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.

Dog Haus Biergarten Tempe opens this weekend

Grand opening celebrations start when the newest Dog Haus opens at The Watermark on Saturday at 11 a.m. 20% of sales this weekend will be donated to the Tempe Diablos and customers can enter to win a FREE Haus Dog every week through 2021. Until March 7th 20 people will be picked when the text “Tempe” to 31996 to win.

National Margarita Day is Monday 2/22, where are you celebrating?

The famous tequila cocktail is celebrated next week with specials at several restaurant. Scottsdale’s Roaring Fork offers $5 margs starting at 4 p.m. and Glendale’s Urban Margarita offers $4 margs on Taco Tuesday 2/23.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar’s Scottsdale and Camelback locations celebrate all weekend with to-go 32 oz. batches of margs for $20 (normally $29.95) and single serve margs for $5 for dine-in or to-go. Other restaurants celebrating are Z Teja’s, GuacStar Kitchen, Angry Crab Shack, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, Macayo’s & Ghost Ranch.

It’s Beer vs. Bubbles at Zuzu

Enjoy a reception and 3 -course dinner paired with beers from Belgium’s Chimay and France’s Perrier- Jouet Champagnes at the Hotel Valley Ho. Thursday 2/25 at 6:30 p.m. is when this friendly competition goes down seeing which beverage pairs best with Executive Chef Russel LaCasce’s menu. Space is limited and seats are $129 per person ++. Call 480-421-7997 to reserve your seat.

Arizona Restaurant Week dates announced

The Spring’ 21 edition of the popular ARW will be May 21st – 30th. The bi-annual event from the Arizona Restaurant Association has local restaurants creating unique 3-course menus for the 10 day culinary event. Dinners are $33 or $44 and can be paired with wine or cocktail for an additional cost. The list of restaurants is always updated and menus will be available in coming weeks and months.

Cigar & Bourbon dinner at Match Market & Bar in Phoenix

Sip, smoke & eat next Friday  2/26 at the signature restaurant in the Founde:RE Hotel. The 4-course dinner will be paired with the Sazerac family of whiskeys tastes and cocktails paired with each course. Fumar Cigars will be featured and available for purchase. Seats are $90++ per person and can be purchased here.


La Bocca Urban Kitchen + Wine Bar and Modern Margarita opens in downtown Chandler

Downtown Chandler continues to become a dining destination in the southeast valley as La Bocca Urban Kitchen + Wine Bar and its sister restaurant Modern Margarita brings its pizza, tacos, cocktails and tequilas to the former Coach & Willie’s space on the SE corner of Chandler Blvd. and Boston St. last week. I had the opportunity to preview menu items and cocktails from both restaurants and enjoyed everything.

Modern Marg mural 20160812_134848The restaurants combined account for 6,000 sq. ft. and will share the same kitchen but will have separate street front entrances and have its own identity with individual menus, decor and ambiance. This is the 3rd location for La Bocca Urban Kitchen and 2nd Modern Margarita in the Phoenix area for Mill Avenue Management Group. Both menus are under the direction of head chef Jared Cummings

La bocca urban Kitchen + wine Bar

La Bocca’s menu is full of Mediterranean styled food favorites including Hummus, Charcuterie & Antipasti boards, 10 Bruschetta to choose from and lets not forget the 10 different pizzas including Chicken Pesto, Autumn Garden, Truffled Mushroom , Margherita and more.

La bocca pizza 20160812_130705The beverage program at La Bocca gets as much attention as the food does with over 12 craft cocktails & sangria, wines flights from around the world, 30+ whiskies by the glass and the new house made Cellos.

Daily Happy hour and Daily specials

Sip on drinks at La Bocca’s daily Happy Hour from 3-6:30pm with $5 off glasses of wine and $2 off draft beers and single call spirits. There are daily specials including “Sunday Funday and Monday” with selected bottles of wine 1/2 off, “Mixology Monday” with all craft cocktails $2 off and “Whiskey Wednesday” with $2 off all whiskies.

