Upscale Mexican restaurant Toca Madera has opened.

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.

Sashimi Mexicano

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.”

Baja Rosa

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/

 

OEB Breakfast Co. to open first U.S. location in Scottsdale

Italian-Canadian chef Mauro Martina is bringing his eclectic breakfast concept to north Scottsdale in November. When OEB Breakfast Co. opens it will give the classic breakfast staples an upscale twist from the north. At almost 3,000 square feet, the open kitchen restaurant seats over 100 people in the dining room and on the patio.

“Breakfast means so much more to me than just the first meal of the day,” said Martina, owner and founder of OEB. “It’s about elevating the whole breakfast experience. That’s what OEB is all about.”

Light blue and yellow painted walls give a clean look to the restaurant and guests will notice wood beams throughout with the focal point being the Terrazo bar.

The classically trained Martina learned his skills in Europe before moving to Canada in 1992. At the age of 21 he was already an executive chef and has worked in Michelin Star restaurants since then. He opened the first OEB in 2009 and sources much of his ingredients from local farmers. “We care about where the food comes from and what happens to it before it hits the table,” said Martina.

Photos courtesy of Liz Lastra at Evolve Marketing

The menu at OEB Breakfast Co.

Martina’s eclectic menu will take guests on a culinary journey and will include Holy Crab Eggs Benny, Nutella French Toast and Hog & Scallop Poutine. The restaurant will serve hand-crafted cocktails, craft beer and Frizzante on tap from the full service bar. Martina’s philosophy is to raise the bar during the breakfast experience through its cuisine.

“There are not too many places out there that have truffles on the menu or sturgeon caviar and duck and scallops,” said Martina. “Some think fine dining but I think people can have all of that for breakfast.”

The restaurant is currently looking to hire 50 people for all positions. Those interested can send a resume to chaunceylane@eatoeb.com

OEB Breakfast Co. is at 17757 N. Scottsdale Rd. (Scottsdale & Chauncey Lane) 85255. For updates about the opening and more information visit their website.

 

Castle Hot Springs re-opens with Harvest, serving crop driven cuisine

Arizona’s first luxury resort, Castle Hot Springs has re-opened for its first full season. Originally opened in 1896, the 210 acre property will be opened from October til late June offering guests the opportunity to detach from the digital world while rejuvenating and healing in the resorts 120 degrees thermal hot springs. Hiking, horseback riding, foraging and star gazing are a few of the many activities guests can enjoy at the iconic resort and its surrounding desert and mountains.

Harvest, Castle Hot Springs signature restaurant

Castle Hot Springs is home to Harvest, the signature restaurant and farm offering crop driven cuisine. Executive chef Christopher Brugman’s menu rotates daily based on what’s available at the resorts one acre farm. The farm and greenhouse are overseen by resident agronomist Ian Berger. He oversees over 150 fruits and vegetables native to the desert along with the properties groves that are home to 36 types of citrus trees. Included in the farm are over 35 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

Working together Brugman and Berger choose ripe fruit and vegetables for each days menu. What they don’t grow they  get from local vendors to fill in the gaps. Harvest also adheres to zero waste and sustainable guidelines. Guests can participate in daily foraging and learn about “flavor farming” that covers the sweet and savory tastes through a foods color. Dishes such as Coconut Carrot Bisque and Tandoori Octopus Grilled over Juniper Wood have been on the menu. The culinary team also has an in-house pickling program and creates concoctions such as Brugman’s Onion Ash.

Food & Beverage Manager and Sommelier Thomas Burris has created a beverage program to complement Brugman’s cuisine. Signature cocktails such as the Trade Secret and Lady & The Tramp also use ingredients sourced from the property. Trade Secret is made with rosemary infused vodka, Elderflower and pink grapefruit. The savory Lady & The Tramp combine Pecorino Romano infused vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and fresh basil leaves. Castle Springs Lithium Lager is made exclusively for Harvest and uses natural elements of the resorts hot springs.

The resort is at 5050 E. Castle Hot Springs Rd. Castle Hot Springs AZ. 85342. For more information and to make a reservation head to their website.

Little Cay Latin Caribbean Kitchen opens today in Scottsdale

There’s new restaurant opening today at the intersection of Tatum and Shea Blvd. Little Cay Latin Caribbean Kitchen is the the first restaurant by Ben Sinion, former General Manager of The Wrigley Mansion.

