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Mexican or Asian in downtown Las Vegas

Le Thai is an awesome spot for a tasty meal. They have one of my favorite versions of Thai beef noodle soup.

Mar 27, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

help pick one fab dinner

For one chance to make it fabulous, go with Joel (not Atelier). An alternative on the same level to Joel Robuchon would be Guy Savoy's place at Caesars.

Mar 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

The Strip vs Fremont/Downtown

As mentioned above, the food downtown isn't anywhere near as refined, but it is magnitudes cheaper. If you want very good food (not comparable to best on the strip though) without breaking the wallet, there are plenty of places off strip that can meet expectations. If mobility is an issue, the Barrymore near Wynn/Encore is an excellent choice. You can get a decent steak on Paradise for considerably less than on the strip. Also check out Charlie Palmer's Cut of the Week. If the menu works for you, it's a steal. There are a few hidden gems (some on and some near the strip) that will probably serve you well at an acceptable price point. Depending on when you're planning to go has an impact as well. Lots of top notch strip restaurants offer an unpublicized/locals prix fix menu during the off season.

Mar 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Visiting Phoenix - Looking for Oaxacan or good Mexican

Take a look at Gallo Blanco. Great spot in central Phoenix.

Mar 04, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Cow Tongue

I've seen it at the Ranch 99 market on Spring Mountain in the past. I'm not sure if it's always in stock, but they were whole and unpeeled in the case next to the cow tripe and tendons.

Mar 04, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

best craft cocktail bar?

The Downtown Cocktail Room is an excellent spot.

Feb 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Anybody on this board seen or done a WHOLE SWORD FISH over fire?

Sweet and spicy glaze sounds great. For the volume that you're dealing with, the quantities of gourmet jelly can get pretty expensive though. Maybe buy a bunch of apricot or raspberry jam from Costco as a base and doctor it up with pureed jalapenos, chipotles, herbs, some champagne, and wine vinegar for the glaze.
I think a very liquidy salsa (I'm thinking pico de gallo with lots of lime juice and salt to draw out the tomato moisture) would do well to moisten any dried parts of the fish.
Would you be opposed to turning any of the cooked fish into a second dish like swordfish enchiladas?

Feb 12, 2014
fledflew in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Weekend in Phoenix!

A great burger can be found at Delux. Although "gourmet" burgers can be found almost everywhere in Phoenix these days, they often use commodity ingredients and are simply overpriced. Delux uses Niman Ranch beef, has a great beer selection, and is open late.
Another favorite burger of mine is at St. Francis - their French onion burger. Brioche, gruyere, smoked bacon, and onions.
If you are available on Saturday afternoon (they close at 4pm, I think), hit up Rito's in the Garfield district of downtown Phoenix. It's located in a residential neighborhood and has been around forever. Outstanding green chili burritos. It's amazing soupy green chili inside a tortilla. If you think you might have trouble eating liquid in a burrito without making a complete mess, then get it enchilada style so you can fork and knife it.
A couple blocks away from Rito's is Playa Hermosa. It's a fantastic Mexican seafood restaurant. Ceviches, campenchana, fish and everything else is fantastic here.
Unique hot dogs can be found at Sit and Stay on Roosevelt and 1st Street. It's the brick and mortar incarnation of the short leash food truck. Very creative and inventive hot dog creations.
Other great places are Welcome Diner, Federal Pizza, La Piazza Locale, Bink's Midtown, Gallo Blanco, Vovomeena, Barrio Café, The Vig Fillmore (drink on their patio), Jobot (coffee and a crepe on the patio), and Tuck Shop.

Depending on when the last time you were in town, there are a whole lot of new spots (both bars and restaurants) in the central Phoenix and downtown area.

Feb 12, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Anybody on this board seen or done a WHOLE SWORD FISH over fire?

I have never seen a whole swordfish cooked over a fire. That being said, I would think that the cow rack that you're going to utilize might need the gaps between the grates reduced to reduce the possibility of the fish falling apart and through the holes as you turn it during cooking. This would depend on the cow rack itself, of course. You could accomplish this by lining the cow rack with a metal mesh or maybe a bed of woody herbs (something like rosemary??).
As mentioned above. an uneven bed of coals would address the issue of variance in meat thickness.
It may be advantageous to serve the whole fish several different ways after it comes off the fire. Mix some sort of mango or pineapple salsa with the shredded meat that comes from the tail section because it may be more cooked and not as moist. It could be served with chips the same way you'd serve a ceviche. The large chunks of moist meat near the head might do well over a bed of greens with a vinaigrette type dressing. The middle section put into flour tortillas to make tacos.

