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Dine, cook, enjoy - that's life!

Gástro Ecléctico the open minded foodie regardless of origin, ethnicity, style, ingredients, vegan, meaty or fishy, fingers or forks, I love food: finding it; trying it; and showing it – traditional or nouveau… Bon appétit from el Gástro Ecléctico!

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Sun Asian Kitchen

 2070 E Baseline Rd
Phoenix, AZ
 

Excellent local Cantonese-style Eats!

We have a new fave local neighborhood Chinese eatery, and very, very happy they’re our preferred Chinese – Cantonese-style. They are reasonably priced and they deliver, and in the age of COVID-19 we’re able to keep it local too! First off, I must say their Spring Rolls are not oily or greasy as so many restaurants we’ve experienced in the valley, and they are tasty and terrific both Pork and my favorite Shrimp! I recently ordered one of my preferred simple dishes of Beef and Broccoli with Lo Mein and it was so Cantonese. The meat was extremely tender with a lot of it, not to mention the superb seasoning with abundant amount of vegies that included carrots, broccoli (of course), not overly heavy on corn starch, just enough ginger, nice amount of garlic – it was terrific. My wife ordered the Crispy Honey Chicken with Fried Rice. Their Fried Rice contained the right amount of onion, garlic, eggs, green onions and bean sprouts, easy on the oil making it tasty, tender and traditional. Highly recommended for those with an affinity towards Cantonese – I know we’ll be eating from the Sun Asian Kitchen for times to come.

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Barrio Cafe

 2814 N 16th St
Phoenix, AZ
 

Mexican cuisine fused from all of Mexico!

If you’re a real Mexican food lover (not southwest, not Tex-Mex, not fast-food), looking for an upscale and sophisticated rendering of Mexican cuisine fused from all of Mexico, needing a place to take out-of-towners for a delectable meal… then here’s the place you need to be! If you are looking for chips and salsa, find somewhere else. Taste, authenticity, service and enjoyment is what you’ll find here! From the facility created from sweat and tears, to the décor and settings, the fabulous Tequila selection and the passion that’s been put into this work of love is indescribable but shows up in the meal you will enjoy here. Barrio was given birth by the amazing, renown and award-winning Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza who trekked alone across Mexico, bringing that knowledge to Phoenix and in 2002 opening Barrio Café with business partner Wendy Gruber. “…I wanted to introduce people to the food I had eaten backpacking my way through Mexico” she has said. Chef Esparza’s creation is now the epitome of “Modern Mexican Cuisine” in Phoenix! In our multiple visits to Barrio, I can only say that we never tire of the incredible food. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, happy hour or dinner, you can’t go wrong. In our visits we’ve enjoyed beverages the likes of Jamaica Margarita; Dos XX Amber beer; Bohemia beer; and a fantastico Sergio el Suave Milagro Añejo Tequila with pineapple, and fresh lime juices, agave nectar, cilantro and candied jalapeño. Our dinner and lunches have included, but not limited to: Tableside Guacamole del Barrio, served and prepared table-side during your meal; a delectable Cochinita Pibil which they marinate with achiote, sour orange, wrap within banana leaves covered in red onion and pico de gallo; their Posole Verde is the best I’ve had ever and is jam-packed with pork, hominy, roasted tomatillo with poblano chiles, cabbage, radish and onions; the Chiles en Nogada that’s a roasted poblano filled with chicken, apple, dried pear and apricot, almond cream sauce along with cilantro, queso fresco and pomegranate seeds is to die for – one of the best Poblano renditions I have ever had! In the desert arena, one of our fantabulous tries have been Pastel Oaxaca; and to wrap it up their Coffee is Barrio Café’s blend of Chiapas Izapa coffee, pressed at the table – all completely recommended, yet they have more! I could not walk away on our first visit without purchasing their apropos ‘Comida Chingona’ T-Shirt – a tribute to Esparza’s “Bad-Ass Food”! I go Barrio whenever I can, ‘cause their consistency never fails to satisfy us. If you really want a great meal that’s like being in someone’s Mexican home, this is as close as it comes. Kudos to the Chef, staff and cooks! Bon appétit!” or you might say “Buen Provecho”!