The fast casual concept will transport you to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and beyond with its classic and contemporary Caribbean and Latin dishes. A meat filled Cubano sandwich, Jerk Chicken, Mofongo( smashed plaintains, think guacamole) and vegan friendly dishes are among the authentic dishes. You can’t go the tropics without tropical cocktails or a cold beer, rum based sangria and more are available.

Little Cay Latin Caribbean Kitchen
Cubano sandwich. Photos by Debby Wolvos

It’s a laid-back concept,” said Sinon. “Guests can grab-n-go, dine in and it’s perfect food for a party.”

Stop in during opening weekend a get a FREE plantain appetizer. Choose from the Tostones, Marquitas De Platanos or Maduros.

Little Cay Latin Caribbean Kitchen is at 4912 E. Shea Blvd. #108 Scottsdale 85254. They’re open daily from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. For more information and to see the menu check out their website.

 

Desert Ridge Marketplace to get Arizona’s 4th Thirsty Lion Gastropub

Thirsty Lion Gastropub announced that it has chosen Desert Ridge Marketplace for it’s fourth Phoenix area location. The 6,500 square foot restaurant will open in the fall of 2019 on the southwest side of The District. This will be the tenth restaurant to occupy Desert Ridge Marketplace since it’s $22 million upgrade in 2017.

“Desert Ridge Marketplace continues to establish itself as the place to be in the North Valley, evidence of how we chose where to open the fourth Arizona location,” said John Plew, Owner of Thirsty Lion. “We know our bold flavors and creative cocktail program will resonate with the Desert Ridge community, and we look forward to showing them what Thirsty Lion offers.”

The restaurant will have a larger dining room and outdoor bar with a fire pit. The restaurant has locations at Scottsdale Fashion Square, Tempe Marketplace and Gilbert’s SanTan Village.

Once opened the restaurant will serve eclectic gastropub cuisine with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Meats, seafood and fresh fruits and vegetables are all part of the restaurants core menu. Craft beers are served on tap along with uniquely created cocktails and over 20 wines by the glass.

Phoenix based Vestar owns and manages the shopping and entertainment complex. “Thirsty Lion will create an energetic and elevated dining experience at Desert Ridge Marketplace,” said Jenny Cushing, vice president of leasing at Vestar. “With extensive culinary and beverage options, we know Thirsty Lion will truly provide something for everyone in the North Valley.”

The shopping center is on Tatum Blvd. just north of the Loop 101.

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen spices it up in Tempe

Restaurateur Ron Lynch is no stranger to opening restaurants having opened over 100 Tilted Kilt’s across the country.  Having left Tilted Kilt, Lynch has opened VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen. The restaurant on Elliot Rd. near Costco serves up Cajun, Creole & Caribbean cuisine.

VooDoo Daddy's Steam Kitchen
Jambalaya. Photos credit Janet Zhou-Wilt

“We are excited about our location and have really put a lot of work into this menu,” said owner and founder, Ron Lynch. “If there’s one thing to know about Cajun food it’s that the dishes have to be just right. Our patio will be a place for families to people watch, sip some custom blended ice teas, porch wines, nitro cold brew coffee or a craft beer and enjoy a nice bowl of gumbo or jambalaya.”

Lynch brought with him James Heyl to prepare the menu full of savory and spicy dishes. Heyl brings with over 25 years of restaurant experience. Dishes include Po’ Boys, gumbo, red beans & rice and pan roasts from the restaurants steam kettles.

The bright yellow 3,150 square foot restaurant is decorated with murals of late night jazz players dancing on piano keys. Dark wood floors and brick walls adorn the inside of the fast casual restaurant.

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen official grand opening

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen is now open but will have an official grand opening on Thursday May 16th at 11 a.m. That day a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Tempe Diablos. The 501-c non-profit civic organization enhances and promotes the Tempe community. In 2018 the Diablos donated $900,000 to Tempe area charities for scholarships, teacher awards and needs based services.

VooDoo Daddy's Steam Kitchen
Pork Po’boy

“The recipe for a great restaurant is incredible food and drinks, a perfect location and rich atmosphere,” said Lynch. “VooDoo Daddy’s has all of that and more. We couldn’t be more excited for this launch.”

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen is at 1325. W. Elliot Rd. Suite 106 Tempe 85284. The restaurant is open Sun. – Thurs. from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. & 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. For more information see their website.

Meat the Ball to open at Biltmore Fashion Park next week

Stefano Fabbri, owner of popular Phoenix restaurants Mora Italian and Pomo Pizzeria announced he’s opening a new restaurant, Meat the Ball. The full-service restaurant will open Thursday March 21st at the Biltmore Fashion Park.

