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Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Made it this weekend and this soup is delicious. The ham hocks had almost no meat on them, but the smoky flavor was all through the soup, so it was great.

Feb 15, 2011
Inertia in Recipes

Tapas Papa Frita has returned!

I saw a note in the Arizona Republic that the new Tapas Papa Frita restaurant was finally opening in SouthBridge. For those who have lived in Phoenix for a long time, that's welcome news. My family and I went there on Sunday for my dad's birthday and were very pleased. The menu was extensive and included two pages of tapas and soups, several main courses, paella, and desserts. We decided to each start with soup, then split several tapas and one order of paella valenciana, and of course finish with dessert.

First things first - Sangria:
The traditional red sangria was tasty and had many cubes of fruit in it. It wasn't particularly strong, but it was very pleasant and refreshing.

Bread: Hot, crusty, and dense little rolls that went well with the aioli served with them, and were perfect for dunking into various sauces to scoop up all of the goodness. The server was very attentive and refilled the basket as needed.

My mother and I both got gazpacho, while my dad opted for the Ajo Blanco. My mom loved her gazpacho, while I found mine a little too salty. The Ajo Blanco was lovely, though - a creamy cold garlic soup with thinly sliced almonds floating above submerged grapes. I'd get that next time.

Queso Manchego: Better than the average, with lots of thickly sliced triangles of quality manchego cheese, served room temperature so you got the full flavor and texture.

Jamon Serrano: Thinly sliced, with just a tiny bit of oil, and fully flavored. Not at all dried out, which can sometimes happen if the kitchen isn't attentive enough.

Tigres: Five big mussels in a spicy, tomato-based sauce. The sauce was so full of flavor that my dad kept it next to his plate all night and cleaned it out with his bread. This was a bit hit.

Pincho Moruno: This was a brilliant dish. Two small skewers of lamb in a Moroccan sauce slightly reminiscent of curry, but with its own unique flavor. If we'd known how good it was going to be, we might have ordered more.

Txistorra (Chee-STO-ra): A hard Spanish sausage cooked in oil, garlic, and sherry. Not as strong and spicy as I expected, but full of good flavor.

Solomillo de Cerdo con Tocino: I had high expectations after the description of pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and cooked with almonds and spices, but while this dish packed in the pork flavor, it didn't have the depth that the other dishes had. It was good but not great, and made me wish we'd tried something else instead.

Paella Valenciana:
After all of our soup, tapas, and bread, there was definitely enough of the paella to fill up all three of us. It was a substantial portion, packed with chicken, shrimp (heads and shells and all), mussels, clams, and some more of the txistorra sausage. It was flavorful and yellow with saffron and spices. I made sure to go in after everyone was served and get the browned pieces off the bottom of the pan.

Crema Catalana: Described as Catalan creme brulee with berries, this was no traditional creme brulee. It was actually vanilla bean ice cream with a crunchy crust of bruleed sugar on top, and sliced strawberries both on top and as a bottom layer. Once I got over my surprise, I really enjoyed it (but I love ice cream). My mom also got it, and was disappointed.

Pastel de Avellana Americana: Described as hazelnut cheesecake, this was also a surprise. It was more of a mousse, and was served in a glass rather than by the slice. It had quince paste and some cream on top. My dad loved it, though, and cleaned out the glass.

Coffee: They weren't set up yet for decaf coffee, but my dad got a cup of regular and was satisfied.

For all of the food that we got, including a pitcher of sangria and desserts (one was comped for my dad's birthday), the price was very reasonable - just over $100.

The service was attentive and friendly, and we felt very welcome. Some of the folks there were actually at the original Tapas Papa Frita many years ago! The restaurant is open late, with live music in the evenings.

I can definitely say that Tapas Papa Frita is back and hasn't skipped a beat. Great food and some interesting surprises as well! The only minor misses for me were the gazpacho and the Solomillo de Cerdo, and my mom was bothered by the inaccurate descriptions of the desserts, but we all left stuffed and very happy. If you miss Tapas Papa Frita, or just want some great Spanish food, I recommend that you give it a try before the word gets out.

Jul 26, 2010
Inertia in Phoenix

Las Vegas Recession Dining Deals Trip Report

I always order my fries well done. I find them a little too underdone otherwise, and I like how the second frying gives them a crispy crust on the outside (and it turns the slivers into crunchy shoestring potatoes). Ordering the burger Animal Style is also a must for me.

