Dmnkly's Profile

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True Taqueria in Phoenix Area?

In the sense that it isn't helping you to find what you're looking for, I agree.

In the sense that it (brusquely) challenges the notion that "$5 burritos and free chips" characterize a "true taqueria"... well, I can't say there isn't value in that, even if tangential.

I think the point is that if you're looking for SF Mission style taquerias, let's talk about those, and people who have a familiarity with the genre might be able to help steer you. But the implication that some others being suggested are somehow less than "true" by virtue of their not being SF Mission style is both incorrect and, whether you intend it or not, condescending.

To be constructive about this, however, no, I'm not familiar with any places that -- based on my admittedly limited experience in the Mission -- mimic the subset of the genre you're seeking. That said, you'll find some mighty fine street tacos at El Rinconcito del DF in Sunnyslope (provided you avoid the carne asada and stick to stuff like the tripe, cabeza, or the al pastor off the trompo on the weekends, etc.), or Tacos Atoyac, just to name a couple of favorites.

Happy hunting!

Mar 18, 2014
Dmnkly in Phoenix

2 Dinners in Scottsdale

AZ88 is where you go when you really want to overpay for barely passable sandwiches and salads because, wow, it's all hip and cool and mod and stuff.

Haven't been to Virtu yet. The Mission is solid. CPH started strong, but has been really hit and miss lately.

FnB is a stellar local gem, the chef made the James Beard semifinal list today, and she deserves to be at least a finalist, if not the winner. Order vegetables. Lots of them. And wonder why anybody goes to a place like Olive and Ivy when they can go here.

Feb 19, 2014
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Looking for exotic themed restaurant. . .any suggestions???

Al Zohour is not the show that Dar Maghreb is. It's a small seating area separated from a market by a low wall with standard tables and chairs, and it's decidedly downscale. But the food is outstanding.

Jan 26, 2014
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Looking for a casual Mexican Restaurant

The Stand is an undeniably unique experience. You can do better foodwise, but it's good, and it's a package deal that's completely worthwhile.

Be warned on two counts. First, if you're searching for an address at some point, don't end up at the hamburger joint also named The Stand, and also on Indian School. The Stand you're looking for is just off the corner of Indian School and Alma School. Second, The Stand's hours are... highly variable. Have a Plan B.

Jan 23, 2014
Dmnkly in Phoenix

NOCA Closed for Dinner Due to Renovations

They've been closed for dinner for... 3-4 months now, perhaps? Should be reopening soon, actually. Urciuoli's out. New chef on board but not yet announced.

Jan 03, 2014
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Local source for carnaroli rice

You may not *actually* use twice as much, but in my experience, it's best to be prepared for it :-)

Dec 28, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Local source for carnaroli rice

AJ's probably will, though I couldn't say for certain. Andreoli in Scottsdale and La Dolce Vita in Mesa certainly will, and Dolce Vita usually carries Acquarello, which is an especially delicious and creamy type of Carnaroli rice. You might also want to give Vialone Nano a try if you can find it. It's very popular in the Veneto -- harder to come by here -- and makes an especially creamy, loose, soupy risotto.

Incidentally, while I can't say whether it was the rice itself of the preparation that you found so compelling, I respectfully disagree with Jock when it comes to the differences between the types of rice. Between subsets of Carnaroli, perhaps the differences are subtle. But I think the difference between Arborio and Carnaroli is pretty stark, to say nothing of the difference between Arborio and Vialone Nano. No value judgement -- the different types all have their charms and I'm not suggesting one is *better* -- but they're very different. There are other subsets and lesser-known varieties as well, but I'm not qualified speak outside of those mentioned.

Incidentally, if you get some Carnaroli, Acquarello, or Vialone Nano, be prepared to use twice as much liquid as you would for the same recipe with Arborio. If you're used to cooking Arborio, you'll be *shocked* by how quickly some of the others soak up liquid. You just keep adding, and adding, and adding, and suddenly you're out of stock and the rice isn't done yet.

Dec 28, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

What is good at Julioberto's?

If it's like the Julioberto's here, the question isn't what is good, but *when* it's good. And the answer is very late at night. After a lot of alcohol.