Meat the ball
Photos courtesy of Kassidy Mcdonald at Evolve Marketing and PR.

The menu will include an impressive line-up of meatballs made with sausage, veal, salmon and more. In addition to meatballs the restaurant will offer appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.

“I’m thrilled to introduce Meat the Ball, a mini restaurant with a big personality centered on the quintessential meatball and its street food friends. We will have authentic recipes prepared with locally sourced and organic products to celebrate today’s healthy dining, Italian style,” says Fabbri.

The 1,500 square foot restaurant will look like a 50’s style diner and decorated with pop-art and a retro theme.

Meat the Ball will be open 7 days a week from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Biltmore Fashion Park is at 2502 E. Camelback Rd. Phoenix 85016. For more information visit their website.

Tiki bar and restaurant Drunk Munk to open where Cowboy Ciao was

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.

Little Rituals opens and it’s not your traditional hotel bar

When Little Rituals opened last week in downtown Phoenix it raised the bar for other hotel bars. Located on the 4th floor of the Courtyard by Marriott/Residence Inn the cocktail bar is the mastermind of mixologists Aaron Defeo and Ross Simon. DeFeo is no stranger to hotel bars as he was property mixologist at Tucson’s Casino del Sol Resort. Simon is the owner of downtown’s Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.

Little rituals owners Aaron DeFeo & Ross Simon. All photos courtesy of Little Rituals

The bar joins Broken Shaker ( Miami, L.A., Chicago & NYC) and Death Co. (NYC & Denver)  to offer guests and locals a unique hotel bar experience. Open daily from 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. guests can expect 30 custom cocktails along with beer, wine and gourmet bites from consulting chef Bob Tam. Interesting touches at the independently owned bar include hand stamped ice, espresso martinis on tap and a pairing menu.

Preparation and education is key

What you don’t see is as important as what you see and sip on. DeFeo and Simon have created a culture of extensive staff training and drink preparation. Cocktails are made with house-made foams, infusions, garnishes, syrups and more. The menu focuses on the use of aromatic vermouth’s and sherry’s.

The cocktails are in 6 categories with 5 cocktails each.

  • Daily Rituals (Boilermakers, Siroco Spritz and a precisely-chilled, grapefruit-finished Session Martini)
  • Delicious Rituals (exciting flavor combinations such as the honey, citrus and curry-spiced Daiqurry)
  • Cooling Rituals (heat-busting combos such as the frothy Amalfi Frappe or the cucumber-y Touch of Evil)
  • Stirred & Silky Rituals (elegant twists on classics such as the sherry-spiked Cask of Amontillado)
  • Indulgent Rituals (complex flavors such as the Cartographer with overproof rum, cardamom and creole bitters)
  • Shared Rituals (ever-changing selection of punches, pitchers and the aforementioned Bubbles & Fries)

Apertivo hour is from 4-6 p.m. daily and offers discounted prices on a rotating list of cocktails, beer, wine and bites.

The bar bites menu offers 10 dishes including Beet Carpacio, Millionaire’s Bacon Board and Carbonara Lo Mein from the Hong Kong born chef Tam. Make sure you save room for the High Spirited Desserts.

The hotel is at 132 S. Central Ave. Phoenix 85004. 602-603-2050. Visit the website and their Facebook page for more information.

Cherish Farm Fresh Eatery brings healthy food to Chandler

Locals and visitors in the Ocotillo neighborhood of Chandler have a new restaurant focusing on healthy food to visit. Cherish Farm Fresh Eatery opened this week offering gluten-free, vegan and Keto and all around healthy food.

Chef Steven Fowler created the menu bringing years of experience working around the valley. His culinary track record includes T. Cook’s at The Royal Palms, EVO, The Boulders Resort and Tonto Bar and Grill.

Greekin’ Out Bowl. All photos courtesy of Cherish Farm Fresh Eatery

The healthy menu at Cherish Farm Fresh Eatery is composed of salads, sandwiches, superfruit bowls, specialty dishes and cauliflower crust pizzas. The restaurant will serve the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The fast casual restaurant also offers a kiosk diners guests to order on their own.

The restaurant will be open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Mon. – Thurs., 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Sat. and Sun. from 8 a.m. –  9 p.m.

Cherish Farm Fresh Eatery is at 2551 W. Queen Creek Rd. Chandler 85248. (480)350-7245. For more information visit website.