Category Archives: Local Restaurants

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Is It Phoenix’s Best Burger? You Tell Us. The Grind Restaurant Review.

By | Local Phoenix, Local Restaurants, Uncategorized | One Comment

 

Scott Savage is a husband, father, writer and pastor. He serves as the Minister to Young Adults at North Phoenix Baptist Church. He blogs at thejoshuacollective.com. When Scott laughs, his cackle can be heard around the world.

 

I’m not sure when the burger craze took off in the 2000s, but it made $10-15 burgers the talk of town, including Phoenix.

It was in full swing in Phoenix by the mid 2000s and it is seems here to stay.

While not everyone is wiling to pay $12 for the same entree they can make on the grill at home or grab for $3 at In-N-Out, I’ve discovered several local spots which offer incredibly unique takes on this American staple.

My favorite non-fast food burger spot in Phoenix is The Grind. It’s on the short list of places I’ll consistently choose for my birthday or a celebratory occasion. I’m not the only fan of the Grind. In July 2010, The Grind was named one of the Top 10 new burger spots in America by Bon Appetit magazine.

In a sea of upscale burger joints, The Grind sets itself apart on a couple fronts.

First, the method of cooking is unique. The Grind uses coal-fired ovens, enabling them to cook burgers at 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the menu, this quicker process locks in flavor and leads to a better burger. Second, they win with great presentation. Their burgers are stacked so tall I have to squish the burger and give my jaw a work out to take a bite.

My wife and I returned there recently for an early Father’s Day dinner. We weren’t disappointed.

I ordered my favorite menu open – the Sweet and Sour Burger. This burger is a unique mix of flavors. Candied jalepenos are the base for fried ratatouille, on which a bed of arugula sits. A garlic aioli sauce sufficiently covers a toasted brioche bun, which stands up well to the many bites this burger takes to get down.

The burger lives up to its name, blending the spice characteristic of the Southwest and the sweetness one is surprised to find on a burger.

While one can walk into any restaurant and find a bacon cheeseburger with barbecue sauce, this burger stands out in a unique way – without being crazy bizarre.

The Grind offers fries – regular and sweet potato – as an a la carte item. My wife and I enjoyed them as an appetizer before our burgers – they’re a solid choice. We ordered the mac and cheese for our son, who joined us on this most recent visit. It was bland and pretty disappointing. (My wife does her own homemade mac and cheese with full loaves of cheddar and jack and a pound of bacon, so I think I’m a biased source).

The restaurant is a long and narrow venue with elevated booth and high top bar style seating. Not the kind of place you’d want to drag a crew of small children, but our son did alright during our dinner in his high chair. There are a couple TVs if you’re concerned about missing a major sporting event. But you won’t feel like you’re at Zipps or Buffalo Wild Wings where during slow periods, the TVs outnumber the patrons. The noise level was loud, but not uncomfortably so.

I highly recommend The Grind if you’re a burger lover.

Bon Appetit wasn’t far off when they chose The Grind for their top list.

(The Grind is located on the southwest corner of 40th Street and Camelback Road in Phoenix. You can find them online at thegrindaz.com.)

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Eat at a Local Central Phoenix Restaurant Tonight: Here Are Some Options!

By | Local Phoenix, Local Restaurants | No Comments
The Halibut Sandwich

Windsor’s Halibut Sandwich

My friend Chris emailed me today asking if I’d recommend some fun local spots for dinner. I realized it would make a great post. Just getting out of the house for a date when you have kids is a challenge. Eating out on a budget and trying to find a new local restaurant to try is an accomplishment!

Not only does shopping locally yield delicious food and a unique sense of community, it can improve your local economy. According to Local First http://www.localfirst.com/why_local_first/, when we spend $100 locally, $68 stay in the state vs. $43 spent at big box or chain restaurants. We can make a huge improvement in our local economy by just spending our dollars here.

Of course, you don’t have to spend $100 to enjoy the benefits of eating local. Rob and I recently challenged ourselves to spend under $20 on a date – eating local food. And we did it! I promise to post how we did it soon.

We tend to gravitate toward the same spots in Central Phoenix, not only because they are local and we like the food but because after a while, we’ve discovered we feel a sense of community seeing the same people there. Phoenix is a pretty small town once you start eaten local.

