November 11th, 2011

Gourmet Gossip: Storyteller + food smeller.

Did that headline get your attention? Good.

Come see many of my fellow food industry folks, chefs, restauratuers and little ‘ol me tonight at The Arizona Republic’s next installment of the Storyteller series events in honor of our state’s Centennial.

I’ll be share an embarrassing story. Hopefully no one will be recordinging it. You’ll just have to donate a suggested $10 ticket fee to charity and come see it/hear it/smell it for yourself.

OK there no smell component at all. Promise

Just come for laughs, tears and maybe a little heartwarming by all the storytellers.

Details are here.

September 17th, 2011

Go ahead. Eat your face off. It’s Arizona Restaurant Week.


It’s no secret that my agency is working behind the scenes on this this year’s Arizona Restaurant Week — helping to make it bigger and better for diners and restaurants alike. People keep asking me for a prescribed itinerary. So here you go, a list of must-visit spots.

See some obvious picks missing? Well I thought I’d leave my clients out of the post — hell, there are plenty of amazing restaurants in the state that I don’t represent –yet.

Get your gourmand game day face on and let’s eat.

Criollo Latin Kitchen – Pictured above. It’s a rare occasion. You sit at a restaurant, pick up the menu and immediately want to order one of everything. Head north to Flagstaff and drop into Criollo Latin Kitchen to enjoy a must-order-everything experience. (While you’re there, visit their sister restaurant Brix. Both are destination-worthy  spots.)

Roka Akor – Butterfish Tataki for a starter? Done. Go here.

Feast – This really belongs on a wish list. I’ve never been, but many trusted foodniks fantasize about return visits to this southern AZ belle. If you go, also stop by Scott & Co. for cocktail nirvana.

Tommy V’s Urban Kitchen & Bar – In the location previously occupied by Café Caramaba near Old Town Scottsdale, this new Tommy V’s is victorious. My colleague and front-of-the-house aficionado Zoran Kilsara delivers a polished service backed by menu of Italian favorites. You’ll love it, promise. Hi Zoran!

Talavera – Anyone renting a spare bedroom in north Scottsdale? I’ll happily take up a second residence in the north Valley just to be nearer to Chef Mel Mecinas. His two-night pop-up restaurant at Cycle was outstanding. Back on his home turf at Talavera, he’s definitely one of my culinary crushes.

St. Francis – For some reason, people think I’m not a St. Francis fan. Wrong. To the contrary, I probably visit this restaurant once a month. Walking into the space is like putting on a stylish suit. You feel like a million bucks. Chef Aaron Chamberlin’s stellar food keeps this fashionable spot on the foodnik rotation.

Noca. – Chef Matt Taylor, I love you. There. I said it. Welcome home… now let’s eat.

July 9th, 2011

Bloomberg dining critic goes after bogus bargains on deal sites.

Fed up with ridiculous fine print restrictions on daily deal sites, Bloomberg dining critic Ryan Sutton created  Although it’s  focused on NYC, it’s a neat idea and a fun read. joins Sutton’s other website, which tracks price changes at restaurants.

Both are a mix of juicy facts and blunt opinions that also point out why professional journalism and critique are needed more than ever.

So are people taking advice from deal sites on where to dine, rather than the professionals? I hope not.

Maybe that’s why I like Gilt Taste. It’s an interesting hybrid of curated products, deals and editorial writing.

July 8th, 2011

TOP PICKS: Candy for the eyes, mouth and brain.


Although I haven’t bought anything form Gilt Taste yet, I visit the site every day. You should too. Lust-worthy photos, carefully curated products and smart writing (overseen by Ruth herself), inspires my inner cook and foodnik soul. Read the stories, they may be the best part.


The iconic “M” emblem from her posts clutters my Facebook feed daily. But it’s a good kind of clutter, full of juicy local food news, thoughtful reflections on AZ culture and saucy spy secrets. After all, she’s the “Agent of Secrets.” Duh.


The branding queens at See Saw Designs just plain rule. Their kingdom extends far beyond a typical, boring company website to a dreamy land of daily inspirations where a mishmash of fashion, interior design, graphic design, etcetera always bring a smile and a sigh.


June 27th, 2011

Corpse Reviver #2. Yes please.