Hours at La Bocca are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. & Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Modern Margarita

Tequila cocktails and Margaritas are the name of the game, literally at Modern Margarita with more than 60 premium tequilas available for mixing or sipping. The award winning Margaritas are made with fresh juices, pure ingredients and innovative flavors that include the Sandia Rita( tequila, watermelon syrup, pineapple juice and more) and Up in Smoke (tequila, barrel smoked maple syrup and house sour mix). Frozen margaritas, beers in the can, bottle & on tap and a few wines are also available.

Moder Marg Taco 20160812_142140Modern Margarita has earned multiple awards for their street tacos on the Phoenix food festival scene and uses seasonal ingredients on both its food and cocktail menu. Other menu items include house made salsa and guacamole, Ultimate Green Chile Burger, Carne Asada Tostada and more.

Hours at Modern Margarita are Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.





Tasting some of the winners from the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition & 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

This Labor Day weekend wine & spirits personality Anthony Dias Blue made his way to the Arizona Biltmore for its Wine & Spirits Festival with Anthony’s Tasting Panel Magazine. I had the opportunity to speak with Anthony and got a sneak peek to taste some of the winners from his San Francisco International Wine Competition and some of the Double Gold winners from his 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition that were there this weekend. Here is what I found from tasting some of the wines and speaking with those in attendance.

The 2004 Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Champagne tasted fresh and lively with its tiny bubbles and dry, vibrant finish. It’s no wonder it took “Best in Show” in the sparkling category.

The 2011 Astrolabe Pinot Gris from Marlborough, New Zealand represented well for Pinot Gris from a country known for Sauvignon Blanc and gaining a reputation for Pinot Noir.

The 2008 Stoller Vineyards “SV Estate” Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills was poured and was well-balanced with fruit, oak and acidity in a way I often don’t find in PNs so I was very impressed. As was I by the Best Varietal Award for Pinot Noir from the 2009 Lawson’s Dry Hills From Marlborough, New Zealand which had softer tannins and drank well when I paired it with some of the meats and cheese’s being served.

The 2010 Alexandria Nicole Grenache, Destiny Ridge Vineyard from Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State was an interesting find from an area known for Merlot and Chardonnay. Lush and medium bodied it showed your typical Grenache fruit without being over the top. Not surprising it won “Best Grenache”

The 2010 Exile Shiraz from The Colonial Estate in Barossa was a laid back Shiraz with good fruit and a hint of black pepper and medium, dry tannins. It was pleasant surprise as many Shiraz’s tend to be over the top in fruit and not always food friendly. It was a nice to taste a wine of this caliber as it retails for over $200.

It came as no surprise to me for an Arizona wine to be poured along side the other winners as was 2010 Arizona Stronghold “Dala” Cabernet Sauvignon from Graham County. The softer tannins made for this to be a very drinkable wine now yet still age worthy for a few years down the road.

The “must have” of the tasting was the “Best Sherry” winner from Gonzalez Byass and it’s “Leonor” Palomino Sherry which mentioned to me by several other attendees and by the time I made my way to it, the last bottle opened was empty. With nutty flavors along with that of caramel and a hint of honey I could see why it was so popular and was glad to get some as moments after I poured a taste “poof” it was gone as the bottle was emptied by the next guest.

On the spirits side only the Double Gold winners made the tasting. I had to the chance to taste the very aromatic Cardinal American Dry Gin from North Carolina which is a must for the gin lovers out there. More to my liking was the EFE Raki from Turkey which is very much like Ouzo from Greece. This clear brandy is made from grapes, raisins and anise. I would’ve sipped on this all day long had it not been for Anthony himself bringing over the bottle of the “Best Rye” winner. That went to the newly released Knob Creek Rye Whiskey which had a lot going on in the glass and had a long, lingering flavor in your mouth. It’s small batch production made for a great way to end my tasting as I probably would’ve by-passed it.

On the chit-chat side with Anthony and some other wine and spirits enthusiasts talked turned to sports, travel and other non wine and spirits related subjects. I did get to catch up with the 1 and only Paula Woolsey, National Sales Manager from Arizona Stronghold Winery and was glad to hear that Arizona Stronghold and other Arizona wines were continuing to gain distribution around the country and in the cities of Portland and Seattle where they appreciate wines from other states other than their own.