Here are some great local spots you might consider if you’re looking for something to do tonight on your date.

Postino’s Wine Cafe – the Central location. On the West side of central just north of Camelback, it’s hip without being stuck up. Food is simple but flavorful and fresh. You’ll find bruschetta and wine, paninis and salads. Delicious beers on tap and of course, a full selection of wine. (see the name!) If you get dessert, try the salted caramel sunday. Oh.my.gosh.

Windsor – American-style food with a much fresher flavor. Owned by the same people who own Postinos. Great energy (fun!) and same great beer pitcher prices though usually different selections. One of my favorite meals is the grain salad with roasted beets. Also, the pulled pork sandwich. YUM! Here’s my Windsor review.

For dessert after Windsor – try Churn, the homemade Ice Cream spot right next door. They serve flavors like coconut lime, fresh blackberry and of course, the normal vanilla-chocolate etc. SO good. They also offer sundaes and ice cream sandwiches.

St. Francis is great for a little ‘fancier’ (and only slightly more expensive) dining experience. I reviewed them for breakfast one time but their dinners are fab too. I just always forget to take pics before digging into the food. Their food is also locally sourced, fairly healthy and delicious. Yummy drinks too.

Here’s the brunch review. Their architecture is cool too – try to get seated upstairs above the bar for a great view.

If you want to stop for coffee after dinner – try Lux just down the street. They’re south of Camelback on the west side of Central across from Central High. Delicious coffee – and the shop is always hoppin’ without feeling too busy. They serve food too and it’s delicious but the ambience is not as “restaurant-y” as the other spots.

I love all these local spots because not only do they tend to be delicious and locally sourced foods but made from scratch kind of places too.

This is a short, short list of your options in Phoenix. Other restaurants that come to mind are The Vig Uptown and Cibo (Oh my yes).

Don’t take my word for it. Venture out and try something new!

Remember if you’re eating in Central Phoenix, you’ll be parking valet. It’s worth the extra few bucks not to have your car towed because you parked in the wrong spot. Trust me on this.

And have a great night out! It’s getting cooolllllll!!

What are you favorite local spots in Phoenix?

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Windsor and St. Francis Local Phoenix, AZ Brunch Review

By | Kid Friendly, Local Restaurants | One Comment

Sometimes the parents at this house just need a break from cooking breakfast for our kids on Saturday morning. I want a break because I feel like I am carrying a huge bowling ball, strike that, a sand-filled yoga ball on my frontside. Robert needs a break because he’s been doing all the jobs I usually do but can’t because I am too huge right now to do them. So, how cool is it that the past two weekends we discovered we had gift cards (woohoo!) to two great local Central Phoenix restaurants, Windsor and St. Francis? We decided to use the cards for Saturday brunch with the kids.

We started with Windsor last weekend and followed with St. Francis today. I confess, last weekend, I fell down on the job with photos so I didn’t get pics of our Windsor breakfast. However, the menu items we chose were almost the same so pics from St. Francis will have to suffice today.

First of all, both Windsor and St. Francis try to make their menu kid friendly in the brunch hour and both succeed pretty well. Here’s what we ate.

Robert’s Eggs Benedict at St. Francis

My “American Style” breakfast at St. Francis

The kids’ gigantic pancake at St. Francis.

So, here’s a breakdown of the two restaurants.

Service: Both St. Francis and Windsor’s staffs are always very friendly and attentive. If your glass is empty, it won’t be for long. I’m always impressed that both of these establishments manage to hire people with great service oriented attitudes. They are also very kind to the kids when we bring them and take the time to address them directly. We were seated immediately at both restaurants but both took about 15 minutes to serve food. St. Francis offers a toybox for waiting kids while Windsor provides crayons and paper.

Atmosphere: Both St. Francis and Windsor have outdoor and indoor seating. By the time we arrived at Windsor last weekend, it was hopping so we sat inside in a booth. Patrons are friendly and excited about their food and usually talking animatedly so it’s a little more like eating in your favorite upscale pub. Fun energy, great for people watching (unless you’re watching your own kids!).

St. Francis has great architectural lines inside and a beautiful patio outside. The way seating is set up lends itself to a little quieter, more grown up dining experience.