Oct 31, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix
1

Places I'd like to say a few nice things about...

Thanks, alliegator... I"m particularly glad you found your way to Beaver Choice and China Magic. Along the lines of the latter, be sure to check out Chou's and Miu's (primarily for the Sichuan portion of the menu) in that same neck of the woods.

I hadn't even heard of Alchemy... have to have a look!

Jul 15, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Romanelli's or DeFalcos ?

C) Andreoli. Because A & B, while cute, are both mediocre Italian-American red sauce joints with the kind of food you can get anywhere, while Andreoli is run by an incredibly talented Calabrian cook who cures his own means, bakes his own breads, makes his own fresh cheeses, does all his own pastry, and generally makes some of the best straight-up authentic Italian trattoria-style fare I've ever come across anywhere.

Jul 08, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Amy's Baking Company - Scottsdale, Arizona

"As I've only lived here for 4 months, I've been having a great time trying different places all over the valley..."

Then, please, write about them!

If you're going to go to ABC, go to ABC, but if you're going to write about one restaurant in the entire city (and forgive me if I'm missing your posts about the other places you've visited, but I can't find any) why choose the one that's *least* in need of more exposure?

I hope you'll also give the same posting attention to the other places you're visiting... there are too many great restaurants in town that not only could be greatly helped by posting online, but also actually deserve that help.

If places like Zaidi's and Contigo Peru had gotten a tiny fraction of a percent of the attention and energy heaped upon ABC by the online crowd, they'd still be here and we'd all be better off for it. Meanwhile, unless Samy gets deported, it appears that we can all look forward to this train wreck sticking around for years to come.

(But whatever you do, and with apologies for impassioned rantyness, welcome to Phoenix! :-)

Jul 08, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Amy's Baking Company - Scottsdale, Arizona

I apologize for getting kind of soapboxy here, but particularly during the summertime when business is slow and so many restaurants in Phoenix struggle to survive, couldn't those dining dollars and the subsequent writeup exposure be better directed towards a business that... y'know... deserves the business? I mean, what's the goal in "tak[ing] one for the team"? If the food's good, does that mean people are suddenly going to want to support them? If the food's bad, it's not as if the pitchforks and torches crowd needs more ammo. And there's no virgin territory to be trod here -- there are hordes of writeups to be found for anybody who wants to rubberneck at the wreckage. If you want to go for your own curiosity's sake, that's not my place to judge, but in terms of its impact on the "team," it seems to me all it does is put more money in their pockets and generate more exposure for a place that deserves, more than anything else, just to be forgotten.

Jul 08, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix
1

Amy's Baking Company - Scottsdale, Arizona

At the risk of speaking for those other than myself, I think most of us wish it would just go away at this point.

Jul 03, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix
1

sweetbreads in Phoenix???

Call first, but Wedge & Bottle in Ahwatukee has carried lardo from Salumeria Biellese recently. It's outstanding,

Apr 13, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Should put Phoenix back in W/Southwest

There's plenty. It's just not on CH anymore.

Apr 09, 2013
Dmnkly in Site Talk
2

Forbes Travel Guide four and five star restaurants for 2013

An excellent plan.

Mar 07, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Forbes Travel Guide four and five star restaurants for 2013

Well, hey, if that position works for you, go for it, but that's not what I think, nor is it what I said.

Bill, I know you really enjoy writing here, but if you don't take the time to actually read and comprehend what *others* are writing as well, it's pointless to have any kind of a discussion. I suggest you reread that thread, and reread what you wrote above. I'm happy to discuss what I've said. What I'm not going to discuss are imaginary positions that you've made up for me.

If you misrepresent what somebody has said, you don't get to act surprised when that somebody responds.

Mar 07, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Forbes Travel Guide four and five star restaurants for 2013

"...others have claimed that I am am lying, and that there are not any new steakhouses, replacing chef-driven restaurants, over the last five years."