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Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe

 15205 N Kierland Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ
 

Excellent Island Vibes, Eats & Libations!

Boy do we love this place, kudos Tommy Bahama for doing such a great job of making us feel good, in the old island ways! As a Florida Boy, I miss the environs of the beach, sand, islands and its cuisine – you bring the feel to the Valley. I get the feeling back every time (of the many) my wife and I visit and enjoy your establishment. The multi-storied facility abounds with interior and exterior seating with the great outdoor balcony, Caribbean-style Bar and regular seating – for both playful and airy feels or quiet secluded spots, and fun lounge areas in the island traditions. They also have an incredible array of drink options, from your traditional classics to innovative and delicious concoctions dreamed up by the mixologists such as: the Martini Classic or the Grapefruit Basil with Van Gogh Blue Vodka mixture; a very unique Pine Paradiso; the tropical Pina Collada; a very smooth yet fruity Pineapple Paradiso; Crazy Cuban is very Cuban; Kona Longboar, very interesting; great Mimosas; the exceptional Piper Brut; a lemony Lemon Drop; and outstanding Mojitos, the way they were meant to be prepared. As appetizers or starters some of our faves include: perfectly fried Plantains; exceptionally prepared Poke; a fabulous tasting Pork Quesadillas; a delectable Piñacolada Cake; a uniquely tasty and well prepared Ceviche; their Fried Green Tomatoes which included Jalapeño Cilantro Aïoli, Charred Corn Salsa has been the only item ever returned, not very tasty at the time of our visit. And for meals, the variety and seasonal offerings are always awesome and excellent. Some examples include: the Chicken Tortilla Soup with Puréed Vegetables, Tortillas, Charred Corn Salsa that was tasty, creamy with the right amount of spices; one of my favorites is the sumptuous, Crab Bisque with Lump Blue Crab, Sherry, Cream and Citrus Gremolat (WOW!); and I must say that their take on famous Cuban Sandwich which is very well prepared with House Roasted Pork, Ham, Gruyère, Pickles, Sriracha Mustard with Jerk Yucca Fries… very, very good! If you love Caribbean-American cuisines, and a gourmet open to diverse palates, then this is a spot you should not miss. I almost forgot, after revamping their facility, their store is terrific! As you would expect, their selections and attention to service is up-to-par with, or more so, than other stores across the nation for men, women and kids! Keep it up Tommy – we continue to visit, and so should everyone who loves great food, fantastic atmosphere, superb service, casually comfortable and just plain exceptional!

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Bluewater Grill

 1720 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ
 

One of BEST Seafood Eats in Valley!

One of the hardest to find eats to get value, quality and flavor within the seafood genre in the Valley – you’ll find at the Blue Water Grill. Although there are quite a few seafood eateries, not many mind-you, the Blue Water Grill stands out in many ways. One is price for value, another is the quality and variety of their offerings, the comfort, décor, service and friendliness. With every visit we’ve had, they are by far our go-to seafood and fish restaurant! We love their décor, their ambience as a combo of Sushi joint, Fishery and Restaurant. I forget that they have a great bar and selection, with some really great mixologists who concoct some great old-fashioned as well as new beverages like American Mule, one my faves; they serve William Hill Chardonnay in a bottle or glass; they also have an excellent Cucumber Mojito. Over the many visits to Bluewater Grill, we’ve had some incredible dishes which have included, but were not limited to Sushi Bar treats like their Senorita Roll. A beautifully and flavorful rendition of Mahi Mahi Tacos. Their Beer Batter Fish & Chips are excellent with a fantastic, fluffy and tasty Alaskan cod (not just white fish like many other eateries) with a crispy yet neatly thin coating – which lets the inner goodness of the fish come through. One of the best San Francisco-style Cioppinos I’ve had in the area with Linguine Pasta in marinara sauce with plenty of mussels, shrimp, clams, crabmeat and fish. Not to mention the many delectable offerings from the Sushi Bar such as their Mahi Mahi Special, the Salmon Special, the Senorita Roll, an extremely well done Spicy Charred Edamame, the Tuna Maguro; a terrific Philadelphia Roll; their exclusive preparation of the Phoenix Roll; wonderful Salmon Sashimi (Nama-Jake), a sumptuous Senorita Roll, the Las Vegas Roll and the always fresh and well-prepared Tuna Sashimi (Maguro). If you’re a seafood and fish lover as we are, you are discriminating at every point – and every point is discerning in the approach, preparation, presentation and taste Bluewater offers. Kudos to a great place to have an excellent opportunity to enjoy seafood at its best in the Valley. Bon appétit!

