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Dining over July 4 weekend

Husband & I are visiting Portland from San Francisco July 2-6 and would love your recs for first-timers in your city. I checked a few suggestions from friends and it looks like a lot of places might be closed for the holiday weekend.

We're staying at the Holiday Inn NW-Downtown, 2333 NW Vaughn St. and won't have a car, but we love to walk and are good with public transit.

Would love to know about places that give a true vibe of Portland - locally owned, chef-driven, using local ingredients. Not all high-end, please -- those moderately-priced neighborhood gems where locals go are our favorite. We do have a res already for Le Pigeon because FOUR friends or FOF recommended, so hopefully it's not over-hyped.

No dietary restrictions, but hubby doesn't like Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. We both like beer; I'm into wine and cocktails, too, so a hip, fresh, artisan cocktail bar suggestion is much appreciated. Thank you so much!

Jun 26, 2014
1wino in Metro Portland

Stuffed pierogis definitely opening Aug. 31 [San Francisco]

After being tormented for much of this year waiting impatiently for the opening of Stuffed, the pierogi restaurant in the Mission, it is finally happening. I got a message from Andy Schoengrund saying it will officially open Aug. 31.

Aug 22, 2013
1wino in San Francisco Bay Area

Fried chicken? [SF]

I second Farmer Brown, and it's super close to the Chancellor Hotel. It's really cheap in the bar at happy hour, but get there before 5:30 if you want a seat. Was not impressed with Wayfare's at all. Haven't had Hard Water's, but the place is tiny with very little seating, and I hear it's usually packed.

Apr 01, 2013
1wino in San Francisco Bay Area

Stuffed pierogi restaurant in Mission? [San Francisco]

Thank you! Also, just saw this in case there are other pierogi lovers out there:

Feb 03, 2013
1wino in San Francisco Bay Area

Stuffed pierogi restaurant in Mission? [San Francisco]

Has anyone heard or seen anything more about Stuffed, the Midwestern-style pierogi restaurant that was supposed to open this month in the Mission? There was some hoopla in Nov.-Dec., but I haven't seen anything since. Is it open? I'm eager to see if their pierogis are as good as mine!

Memorial weekend in & around Mendocino

Heading to Mendocino/Fort Bragg for Memorial Day weekend & seeking restaurant recommendations, esp. Sat. and Sun. night and a place to pick up a picnic lunch to take on a hike on Sunday. Any up-to-date info is appreciated.

I get the impression Cafe Beaujolais and Little River Inn are favorites, but have read a few horror stories about the service at Beaujolais. Besides those ...? For lunch, I seek sandwiches with fresh bread and no slimy packaged lunchmeat. For dinner, we aren't looking for "special occasion" or fancy, and we're open to all types of cuisine, but we do prefer local ingredients and we don't mind paying for quality. Someplace casual and fun with a lively bar and nice wine list would do the trick. Thanks!

May 24, 2012
1wino in California

Best Banh Mi?

I like Lee's Sandwiches in Chandler.

May 17, 2012
1wino in Phoenix

Quick Saturday day trip to sf, need a place for dinner

Also sorry this is late, but Don Pisto's in North Beach is great for Mexican. Has brunch and lunch items on weekends. Gets super crowded, though.

Jan 29, 2012
1wino in San Francisco Bay Area

One week in Phoenix...what to eat?

Warning: I have a LOT to say here. I eat out an astonishing number of days per year and know the restaurant scene here pretty well. Not that I'm saying my choices will necessarily be your favorites, but friends tell me I usually steer them right.

As mentioned here, Binkley's and Kai are the two best restaurants in the area; hands-down. However, both require a bit of a drive and a huge time commitment (and lots of $$$). I would pick at least one, though, if you're seriously into food, in order to see the best of what Phoenix has to offer.

Quiessence is another local gem where I love to take visitors, and it's not far from downtown. It sits adjacent to a working farm (Maya's Garden) and has these lovely fire pits out front and a charming little building for inside seating. Chef Greg LaPrad makes good charcuterie and apps (if you just want a light snack) in addition to full entrees and a chef's menu that changes daily. At least go for a drink; they have barrel-aged Manhattans and other handcrafted cocktails.