It's okay, Bil, you can just say my name (it's Dominic, by the way). And though I never said you were lying before, I'm saying it now, because that statement quoted above is a lie. I said nothing of the kind. Here's the thread:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/867798

In any case, is this not a perfect example of the fallacy of star/diamond/fork/whatever ratings? As though all restaurants exist on a one-dimensional continuum and the whole thing is some kind of cage match to determine which restaurant is "best"? As though one set of criteria can meaningfully apply to all restaurants so we can say X is better than Y and Y is better than Z, and Q is better than Z but not as good as Y, and then there's A which is maybe a little better than Q... meanwhile we learn nothing substantive about the restaurants, what makes them unique and delicious, or why we should care beyond the fact that they got a 4.7 rather than a 4.6. I'd get huffy about it (too late... oh well), but frankly the more irrelevant these "rankings" make themselves, the better.

As for the resort focus, it's not hard to see why. There are too many diners for whom resorts *are* the center of the dining universe. Thankfully, it's a dying attitude. There's a big, beautiful world of restaurants past the resort gates. More notable than ticky tack scoring discrepancies, I think, is the fact that those four restaurants are the only ones Mobil/Forbes deems worthy of mentioning. When an organization touts its system as the "travel industry's most comprehensive" and that's all they have to say about Arizona, I think they've done plenty to discredit themselves as even remotely relevant right there.

Mar 07, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

I took that five years from you, Bill. Mary Elaine's and Marquesa both closed over five years ago. You're the one who's referencing things that happened *half a decade* ago. The OP actually was asking about the last TWO years, though I mistakenly referenced three at times.

"I mean that if a chef has been in the Valley for 10 years, but has only recently moved, or changed restaurants, does that qualify?"

Exactly. You're the one saying they're leaving or closing. If they've simply moved on to a new project, that isn't leaving, is it?

"If you factor OUT, the chefs, who have just move around, who do you recommend, in this "new" trend?""

Off the top of my head in about 30 seconds, I already gave you a starting list of 20 people who, in the past 2-3 years, have opened great new places or taken on new projects for which "worth checking out" is a gross understatement. But if you're willing to help out a bit, I'll name a whole lot more if you like!

You have yet to name one steakhouse. I stand by my earlier suggestion. For every steakhouse opening of the past 2-3 years you name, I'll name five great new local independents making our food scene more interesting and delicious, and I'll shoot for ten. You said "if one is looking for something but a Las Vegas steakhouse, they are almost out of luck," and "most of the more recent openings are 'cookie-cutter,' 'absentee chef,' 'expense account' steakhouses," and "other than that, pickings are rather slim." If that's so, I have to go at least 5:1, and this should be incredibly easy for you, right? So let's hear 'em. Let's hear about this massive glut of imported steak that's crowded out all of the worthwhile new offerings in a metro area of 4.3 million people and turned the local food scene into a big disappointment. Which steakhouses?

Jan 26, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

P.S., though I agree that "comfort food" is frustratingly over-represented at the moment, some of the places producing it are fabulous. One would do well not to simply dismiss them, either.

Jan 26, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

I said the same myself in this thread three months ago, kmarg (before pointedly suggesting a great many restaurants of other types), and if it had been phrased that way from the get go there'd be no argument here. The issue is this absurd laser focus on fine dining, and the inherent implication that everything else is less "serious" or less valuable, or less meaningful to the local scene. The question was what's new and interesting since I left, and the answer given was basically nothing, sorry dude.

It's also telling that many of those who lament the supposed decline of fine dining here make no mention of ShinBay. Absolutely stunning, refined food, impeccably sourced, extensive omakase, elegant room, plenty expensive for those who mistake expense for "seriousness"... so why mum on ShinBay? Because it isn't French?

It's a really tired, antiquated, narrow, and ultimately destructive way of looking at food that sells this city short (as it would in any city) and makes it that much harder for great stuff to take root. The health of the fine dining scene relative to how it was five years ago, as you say, is a perfectly legitimate topic. But that wasn't the question, and I think you misrepresent Bill's response.

To recap, the question:

"...what places have cropped up in the past two years that are worth checking out?"

And the answer:

"Things change, and not always for the better. If one loves Las Vegas steakhouses, there will be no shortage here now. Other than that, pickings are rather slim, IMHO."