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Thai Patio

 1929 North Power Road
Mesa, AZ
 

One of the BEST Thai in the Valley!

This Thai Eatery is one of the most fantastic Thai places we’ve encountered in the Valley in the past five years. And I have to say, there are some really good Thai places in the Valley! It apparently opened around the time my wife and I moved to the Valley, and while temporarily living in Mesa about 5 years ago discovered it, and today it’s still going strong. The eatery is not large, but quaint and comfortable, the décor is modern functional and colorful in their art and lights. In the visits we’ve had at this Fab Thai eatery, our entrée’s have included a delectable Yellow Curry with coconut milk with potato, onion, carrots with choice of meats; one of the best Pad Dek Pha Duk (Chili Catfish) ever tried – a deep fried catfish fillet, stir fried in chili, basil, onion and red curry sauce. One of the most incredible Pad Thai ever, with Rice Noodles in stir-fried eggs, bean sprouts, green onions in a slightly sweetened and spicy sauce with peanuts on the side with Red Curry Squid; a fantastic Crab Fried Rice. I highly recommend this Thai restaurant, and not just for the food (which is fantabulous) but an incredible crew from the cooks, servers and owners who take pride in what they do bringing authentic Thai to the Valley.

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Hand Cut Burgers & Chophouse

 7135 E Camelback Rd
Scottsdale, AZ
 

First Rate Chophouse!

First off, our server was excellent, Sofia is one of the best servers we’ve experienced in any Valley eatery to date. The ambience, décor, and environ is fantastic, not to mention the eats! We enjoyed our White Rascal Ale; Smoke Tree Pinot Noir; an excellent rendition of a Tempura Zucchini appetizer; the Western Bacon Grass Fed Beef Medium crispy onion rings, chipotle BBQ sauce, aged cheddar & black pepper bacon were fab; not to mention the terrific Mushroom Cheddar Grass Fed Beef Rare with fried egg a roasted mushrooms, with aged cheddar, roasted garlic mayo & arugula drizzled with balsamic; the Seasoned Fries, with salt and vinegar were incredible, and you can write home about it. This is most definitely a place to come back for.

Onion Rings; Tempura Zuchinni; Burgers

 

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The Henry

 4455 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ
 

Best Quiet yet Extraordinary New Year's Evening!

My wife and I had been wanting to visit The Henry for a long, long time, and when we discovered they were offering a New Year’s Eve Dinner and the last sitting being close to midnight, we did not think twice to make reservations! The Henry did not let us down. We were both truly amazed not only at their expansive location, personal attention by the staff, but the food was fantastic. Their moderately priced NYE’s dinner does not portend to exemplify the exquisiteness of the meal, and the exceptional presentation, not to mention taste! We started off with a bottle of Dolci Prosecco Brut for both the appetizer and dinner. Our appetizers consisted of a deliciously prep’d, tasty and smooth Porcini & Morel Mushroom Soup with charred artichoke, parsnip, cipollini and sprinkled with parsley oil. And, a Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad of crisp romaine, croutons of toasted torn bread and lightly finished with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Our main course consisted of Roasted Sea Bass with charred broccolini, glazed butternut squash, melted onion and hazelnut gremolata. My original preference of Herb Crusted Lamb T-Bones was not available, understandable considering we were on the last sitting of the evening (the decade). With the recommendation of Jennifer, our fantastic server, I went for the incredibly and surprisingly great Korean Skirt Steak with double egg fried rice, snow peas, bok choy, pickled shiitake, a slight hint of mint, with cilantro and ginger. Just before midnight arrived we were served a glass of Champaign to celebrate with… at the end of the count down by staff, we cheered the new year with fellow patrons, and I walked over to the staff and kitchen crew in their open kitchen area and congratulated them on both their fab cooking and the new year! This was an incredible evening – low key and quiet, extraordinary meal, terrific ambience and one of our best experiences in restaurant meals we’ve had in Phoenix in the past five years. We then ended the early morning with really well-made Cappuccinos (coffee is usually really bad in most places, despite having excellent food – kudos Henry), and I finished off the evening with a shot of Buffalo Trace to start the New Year/Decade right! Needless to say, we left happier for sharing the evening at The Henry, with every intention of returning as soon as possible.

