A year and a half after I posted about it, the upscale Mexican restaurant Toca Madera has opened at Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Madera Group from West Hollywood is behind Toca Madera and its sister restaurants, the quick casual Tocaya Organica. Tocaya has two locations in the Phoenix area at Kierland Commons and next door to Toca.
Co-founders Tosh Berman and Amrou Manaseer spared no expense at the 8,000 square foot Toca Madera. A lush courtyard with a retractable roof for patio dining leads to the dining room with the exhibition kitchen. Natural light from skylight breathes life onto the Ficus trees in the restaurants. A lounge with full bar is located off the courtyard serving signature margaritas and cocktails.
“At our Scottsdale location, we want guests to feel as though they’re stepping into another reality,” CEO Berman said. “From the sophisticated design to the theatrical spirit through which we serve food and beverage, every element has been precisely chosen to provide an unparalleled dining experience. The community has been incredibly supportive since opening Tocaya next door so we’re excited to introduce another one of our concepts to the area.”
Executive Chef Joseph Castillo comes to Toca Madera from the nearby Sushi Roku at the W Hotel. Castillo, a native of southern California goes from upscale sushi and Japanese food to an upscale Mexican cuisine. His culinary team creates signature dishes such as Enchiladas de Mole, Tiger Shrimp Tacos and Pescado de Dia (seafood of the day).
Dinner starts at 5 p.m., the lounge opens at 4 for happy hour and weekend brunch begins on November 9th. To view the menu and for more information check out https://www.tocamadera.com/
A new all day menu was rolled out at the downtown Gilbert location of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row earlier this month. The new menu offers lighter and healthy options which include vegetarian and seafood dishes among popular favorites.
New dishes include spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, Spinach & Berry Salad, Roasted Chicken Primavera and Grilled Salmon Jambalaya. Fans of the Tennessee Hot Slider, Fried Pickles and Southern Fries don’t need to worry as those guilty pleasures are still on the menu.
The American gastropub has also extended it happy hour to run all day Monday – Friday. Food and drinks specials start at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. During Sidewalks Fridays they’ve extended happy hour until 9 p.m.
Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row is at 323 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234. To see the full menu head to their website.
If you’ve followed this blog for a few years you would’ve seen a post or two from my visits to Cape Cod. Well I’m back for another visit by way of Boston for the week to escape the Arizona heat. After my first 3 days I have enough to tell you about from my morning in Boston to the days on The Cape.
Breakfast in Boston
I flew into Boston early Saturday morning and was greeted by my friend who re-located from Phoenix to the Boston area 20 years ago. It was pretty early so we decided to head into the city to wake up and made our way to the newly built Seaport District along Boston Harbor. On the south-side of downtown Boston the Seaport District is full of high rise office and apartment buildings, restaurants and attractions. The big attraction for us was the Harbor Walk that led us towards Boston’s North End for breakfast.
The North End is Boston’s “Little Italy” neighborhood full of narrow streets lined with Italian markets and restaurants. We made our to Theo’s Cozy Corner for breakfast on Salem St. The small cash only breakfast joint serves up traditional breakfast fare at good prices. Eggs, pancakes, etc and good portions Theo’s was full of neighborhood regulars and a few of us outsiders looking to start our day. My friend and I both went with corned beef hash with 3 eggs, home fries and toast. A good choice leaving us both satisfied.
No trip to the North End is complete without a stop at Mike’s Pastry for cannoli for a my mid-morning snack. We also stopped into a traditional Italian market for sliced prosciutto and other meats and fresh bread.
After a walk back along the harbor to the car we headed to the south bay so I could continue down to the Cape.
Saturday and Sunday on the Cape
For years my family has been spending a few weeks every August in Harwichport which is on the south side on Nantucket Bay on a part of the cape that is considered Mid-Cape. A cute town we venture to restaurants to get our fill of fresh seafood. Whether it’s $1 oysters for happy hour at The Port or trying to find the “Best” lobster roll we have our favorites and are always on the lookout for new restaurants to try.
By the time I arrived in mid-afternoon Saturday I was ready to get my fresh seafood feast going. My nephew, brother-in-law and I went across the street to The Port for the $1 oysters from Chatham and Wellfleet. The week before I hear they polished off 90 oysters during one sitting but that wasn’t going to happen on this day as the restaurant was shorthanded with shuckers and we weren’t the only ones there for happy hour. 48 oysters were good enough to satisfy us on this day.