Flat out absurd. And insulting.

Jan 26, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

"...but when the vast majority of higher-end restaurants ARE famous-chef steakhouses, I still wonder."

Aaaaaahhh, see, this is what I was wondering, above. There's that pesky "higher-end restaurants" qualifier.

So when you talk about how disappointing the Phoenix restaurant scene has been the past few years, and how everything is getting crowded out by steakhouses, what you're *really* talking about is one *narrow segment* of the city's restaurant scene, and you're using that to generalize about the vast, diverse combination of restaurants of all types and all styles at all price points. You have not stated it directly, but there's a crystal clear implication there, Bill:

What matters most when judging a city's food scene is its upscale and fine dining.

Nevermind creative chefs making wildly creative, refined food in casual surroundings. Nevermind those running irregular pop-ups. Nevermind those embracing the minimal, simplifying process and technique as a matter of philosophy. Nevermind those running food trucks, focusing on making perfect versions of three or four soulful items. Nevermind those bringing stunning renditions of traditional international foods to us for the first time. Nevermind restaurateurs working to capture their neighborhoods rather than capturing John Mariani. Nevermind growers, cheesemakers, and ranchers providing our restaurants with ever-improving ingredients.

Nevermind that all of those pieces of the Phoenix food scene have become more diverse, exciting and vibrant over the past three years. In your estimation, there's been a downtick in the handful of restaurants that represent the most expensive and picturesque part of the spectrum, therefore the past few years have been a big disappointment, and when somebody asks what's new and interesting, the answer is not much, sorry to disappoint you.

Subtext: What MATTERS is upscale dining. The rest? Whatever.

Whether that's what you intend -- whether you even realize it -- THAT'S what you're saying, Bill. And it's an embarrassingly narrow lens through which to misrepresent what is, if you'd been paying attention, a rich and diverse food culture that's getting more interesting every day. And to be clear, this is absolutely NOT some anti-upscale manifesto. I wager I get just as excited by an amazing fine dining restaurant as you. But if multiple courses of high process, carefully plated, probably European-rooted expensive food with fine glassware and the proper color napkins is the *only* thing that gets you excited, I personally think that's absurd, but fine, we all have our preferences. Understand, though, that when you routinely speak of your preferred slice of the pie as though it's the only one that exists, and blithely gloss over the hundreds (thousands?) of talented people who have, despite your insistence, made Phoenix a far more interesting and delicious food city than it was three years ago, you're not only grossly misleading those who aren't so laser focused, but you also, quite frankly, insult all of those extremely talented cooks and chefs and food producers whom you arrogantly dismiss as "slim pickings."

I don't work in the industry, but every day I see that passion and excellence to which you're inexplicably blind, and I can't just let it go without a response.

THAT'S where I'm coming from.

Jan 25, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Marquesa and Mary Elaine's both shut down over five years ago?

Bill, when you talk about so many great local restaurants closing and "mostly" absentee chef steakhouses taking their place, are we really talking about one great local restaurant (Mary Elaine's) closing down and one absentee chef steakhouse (J&G) taking its place, and using that (and maybe one or two other examples) to generalize about the entire city while completely ignoring the scads of interesting openings of the past few years?

Jan 24, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

(P.S., I'm wondering about the dearly departed restaurants you refer to... which closures of the past three years do you feel have been a great loss?)

Jan 24, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

In that situation, I'd say one should probably check his GPS to make sure we're talking about the same city, here.

Maybe all these places are just completely off your radar, Bill. I don't know how, since they've all received extensive press -- even mainstream press -- but either you're reading about places and thinking to yourself, "Oh, well, THAT doesn't count," or we're working with two completely different data sets here. If half of the names on that list above don't look familiar to you, perhaps that would explain it. Make you a deal. Take restaurants that opened in 2010-2012. For every absentee chef corporate steakhouse you name, I'll name five local independents that opened or retooled under a new chef in the same timeframe that are serving great food, making Phoenix a more exciting place to eat, and entirely worthy of the attention of somebody who's been away for a few years. Pretty sure I could do ten per, but I don't want to over-commit :-)

Go!