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La Posta de Mesilla

 2410 Calle De San Albino
Mesilla, NM
 

A Great Meal full of History!

Really enjoyable authentic and delish Southwestern/Mexican meal with an incredibly unique décor and cultural environ! Even before you walk into this captivating old Southwestern great food, you’re mesmerized by the architecture, ambience and design which immediately transports you back 150 years! On the inside, this nostalgic Southwestern Eatery shows the years of attention and interest put forth by a family who is ingrained in the not only the heritage in the décor and style of the Southwest, but family and not to mention, food! According to the restaurant’s website, ‘La Posta Compound, wherein restaurant sits on dates back to the 1840’s, and is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The structure is Territorial Style with a zaguan leading into a patio now used as a lobby for the restaurant and displays tropical plants, birds and fish.’ It’s a fascinating historical museum like environment, where you can enjoy the traditional eats within a traditional and elaborate environ, enhancing the service, décor and typical food! We started with the traditional servings of Chips and Salsa and ordered a fabulous Mesilla Valley Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita ~ a blend of Sauza Blue 100% Agave Silver Tequila, muddled cucumber slices and jalapeños, fresh lime juice and agave nectar. Served in a margarita glass incredibly and artistically rimmed with local honey, crushed pecans & green chile salt… this is highly recommended. It was served and a huge Margarita goblet, which lasted me throughout the dinner! My Wife had the Sangria ‘Rita: A delicious marbling of our fruity sangria and a frozen La Posta ‘Rita’. For dinner I decided on a meal that would incorporate a good chunk of the House’s offerings with their La Posta Combination Plate which consists of a Folded Taco, a really well prepared Chile Relleno and a fabulous Green Chile Enchilada with ground beef served with terrific refritos beans and rice; My Wife decided on the Combination Plate #2 including an excellent Rolled Red Enchilada, a very good Red Chile con Carne, 2 Rolled Tacos, frijoles, Mexican Rice and slaw. I might add, the prices of the delectable entrees were incredibly modest, considering both the amount of food served, and the location’s size as well as highlights experienced. La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant is definitively a must visit for anyone, hungry or not, interested in ‘living’ the Old Southwest in the present, as well as enjoying the Old World’s history today. We hope you can enjoy La Posta as much as we did! Bon appétit!

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D.H. Lescombes Winery & Bistro

 1720 Avenida de Mesilla
Las Cruces, NM
 

Best Eatery/Winery combo!

