Butters Pancakes & Cafe – Scottsdale, Arizona

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away And take the snow back with you Where it came from on that day So, little snowbird take me with you when you go To the land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow.” ~ Anne Murray Every autumn, gaggles of geese, flocks of ducks, kettles of hawks and constructions of cranes begin their long, arduous migration from the continent’s northern regions to warmer climes in the South. They fly in formation…

The Turquoise Room – Winslow, Arizona

The concept of “fast food” had a far different connotation during the Southwest’s Frontier days than it does today. This is especially true if one traveled via railroad through hundreds of miles of desolate, open country. In the more densely populated and genteel east there were often several cities between most destinations. This allowed for frequent rest and refreshment stops. Passengers rode in relative comfort in Pullman cars with dining cars. In the wide open west, only twenty minutes were…

Two Sonoran Hot Dogs, one with beans and one without.

El Guero Canelo – Tucson, Arizona

If asked to participate in a word association exercise, any well-traveled foodie undergoing psychoanalysis would find it easy to name the first food that comes to mind when a city is mentioned: Philadelphia – the Philly cheesesteak sandwich; Boston – baked beans; Chicago – Italian beef sandwiches; San Francisco – sourdough bread; Milwaukee – butter burgers; San Antonio, New Mexico – green chile cheeseburgers.  You get the point.  Some foodies might not know that Philadelphia is the birthplace of liberty,…

In-N-Out Burger – Chandler, Arizona

During a 2011 episode of Break the Chain, the enlightening and entertaining food-centric radio program hosted by the brilliant Ryan Scott, Larry McGoldrick, the professor with the pulchritudinous palate, made some rather unkind comments about Blake’s Lotaburger, an exclusively New Mexico institution.  I cautioned him that local listeners might show up at the radio station armed with pitchforks and torches. That’s how much New Mexicans love the burger franchise whose motto reminds them that “If you are what you eat,…

Mint Thai – Gilbert, Arizona

You might assume that because of my unabashed online promotion of culinary adventures, I would be the classic prostheletizer seeking to convert to the joys of more adventurous dining all lost and wayward souls who frequent chain restaurants. Alas, when traveling with colleagues who are either pedestrian about their dining preferences (they eat to live) or are wholly resistant to trying anything new or different, I tend to defer to their lifestyle choices. It beats listening to comments such as “yech,…

Roadkill Cafe – Seligman, Arizona

 I had my dinner yesterday In a place they call the Roadkill Cafe They serve their dishes full of tricks Scraped off Highway 66. From the Roadkill Cafe menu The legality of gathering and consuming roadkill varies from state to state.  In Tennessee, gathering and consuming flattened fauna (save for domestic pets) is not only perfectly legal, it made for great comedic fodder when Volunteer State native Al Gore ran for the Presidency.  In Maine, the police have to tag…

Malee’s Thai Bistro – Scottsdale, Arizona

Many a time have I luxuriated in the pleasures of a memorable repast at a restaurant outside of New Mexico and found myself thinking “if only these tastes were available back home.”  I typically then fantasize about bringing those tastes to the Land of Enchantment myself.  Alas, lofty intentions, a profuse lack of culinary talents and the absence of the capital necessary to realize my fantasies subsume those dreams and I instead yen for future visits to restaurants whose incomparable tastes…

Green chile and Cheddar Quiche with a slice of honey rolled oats bread and a cup of split pea soup

Cafe Cornucopia – Bisbee, Arizona

The Hollywood stereotype of restaurant critics paints them rather unflatteringly as condescending misanthropes to be feared. Those stereotypes would have you believe restaurant critics are eager to pounce on and expose the slightest imperfection.  Armed with pedantic palates and polysyllabic vocabularies overflowing with unfavorable adjectives, critics are painted as joyless beings whose quest it is to impart their misery on the restaurants they evaluate.  To the critic, the exemplar is French cuisine and everything else is so much schlock to…

Cafe Poca Cosa – Tucson, Arizona

Stereotypes would have you believe English food and Mexican food are at the opposite end of the spectrum from one another…as different as day and night.  Those stereotypes paint English food as bland and unimaginative while Mexican food is depicted as spirited and exciting.  That makes it deliciously ironic that perhaps the foremost authority on Mexican food is an adventurous English woman named Diana Kennedy.  In 1957, she moved to Mexico and has spent most of her life since researching…

The BK Mascot carved from wood

BK Carne Asada & Hot Dogs – Tucson, Arizona

Every region across the fruited plain seems to have its iconic foods–incomparable dishes that define the area because they’re prepared better in that region than anywhere else.  Though there may be many capable practitioners in the preparation of these beloved and celebrated regional favorites, invariably there are restaurants with legitimate claims to superiority–stand-outs which, by virtue of consistent excellence over time, have earned acclaim from savvy locals and pundits. When these paragons of mastery in the iconic cuisine are in…

Delux Burger – Phoenix, Arizona

“I ordered a cheeseburger at lunch the other day. I had never eaten at this particular restaurant before, and whenever I am unsure about the quality of the food at a place, I always order a cheeseburger. How many ways can you foul up something as simple as a cheeseburger? The bread can be too hard, or the meat might not be cooked to your liking, but that can be fixed quite easily. After I ordered my cheeseburger – medium well with a…

Orange Table – Scottsdale, Arizona (CLOSED)

There are several scenes in the delightfully heartwarming animated Disney movie Ratatouille that resonate with all gastronomes who delight in the sensual pleasures of the dining experience–those for whom food is an enchanting adventure in the discernment and love of its subtle nuances and overt fragrances, tastes, textures and colors. France’s preeminent chef Anton Gasteau, a pivotal character in the movie, describes this sensual adventure best: “Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is…

Los Dos Molinos – Springerville, Arizona

Just how hot is the chile at Los Dos Molinos? The New York Times suggests you “travel with a fire extinguisher” and that “everything, with the exception of the margaritas, is incendiary.” New York magazine raves that “Not since Drew flashed Dave has Manhattan witnessed a hotter display than the one at Los Dos Molinos.” The Arizona Central dining guide asks “can you take the heat,” calling Los Dos Molinos “the lodestone for leather tongues.” Now these are all unimpeachable…

Richardson’s Cuisine of New Mexico – Phoenix, Arizona

Note: Not long after I wrote this review, the original Richardson’s Cuisine of New Mexico burned down.  It has since reopened in a different location.  Reliable sources tell me it is still as wonderful as described on this review. My friend and colleague Steve Caine will forever rue the day he asked me to help him with an expense report for a business trip he made to Portland, Oregon. His itemized expense report indicated he had dined twice at Chevy’s,…

Chino Bandido – Chandler, Arizona

Chino Bandido in Chandler, Arizona Gustavo Arellano has the right idea. The brilliant and hilarious author of Ask A Mexican, a widely syndicated alternative newspaper column, confronts the “bogeymen of racism, xenophobia, and ignorance” with humor. In his weekly column, he defeats stereotypes and those who wield them by using deprecatory wit to exaggerate those stereotypes to the point of the ridiculous. In the Language chapter of his uproarious book, he provides a list of commonly used Mexican terms and…