Most days on the cape are lazy with a later start than had I been home in Arizona. Sunday morning started out foggy(the weather, not me) but by late morning the sun was out we’re off to Bank St. beach for a little sand and sun. After a few hours on the beach it was back to relax and decide where to do dinner. We decided it was time to get lobster rolls so we made our way to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis. Sesuit on the north side of the cape about a 15 minute drive from Harwichport. Like other “seafood shacks” on the Cape and in New England, Sesuit Harbor Cafe offers fried, broiled or raw seafood. Place your order, find a table outside and wait for the servers bring your food. It’s fast casual before fast casual became a restaurant trend.
Lobster rolls for most of us were served with fries and cole slaw, my nephew went with half a broiled lobster. All were happy as we sat among the sea gulls, marina plotting our next move. We saved room for desert and made our way for homemade ice cream at Schoolhouse Ice Cream in Harwichport.
Sunday or Monday its all the same
When you’re on vacation all the days run together and you realize the work week has begun when the weekenders head back. Not us as Monday has us sleeping in, getting coffee and starting the day. After coffee and my morning walk I made my way to Brew’s Coffee Bar & Beer Garden for breakfast. Disappointing as they stopped serving many of the breakfast sandwiches I remember from 2017. Only 4 choices to choose from that we’re pre-made and warmed up. My egg and bacon burrito was good but not really worth the $9 I paid for it.
Lunch had me craving fried oysters so I drove down the road to the Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport. The place has been around since the 1950s and had the old school drive-in feel. Seafood, burgers, hot dogs and more, my fried oyster craving was fulfilled.
After a lazy afternoon walking off my lunch and visiting with family it was time to think about dinner. My nephew and I were on our own and debated which pizza place to go to. The debate was George’s or Ember Pizza and Wings. Ember won out since we’ve never been so we decided to try their coal fired charred pizza. Getting their early before the dinner rush we ordered boneless Buffalo wings which were chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce. Not my idea of wings and going forward I will always order bone-in wings.
Since my nephew doesn’t eat anything green most vegetables were out so we went with the Meat Lovers Pizza. Topped with bacon, sausage, pepperoni and meatballs the thin crust pizza was good and service was good too. Time for a walk and a relaxing Sunday night before we start another day on the Cape.
Check back for more eating adventures and exploring for the next few days. For more images of my trip follow me on Instagram @SandyWass
Popular seafood restaurant Ocean Prime re-opened last week after plumbing repairs and a new look to its dining room. The north Phoenix restaurant located at High Street also added more seating to accommodate the areas growth and restaurants popularity. To thank their patient customers the restaurant is offering 1/2 off oysters during happy hour.
Every Monday until September 16th from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. guests can enjoy a half dozen of the days featured oysters with frozen granita for $13. Pair your oysters with a glass of Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs for $8.50 a glass or $42. 50 a bottle. Enjoy Schramsberg Rose for $10.50 a glass or $52.50 a bottle.
Other Ocean Prime specials include wild and fresh caught Alaskan Halibut($48) paired with Cakebread Chardonnay. The white, flaky fish is in season and is prepared with seasonal ingredients including celery root puree, spring peas, asparagus, fava beans and buttered lobster claw. The fish is finished with a lemon pesto vinaigrette. “The mix of spring vegetables complements the fish well, and the citrus-forward vinaigrette with the lobster elevates the entire dish,” says Ocean Prime Regional Chef Ian Rough.
Beverage Director Andrea Hoover chose the family owned Cakebread Chardonnay for its citrus and orange-blossom flavor profile. “Chardonnay is weighty on the tongue, yet well-balanced with acidity, complementing the dynamic nature of this dish,” says Hoover. The chardonnay is available by the bottle.
From July 31st – August 10th guests can purchase Ocean Prime gift cards online of $100 or more and receive 20% off when using promo code Prime19.
Ocean Prime is at 5455 E. High Street, Phoenix 85054.
If you haven’t made your way to Mora Italian yet like me, their new happy hour menu might convince you to head there today. Monday – Friday from 4-6 p.m. you can save some dough on pork ribs, veal meatballs, salumi & cheese and more.
For $20 choose from combos including a Rimini pizza or Salumi Board with a bottle of rose or a carafe of an Aperol Spritz.
Cocktails are also included on the new menu including Sangria & Aperol Spritz for $5, an Americano for $7 and more.
Mora Italian new summer dishes
Celebrity chef & restaurateur lends his culinary creativity to Mora Italian and is showcased in three new dishes for summer. Chef Matt Taylor and his team execute the menus in the kitchen. These new dishes are perfect for lighter and cooler summer dining.
Artichoke Soup with truffle, Parmesan bread and pignoli.
10 oz. Prime Niman Ranch NY Strip with charred potato panzanella and grilled ramp vinaigrette.
