Friday, April 14, 2017

My Trip to Phoenix Arizona | What I Ate

What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona
Last month, my boyfriend had a conference in Phoenix and it just so coincided with my spring break. Because I've never visited Phoenix before, I decided to tag along! In terms of tourist attractions, Phoenix left much to be desired but we did hit up quite a few amazing restaurants. To read about what I chomped down, click......
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | The Clever Koi Restaurant Review
The Clever Koi | Spicy Tuna Chips
The Clever Koi:
Located a short light rail ride away from Downtown Phoenix, The Clever Koi is a modern Asian fusion eatery. We visited during happy hours on a Monday so the restaurant wasn't too busy. We took full advantage of the happy hour items, most of which are discounted versions of pre-existing items on the regular menu.
We started with the Spicy Tuna Chips ($7), which consisted of finely chopped yellowfin tuna served alongside some crispy shrimp chips and topped with a small dollop of wasabi guacamole and a dash of pickled carrot, cucumber, and fresh green onions. The dish was a nice light start but I found it kind of difficult to pick up the tuna with the fragile chips. Also, the guac didn't really have a wasabi taste but that's fine by me because I hate wasabi.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | The Clever Koi Restaurant Review
The Clever Koi | Duck Fat Sriracha Wings
Next up we got the Duck Fat Sriracha Wings because I saw many pictures of them on social media. These were pretty juicy and plump although I really couldn't tell how they differed from wings fried with regular oil. The wings weren't too spicy and you get a decent portion for only $6.
For the mains we got the Zesty Noodles ($10) and the Soft Shell Crab Po' Boy. The noodles aren't listed on their website so I don't know exactly what was in the dish but these were some damn good noodles. They were bouncy, al dente, and super tangy and flavorful.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | The Clever Koi Restaurant Review
The Clever Koi | Zesty Noodles
Just when we thought things couldn't get any more delicious, the Soft Shell Po' Boy ($10) finished our meal on a high point! The sandwich came on a fresh and hefty ciabatta and the soft shell crab was crisp, crunchy, and oh-so-heavenly. The fries that came on the side were also pretty bomb. They are the kind that has that extra crunchy coating that reminds me of Costco fries.
So yea, if you are visiting Phoenix, you have to visit The Clever Koi. The service was friendly, the food came quickly and everything tasted A+! We have quite a few Asian-inspired places in Vancouver (no surprise) and I honestly can't think of one that beats out this place!
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | The Clever Koi Restaurant Review
The Clever Koi | Soft Shell Po' Boy
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Phoenix Public Market Cafe Review
Phoenix Public Market Cafe | Quinoa Bowl
Phoenix Public Market Cafe:
With a name that seems to suggest a shabby little market stall, the Phoenix Public Market Cafe turned out to be a super hip urban eatery. Located just minutes away from the hotel I stayed at in Downtown Phoenix, the cafe offers up a wide array of healthy and simple breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. I don't think the place has any extraordinary dishes but the atmosphere was so nice and the staff was so friendly that I ended up visiting on three separate occasions during my short stay.
First I tried their breakfast Quinoa Bowl ($10.25), which consisted of a bed of quinoa topped with a good portion of sauteed broccoli, kale, red bell pepper, and a soft poached egg. There is a light pesto drizzle and the bowl was hearty but filling. The pesto lacked a bit of flavor so I added some sriracha to kick things up.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Phoenix Public Market Cafe Review
Phoenix Public Market Cafe | Frittata
Next up is the Frittata ($7.95), which consisted of a well-done omelet topped with sauteed vegetables similar to that of the Quinoa Bowl. The dish also came with a couple slices of whole grain toast so the value is pretty fantastic. There was nothing stellar about the dish but it was a fresh and homey way to start the morning!