Dec 29, 2009
Inertia in Las Vegas

authentic cheese curds in phoenix area

The Tempe Farmer's Market on University and Ash has cheese curds as well. The packaging looks identical to the ones I bought from the dairy down the street, so this is another good place to find them. Lots of other good local products too.

Dec 15, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

authentic cheese curds in phoenix area

You can also get fried cheese curds as a side at Culver's. It's a fast food chain from the midwest that opened a location on Country Club, just south of the US 60. They have a drive-through, or you can order at the counter and they bring it out to your table. It's an interesting mix of food, and the frozen custard is quite good as well. Just looked at their website and it seems that they have a Metrocenter location and one coming soon to Camelback.

Yeah, it isn't gourmet, but it's cheap!

Dec 15, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Prepared Christmas Eve Dinner - Phoenix/Tempe

Flancer's Cafe, with locations in Gilbert and Mesa, has a very delicious looking holiday menu to go. It's $24 per person, but you can get $2pp off if you order by December 18th. I'm a huge fan of Flancer's, so if you decide to go with a more traditional menu, I think you and your family will enjoy the meal. Here's the link to the information:

Flancer's Cafe
610 N Gilbert Rd Ste 300, Gilbert, AZ 85234

Flancer's Cafe
1902 N Higley Rd, Mesa, AZ 85205

Dec 15, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Best Restaurants Close By Us? (Chandler, AZ)

There's an area of great food on Dobson between Chandler and Warner. At Dobson and Chandler you have Cyclo and Chino Bandido on the SE corner and Thai Rama on the NW corner.

I've had some hit-or-miss experiences at Cyclo lately, particularly at lunch, so I'd advise going at dinnertime instead. I've been a fan of Chino Bandido since I was in high school, but they're very newbie-friendly and will let you sample a number of things from their menu before you order. Thai Rama is always reliably good Thai food, and the location in Chandler has a drive-through pickup window if you call in your order in advance.

Moving north, Pesto's Pizza, Pasta, and Calzone is on the NE corner of Dobson and Ray. Pesto's has a good selection of wine, and we've enjoyed everything we've ordered there - both pasta and pizza. It's a great place to have a nice night out with friends.

And at Dobson and Warner, you have Lee's Sandwiches on the SE corner. Lee's Sandwiches makes great Vietnamese banh mi, and it's ridiculously cheap - just remember to bring cash. They don't take cards. I also recommend taking home a fresh baked baguette. They're constantly making the bread fresh on the premises. I like the BBQ pork sandwich or the Vietnamese meatball sandwich (not what you may be used to, but delicious). They come with jalapenos, cilantro, onion, carrot, and daikon radish as garnishes. They also make some unusual smoothies, though I don't really care for those as much.

Across the street, on the NE corner of Dobson and Warner, you have the great Lee Lee Supermarket. It isn't a restaurant, per se, but it's a can't-miss experience. Super fresh fish and meats, a huge selection of dry and canned goods organized by what country they come from, and great produce that's cheaper than most other stores. In the same strip mall, you can find Gelato 64. Their basic gelato flavors might not be as good as other places in town, but it's the only place I've found their fantastic sour cherry. They also have exotic flavors like Chocolate Chili (spicy!), black sesame, taro, etc.

Thai Rama Restaurant
1221 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85013

Cyclo Vietnamese Cuisine
1919 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85224

Chino Bandido
1825 W Chandler Blvd Ste 2, Chandler, AZ 85224

Thai Rama (Chandler location)
2040 W Chandler Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85224

Pesto's Pizza Pasta & Calzone
1960 W Ray Rd Ste 4, Chandler, AZ 85224

Gelato 64
2095 N Dobson Rd Ste 5, Chandler, AZ 85224

Nov 17, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Cuban food in phoenix

I tried Mimita's for dinner and my parents have been for dinner as well. I ordered the 3-appetizer combination with the Tamal Cubano (moist, fluffy, and delicious), the Croquetas de Jamon (salty and meaty), and the Empanadas de Carne (much larger than I was expecting, and not at all greasy). I opened with the Potaje de Garbanzos and I'm very glad I did - It was unbelievably good. I was completely stuffed and very satisfied.

My folks got actual entrees - the Ropa Vieja, which was a big pile of flavorful shredded meat, and the Picadillo Criollo, which my dad thought was the best he'd ever tasted. Substantial portions and delicious food.

I'm posting this in hopes of driving some more business their way - last time I visited, it was pretty dead at dinnertime. I hope they might have more lunch business, but it's too far away from where I work. So go, Chowhounders, and support a little local restaurant. I want to eat there again!

