Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Free bowl of menudo on New Year’s Day

All 35 Food City locations in Arizona celebrate National Menudo Month and National Hangover Day January 1st 2023 with a free bowl of menudo. The popular hangover remedy is available from 9-11 a.m. in the deli for dine-in only.

Famous 48 now serving lunch & weekend brunch

The standalone restaurant in the Shops at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale is now serving lunch 7 days a week starting at 11 a.m. Saturday & Sunday brunch starts at 10:30 a.m. until 3:00p.m.

Sunday Funday taco specials at Urban Margarita

Every Sunday from 1:30 p.m. til closing the Glendale restaurant has street tacos for only $2 each. Choose from grilled steak, chicken or carnitas and don’t forget the margarita to wash them down.

Batch Cookie Shop coming to Queen Creek in 2023

The family owned cookie shop in Gilbert announced its second location will be coming to Queen Creek this summer. It will be in front of the new Costco at Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Rds. More details will be available as they get closer to opening day.

OpenTable names local restaurants Top 100 Restaurants in America in 2022

Steak 44, Ocean 44 and Dominick’s Steakhouse in Phoenix and Scottsdale have been named to the prestigious list. All 3 restaurants are owned by father and sons Dennis, Michael & Jeff Mastro and partner Scott Trolio. The list is curated from over 13 million customer reviews on the website from October 31st 2021- September 30th 2022. Also making the list from Arizona is Mariposa in Sedona and The Henry in Phoenix.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Chesapeake Bay Seafood Bistro lets guests BYO beer & wine

The popular Ahwatukee seafood restaurant, Chesapeake Bay Seafood Bistro now lets guests bring in their own beer and wine to enjoy with lunch or dinner. The restaurant opened in June 2021 and caught on quickly with locals for its friendly service, selection of fresh seafood and reasonable prices.

Owners James and Yolanda Brown are no strangers to seafood having lived in Virginia before moving to San Diego for 30 years. They’re happy to have guests be able to bring in beer or wine during the hours of 12 -10 p.m. Corkage fees of $10 per 750 ml bottle of wine, $5 per 375 ml and $1 per can of beer offset the cost of glassware & labor and help keep food prices low.

“This allows our guests who would like to pair drinks with their food to have a gourmet experience at a fraction of the price of a fine dining restaurant,” Yolanda said. “We invite everyone to let us know which combinations work best so we can share suggestions with others.”

Since opening they’ve received a great review from the Arizona Republic dining critic Andi Berlin and in January their blue crabs landed on Phoenix Magazine’s 101 Best Dishes list. Daily seafood dishes run between $4.50 for tacos up to about $20 for plates for sandwiches, tacos, salads and plates. “Off the Grill” selections can be seasoned with Old Bay, garlic herb butter, teriyaki, lemon pepper and others. “Out of the fryer” dishes come seasoned with a light cornmeal batter. Side dishes include hush puppies, house-made Old Bay chips, corn on the cob, fried zucchini and more. They have live blue crabs flown in daily from Maryland during the season.

Chesapeake Bay Seafood Bistro is at 5033 E. Elliot Rd. Phoenix 85044 and is open Tuesday- Thursday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. For more information check out their website.

 

 

Mesquite Fresh Street Mex opening 8th location in Northwest Phoenix

The locally owned Mr. Mesquite has announced it’s now going by Mesquite Fresh Street Mex and will open its 8th location at the end of August. The grand opening is scheduled for August 28th at 10:30 a.m. at 1730 W. Happy Valley Rd. Phoenix.

“We are thrilled to expand the Mesquite brand in Arizona with our eighth location,” said Ahmad Alatrash, co-founder of Mesquite Fresh Street Mex. “Northwest Phoenix is a thriving area with strong businesses, services and a great community around it. We look forward to connecting with residents and sharing our authentic meets modern Mexican concept with the neighborhood.”

The 1,930 square foot fast casual restaurant will serve meats grilled over mesquite wood for a unique and smoky flavor. Tacos, killer burritos, protein bowls and quesadillas make up the menu. Family meals will also be available and tacos start at $2.19 each. All ingredients are of the highest quality and a prepared every day.  Grand opening celebrations will include giveaways and the first 200 people will win a free taco for week for six months.

The restaurant is looking to hire 30 people for the new location joining over 150 other employees throughout Arizona. “We are seeking ambitious and driven individuals ready to join a collaborative team,” said Naser. “We pride ourselves in a family-driven environment and place a large emphasis in creating a supportive and fun atmosphere for our staff.”  For more information about job openings and the grand opening visit their website.

The Arizona Taco Festival is coming back for its 11th year

2020 may have knocked down the Arizona Taco Festival but it didn’t knock it out as the popular 2 day festival returns in October 2021. This will be the 11th year of the festival that is planned for October 23rd & 24th and will be returning to Salt River Fields.

Over 50 taco vendors will be on hand serving up hundreds or thousands of their homemade tacos and more starting at $3 each. In addition to tacos festival goers can get a Tequila Passport to sample 10 premium tequilas to go with their tacos and 6 chefs from local Mexican restaurants will prepare their specialties at the new Super Food Stations. Vote for your favorite tacos to win the People’s Choice Taco Competition and hang out at one of the shaded party tents with DJs providing music, vendors and bars serving margaritas, beer and more.

