Chino Bandido moving after 31 years at its original location

The eclectic Phoenix restaurant that serves Chinese, Mexican and Jamaican fusion is moving to a new location in north Phoenix. Chino Bandido has been featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” is planning an early summer move from its original 19th Ave. location not far to 310 W. Bell Rd.

Owners Eve and Frank Collins opened in 1990 and had a cult like following shortly after opening. “After 31 years, I knew it was time for a change. Frank would have been so happy to see our brand-new location, and I am honored to make this dream a reality,” said Co-Owner Eve Collins. Frank passed away in 2013 and was a staple at the restaurant helping to make the “hole in the wall” restaurant a success.

The new location will 6,000 square feet with almost half of the space dedicated to the kitchen. A new patio for up to 30 people, new tables and chairs will give it a new feel. The industrial “vibe” will be the same and Pancho the 7,500 lb. black granite bear has already made the move to the new location.

It’s business as usual at the original location until early June when Eve hopes to move. The menu will stay the same at the new location as will the hours of operation 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily. “Chino Bandido has been my labor of love for over half my life. Our customers’ extreme loyalty got us through the pandemic, and I could not be more excited for the next chapter in our history,” said Collins. For more information and to stay up to date visit their website.

 

Eating my way through Delray Beach, Boca Raton & Boynton Beach.

Some live through stereotypes, some live in stereotypes and from time to time I live in a stereotype. That is the case when I travel to visit family in southeastern Florida towns of Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. Certain aspects feel like a Seinfeld episode when Jerry is visiting his parents in “Del Boca Vistas”. The best times revolve around food and eating out and all that come with the experience. On a recent visit I ate out for most meals in strip mall eateries or dockside by the water and these are my chronicles, see if my experiences sound familiar.

Most were simple meals with family and friends catching up and watching life go by as its high season in south Florida with snow birds, families visiting parents & grandparents and full-time residents.

Shortly after arriving in time for a mid-morning breakfast on the way back from the airport we decided on my aunts favorite greasy spoon, The Green Owl III in Boynton Beach. Breakfast and lunch served with simple staples of eggs, French toast, pancakes and the special of the day, Scrapple. I’m not entirely sure what Scrapple but you don’t see it here in Phoenix very often. I can say the eggs, corned beef hash and slice of French toast is exactly what you’d expect. Not huge portions but good solid breakfast foods with the regulars and an always full & hot cup of coffee with change back from a $10 in most cases. Cash only!

As often as I’ve visited in my 40 something years to this area there’s always a  favorite or 2 on the eating schedule. For dinner we made reservations at the family favorite Banana Boat on the Intercoastal Waterway in Boynton Beach. It was my 1st visit in a long time at this nautical & beach themed restaurant where seafood is good and fresh. The French Onion soup was spot on for bargain price of $6.95 before I stepped out of my seafood comfort zone and went with filet of Macadamia crusted Key West Grouper. The fish was good and flaky and the Orange Rosemary sauce was vibrant and delicious. http://bananaboatboynton.com/

We passed on desert as we headed down to the bustling Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach to Doc’s All American for soft serve ice cream. Doc’s pre-dates any of my visits back to when my aunt grew up in the area and Doc’s was the place to go for food and fun when she was in high school.

I know what you’re saying, where’s the stereotypes and Seinfeld episode in all of this. That picture comes into play when family continues to arrive and we head to Saturday morning breakfast at Poppie’s Restaurant & Delicatessen  in Delray Beach where Miltary Trail meets Linton Blvd. This staple for gossip, big portions and people watching is slowly filing with regulars for morning coffee or after tennis at the club. Walking by the glass encased meats and deli favorites right to our table or booth I don’t remember but you get the drift. I expect Jerry, George and Elaine to coming strolling through the door any second as if they’re visiting Jerry’s parents. http://www.poppiesdelidelray.com/

I went with a platter of eggs, home fries, corned beef hash & a bagel. Big portions tasting the way it should as if we were up in New York deli.