Nov 10, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Cherubini Donuts (Italian) in Tempe, AZ???

I went there after having lunch at Papaya Thai across the street. I got an iced coffee, which was very good, and a very nice donut with cherry icing. It was very tasty and different from the usual ol' donut. I also was greedy and tried the free sample of the donut with the crumb topping, which was also excellent.

Sep 15, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

vegetarian in Tempe, AZ

I've always had excellent service at The Dhaba. My family and I went there once just after they'd closed between lunch and dinner, but the owner let us in and rustled up a chef who cooked all of our food and doubled as our server. It was a fantastic meal and we really appreciated them going the extra mile. They also have lunch specials each day that are an amazing deal, and I believe they usually offer 2 meat options and a vegetarian option. Great food, good prices, and very nice people.

Aug 18, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Best Sandwich in Phx?

My favorite at Flancer's is the Chile Verde Birdie. They have a half-and-half deal with the sandwich and salad (or soup) that can't be beat. Try the goat cheese bruschetta as an appetizer and you will roll out of there satisfied.

Jun 19, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Best Sandwich in Phx?

Make sure you bring cash - their prices are so low because they don't take cards or checks. The BBQ pork is my favorite, followed by the meatball. The meatballs have pretty much nothing in common with any other meatball you may have had, but they're delicious. Their spring rolls are also good. Take a baguette or two home with you - they are fresh and fantastic for about $1 apiece.

And for dessert - Gelato 64 across the street. Lee's Sandwiches is on the SE corner and Gelato 64 is on the NE corner, where Lee Lee Supermarket is.

Jun 19, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Breakfast in South East Valley-PHX

Crackers and Co. is fantastic for breakfast or lunch. Our favorite is the Spicy Mexican skillet, with potatoes, green chiles, chorizo, and eggs with a homemade tortilla and sides of fresh salsa and sour cream. Anything with their carnitas in it is amazing. You really can't go wrong with anything on the menu, though. Be aware that the portion sizes are very large! They have a decadent and fantastic cinnamon roll that's at least the size of a salad plate, dripping with butter and frosting. They're also well-known for their blackberry bread pudding, which is delicious.

Jun 16, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

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

I've been to Forefathers and it's delicious. Good quality meat in a good portion and tasty bread that soaks up the grease nicely. The salads are surprisingly good for a cheesesteak place, with spring greens and homemade dressings. It's a nice environment too, though I think they do a lot of their business with take-out orders. I've only been there once, but we're planning to go back.

Jun 16, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Cyclo Vietnamese, Chandler AZ

Don't feel bad - I just went to Cyclo for lunch this Saturday and was very disappointed. I've been there many times before and was so excited to go back, but this was a whole different experience. The food was very bland. The decor has also been overhauled, and Justine was nowhere to be found. We ordered a group of small dishes - the pork short ribs, the spring rolls, the rice crepe, and my favorite, the spicy beef salad. Almost everything was a disappointment. The short ribs had little flavor and no spice, and the peanut sauce for the spring rolls was watery and almost flavorless. I have had the spring rolls there in the past, and these weren't on the same level. I was most disappointed in the spicy beef salad. It looked like the kitchen had taken the same sliced beef they might add to Pho, added some spices to the outside, and cooked it briefly. The beef was grey and the spices only coated a bit of the surface, leaving it unpleasantly grainy. There was no chili pepper in sight and they were not at all spicy. The pleasant citrus notes that used to be a major part of the dish were just gone. There also was hardly any lettuce, and the portion of meat was smaller than it had been in the past. It was somewhat rescued by the addition of chili paste from the table, but that shouldn't be necessary.

Like I said, I loved Cyclo. I couldn't wait to take my friend there on Saturday and my mouth was watering as I imagined the wonderful flavors that awaited us. But sadly, the reality was far from what I remembered.

Jun 16, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

phx - crooked sky farms last day at the dt farmers market

I can also recommend joining one of their Community Supported Agriculture groups. I've been a member for about a year (pickup at Broadway and Mill in Tempe) and there is always good stuff waiting for me when I go in to pick up my fruits and vegetables. Yes, you have to learn to cook some stuff with which you're unfamiliar, and sometimes it works better than others, but it's always good to get fresh stuff. I don't need that much produce because I live alone, so I split it with another person and we alternate weeks picking up the items. Lately, we've gotten corn, tomatoes, potatoes, citrus, onions, squash, etc. We even got tomato plants a couple of months ago.