Feb 09, 2014
fledflew in BBQ, Smoking, & Grilling

Central Phoenix - Sunday evening meeting restaurant?

Coco's on 7th Street just north of Mcdowell would match your price point and location requirements

Jan 29, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Spin-Off: What gins to people love?

My favorite gin is Citadelle. It comes across as complex with a lot of aromatics and a bit of citrus. It utilizes 19 botanicals. Unfortunately, I rarely see it when I'm out.

When I'm at a restaurant or bar, I like Tanqueray with my tonic water. Sapphire in my martinis. Every once in a while, I'll have a Hendricks and tonic with a bruised cucumber.

Jan 09, 2014
fledflew in Spirits

What is your choice of drink in the morning?

I developed some negative reactions to caffeine a few years ago so I had to cut out green tea, which I used to drink in large quantities. Sadly, the occasional toddy or coffee is also no more. These days, it's fresh squeezed OJ a couple days a week. V8 maybe once a week. Fresh tangerine mimosas or screwdrivers on weekends.

Jan 09, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

Restaurants not in hotels/ casinos

I second this rec on Ferraro's. Everytime I've been there, the food was very good, the service excellent, and the prices were very reasonable. They should be able to accommodate a group of 20-25 very comfortably.

Jan 07, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Leftover roasted vegetables

Enchiladas, frittata, panini,, pasta dish

Jan 07, 2014
fledflew in Home Cooking

Where to order a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving?

Sprouts carries a very good fresh turkey this time of year. I've gotten them 3-4 times in the past and have had excellent results. In the past, they've always been $1.49/lb. I think it's magnitudes better than a supermarket frozen turkey, maybe not quite as good as a heritage bird that one would order from a whole foods or farm. I say maybe because I think it depends on what you're used to eating and what you're looking for in a turkey. I know you can call ahead to reserve one, but I would confirm that they are open Thanksgiving day.

Nov 07, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas

What's your favorite recipe for a whole chicken cut up?

I like doing a pan roasted chicken with sauce. Not so much a recipe, but a technique.
Take the chicken pieces and brine them if you want (not necessary though).
Preheat oven to 400 f.
Lightly dust the chicken pieces. Hopefully, the bird is cut in to 8 pieces. If not, break it down to 8 pieces.
Heat a pan on med high heat and add a few tablespoons of oil.
Brown chicken pieces on all sides.
When chicken is browned (about 7-8 minutes total in pan), put the whole pan into the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, the chicken should be cooked through. Check with a thermometer if in doubt.
Take out the chicken pieces from the pan and set on a platter to rest.
Build a pan sauce with the drippings. I usually use some shallot, white wine or dry vermouth to deglaze, and add some herbs or mushrooms (whatever I have around). I sometimes add a splash of cream if I have it. Finish with a knob of butter and then pour it over the chicken.

Nov 06, 2013
fledflew in Home Cooking

Need Phoenix advice

Kevin Binkley opened Bink's midtown a couple months back. Very good local stuff and much closer to the city than his other location.
http://binksmidtown.com/

Nov 05, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Fatback in Phoenix

You might try asking at the meat counter in a Sprouts store. They make several types of sausage onsite and I imagine that they have to use fatback themselves.

Oct 31, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Bargain eats in Vegas? Plus, Lotus of Siam still good?

I apologize for my wording above. I should have and meant to say that many of the sauces and curries taste canned. I do not know for a fact whether or not they are. What I do know is that they are not the same ones that they were serving several years ago. Of the people that I've spoken with at length about this, many of them have noticed this as well. Previously, the curries had a more distinct texture from the galangal, chiles, etc. Now it's an extremely smooth paste. Additionally, the sharp flavor from fresh aromatics and the fruity complex character from the chiles is no longer present in the panang that they're serving. It now tastes just like a curry paste that is available from Thailand - Namprik Maesri brand to be exact. Is it bad? No. Whether or not it's in use at POS, I don't know. I do know that a lot of their food has changed in both flavor, freshness, and portion size from a few years ago. With the exception of some of their specialty dishes, the food is generally unremarkable now and comparable food can be found at other Thai restaurants in LV.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad restaurant - it just isn't the holy grail of Thai food that it once was. I used to eat there all the time. They even gave me a staff shirt back in the day because they used to joke about how often I ate there, that I should work there. It's just no longer worth the wait, the shrinking portions, the hit or miss service, and the higher than average prices.