For lunch, plans get made with our hometown friend for our traditional sushi lunch at Lemongrass Asian Bistro www.lemongrassasianbistro.com/  in downtown Boca Raton among the Bentley’s and Rolls Royce’s. This was our first visit to Lemongrass as our previous sushi place a couple blocks away has jumped on the ramen & noodle bandwagon. The sushi was fresh and filing as was it’s presentation. The Summer Roll(Vietnamese spring roll, not sushi) was one of favorites with its mint and shrimp stuffed goodness. Our favorite roll was the Aloha Roll with pineapple and more and my Bento box of sashimi and a “Sex on the Moon” roll was perfect.

During our late lunch I was informed dinner would be of the early bird kind at 4:30 for Chinese food. Up I-95 a few exits back to Delray Beach in a nondescript strip mall is Bird Nest Tree. http://www.birdnesttree.com/

My sister & I must have been the youngest patrons of this (stereo)typical Chinese food restaurant with dim lighting, leather booths and round tables. I opted to skip dinner as the taste of sushi still lingered on my palate and dinner plans with friends in Ft. Lauderdale was only an hour or so away. I did nosh on the large fried wontons on the table and grabbed a taste of Kung Pao chicken before our server scolded me and slapped a “sharing” charge on my families bill. It all looked and smelled like good Chinese food, maybe next visit for a full experience.

That’s not the end of my eating escapades as other meals were had at the country club, in homes of friends and family and at the wedding which brought all of us to Florida, that’s another post in itself. If you find yourself traveling the roads of these parts, these and other restaurants from previous visits make for good eating and people watching.

 

Zen Culinary announces executive chef Kelly Fletcher to lead new restaurant

New restaurants are always opening in the Phoenix metro area, one of the more anticipated and ambitious projects is Zen Culinary, set to open later in October in north Scottsdale. Executive chef Kelly Fletcher is a big piece of the puzzle as he’s been tapped to lead the culinary team that also includes Bitter & Twisted’s executive chef Bob Tam as culinary advisor.

Dumplings. Photo courtesy of HDE Agency
Dumplings. Photo courtesy of HDE Agency

Zen Culinary Team

Kelly Fletcher has been around the Phoenix area food scene for quite a while as former executive chef at House of Trick’s in Tempe and recently at El Chorro Lodge in Paradise Valley. Fletcher has hosted pop-up dinners, been guest chef at many local restaurants and is very active in the Phoenix culinary industry.

Owner Rachel Maculey sought out Fletcher for his food and cultural diversity when it comes to his menu’s, his French training and his commitment to his home-grown Arizona community in an effort to achieve her vision of sharing her family’s culture through food and here upbringing in Thailand. Bob Tam’s bring his culinary ideas including teaching new techniques, introducing new ingredients & his business acumen to this Asian fusion restaurant.

With good food comes good drinks to enjoy and Michael Liberatore is responsible for the beverage program at Zen Culinary. Michael previously worked at Citizen Public House.

Zen Culinary executive chef Kelly Fletcher
Zen Culinary executive chef Kelly Fletcher

Zen Culinary will be serving lunch and dinner from a menu that will include Thai, Chinese, Japanese and American cuisine by using mostly locally sourced organic ingredients that will give diners the opportunity to experience the balance, spice & textures of the teams creations.

Zen Culinary is at 15544 N Pima Road, Scottsdale, AZ, Zen Culinary will be open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. http://www.zenculinary.com/

 

Panda Express celebrates it’s 30th anniversary with a holiday grant to The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix

Panda Express
Celebrating their 30th birthday in a big way, Panda Express donated $100,000 to 20 local clubs of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix was a benefactor of one those holiday grants of $3,000. Along withe grant, Panda Express hosted a holiday party for more than 150 kids from the Phoenix area serving some of the restaurants favorites including Orange Chicken. A visit from Santa and gifts for all kids were then given out.