For downtown Tempe, I also highly recommend Caffe Boa and House of Tricks. Both have talented chefs, good ambience and excellent drinks and wine lists.

Downtown Scottsdale is a big dining destination with lots of possibilities, but FnB is one of our new standouts. Chef Charleen Badman does inspiring things with all ingredients (I even loved the chicken here, and that is saying something), and you will be pampered by host Pavle Milic. FnB has an all-Arizona wine list and it's chosen carefully, so you won't be disappointed.

Often overlooked and under-appreciated is the cute, historic downtown Chandler area, which is less than 30 min. from downtown in the East Valley and is also something of a dining hub. Its buildings date from the turn of the 20th century. My favorites there include Latitude 8 for Thai, Urban Tea Loft for salads (they do full entrees as well), El Zocalo for standard Sonoran Mexican (ask to sit in the awesome courtyard out back) and Sushi Eye conveyor belt sushi. There's also a brewpub there called SanTan Brewing Company, which is fun, but I don't think the food is any great shakes. Four Peaks is far superior in that respect.

I like Los Dos Molinos, too. It's not fancy, but gives a good Southwestern feel. It's some of the best and most fiery New Mexican in town. Go to the one on Central south of Baseline for the best ambience, but get there early - it's small and fills up fast. Nothing new or exciting here, though -- just lots of heat.

For a higher-end interpretation of Mexican, you might enjoy Barrio Cafe. It's won numerous "best of" awards in the local press but is still a locals type of place.

Comfort food is big right now everywhere and especially here; Cafe ZuZu in Scottsdale does a great job. I also love love love the pot roast and the mac n cheese at Bliss, a new place in downtown Phoenix with lots of character (and characters). Great service, too.

Downtown Gilbert also has Joe's Real BBQ and Liberty Market (same owner; lighter fare and hipper feel than Joe's) along with Romeo's Euro Cafe (BIG portions; Mediterranean-inspired). All local favorites.

Downtown Glendale is worth a look if you like Polish and Eastern European food. A Touch of European Cafe is very authentic, and the owners are just as sweet as can be. I love that it's a BYOB, too (not many of these in AZ due to an arcane law). Their hours vary day to day, so call ahead to verify.

For Italian, Veneto in Scottsdale ranks high on my list. It's northern Italian, so don't expect pastas. Lots of local VIPs eat here. For Asian, I'm partial to Tottie's Asian Fusion (2 locations; the one on Scottsdale Rd. and Lincoln is newer and a bit prettier). She serves Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese. Her curries rock. Good drinks, too.

For breakfast, Over Easy on Indian School Road, with its pseudo-retro look and hearty plates, is fun and filling. For Mediterranean, I urge a trip to Spices in Chandler. It's in a strip mall and has almost no ambience, but if you want to eat like locals do, this will do it. His kebabs plates are stupid good.

These are a ton of "locals" places in addition to these, so depending on which area of town you're in, you'll find something appropriate. We have a wealth of local, independent, chef-run places, as you can see; you just have to know where to look. And it appears that's exactly what you are out to do, so kudos to you.

House of Tricks
114 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Caffe Boa
5063 E Elliot Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85044

Over Easy
4730 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

Liberty Market
230 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ

Sushi Eye
Chandler, AZ, Chandler, AZ

Urban Tea Loft
11 W Boston St # 2, Chandler, AZ

A Touch of European Cafe
7146 N 57th Dr Ste C, Glendale, AZ 85301

Tottie's Asian Fusion
7901 E Thomas Rd Ste 108, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Oct 30, 2010
1wino in Phoenix

Aspen advice

Heading to Aspen in the morning and need recs for breakfast-lunch-dinner in and around downtown the next few days, please. Staying at Hotel St. Regis, but we will have a car.

Breakfast: Looking for places that offer solid home cooking with quality ingredients at reasonable prices (no $16 bacon-and-egg hotel breakfast for me, thank you). Doesn't have to be fancy, although classic dishes with a twist always interest me. Places to grab a bagel or breakfast sandwich are good, too.