Because I love hash and breakfast potatoes of all kinds, I ordered a side of their Crispy New Potatoe ($3). I was kind of surprised by how big the potatoes were (they are like mini potatoes but much bigger than baby potatoes) but they had a nice and crisp skin. These turned out more like roasted potatoes but I think it's still a good option if you want something filling and cheap.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Phoenix Public Market Cafe Review
Phoenix Public Market Cafe | Crispy New Potatoes
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Ocotillo Restaurant Review
Ocotillo | Avocado and Leek Salad
A bit a ways away from Downtown Phoenix, Ocotillo is a beautiful new American restaurant located in Midtown. I feel like we have a lot of aesthetically-pleasing restaurants in Vancouver but in terms of design and architecture, Ocotillo is amazing! With open and modern interiors and several outdoor patio areas, the restaurant gets an A+ for space.
We visited a bit before dinner and the kitchen only had their starter dishes ready. So we started with an Avocado and Fennel Salad ($14). This must be a seasonal item because it's no longer listed on their website. In fact, I can't quite remember its exact name but all in all, it's as super light and fresh salad. I thought the dish lacked a bit more dressing and flavor but the subtle taste of each vegetable truly shined through.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Ocotillo Restaurant Review
Ocotillo | Cauliflower
Next up we got the Cauliflower ($9), which was literally a large head of cauliflower that had been deep fried (or baked, I can't really tell) so its outside was crisp while its inside was soft and tender. The cauliflower was very well seasoned and it had a super lemony flavor. It kind of reminds me of Lebanese cauliflowers, but instead of smaller florets, this consisted of several big chunks.
We needed a bit of protein as well so we opted for the Grilled Spanish Octopus ($15). This one had a few good chunks of octopus laid atop a bed of cold beans and bell peppers. The octopus is surprisingly tender and nicely charred but just a tad too salty for my taste buds.
We ended the meal with some kick ass Triple Chocolate Cake ($9) which I unfortunately didn't get a good picture of. Despite the name, the cake was more like a pie and it was rich but not too sweet. Also included were a couple mini scoops of some superb pistachio ice cream. The nutty flavor was strong, which so rarely is the case with pistachio ice creams.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Ocotillo Restaurant Review
Ocotillo | Grilled Spanish Octopus
Miss Little BBQ:
I rarely make an effort to visit BBQ places but because it was one of the most reviewed places in Phoenix, we had to make a trip to Little Miss BBQ. Prior to coming, I read that this place has a long wait time and boy were they right. The doors open at 11 am and we got there just a bit past the opening time after hiking Camelback. By then, the line had already reached all the way to the end of the parking lot. We ended up waiting around two hours and it was a pretty grueling wait under the hot Arizona sun. In the end, though, I'd say it was worth it! If you plan on visiting, I suggest arriving half an hour before opening to avoid the lineups or the meats selling out (because they will sell out).
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Little Miss BBQ Review
Little Miss BBQ | Brisket Platter
Things were starting to sell out by the time we got to the counter but luckily we got what we wanted. My boyfriend opted for the Brisket Platter (Half Lean & Half Fatty for ~$15) while I got the Pork Rib Platter ($15). The dishes came on a pretty flimsy disposable plate and the plating here is pretty sloppy but man oh man were the meats good! The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender while the fatty brisket literally melted in my mouth. Although if you are going for the brisket,
I'd caution against the leaner cuts because they just weren't as flavorful and tender.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Little Miss BBQ Review
Little Miss BBQ | Pork Rib Platter
With each platter, you get a choice of two sides. The only two that stood out were the ranch style beans and the jalapeno cheddar grits. The beans tasted a bit funky but it's a good kind of funky while the grits were so creamy and comforting it was almost like eating mashed potato with melted cheese.