Jun 16, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Tucson in June

I lived in Tucson for 2 years, and whenever I go back, I have to go to El Charro. There's an El Charro Cafe location at Broadway and Wilmot, which is two major streets east of Swan. They have a pretty decent bar/cantina attached as well. I love carne seca and you can't get it outside of Tucson - not even in Phoenix. As far as I'm concerned, El Charro's is the best. Eat up and enjoy!

El Charro Cafe - East
6310 E. Broadway Blvd, Tucson, AZ 85710

Jun 02, 2009
Inertia in Southwest


I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation for Los Sombreros. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is also very nice, in that sort of Spanish-colonial way. If you want something more funky (restrooms filled with luchador memorabilia, etc) and still want unusual and delicious food, you could also try the Barrio Cafe. There's a recent thread about it here: Do not miss the churros.

May 28, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

ISO Best Burrito in PHX compared to on

I was going to suggest Chronic Tacos if no one else did. They're out of California and make a nice overstuffed burrito that doesn't fall apart on you. I've also had their tortas, which are quite good (though the bread isn't quiiiite fresh enough). Their Al Pastor pork is delicious, and they'll put baja sauce (like for fish tacos) on anything you order there. It's yummy. The Tempe location is on 6th Street, just east of Mill, next to Slices.

I work in the building right behind that, and it's a dangerous place at lunchtime - for my waistline, anyway.

May 28, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Food and Farmer's Markets

Sometimes I forget that the rest of the country has 'seasons' - it's actually getting toward the end of Farmer's Market time here in Arizona as it gets prohibitively hot. Thanks for the suggestions, though!

May 05, 2009
Inertia in Chicago Area

Food and Farmer's Markets

Thank you to everyone for the Serbian restaurant recommendations you provided in my last post. We're really looking forward to our trip (May 15-19) and I've been scouring these boards for dining suggestions - we'll never be able to eat at all of the places on my list! (I guess we'll just have to come back again)

On Friday and Saturday night, we're staying with relatives in northern Indiana (St. John), but on Sunday and Monday night, we're staying at the Hotel Burnham on State Street, near Millenium Park. We'll probably have dinner with family in town on Sunday, visit museums and such on Monday, and have time for lunch on Tuesday before heading to the airport. The hotel deal includes breakfast at their restaurant (Atwood Cafe - any good?), but I've also made a note to look into Fox and Obel as well.

Cafe des Architectes is on my list for Monday night. I'd like to try one of Rick Bayless' restaurants while there - to save money, I'm thinking we'll do that for lunch one day. Any recommendations for Topolobampo vs. Frontera Grill?

Also, being from Arizona, I love to visit real Farmers' Markets that are full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Are there any good ones in the downtown area on Sunday/Monday?

Thanks for your excellent advice!

May 05, 2009
Inertia in Chicago Area

Good Baked Alaska in Phoenix/Scottsdale?

My mother loves a good baked alaska (crunchy meringue a necessity), and I'd love to take her out for some on Mother's Day. They live in north Scottsdale and I live in Chandler, so something in that corridor is a plus. Does anyone know of a good source? It'd be nice if dinner there was also good, but if not, we'll just stop in for dessert.

Thanks in advance!

Apr 28, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix

Serbian Restaurant Recommendations?

Hello all - I will be visiting the Windy City in April, and my boyfriend's family will be meeting us there. His dad is of Serbian heritage and grew up on the South Side before moving away. He really misses the Serbian cabbage rolls (sarma?) made with sour heads of cabbage. Can anyone recommend a restaurant where we can find them, or even a place where we can buy the sour heads on their own? It'd make me a hero to his parents, which is always good!

Thanks for any help you can provide!

Apr 21, 2009
Inertia in Chicago Area

Imagine Spain - Scottsdale

I tried Imagine Spain in December and loved it - we were there to celebrate a special occasion and they really gave us fantastic treatment. The stuffed dates were to die for. So, imagine my dismay when I heard that they'd had an electrical fire in the kitchen, and then on a trip to Little Rangoon, I saw that the very few signs of its identity were gone and the inside was being remodeled. *sigh* I thought it was gone, and I'd never have those dates (or the chorizo in cider!) again.

But there is good news! The Arizona Republic and New Times are both reporting that the place is re-opening as Poco. They're saying that many of the menu items are the same, and there's even more of an emphasis on tapas and the paella. They're also reporting that the atmosphere is warmer and more inviting - and it did look like that when I peeked in the window before.

I can't wait to go back and try it - anyone who gets there before me, please give us a report!

Mar 18, 2009
Inertia in Phoenix