Jan 24, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

"It now seems that if one is looking for something but a Las Vegas steakhouse, they are almost out of luck."

"If one loves Las Vegas steakhouses, there will be no shortage here now. Other than that, pickings are rather slim, IMHO."

^^^ That's where I'm coming from.

Josh Hebert
Shinji Kurita
Cullen Campbell
Charleen Badman
Lan Ha
Matt Taylor
Matt Carter
Chris McKinley
Nobuo Fukuda
Giovanni Scorzo
Sun Johnson
Nick Rocha
Chris Bianco
Peter DeRuvo
Lori Hashimoto
Syed Zaidi
Justin Beckett
Hanna Gabrielsson
Keenan Bosworth
Joshua Riesner

...plus scads more I'm going to be embarrassed to have omitted in my haste to post this, plus scads more whose food I haven't even managed to try yet despite eating myself into oblivion since arriving here, are just some of the young chefs and older chefs with new projects over the past few years who are given the billing of "slim pickings" above.

I understand that you're trying to express your disappointment that local independents aren't better supported. But when you do so by speaking of a list like this -- even hasty and heavily abbreviated as it is -- as nothing worth mentioning, that's an awful lot of exciting fresh talent and an awful lot of outstanding food coming out of restaurants that have just opened in the past few years to be writing off as a tragic paucity of non-steakhouse fare.

I'm just completely flabbergasted that somebody could look at the openings of the past few years and think to himself, "Oh, yeah, ho hum, some corporate steakhouses, not much else, sorry to disappoint you." For somebody who is a self-professed supporter of the local scene, you do a remarkable job of routinely speaking as though so many of its recently unearthed treasures don't even exist. What I can't figure out is whether that's because you don't think they're making noteworthy food, or because you haven't even bothered to try them. Either way, I find that both wrongheaded and sad. I would hope that Bax or anybody else reading here checks some of these places out rather than accepting your truly baffling assertion that, gosh darn it, the restaurants in this town just ain't what they used to be.

Jan 24, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

"...and the individual chef is not getting much love."

They're getting plenty of love, Bill, just not from you. I think what you misidentify as a decline in the quality of local dining is no more than a shift in the style and diversity of where our chefs are focusing their efforts. Just because they're not serving the kind of food you want to eat in the kind of room where you want to eat it doesn't mean it isn't excellent, and doesn't mean those chefs don't exist and aren't being appreciated by plenty of others. Places like Kai and Binkley's are outstanding, but they haven't cornered the market on outstanding food. There's great stuff happening at all levels of refinement, at all price points, in all kinds of styles, in all kinds of rooms, and I think the willingness of the crop of up-and-coming chefs to embrace that diversity rather than always adhering to a rigid concept of what a "serious" chef does and letting their importance be defined by their glassware and flatware and napkin color is to their credit.

If I presume too much, then I apologize. I'm just forced to conclude that if the Vincent's and Lon's and T. Cook's of half a decade ago are the gold standard against which the current state of Phoenix cuisine is a grand disappointment, you're either not looking very hard or dismissing an awful lot of stuff out of hand.

Jan 22, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

...

Jan 22, 2013
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Restaurant noca - you should go, and I should go back.

It's not you, Bill. This is a topic of endless frustration to me. 95% of the press/posting/buzz is timidly focused on the same handful of mainstream restaurants, and most of them are okay at best (with, as always, some notable exceptions). So we end up in this rut because people either A) have few places to go for info about what's *actually* interesting, or B) have decided they're comfortable in their rut. But I should shut up because I've been beating this drum here for two years to little avail, and I'm probably just irritating people -- not least of all myself -- at this point.

Sep 16, 2012
Dmnkly in Phoenix

Return to Phoenix

I *know* I heard of a good pupusa place from somebody recently... damned if I can remember where. I'll try to find out. Tibetan/Nepalese... ehhh... can't say I've seen that around town yet.

Mexican here seems like it's *starting* to break out of the Sonoran rut, too. Fingers crossed.

We've got a regular lunch crowd for getting into these kinds of places... drop me a line... would love to welcome you back in person :-)

Sep 16, 2012
Dmnkly in Phoenix