Finally, the staff here deserves a shotout. Everyone was so friendly and accommodating. They even gave out cold bottled water to make the wait in line a little less excruciating.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Blue Hound Kitchen Review
Blue Hound | Brussel Sprouts Waldorf
Blue Hound:
Located in the Palomar Hotel at the CityScape development in Downtown Phoenix, Blue Hound is a hip bar and restaurant serving up quite a nice variety of new American cuisine. We started with the Brussel Sprouts Waldorf ($13) and this came with some fresh mixed greens and crunchy walnuts. There was a noticeable lack of brussel sprouts in the dish. We only got maybe four or so sauteed pieces but they were tender and flavorful.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Blue Hound Kitchen Review
Blue Hound | Fried Green Tomatoes
Next up we chose a Southern classic, Fried Green Tomatoes ($16) with some added crab meat. This dish wasn't too bad but I wasn't wowed. The tomatoes were sliced a bit too thin in my opinion. It was definitely crispy but because it was so thin, you can barely tell that it was tomato inside. The crap dollops were nicely seasoned and light and there is a spicy mayo sauce to dip everything into.
Last but not least is the Shrimp & Grits ($27) and this was perhaps the most memorable dish of this trip. Dressed with some beautiful tomato sauce and a good number of jumbo prawns, the grits was so unbelievably creamy and dreamy. If I had a bucket of this, I'd finish it in a flash!
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Blue Hound Kitchen Review
Blue Hound | Shrimp & Grits
What to Eat in Scottsdale | Sauce Review
Sauce | Quinoa, Beet & Arugula
We were looking for some quick eats after visiting Old Town Scottsdale and stumbled about this cafeteria-style Italian eatery at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. We got the Quinoa, Beet & Arugula Salad ($8)  and it was quite a generous portion. I loved the nice chunks of goat cheese but the golden beets were a bit bland as compared to ordinary red beets. I've been all about soups lately so we also tried a cup of the White Bean Potato Soup ($2.50). This was nicely seasoned and quite hearty with soft chunks potato and white beans.
What to Eat in Scottsdale | Sauce Review
Sauce | White Bean Potato Soup
For the entree, we split a Suprema Pizza ($11.25) with sausage, pepperoni, red bell pepper, red onions, and crimini mushroom. The crust here is probably the thinnest and crispiest I've tasted and the topping was nice and yum! Sauce was nothing extraordinary but everything was so affordable and well-made. If you are ever shopping at the Scottsdale Fashion Square, this place would be great for a quick lunch.
What to Eat in Scottsdale | Sauce Review
Sauce | Suprema Pizza
Willie's Taco Joint:
On our last night in town, we made a stop at Willie's Taco Joint near our hotel for some quick bites. Out of all our meals on this trip, this place was the most disappointing. I ordered a couple of Carnitas Tacos and they came on some nice and textured tortilla. Unfortunately, the meat was extremely underseasoned, leaving much to be desired...
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Willie's Taco Joint Review
Willie's Taco Joint | Carnitas Taco
Phoenix didn't have a super big dessert scene but I did manage to hit up a couple of local spots. On our stroll through the Roosevelt Row, we stumbled upon Melt, a unique but slightly rundown looking ice cream parlor that serves up their scoops in Chinese takeout boxes. I got the Maple Walnut and found the ice cream to be a bit icy. It was still good though, especially in the hot, hot heat.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Melt Ice Cream Review
Melt | Maple Walnut Ice Cream
Last but not least is this Flourless Cocoa Cookie from Tammie Coe Cakes, which is also located in the Roosevelt Row. I was feeling a bit of a sweet tooth so I visited the bakery and didn't find the cupcakes too appealing. Thank goodness because this cookie was amazing! It had a rich, chocolate flavor and a satisfying chew. Their Peanut Butter Cookie was superb as well, but I finished it too quickly to get a picture.
What to Eat in Phoenix Arizona | Tammie Coe Cakes Review
Tammie Coe Cakes | Flourless Cocoa Cookie
Well, that just about sums it up! If you are ever visiting Phoenix, my top recommendations are The Clever Koi, Pheonix Public Market Cafe, Ocotillo, Blue Hound, and Little Miss BBQ!
Have you ever visited Phoenix? What places have I missed? Share with me in the comments below!
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