Lunch: All suggestions welcome, from hole-in-the-wall sandwich and soup joints to higher-end destination places. All types of food OK.

Dinner: We need a more casual place for Thursday; somewhere we don't need a reservation. Friday we're busy (Wilco concert). After perfunctory research, I made reservations at Elevation on Sat. nite. Yes/no?If not Elevation, then where?

I dine out frequently in downtown San Francisco, so price is not too important, but quality is.

Thanks much!

Sep 01, 2010
1wino in Mountain States

Restaurants serving local and organic menu items

Also in Ahwatukee, just across the parking lot from Nello's, I'd recommend Hillside Spot. Same owner as Gallo Blanco (Doug Robson); committed to as much local food as possible. Very kid-friendly - they even have a kids menu. I especially love their Tunisian salad (made with local, seasonal produce) pulled pork sandwich (made with locally raised, all natural pork) and the hamburger, made with meat ground fresh in house. But everything is good.

It's not that bad of a drive from Laveen to Ahwatukee east on Baseline and then south on 48th St. Hillside is on 48th St. and Warner.

Hillside Spot Café and Market
4740 East Warner Road, Phoenix, AZ 85044

Jun 09, 2010
1wino in Phoenix

Cuban Sandwich

Tortas El Guero in Phoenix and Mesa.

Tortas El Guero
2518 N 16th St Ste 2, Phoenix, AZ 85006

Tortas El Guero
1449 E Main St, Mesa, AZ 85203

Apr 01, 2010
1wino in Phoenix

Mom and Pop Italian

RigaTony's is quite good and is a real mom and pop - owners Mike and Chrissy Lopercio have had it since 1994. They just moved today (too new for a link) to a new building on the northeast corner of Warner and McClintock in Tempe and it's really nice; I was there for a sneak preview on Tuesday. Their antipasto salad is awesome; love their baked rigatoni.

Also, Jimmy's of Chicago on Gilbert Road just north of the Loop 202 has excellent Italian standards with all homemade pasta and sauces. Another mom and pop; husband and wife Zalena and Kerry Kersting opened it in Dec. 2008. Zalena's sister and brother-in-law own Jimmy's Place in Forest Park, IL, just outside Chicago.

Unlike some of the other restaurants mentioned here, the prices are really reasonable at both of these places. Service is great at both, too.

Jimmy's of Chicago
3107 S Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85295

Apr 01, 2010
1wino in Phoenix

Walking distance from Chandler & Arizona ave?

Two of my favorites in downtown Chandler are El Zocalo and Urban Tea Loft. El Zocalo is family-owned and has wonderful shredded beef dishes and, I think, the best salsa in town. It also has great ambience as a bonus, including a gorgeous back patio with lots of greenery and a fountain. Urban Tea Loft has a small but diverse list of entrees made with tea-infused sauces and such; the owner is now in the kitchen and definitely cooks with heart. I especially love it on weekend nights for jazz and tea-tinis. Yes, tea-tinis: martinis made with freshly brewed teas.

Feb 25, 2010
1wino in Phoenix

Carmel - romantic or cute place for Feb. 13

We have never been to Carmel and would like recommendations for dinner on Feb. 13. It will act as our Valentine's Day meal, because we're driving back up to San Francisco on the evening of Feb. 14.

As such, it would be nice to find something romantic or at least charming, with a good local wine list, but not over-the-top (meaning, under $200 for dinner for two with wine). Alternately, we like those cute, mom-and-pop neighborhood-type places that you stumble across in the city that might not get the big write-ups and praise, but serve fresh, homemade food in a lively atmosphere. Not sure if anyplace in Carmel fits the bill, but if so, please share.

Type of food is not important. We like everything.

Feb 02, 2010
1wino in California

Eating challenges in Tempe/Phoenix/Scottsdale areas?

Dec 19, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Wine Dinners in Scottsdale/Phoenix

It's not in Phoenix/Scottsdale, but I believe Amuse Bouche in Surprise is the best restaurant in the Valley for BYOB. Not much in terms of ambience, but oh boy, the food...

