courtesy of Erin Weinstock at Sydell Creative

Executive chef Caesar Vasquez takes pride in the authenticity and house made ingredients in the traditional dishes served. From the house made chorizo and berry compote at breakfast or the corn tortillas for tacos all are made from scratch.

The Saguaro Scottsdale Brunch Specials

Two new specials are offered during weekend brunch, Gluten Free Churros($9) and Desert Dawn Mimosa Flight($12).

The Gluten Free Churros are made in-house and prepared when ordered. Sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon they come served with Mexican caramel (Cajeta) and chocolate dipping sauces.

Watermelon
“Eating out with friends can be difficult when dietary restrictions hold you back from enjoying your favorite foods,” said Maritza Portillo, Director of Food & Beverage Outlets. “Not at The Saguaro! Here, we created a dish that everyone

can share. Our churros are so good, we’re sure you won’t be able to tell they’re gluten-free!”
The Desert Dawn Mimosa Flight compliments your sweet, spicy or savory relaxing weekend brunch . The Saguaro Classic, Prickly Pear and Grapefruit Mimosa’s offer a refreshing start to the day. “Your drinks should be as beautiful as your surroundings. We took the colorful tones of The Saguaro and the unique flavors of the desert landscape to create a mimosa flight that is sure to impress,” said Portillo.
Hand-crafted cocktails are available by the glass or by the pitcher including The Saguaro Belle. Sweet and spicy it’s made with pineapple vodka, sparkling wine, honey, jalapeno and lime.
The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale is at 4000 N. Drinkwater Blvd. Scottsdale 85251. For more information or to see the full menus visit their website.