“Thanks to our wonderful friends at Panda Express, our children will have a magical holiday party,” said President and Executive Director Amy Gibbons. “We are so grateful that Panda Express is supporting our clubs and the thousands of kids who need us most.”

Panda Express was very “humbled” to celebrate it’s 30th Anniversary says Co-Founder & Co- C.E.O. Peggy Cherng and felt giving back to the communities was of celebrating and looking to the future. “Panda’s vision to become a world leader in people development is shared by The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. We honor their work with this donation and are pleased to help the youth of our community.”

Panda Express can be found in the Phoenix area at the following locations:

– 401 E. Jefferson, Phoenix, AZ 85004
– 998 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014
– 2434 E. Baseline Rd Suite #101, Phoenix, AZ 85042
– 3923 E. Thomas Rd. Phase 4, Phoenix, AZ 85018
– 4750 South 48th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85040
– 7000 16th St. #100, Phoenix, AZ 85020
– 5229 W. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85031
– 4309 W. Bethany Home Rd, Glendale, AZ 85301
– 5010 W. Baseline Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85042
– 777 S. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281
– 7510 West Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85033
– 2931 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
– 7630 West Lower Buckeye, Phoenix, AZ 85043
– 7014 E. Camelback #569, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
– 1320 West Elliot Road, Tempe, AZ 85284
– 9111 North 59th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85302
– 10637 N Tatum Blvd #105, Phoenix, AZ 85028
– 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Phoenix, AZ 85048
– 1714 E. Guadalupe Rd, Tempe, AZ 85283

Healthy, Upscale Dining at Very Reasonable Price Group Lunch Specials at Dragon Wok in Gilbert

“Dragon Sam” Stezo of Gilbert’s Dragon Wok doesn’t advise working through lunch. But if you must take care of business over a meal, why not impress your co-workers with affordable Fine Chinese Dining. Stezo’s restaurant features group lunch dining of 3-courses for under $10 per person.

Group dining is available for 6-30 people with advanced reservation. The meals are ideal for business meetings or family gatherings and are served family style with a variety of shared dishes – all made with the care and quality Dragon Wok is known for.
DW_FamilyStyleDining
Two options are available. For $8.95 per person, guests can customize a menu of 2 appetizers and 3 entrees for their group. For $9.95 the meal also includes soup. Each option also includes rice. Beverages are priced separately.

At Dragon Wok, Stezo has taken traditional family recipes and added modern, contemporary touches to his offering of Chinese food standards and specialty dishes. His meals represent a value in quality and taste incomparable to other restaurants in the city.

Sam recommends visiting to try his most popular dishes such as the General Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Orange Chicken, Honey Chicken, Combination Lo Mein, Kung Pao Chicken and much, much more to experience the difference in taste and quality.

“Chinese cuisine has always been about sharing time and food with family and friends. Eating with a group – sampling a variety of dishes – is the best way to experience the food and the meal,” says Szeto. “If you must work through lunch, this is the best way to enjoy the time.”

Group lunch specials are available at Dragon Work from 11am – 3pm during the week and 12-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Advanced reservation is required. Contact Dragon Wok at 480-782-6889.

Dragon Wok Fine Chinese Restaurant is at 727 W. Ray Road, #B1, in Gilbert. Menus and specials are available online at dragonwok.biz or get updates from Facebook (facebook.com/dragonwokAZ) and Twitter (@dragonwok)


Dragon Wok Turns Eight

Dragon Wok celebrates its eighth year in business on Saturday, March 9 with food specials and a lion dance performance at 4:30. Dragon Wok opened in Gilbert in 2005 and has been a local “secret” ever since. The restaurant serves quality traditional Chinese food in a fine dining atmosphere. In 2008, Dragon Wok received the honor of one of the National Top 100 Overall Excellence Chinese Restaurants in the USA – a distinguished selection from more than 46,000 Chinese restaurants. Reservations are requested for the celebration performance on Saturday, March 9 at 4:30 pm.