Amuse Bouche
17058 W. Bell Rd., Suite 104, Surprise, AZ 85374

Nov 24, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

LOS Downhill alert?

THANK YOU for this post.

OK, I admit, I have only been there once and went for the lunch buffet. I heard nothing but raves, though, so thought it would be leaps and bounds better than the usual steam table goop. We took a taxi straight from the airport (I live in PHX) and by 11:30 a.m. there was already a long line.

I just didn't get it. The pad thai and soup were about the only edible things on the entire buffet. Most items were deep-fried and all tasted the same: Like old, stale oil.

Again, perhaps it's my fault for not ordering off the menu, but with an introduction like that, I don't feel the need to go back and take a stab at anything else. There are a couple of excellent ethnic buffets in PHX and I have used them to narrow down my choices when I return for a sit-down meal. Based on my LOS visit, I'd rather save my taxi money and use it to go somewhere nice on the Strip next time. It was a major let-down.

Aug 07, 2009
1wino in Las Vegas

Nouveau Bistro buttoned up (PHX)

Went by Nouveau Bistro last week and it was padlocked and empty. Anyone know anything?

I know Charles Seo shuttered Zest Spirited Dining to open NB by Chandler Fashion Center and then quickly sold it, but then got it back by default when the deal somehow went south. I ate there after Seo sold it and it was pretty good, but returned once Seo had it back and it was dismal.

Aug 01, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Late Lunch Downtown PHX, dinner in Mesa?

There is a new beer/wine bar and restaurant in downtown Mesa at Country Club Drive and Main St. called Il Vinaio:

I haven't been there yet, but the chef has an excellent pedigree (worked with Robert McGrath at Roaring Fork during the time when he won a James Beard award). They've only been serving dinner for 6 weeks.

Based on the web site, it seems to fit the bill for what you need and is much closer than D'Vine, although I do love D'Vine. Wonder if anyone else can vouch for it?

Aug 01, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Riazzi's? Or other recs in Tempe

You are thinking of La Bocca Pizzeria, which I also recommend. Caffe Boa never disappoints, though.

Also on Mill is Pho Thang Long, which has excellent pho, but the ambience is "downscale ethnic." And I know it's a chain, but I still love Z'Tejas.

Jul 21, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Help me find a good Philly cheesesteak sandwich in Scottsdale or Phx...

It's a chain, and it's out of Jersey, not Philly, but I tried the cheese steak at Jersey Mike's a couple of weeks ago and thought it was one of the best I've had. The meat was not greasy, the roll was soft, and I liked the cheese ratio (gooey, but not too much).

I tried the one in Ahwatukee, on Chandler Boulevard just west of 48th St., adjacent to a Starbucks. Looks like there's one in Tempe, too, on Scottsdale Road.

Jersey Mike's Subs
4605 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85048

Jersey Mike's Subs
555 N Scottsdale Rd, Tempe, AZ 85281

Jun 14, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

SF party of one?

I enjoy dining solo at the bar at Town Hall, especially for lunch. The bartenders are personable, and you sometimes meet friendly fellow diners. Best of all, the food is fabulous. Their soups are some of the best in town, and I just love their warm ham and cheese toast with jalapeno cream. Good wine list, too.

Jun 10, 2009
1wino in San Francisco Bay Area

Casual group dinner in Tempe/Mesa area

I assume this is on a Saturday?

Chevy's in Mesa has a private room that can seat up to 50. I hosted a group of 40 once at the Biltmore location and they did a great job.

Crackers & Co. Cafe closes at 2:30 p.m. and rents out their places to private parties in the afternoons/evenings. The two Mesa stores don't have liquor, but they were working on getting a license at the one in Tempe.

Also, is downtown Chandler too far? Urban Tea Loft has private party rooms; I think one might be able to seat 20. They have a full bar.

RigaTony's food is not my fave, but decent for your basic Italian, and I recall they have a lot of space at the Mesa location.