This Winery and Bistro is probably one of the best eateries/winery combos my wife and I have encountered since moving out west from Virginia five years ago, or even before! Lescombes, formerly known as the St. Clair Winery, with its unique décor, amazing layout, fabulous comfort, great food, fantastic wine selections, exceptional atmosphere, terrific service, leaves little to the imagination, as you experience it first-hand. We began our visit by taking advantage of their wine Flight selections to taste the widest variety of D.H. Lescombes’ wine offerings possible, including their Six for Six Flight, a second Flight was FREE using Yelp’s app offer when checking in, and a third Flight, the Six for Six Signature Flight (lotsa wine!) – fab ways of checking out a wide assortment of wines available. Our favorites ended up being their Brute; Cabernet Sauvignon; Rose; Merlot; and Pinot Gris. We followed with our dinners of an extremely well-prepared and delectable rendition of Calamari for starters prepared in a salted and peppered panko plus grated parmesan and lemon, with a terrific subtly pronounced basil aioli with sriracha slightly sweet chile mayo. As a main course I had the fabulous house-recipe of Pasta New Mexico perfectly sautéed chicken breast with extraordinarily discerning and fresh Hatch green chile with tender linguini topped by a delectably smooth cream sauce that included sun-dried tomatoes and provolone cheese. The chicken was very tender, and the Hatch Chiles preparation and seasoning was unique to itself… worth having again, and again! . My wife had the Pecan Crusted Trout with local Mesilla valley pecans paired with risotto and vegetable medley. Although not the best ever had, it was tasty and well done overall, except for a discerning slight excess of oiliness! Completing an excellent dinner with a desert consisting of an amazing house-made Apple Crisp with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream plus Ghirardelli caramel sauce. Our being somewhat of wine connoisseurs, and having relocated from a State that offers so many vineyards, incredible wine selections, as well as extraordinary amounts of fine and delicious grapes, and easy to go wine tasting often – we have been surprised… no, really amazed that the Southwest has so many worthy, up-and-coming wineries, making day outings, day trips incredibly enjoyable doing picnics (when the weather is cool), wine tastings, touring or just plain relaxing. As you well know if you’re a wine lover, wine is very subjective and varies from one’s own palate and preference. Due to rather diverse variances in each experience, or try to compare one winery, vineyard, grape or wine to another, I have developed a method in scoring that will give both the occasional novice, wine taster or the most sophisticated connoisseur a bearing on each establishment visited, based on our single, or sometimes multiple visits to each location. My guiding principles are: 1) beauty of location and its scenery [Scored 5.0]; 2) the establishment’s appearance and ambience [Scored:5.0]; 3) the owner/operators’ attention to their customers and hospitality [Scored:5.0]; 4) activities, events and/or meals, munchies, and/or entertainment [Scored:5.0]; 5) wine selection, quality, taste and varieties [Scored:5.0]; and 6) heavily weighted on our taste [Scored:5.0]; as well as 7) value, consistency and price of the product [Scored:5.0]. None of the aforementioned are in any particular order of value. The scale being 1 the worst, 5 the best and recommend as regular patrons. I must add an additional score to consider this a well above average dining experience too! Eating, dining, ambience, presentation, value and taste: [Scored:5.0]; Our overall assessment, score, pro/cons are: mostly very, very favorable, with a wide variety of not only great food, excellent wines, with an extraordinary environ to enjoy it whether at the bar, bistro or outdoors – it’s terrific! . The Vineyard, Winery, Wines and Restaurant scores an extraordinary 5.0+! Pics to follow… All Said, you must check it out. Bon appétit from Rick el Gástro Ecléctico!

Calamari; Pasta New Mexico; Pecan Crusted Trout; Apple Crisp

 

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Black Angus Steakhouse

 2770 W Chandler Blvd
Chandler, AZ
 

Continuously Strives to please the customer - GOOD CHOICE!

I tend to hesitate when visiting big box local or national chains – I flinch at the predictable robot-like staff, factory dish and production! This patron’s opinion of dining in such eateries many times validate my fears, and prove to be a somewhat unpleasant experience! Although I obviously don’t pretend to have tried everything on Black Angus’ menu, what limited helpings I and those with me do have, may show that their food preparation, cooking and attention to detail and quality, do not always hit the mark, although the service is good, it appeared to me overall to be short of exquisite! I am sure you’ll find other Black Angus’ that may be better elsewhere as I have, and urge you to do your homework if you really want a worthwhile experience, but the overall attentive service and quality of the dishes here was very, very good and well worth returning. Prime rib was excellent, Tips were very, very good as were Au gratin potatoes although somewhat on the thick side, green beans with bacon were well above average, and the sautéed mushrooms with Onions and Tri Tips with Baked Potato, cooked and presented as requested – yet dessert of Peach Cobbler left a lot to be desired of. Big box or not, this is one of those we keep returning to because they are consistent, and are continuously striving to do well and please the customer. See you soon Angus! Bon appétit!

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