Food: St. Francis and Windsor offer some similar breakfasts like pancakes, biscuits and gravy and Eggs Benedict but they are different.

St. Francis offers more options that you might want to enjoy with a cup of coffee, like scones, breads and cinnamon rolls. I was VERY tempted to get the cinnamon roll with caramel sauce. Sadly, the giant baby sharing my belly space right now didn’t even allow me room to finish my breakfast. So, next time! While St. Francis only lists Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s on their menu, I heard another patron getting the rundown on other spirited drink options.

Windsor offers a big plate of fresh donut holes that the kids loved and a bowl of quinoa and steel cut oatmeal with brown sugar, nuts, dried fruit & vanilla mascarpone that sounds enticing. Also, for those who like a little spirit with their meals (hey, it’s ALMOST noon at brunch time!), they offer a full selection of delicious sounding cocktails with ingredients like organic peaches, blackberries, cucumber and grapefruit – though not in the same drink. Also available? Their well-known $5 beer pitchers like Dales Pale ale and great local beer, Four Peaks’ Kiltlifter.

The kids liked Windsor better. While it might have had to do with their getting a little plate of hot, fresh donut holes with jelly and creme (so good!) after their breakfast, they said they liked Windsor’s pancakes better. The pancake at St. Francis is giant and filled with chocolate chips but doesn’t have much syrup on it. When we asked for more, our server returned with what appeared to be a thimble sized container of more. What can I say? Our kids like to see the syrup on their plate!

Prices: Though St. Francis offers “free” brunch for the kids, their prices are higher in general. We ordered more food at Windsor and paid less for our meal. Definitely something you notice when you’re eating out with kids. If there was any difference in quality, it was not noticeable. Also, I noticed drink prices at Windsor are about $4 less per drink than St. Francis.

However, both are great local restaurants that I recommend highly. If you’re going out for brunch this weekend, skip the chain restaurants and go support one of these terrific local spots!

Parking: Both restaurants use valet so plan for that though you might be able to park your own car at St. Francis if you get there right as they open.

Hours and information:

Windsor‘s brunch is 9am-1pm Saturday and Sunday. Windsor’s website.

St. Francis‘ website says they serve brunch on Sunday from 10:30 am -1:30 pm but they serve brunch on Saturday too. Info at  St. Francis website.

St. Francis on Urbanspoon

betty’s Nosh Restaurant Local Phoenix, AZ Review

By | Kid Friendly, Local Restaurants | No Comments

Living in Phoenix allows me access to some fabulous local restaurants. In fact, I have to admit that I have my favorites and tend not to stray too far from those at times especially if it requires driving long distances. What can I say? I’m a downtown girl at heart. But, sometimes I have the good fortune to visit a good restaurant on the west side of town. A friend of mine suggested a locally owned restaurant, so I thought I’d share some pics for those of you who want to frequent local spots but don’t live near downtown.

We went to betty’s nosh, a spiffy restaurant at 67th Avenue, on the southeast side of the 101. The idea of the nosh is that you can pick and entree if you want or just sort of nosh on a bunch of different things. Everything I saw looked pretty good!

The restaurant has an open floor plan and is decorated with bright colors and a combination of modern and rustic fabrics and furniture to give it a lived-in feel. A great place for celebrating a birthday!

Mushrooms are one of the dishes that betty’s nosh specializes in creating. Their mushroom bar boasts 22 different offerings and they look delicious.

You can go for a veggie only dish, which one of our friends picked. She liked her dish but said she was still hungry afterward. She might have liked what Great-gran ended up with just below…

This yummy Rueben. My mother in law got this too and said it was great! I have to be honest, I was ready to stop taking pics and this point and eat. Heehee.

I have to admit that the salad with chicken, pecans and blue cheese looked amazing.

But, I was pretty happy with my hamburger. It’s sort of a test of a good restaurant in my book.

They passed.

Overall, our experience at betty’s nosh was positive. The servers were friendly and patient with my kids (5 &2!). We had the good fortune of sitting in a beautiful little room surrounded by glass, which was kind of nice. We enjoyed the ambience and the food. The prices were reasonable for the amount and quality of food they served. I understand they also offer morning coffee, lunch and dinner.

I’d recommend betty’s nosh if you’re looking for a local joint of your own on the west side.

St. Francis on Urbanspoon