May 10th, 2011

My top five recommendations for Spring Arizona Restaurant Week

Yup. I’m sending my gourmand garments (eatin’ dress + drinkin’ shawl) to the dry cleaners ASAP. The Arizona Restaurant Association is launching the first-ever, Spring Arizona Restaurant Week starting this Friday and over 80 Phoenix-area restaurants want you to eat your face off for 10 days, May 13th-22nd.

I’m sharing my top picks plus menu highlights via the food blog. If you do check them out, write a comment below and let me know how much you loved ‘em. TIP: Make your reservations quick… before the broadcast media informs the general public!

Yes, I’ll be out and about. Catch me on twitter at @JuxtaPalate.

Citizen Public House
Chef Bernie Kantak simply isn’t capable of making a bad dish. He’s my current culinary crush. His eclectic fare helped put Cowboy Ciao on the map and now his own restaurant has caused quite a buzz in the foodnik community.

  • 1st: Original Chopped Salad
  • 2nd: Pork sirloin w/ sweet potato puree, chevre, braised figs, apple jus
  • 3rd: Anything really. They’re all terrific.

7111 E. 5th Ave., Suite # E
Scottsdale, AZ 85251, 480-398-4208
| Website

Zinc Bistro
With the closing of Metro Brasserie, Zinc Bistro has reclaimed the top spot for French in the East Valley. Oui, the drive from Tempe is a pain, but necessary for great Frenchy eats.

  • 1st: Smoked Salmon Pissaladiere
  • 2nd: Porkloin, Cauliflower “Risotto”, Cherry Brussel Spouts
  • 3rd: Beignets, Blackberry Coulis, Milk jam, Vanilla whip Cream

15034 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85254, 480.603.0922
| Website

Beckett’s Table
Easily the most talked about restaurant in 2010/11, Beckett’s Table is a must-go if you haven’t been. This month, Phoenix Magazine called it “…one blockbuster of a restaurant.” Nuff said.

  • 1st: Super creamy grits n schreiner’s sausage trio: whole grain mustard, arugula, smoked onions
  • 2nd: Roasted red pepper “cannelloni”: ratatouille, almond puree
  • 3rd: Award winning fig and pecan pie: cream cheese citrus zest ice cream
  • 4th: (YES an addition!) Each SpringARW guest will leave with a signature bag of Beckett’s Table Pumpkin Seed Brittle and a voucher good for a free dessert on their next visit

3717 E Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85018, 602-954-1700
| Website

Shame on me for not eating here more frequently. Shame on you if you’ve never been. They’re in the limited company of Valley restaurants with near flawless service and extraordinary fare.

  • 1st: Crispy Squid: Cannellini Bean Salad, Preserved Lemon, Parsley, Caper Berries, Chili Oil
  • 2nd: Rotin: White Wine Braised Pork Sugo, Fennel Pollen, Stagionato
  • 3rd: Passion Fruit & Coconut: Almond Dacquoise, Passion Fruit Anglaise, Coconut Sorbet, Meringue Sheets

3118 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85016, 602.956.6622
| Website

Atlas Bistro BYOB
Quite possible the best restaurant you’ve never been to. Hidden inside the AZ Wine shop on Scottsdale Road, Atlas rewards true foodniks with a daily changing menu. Yup, its OK to geek out here.

No menu available, but just make that rezzo. Trust me.

2515 N Scottsdale Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85257, 480-990-2433
| Website

–Moment of honestly: I work with Citizen Public House. Beckett’s Table and Arizona Restaurant Week. They rock, but you already knew that.

April 20th, 2011

Chemical Brothers at Coachella.

Quickie post about one of the best concerts I’ve been to in a while. Festival goers organized their own visual effects for the Chemical Brothers performance at Coachella this year. Fistfuls of mini glow sticks were thrown into the air, making little nuclear explosions of neon color all around.

Synchronized and awesome. The video doesn’t quite do it justice.

Hoping to do a quick recap on event’s food this week.

March 21st, 2011

A little project I’ve been working on lately…


February 22nd, 2011

VIDEO: Bar spoons 101.

Nice vid from Imbibe Magazine.

February 14th, 2011

My plan for Valentine’s Day consists of…

…staying home. Don’t get me wrong, I want you (reader) to get out and eat, afterall, It’s my job to promote vday dining.

In fact, I’ve been pimping romantic dining for so many days/weeks/months, a simple meal at home seemed perf.

We had a couch picnic of breads, cheeses and salami (thanks Defalco’s) and fresh pasta.

Oh and wine (Scarpetta) of course. Cheers.