Tickets for the 11th Annual Arizona Taco Festival go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday May 21st at the ticketweb site. General Admission tickets are $14 in advance and $20 day of event. The Tequila Passport is an additional $25 and VIP Tickets are $100 ($120 day of) and include the Passport. The El Presidente ticket is $200 with the Passport, $220 day of. Parking at Salt River Fields is free. For more information head to their website.

 

Modern Tortilla food truck opens brick & mortar location

The popular food truck Modern Tortilla has opened its first brick & mortar location inside the Fry’s Marketplace in Litchfield Park. If that sound a little familiar it’s because Modern Tortilla’s sister restaurant Aioli Gourmet Burgers opened inside the same Fry’s in March 2020.

Both Modern Tortilla and Aioli are co-owned by Chopped champion chef Tommy D’Ambrosio. “Modern Tortilla was our second food truck concept. It’s been a huge success for us at events and through catering with weddings and large events. To have the opportunity to offer our southwestern style cuisine alongside our other brand is going to be an incredible experience,” said D’Ambrosio.

Tommy will be serving up his signature tacos including the El Ranchero made with 24 hour marinated skirt steak and Flew the Coop chicken tinga tacos. Burritos, quesadillas, chicken flautas, elote and more will be served. A cold case is filled with tacos kits and meal prep ingredients for home cooking along with grab-n-go meals.

“Our customers are looking for fresh and convenient meal options for them and their families,” said J.J. Mattison, Fry’s Food Stores Deli/Bakery Merchandiser. “Solutions like Modern Tortilla, Aioli Gourmet Burgers and others offer customers a variety of already prepared or easy-to-prepare options that they can easily enjoy.

Fry’s Marketplace is at 13730 W. Camelback Rd. Litchfield Park. For more information visit their website.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria launches new Spring menu

The new menu at the 7 Arizona locations celebrates the Garden of Flavors thru June 7th. Seasonal ingredients include artichokes, asparagus, sweet peaches and more. Dishes like the Panzanella Salad, Bacon & Asparagus Pizza go well with new cocktails such as the Kentucky Peach Mule & Peach Bellini. A new cauliflower crust pizza has been added as has desserts Banana Cream Cheese Cake and Caramel Coconut Cheesecake.

Found:RE Hotel celebrates Women in Wine

The downtown Phoenix hotel and signature restaurant Match Market & Bar feature wines made by women all month long in honor of International Women’s Day Monday March 8th. 18 wines from around the world are featured with a portion of sales donated to Hope Women’s Center. Many of the wines feature also donate to women’s causes around the world.

Local First Arizona film series highlights local food economy & community

March 9th is the first of a monthly series of its Good Food Film Series featuring 12 independent short films. Each film discusses the challenges the farm and food community faces over the next year. The first film titled “The State of Arizona Farmland” about the owners of Blue Sky Farms. April 13th will be “Are Edible Landscapes and Trees the answer to Arizona’s Rising Climate Crisis?” and May 11th brings “The Business of Farm to Food Banks“.

A Su Salud virtual kitchen offers healthy Mexican food.

Pita Jungle has jumped into the virtual kitchen game with A Su Salud at its Tempe location. Meaning “to your health” A Su Salud offers Mexican wood fired specialties available for pick-up or delivery from DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grub Hub and Postmates. Bowls, burritos, salads, tacos and fajitas are on the menu along with healthy kid options and Pita Jungle desserts.

All-you-can-eat tacos at Jalapeno Inferno

Every Taco Tuesday customers visiting the Pinnacle Peak, DC Ranch and Park West restaurants can get as many tacos as you can eat for $10.99. The special price is for dine-in only.

 

 

Ofrenda brings Latin influenced cuisine and art to Cave Creek

Two creative minds in the Valley’s food scene have partnered to bring Cave Creek a restaurant like no other. Michael Stone and Carlos Marquez opened Ofrenda last week in the Stagecoach Village’s spot that was Marquez’s former Indigo Crow restaurant. In Spanish “ofrenda” means “offering” and that restaurant is inspired by the Aztec tradition where families build altars to loved ones and their eternal souls.

Stone owner of central Phoenix’s Taco Guild has wanted to partner with Marquez for some time. “After several conversations we came to a decision,” Stone said. “Both Carlos and I experienced some recent tragic losses in our lives, and then the pandemic. We decided to change the concept to something more meaningful; something that reflects our intent and feeling for the brands we create.

Throughout the two-story restaurant guests will experience not only Latin cuisine but also art in various forms around the restaurant. A focal point is metal marigold at the entrance and the “Dia des Muertos”, Day of the Dead caricatures donning windows and statues inside and out.

The foods and tequilas of Ofrenda

Marquez not only created the menu but also did much of the work around the restaurant transforming from one to another. In the kitchen he’s created a menu of salads, appetizers, tacos and entrees. Pork Empanadas and a Carbon Board of pepita hummus, carbon grilled vegetables, fried hominy, guacamole and fresh tortillas. He prepares carne asada, duck, lobster and shell on crab for taco offerings.

