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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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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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West Alley BBQ And Smokehouse

 111 West Boston Street
Chandler, AZ
 

Fantastic people, music and Fab TN Q!

Fantastic… only way I can describe West Alley BBQ (WAB)! This casual, comfy and homey place does it for you hands down. If you’re a Tennessee-style BBQ lover (or not), if you love music (or not), if you enjoy courteous and attentive staff, servers, cooks, management and pit master, you gotta go here! Starting with a House Chardonnay and a Kiltlifter, we thoroughly enjoyed their fixin’s of delicious Tennessee-style Ribs, and the tender and mouth-watering Brisket was to die for – with a helping of their beans, Cole slaw and fries are great! That’s not all… their menu offerings are enough to make you think twice of what you’d like to get – extensive. Don’t forget the sauces: Tennessee Whiskey; Mild; Medium; and Hot – marvelous (I just drenched my Brisket)! This venture, fresh out of Tennessee (they’re first Valley location), bring not only great food to the table, great caring service, daily variety in music, but you feel at home inside or out! Thanx to Bardo (owner) and son Christian Brantley the incredible and endearing Pit Meister Jim Dandy (a true artist of pit) you can’t go wrong! Meeting them and enjoying their gracious and open hospitality made for a greater evening beyond the food, the music and the ambience… my wife and I so elated as we left, even danced a little at the front entrance! Now that’s a place to keep coming to… keep it up guys! Bon appétit, musiques and l’amitié at the WAB from Gástro Ecléctico!

House Chardonnay; Kiltlifter; Brisket Platter with Baked Beans and Creamy Cole Slaw; Ribs Platter wi

 

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Wendy's

 4902 E Ray Rd
Phoenix, AZ
 

Rates a 4.5 of 5!

This your typical Wendy’s fast food joint with their regular brand menu and special offerings. As an occasional junk food eater I’ve over the years dutifully tried everything on their menu at least once. So as to make it easy to gauge each of these eateries, when I do try them, I’ve devised a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being outright down and dirty nasty, and 5 being the best a fast food joint can be! I gauge: cleanliness; service; product quality and consistency; convenience; accessibility; taste and the personnel’s attitude and customer service level. This place scores 4.5 of 5. I will come back here and do recommend it! Could not find anything wrong, but good, Bon appétit!

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René at Tlaquepaque

 336 Highway 179, Ste B118
Sedona, AZ
 

A must Culinary stop while in Sedona!

Rene’s at Tlaquepaque stands out as a must visit for great food, magnificent ambience, terrific service and surroundings. Having spent a few weekends over the past few years in Sedona, one place stands out more than most in our search for great eats and lasting experiences – Rene’s is one of them! Their attention to detail whether at the bar or table is worthy in oh so many ways! After have their delectable starts with a bottle of Arizona Stronghold Mangus 2012 through dinner, and the appetizers – especially the Port Bisque, we then went on to enjoy what my wife called the best Duck she’d ever had – the roasted duck along with the wild rice and mushroom cake, completed with sun-dried cherry sauce. And, I had the pleasure of feasting one of the best venison meals ever! When in Sedona, you do not want to miss the opportunity for a fantabulous meal – here’s the place to have an all-around culinary experience, go for it. Highly, highly recommended – we’re coming back ASAP! No brag, just fact.

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El Entronke Mexican Food

 6607 South Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ
 

Great Mexican Neighborhood Eats!

You really can’t state one dish may be better than another, it just proves that there are so many great dishes here! Almost everything tried to date is pretty darn good! If you really understand that there are so many so called ‘REAL’ Mexican food joiints to be found in the Phoenix area, then you’ll appreciate the fact that in the voluminous competition around, it is very hard to make comparisons. Between their moderate prices, ambience, quality and taste – El Entronke stands out big time. Although tastes are different, we are sure the home-style and non-hybrid intent of the owners and staff make this eatery a winner! The advantage of El Entronke (the Crossroads) is that it keeps its hominess and down to earth menu in an environment where the competition is relentless. Our kudos for both tastes offered and survival. We’ll keep going back to enjoy their eats. Highly recommended and Bon appétit at El Entronke from Gástro Ecléctico!

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Tapas Papa Frita

 7114 E. Stetson Dr. Suite 210
Scottsdale, AZ
 

Incredible Traditional Spanish Cuisine!