Oct 08, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas

Bargain eats in Vegas? Plus, Lotus of Siam still good?

I've also enjoyed meals at Le Thai and Chada. I think the beef noodle soup at Le Thai is definitely one of the better versions in town. As far as other Thai places, I also really like Marnee, Nittaya's, Krung Siamm, and Penn's (in that order).

Oct 08, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas

Bargain eats in Vegas? Plus, Lotus of Siam still good?

Lotus of Siam used to be good, but they started a downhill journey about 3-4 years ago and it has become a tourist trap. I think people get excited about it due to the hype and then convince themselves it was a good meal. I've been going there for about 10 years and they were one of the best back in the day. Ever since they expanded a few years ago, their food has been on a steady decline. The food is no longer anything special (mediocre in fact) and there are several other Thai places that serve much better food, with better service, at a lower price point. Most of the sauces and curries come out jar or can now. The portions are much smaller than what they used to be. If you're craving Thai food in Las Vegas, there are plenty of better places to go.

Oct 08, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas

Help for Phoenix Visit end of October 2013

If you will be visiting the Heard Museum, a stop by the cafe there is an excellent choice for a mid-day meal. The weather in late Oct should be ideal for a meal outside in the courtyard there.
http://www.heard.org/visit/dining.html

Another great lunch (or even casual dinner) would be the Public Market cafe. It's a great space and the chef also runs St Francis, which is a nice restaurant that comes in at a slightly higher price point and is just a little bit more formal than the cafe (but still casual).
http://phxpublicmarket.com/
http://stfrancisaz.com/

Cibo is a great neighborhood pizzeria and the food is always top notch, although the service can be hit or miss sometimes. Excellent patio and very reasonable prices.
http://cibophoenix.com/

Bink's midtown is a new spot opened by Kevin Binkley. Top notch food expertly prepared. The menu is a little pricier than the other places mentioned above, but absolutely worth it.
http://binksmidtown.com/

Tuck Shop is a neat little place hidden in the Coronado neighborhood downtown. Great food and the staff is always very friendly. The owner also has a fantastic breakfast/brunch place called Vovomeena.
http://www.tuckinphx.com/
http://www.vovomeena.com/

I've also had very good meals at Blue Hound, Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco, and Mrs. Whites.

Oct 08, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Phoenix Airport Marriott Dinner Rec's

I've only had an issue getting a seat in front of the kitchen at NOCA once - that was during a restaurant week promotion when they were fully booked. They sat me at the bar that time - which is a kind of dark and off to the corner. I'd recommend the kitchen seat. You may be able to call ahead for a reservation if you have an idea of when you'd arrive.

Tarbell's is also excellent. I only get over there about once a year. Not because the food is inferior, but because it's quieter, darker, and seems a bit more formal (even though it isn't really). Dining on your own might not be as comfortable as at NOCA.

Also check out Christopher's at the Biltmore (about a mile from NOCA/Tarbell's). Award winning chef with supurb French food in a great space. I don't think he gets a lot of attention on the boards, but is certainly deserving of it. Great seating right in front of the kitchen ideal for solo dining and I've never had trouble getting a seat there.
http://www.christophersaz.com/

Oct 03, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Phoenix Airport Marriott Dinner Rec's

Durant's, as mentioned above, is usually very good. Although lately, I've experienced some hiccups and inconsistency from their kitchen. Service and drinks have always been excellent.
Up the street and around the corner from your hotel on Washington is another steakhouse - Stockyards. It's a pretty solid steakhouse with a different sort of character than Durants. They have a lounge/bar with both bar and table seating that is appropriate for solo dining.
I highly recommend NOCA. They have a counter right in front of the kitchen that is ideal when dining by yourself. They also have a bar off to the side if you are looking for something that isn't in the middle of the action.

Oct 02, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

What's your favorite cheese to put on garlic bread?

If I just want a rich nutty flavor, I go with a light sprinkling of microplaned good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. If I want melted gooeyness, I go with a whole milk mozzarella. None of that part-skim nonsense for me.

Sep 28, 2013
fledflew in Home Cooking

Can you order a nice bottle of wine in a casino?