Entrees include a Tomahawk steak and Huarache Nopales (grilled nopales, fried blue corn masa, black beans, vegan cheese, pea tendrils, and huitlacoche); Carne (house-marinated sirloin steak, black bean puree, ash-roasted papas, and rojo).

The pair will have the largest selection of Agave liquors and are well on their way with several hundred under lock and key in the Agave Library upstairs. The gate securing the agave was built by Marquez. Signature cocktails, Mexican wines and draft beers were created and selected by beverage director Luke Detraz.

“Michael and I wanted to create this as a way to honor loved ones and those we still hold dear, whether they are close to us or far away,” Marquez said.” Ofrenda celebrates life and all those who have touched us profoundly. It’s a place to make new memories while cherishing loved ones far and near.”

Ofrenda is at 7100 E. Cave Creek Rd. Cave Creek 85331. (480)488-2187. For more information visit their website. Open daily at 3 p.m. and Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. for brunch.

Mr. Mesquite Taqueria to open 1st drive thru location

Local fast casual Mr. Mesquite Taqueria opens its 8th location on Saturday December 12th in Gilbert. It will be the first drive thru for the fast expanding concept founded by brothers Naser and Ahmad Alatrash in 2015 as a walk-up taco stand in Scottsdale’s Entertainment District. Since then they’ve expanded around the Phoenix area and have a location in Illinois.

Their “authentic meets modern” Mexican street food is available for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Meats for their burritos, tacos & quesadillas are grilled over a mesquite charcoal fire gives the meat a fresh smoky smell you notice once you walk in. The menu is simple offering chicken and steak for its popular dishes that are made to order with toppings customers choose. 1, 2, and 3 pound family meals are available with meats, sides and tortillas.

The first 250 guests on Saturday will get free tacos for 6 months. Mr. Mesquite Taqueria have partnered with Academic Opportunity of Arizona for the month December for their toy drive “Toys for Tacos”. Drop off clothes, toys, supplies (make-up, hair products, sewing kits, bedding), sports equipment, games and electronics to any location to get a free taco at the time of drop off.

To find a location near you visit their website.

 

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Toys for Tacos at Mr. Mesquite Taqueria

All 7 locations are collecting toys in exchange for tacos until December 31st. Bring in a toy, clothes or learning tool for The Academic Opportunity of Arizona and get a free taco for the day of drop off.

Monday night is Date Night at Tommy V’s Urban Kitchen

The downtown Scottsdale restaurant invites couples to join them on Monday’s for dinner for $50. Starting at 4 p.m. each twosome will get 2 pasta entrees, 2 salads and a pre-selected bottle of wine. Reservations required and must mention Date Night Special for special price. 480-427-2264.

Holiday tamales available from Los Sombreros

Order by the dozen for pick-up by December 24th. Mix & match Green Corn, Pineapple, Tomatillo Chicken, Rajas, Carnitas & Red Beef Chile. All tamales are using produce from local farms. Order at their website.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria now available from ghost kitchen

Pizza to go is now available at Kitchen United MIX in Scottsdale. Order on-line and have the same delicious pizza and more made fresh and ready for pick-up or delivery.

Merkin Vineyards launches monthly Sunday brunch

This Sunday December 6th in Scottsdale will be the first brunch offered at the wine bar. The first Sunday of every month several dishes will be offered that use ingredients grown at its vineyards, gardens and orchards in the Verde Valley. Wines and Mimosas will be available to compliment your food.

Tru Tacos PHX pop-up from Jewel’s Bakery starts in December

Taco pop-ups are quite popular these days with gourmet tacos being served up in parking lots, residential drive ways and wine & beer bars. Looking to show off their taco game Justine & Misa Trujillo are launching Tru Tacos PHX pop-up on Friday December 4th at 6 p.m. Serving tacos on the patio outside their Jewel’s Bakery & Cafe. They’ll be drawing from age old family recipes  serving three tacos to start….. carne asada, al pastor & nopal (cactus) tacos. Covid-19 delayed the opening but the two felt now was the right time to share their family recipes.

“The concept of Tru Tacos PHX was born the moment I took my first bite of the al pastor tacos that my husband’s family had prepared for dinner. This recipe has been passed down through the years, with each generation perfecting the original recipe even more. These tacos are the kind you can only get “from mom,” as you can taste the care and heart that goes into each taco, says local chef and co-owner, Justine Trujillo. “You can’t get a taco like this anywhere else.”

The weekly pop-up will be on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights starts at 6 p.m. until they sell out. Opening weekend guests will get 2 free tacos of their choice for take-out or enjoy on the patio. Tacos will be prepared on a charcoal trompo grill and served on house made corn tortillas. Salsa de Cacahuate, Salsa Verde and Jalapeno salsa and $2 margaritas, aqua fresca and seasonal local beers will be available.

Tru Tacos PHX is at 4041 E. Thomas Rd. 85008.For more information visit their website.

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