Although having vaguely heard of Tapas Papa Fritas, and a connoisseur of excellent Spanish Cuisine – I didn’t pay much attention to this eatery, I am very astonished to say, because of its name – Fried Potato Snacks! Boy was I wrong! Being of Spanish heritage, I was flabbergasted with Tapas Papa Fritas’ traditional atmosphere, an atmosphere emitting Basque, Andalusian, Moorish, Castilian and Austrian regions feel, décor and food! This appealing and large eatery smacks of being in Spain! From being almost obscure in its external surroundings, once you step up the path to the front door, past the traditional-style plant-filled veranda, see their fabulous outdoor seating area, you have arrived to the old world of España! Having grown up in a Spanish-Cuban atmosphere, I am well versed in the fare offerings, what I should anticipate both traditionally and in any nouveau prospects. I was impressed and satisfied! While absorbing the atmosphere, we were seated near a window whereby we had the opportunity to admire both the inside and outside, as we experienced a fine bottle of Pinetti Notte Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2014. My wife and I were pleased to see some of the old-world as well as fine-dining traditions followed by our Server, Sina who showed his expertise in not only fine proper serving, but old-world rapport, pleasantry and knowledge. Elegant service from table cloths, silverware and the use of an enoteca for wine. As newcomers to the establishment, we decided to try something that would give us the widest array of samplings, so we started with their Tapas Deluxe Special which included: Gambas al Pil-Pil, Chorizo, Txistorra, Stuffed Dates, Queso Manchego, Chicken Skewer, and a Lamb Shank – all prepared and served to perfection. And, just as is in the Old World, no rush… patience, enjoyment and privacy abound. We then went for the main course. My wife thoroughly enjoyed (I did too) her serving of Paella Valenciana in a traditional style with saffron rice, fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, tender chicken, extraordinary txistorra, peppers, onions, tomatoes and peas – beyond delectable it was! I proceeded to have their incredible rendition of Conejo (Rabbit) Romescu Catalan-style, with a soft to the palate peppery tomato almond sauce over an excellent rendition of traditional saffron rice. If you enjoy rabbit as I do, this dish is for you – amazing! I believe it needless to say, by the end of our meal, we had no room for dessert of which they have a wonderful assortment of Spanish selections. It is no wonder why this eatery has received the accolades it has on media, from critics and awards alike –the food, the atmosphere, the staff, the accoutrements and the vibe are magnificent. Our profound kudos to Chef Joseph Gutierrez and his incredible art. As unfortunately so many ‘Traditional’ Spanish in the Valley and across the country tend to do, sway to changing the great things which don’t need changing from our past – the only nouveau here is the first time patron. We look forward to visiting them as frequently as possible to get our taste buds wrapped around more of their fabulously authentic cuisine, Flamenco shows and live Latin music during the weekends. Can’t wait for the next visit. Excellent ambience, service, hospitality and food – next time I’m going for my favorite: Zarzuela (Seafood Stew – some may know it as Spanish-style Bouillabaisse)! Bon appétit!

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Southern Rail

 300 W Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ
 

Southern Rail is Top on my Scale!

Kudos to Chef Justin Beckett, Southern Rail’s Foodist Awards 2013 Top Chef who made it Food and Wine’s Places to Eat in Phoenix and Zagat’s #1 of 11, not to mention #8 restaurant on Seftel’s top 10 and his staff! But the awards are meaningless lest the eatery equals the significance of the honors – and by Jove the “Rail” does just that. Since moving to the area, I had been hankering for some really good comfort vittles, refreshing Southern cuisine that is, and Restaurant Week helped make that happen! Our weekly date night at the Southern Rail recently was started with a fantastic local wine, a Lawrence Dunham Vineyards Viognier 2012. A wine rendition bringing back memories of the lush Viogniers we enjoyed while living in Virginia. This version is full bodied yet with a lush and easy character are expressed the apparent longer growing seasons in Arizona. With the wine, we began the incredible tastings with their cornbread muffins made with black pepper and honey butter – an incredible muffin. For starters, we gave in to ordering “Rail’s” appetizers of a great tasting and extremely well prepared fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and pea tendrils and their smoked chicken and andouille gumbo ya ya with white rice and green onions – a fanciful rendition of a southern standard. I loved every single spoonful – I was sorry it was gone so soon. For the main courses, my wife thoroughly enjoyed the Grand mama’s Meatloaf – my wife summing it up best said… “this has been the best meatloaf I’ve ever had!” Meanwhile, I had the brilliantly prepared portion of cider brined pork loin served over brown butter whipped nicely sweet potatoes, sided by very nicely prepared collard greens – no, not vinegary. We both enjoyed a sampling of their home-made “super” creamy grits. So much enjoyed, that I can honestly say, I cannot remember when was the last time I had them this good. I even asked for the recipe nicely, but was courteously denied access to it – ‘bummer’! We finished off the meal with an order of beignets with powdered sugar. I must say though, that of the total delightful dinner extravaganza, only the beignets were not what we expected – but nobody can be perfect! For anyone who has a love of Southern Cuisine, whether as comfort food or nouveau cuisine, Southern Rail will astonish your taste buds. The location is a fabulous piece of restoration, redesign and history along with a comfortable, homey and yet modern atmospheric approach that is desirable, laid-back, and aesthetically pleasing to both the ambiance and comfort! The initial views on approaching the location, is as if reaching a circa 1950’s new drive-in-style structure, but once inside, everything from the incredible bar area, to the tables and seating areas, not to mention their airy and nicely landscaped and appointed outdoor area are fabulous and appealing. Their desire to combine great food, great atmosphere, great service and great ambience has been flawlessly accomplished, and reserves us the right to continue to frequent this Chef’s Masterpiece. Chef Beckett and Staff, please continue to amaze the Gourmét and the Novice of your splendid artistry, as we plan to continue to enjoy it. Gástro Ecléctico rates Southern Rail at the top of the heap. Bon appétit ya’ll!

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Bonefish Grill

 Kingstowne
Alexandria, VA
iPhone dining journal
 

Excellent as usual!

Excellent as usual!

Ahi Tuna Sashimi

Filet Mignon

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Chart House

 1270 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA
 

Seafood, Ocean View & Ambience!

I’ve only been there once, but it was truly a memorable experience… a table outdoors overlooking the Pacific as the sun sets, the aroma of surf and turf cooking in the background, the company of your loved-one and a best friend, can only be topped off by the excellently prepared, presented and served meals! A seafood lover’s paradise with a phenomenal view of the Pacific! They take the time and appear to enjoy the preparation as much as one’s fulfillment. I will be going back!

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