Roasted Summer Squash with smoked yogurt, Feta and neonata.
The Phoenix restaurant offers guests a modern osteria experience with Neopolitan pizzas, pasta dishes, satisfying entrees and delicious desserts. Progressive cocktails and a wine list round out the experience.
Mora Italian is at 5651 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014. (602)795-9943
A recent post announced the Arizona Tiki Oasis weekend, they have now added a kick-off happy hour Hula’s Modern Tiki in Scottsdale. The Tiki Time Happy Hour starts at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday April 11th. The public is welcome to join tiki fans who are calling Scottsdale and Hotel Valley Ho home for the weekend.
Guests will enjoy $6 Signature Tropical Cocktails, $6 Island- style starters and more until 6:00 p.m. It will be the first opportunity for guests to purchase Arizona Tiki Oasis collectible souvenirs and merchandise.
Tiki fans in Phoenix can take advantage of Hula’s Tiki Time Happy Hour at their location on 7th St. The Phoenix location is not hosting the event.
Colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas and hula skirts will take over the space where Cowboy Ciao was when the Drunk Munk opens in March. The iconic Cowboy Ciao closed last year after 21 years. Owners Greg Donally, Andrew Nam and Scott Hane have experience with Scottsdale restaurants as they own Geisha A Go Go and have owned bars and restaurants including Drift Lounge in downtown Scottsdale.
“We are excited to bring something new and different like Drunk Munk to Scottsdale,” said co-owner Donnally. “The dishes on the menu will transport you across Asia and up the beaches of Mexico. Who knows, you could even see some old favorites from a former concept we had in Old Town, the well-known Drift Lounge.”
Drunk Munk eats
Tiki themed cocktails and dishes such as flaming pu pu platter, sushi along with Asian inspired small plates, salads and sandwiches will be served.
Happy hour will be offered everyday and brunch will be served on weekends. Brunch items will include Red Velvet waffles and a different style of Eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary’s.
The 4,600 square foot restaurant is currently under going renovations to a Polynesian theme. When finished it will accommodate 150 people in the main dining area and 50 on the patio. The Idol of Worship from Drift is known to bless guests with his presence will be at the Drunk Munk.
“We are grateful to have the chance at opening in such a stable restaurant location like Cowboy Ciao. To occupy a property owned by the Unger family, we truly feel the tiki gods have made this happen. Peter was so far ahead of his time in 1997 when it opened,” said Donnally.
The Drunk Munk will be at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. For information visit their website.
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 House– Start 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 Tavern– Same 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 Corps– Cubs 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.
Dorian– First 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 Hotel– Need 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 Margarita– Free steak, chicken or carnitas taco with same day game ticket from any game. Urban Margarita is at 6685 W. Beardsley Rd., #180, Glendale 85308.
Starlite BBQ– All 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.
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/
With all of the development in downtown Phoenix in recent years it’s hard to recognize it let alone keep track of the new business’s that have opened up. One of those business’s is GenuWine Arizona, a wine and beer bar on Roosevelt Row. I recently found myself at GenuWine as owners Emily Rieve and Lindsey Schoenemann were finalizing plans to celebrate their first anniversary.
Emily and Lindsey are two mid-westerners who found themselves teaching together in Gilbert. They enjoyed working together on school lessons and wanted to share their passion to collaborate on something unique. The wine enthusiasts decided on a self-serve wine bar and GenuWine Arizona was born.
What’s going on at GenuWine Arizona
Focusing on mostly Arizona wines, beers and foods guests can make their way up to the wine wall for a taste, 1/2 glass or full glass of over 24 wines. I opted for 4 tastes of Arizona wines on my visit. Local craft beers are on tap and by the bottle if you’re in the mood for the suds.
The laid back atmosphere offers board games to play, couches and chairs to talk with friends and people watch along Roosevelt. A few seats at the bar allow for you to enjoy your drink while chatting with Emily and Lindsey when their not with their guests. If hungry you can build your own cheese board.
Weekly events include beer and tastings, unique classes(cheese making), live music and a comedy night. On First Friday’s you can usually count on a beer or wine tasting and food truck outside. Happy hour is Mon.-Fri. from 3-6 p.m. with $2 off full glasses of wine, draft beer and small plates.
There’s plenty of room for private parties and a wine club is in the works.
For a calendar of events and lists of wine and beer they’re pouring visit their website.
GenuWine Arizona is at 888 N. 1st Ave. Suite 101 Phoenix 85003. 602-682-7494. Hours Mon. – Thurs. 3 – 10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 1 -11 p.m and Sun. 1 -9 p.m.
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.
Enchiladas—Choice 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.