At most casinos you can certainly do this. Last week, I ordered several half bottles of Veuve ($30-$40 ea) for no charge and I was at a $10 blackjack table. On other occasions, I've had probably a dozen top shelf drinks in a single night that would normally be priced at $15+ dollars each. Unless you're in a budget casino, most cocktail waitresses are empowered to order whatever the bar is capable of serving and bring it to the customers at no charge (with the exception of maybe blue label or something like that). I think it really depends on how you speak to them and if you have been tipping, not necessarily how much you are wagering. If you're getting rebuffed by the cocktail waitress, you can always ask the pitboss for something, although the amount that you're wagering will most likely play a role in that scenario. This is true for most any table game area at the major strip casinos. I've even received many top shelf drinks as doubles while sitting at the penny slots after establishing rapport with the waitress.
Even if you're not classified as a high roller, playing in the high limit rooms and baccarat rooms will get you whatever you want.

Sep 12, 2013
fledflew in Las Vegas

Walking Distance from Westin Phoenix Downtown

Regarding safety - downtown Phoenix isn't the questionable place it was 10 years ago when I first moved into the area. There is a university, light rail system, and many new restaurants, businesses, and civic spaces. The area has been cleaned up quite a bit and is fairly well lit at night now.

Here's my quick rundown of downtown spots that are walking distance from the Westin -

Phoenix Public Market Café - one of my new favorite places. Simple honest food. Nothing real fancy, but they do a great job with everything.

Hanny's - Located in a repurposed department store. Cocktails are very good. Food is okay. I like the bar plate (prosciutto, olives, cheese, pistachios, etc), the prosciutto wrapped shrimp, and the cauliflower. I don't care for their pizzas - the crust is too thin and saltine cracker like for my tastes. It's a happening scene in Fri and Sat nights but pretty quiet the rest of the week.

Pizzeria Bianco - they started lunch service a while back so the waits have been alleviated. I've gone in early afternoon a number of times with no wait.

Cibo - really excellent food and they started doing their pizzas at lunch. I believe that they still do their pasta specials on Tuesday. The service can be spotty sometimes. That being said, I still like it more than Bianco's.

Province and District - hotel restaurants at the Westin and Sheraton (respectively). Decent hotel restaurants, but nothing especially remarkable. Of the two, I like District just a little bit better.

Mrs White's - soul food. Fried catfish, smothered fried chicken, pork chops, etc. If they have the oxtails on special, they're excellent.

Bonjour Vietnamese - Vietnamese café at the San Carlos hotel. I haven't been here before, but meals at their sister restaurants are pretty consistent, although not completely authentic.

Kincaid's - steak and seafood chain. The have a really great happy hour specials on food. Lunch is perfectly acceptable and prices are reasonable. Have never been here for dinner service.

Jobot - coffee shop with fantastic crepes and excellent iced toddy. If the weather's cooperating, they have a nice patio. Two doors down is Melt - an ice cream shop with some unique offerings.

Blue Hound - great restaurant located at the Palomar hotel. Innovative menu and great bar/cocktails. They only offer a limited bar menu in the afternoons (which is pretty weak), so if you go there, be sure to do so during dinner hours.

Rum Bar (Breadfruit) - The food at Breadfruit seems like it went downhill a while back and I haven't eaten there in probably a year or two. Their Rum Bar's drinks are the highlight here.

Angels Trumpet House - one of the better selections of beer in the area. The food is good, but not great. If you find yourself having a beer here and get hungry, walk a block over to the Public Market Café.

Pomo Pizzeria - Neopolitan style pizza. I have been out of town for a few months so I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but many friends have come back with positive reports.

If you're willing to jump on the light rail (which stops right outside your hotel), there are some good options just a couple miles north. Let me know and I'll add them in another post.

Kai is always a winner and definitely worth the drive.

Sep 05, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix

Cocktails or Wine bar near SLS Bazaar

Sorry, just re-read and saw that you would be already be drinking at Bazaar.

Aug 31, 2013
fledflew in Los Angeles Area

Cocktails or Wine bar near SLS Bazaar

The bar at Bazaar is very good. Great cocktails and service the handful of times that I've been there. However, the food fell far short of expectations the first time we dined there and haven't eaten there since.

Aug 31, 2013
fledflew in Los Angeles Area

Mayo Clinic Scottsdale

As JerryMe mentioned, check out the food at Mayo. I've eaten there several times. It's really not bad at all. Actually, it's perfectly acceptable and much better than a lot of the fast food and casual restaurants across the street.

Jun 27, 2013
fledflew in Phoenix