Apr 08, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

98 South Closed???

An investment group bought the restaurant and rights to the name. I hear the chef is from Kendall-Jackson Winery and has created food/wine pairings for dinners around the world. He plans to concentrate on foods that pair well with wine. Prices are supposed to be lower than those at the old 98 South, but I haven't been there yet. Thought I'd give them time to get their sea legs. Anyone who does go, please report!

The Irish pub a few doors down, Murphy's Law, seems to be doing well, too, but I heard the food was so-so. Any other impressions?

Apr 08, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Postino on Central (PHX)

Yes, I see myself parting with the $3. How I wish I had access to light rail, but I would have to walk 1 mile, catch a bus, ride 45 minutes to downtown Tempe, and then ride it through downtown and up Central from there. Not saying it can't be done, but it's rather time-consuming when you consider it's about a 20-minute drive.

Anyway, the prices are the same -- $9.50 for half a salad and half a sandwich, which I think is really reasonable for the quality -- so that extra $3 won't kill me.

Mar 31, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Postino on Central (PHX)

Stopped for lunch at Postino on Central today, the official opening day even though I'm told they had a soft opening last Monday. Very nice.

It's just north of Camelback on the west side of Central in the old Katz's Deli. (Should they have called it Delino to keep the theme?)

Cute place! Smaller than Postino, with lounge, booth, bar and table areas inside and a small patio out back. Front floor-to-ceiling windows slide open, and the back is literally an open bar, with stools/patrons outdoors and bartenders indoors.

Menu is the same. I had the Italian picnic salad (too much goat cheese, even for this cheesehead, but otherwise delicious) and the wonderful Autostrada panini with Italian meats and cheese on focaccia, along with a lovely Montepulciano. Service was chipper and efficient.

It's almost a crime that all wine is $5 a glass only from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It creates this burning desire to play hooky from work regularly. Good thing I don't work downtown for a major corporation anymore, or I'd surely get myself canned for taking the light rail, spending 2 hours at lunch and coming back tipsy.

Wart: In typical LGO fashion, the tiny parking lot is a nightmare. I got the last spot even though the place was only about half full, if that. Valet is complimentary, but you still have to tip. I'm not terribly familiar with the area. If anyone has advice on where I can park a few blocks away and walk, do tell.

Mar 30, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Where are the Good Restaurants (Non-Chain) in Surprise, AZ ?

Amuse Bouche lunches are terrific, but dinners are even better. We went again Saturday night and enjoyed scallops with artichoke cream, halibut, duck breast and superb pork tenderloin. Their beef tenderloin in carrot butter sauce is one of my favorite steaks in town.

Entree prices are in the 20s and a steal at that. It's also BYOB if you sit inside (24 seats; I counted), but FYI, you can't drink at the tables outside.

Mar 16, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

Zest (PHX)-Closed

Yes, I sampled some things from Nouveau Bistro a couple of weeks ago at a book club event they catered. They have a young (early 20s) but talented chef whose mom owned Kitchen Classics. I believe it was one of the first and definitely one of the best-known cooking schools/cooking supply stores in Phoenix for a long time, and it just closed. He grew up there and it certainly rubbed off.

He is not the same chef that was there when Nikki Buchanan reviewed the place in December. He took over after that review (which was pretty bad). The previous owners sold it in December and she reviewed it during the transition, I was told. The new owner was quite friendly; he was bartending when we popped in for a nightcap after book club.

Anyway, the eggplant cheesecake was just as good as always, and he also made a wonderful warm shrimp and cheese dip that I loved. I haven't eaten in the restaurant yet, but based on the preview I had, I can't wait. The space is really cool, too -- still has a lot of that artsy funky feel of Zest. I will go back to get happy hour and apps as well as to try the regular menu.

Mar 11, 2009
1wino in Phoenix

BYOB in Southeast Valley

Slightly off track, but I just visited the BYOB Amuse Bouche in Surprise recently. WOW! Impressed. Still haven't found any others close by in the EV, though.

I second you on Spices, Zigglyu. It's my favorite Middle Eastern place.

Mar 11, 2009
1wino in Phoenix