I love tacos. I especially love Taco Tuesdays! It has become such a big concept and everyone who serves up tacos puts out great deals for this day. Backyard Taco is a popular spot here in the Valley that serves up tacos al carbon. “al carbon” means to cook over charcoal and are very popular in Mexico. I was introduced to this place when I ate here with my foodie group a few years back. Backyard Taco was started by Ruben and Maricela from Mazatlan. Their business was birth from cooking tacos in their backyard for friends and neighbors. So hospitality and making customers feel at home is a big part of their business. They use fresh simple ingredients along with their amazing selection of meats to create the authentic taste of Tacos al Carbon. I love it when you walk into the lobby and get a glimpse (and smell) of the meat grilling on their mesquite grill. I came by for lunch and sampled a few of my favorite tacos – Carne Asada, Pollo and Al Pastor. Of course I grabbed a horchata to wash it all down. They also do quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, gorditas and a crazy potato. My favorite thing about Backyard Taco is the condiment bar which has a variety of salsas, onions, limes and jalapeños for toppings. Lunch was delicious and affordable as always and made for another fun Taco Tuesday.
BREAKFAST. LUNCH. BACON.
You can’t help but be curious of what this place is when you drive by and see the name. The Oink Cafe is a locally owned modern style cafe that serves both breakfast and lunch. The things that make this place stand out is their cocktail and espresso bar that includes a Bloody Mary flight, a 50-50 burger (half beef, half bacon) and of course everything bacon included with many of their entrées. They have eight flavored bacon choices (pepper, applewood, jalapeño, hickory, sugar-cured, apple cider, honey-cured, and chef’s choice) that can be ordered as a flight or included with one of their meals. The cafe isn’t incredible large, the walls are lime green and the decor includes paintings and mini statues of pigs. Also hanging on the walls are coloring sheets colored by kids (kids eat free M-F with an adult entrée and 2 beverage purchase if they color a sheet). Breakfast includes a variety of omelets and benedicts that are centered on bacon. Prices I would say are a tad bit higher than most breakfast places. The 8 bacon flight will run you about $11, which I think it pretty high for a side bacon (even flavored bacon). They offer 4 slices for $6. I got the jalapeño bacon per my server’s recommendation with my breakfast. I enjoyed the spiciness of it but wasn’t particular overwhelmed with the bacon itself. I guess if you are going to advertise yourself as a bacon joint I was hoping for some good-sized slices of bacon. My service was decent considering my server was covering quite a few tables. I didn’t try one of their popular Bloody Marys so I didn’t get the full treatment of this place. But overall I found Oink Cafe a fun concept with a possibility for a revisit in the future. Btw… they offer a free Best Maple Bacon Donut on your bday.
- – from Gourmet Magazine
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 fresh jalapeño (2 inches), seeded and minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 (19-ounces) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups water
- 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
- Accompaniments: chopped cilantro; lime wedges; chopped white onion
- Heat oil in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté onion, garlic, and jalapeño with chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until onion is beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beans, water, and bay leaf and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until soup has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer about 2 cups soup to a blender and purée (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return to pot and reheat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Discard bay leaf. Season with salt.
I finally made my way to Scottsdale to try Hopdoddy Burger Bar. This mini chain started in Texas and now we have 2 locations here in the Valley. The “Hop” part of their name stands for beer (they serve artisan craft beers) and “Doddy” is a Scottish cow. Their beef comes from humanely raised cows that aren’t given any hormones or antibiotics (according to their sign). They bake their own buns in house and cut their own potatoes for the fries. The restaurant itself is spacious and has a nice modern ambience to it. You basically order your food up front and they assign you a number and a table to sit at where someone waits on you. They have variety of special burger combinations to choose from topped with their own blend of “sassy” sauce. I ordered the Goodnight/Good Cause Burger (a dollar is donated to Lone Star Paralysis) – an Angus Beef patty topped with caramelized onions, jalapeños and BBQ sauce. The burger is hot off the grill and really good. They also have great shakes here. Some of their combinations include Caramel & Sea Salt, Red Velvet and Nutella & Chocolate Pretzel. From a price standpoint, they compare with Fives Guys and Shake Shack. I definitely put them above Shake Shack for the better burger at $8. If you come during social hour (3:30pm – 6), they knock $2 off the burger and the fries are $5. My only negatives is that our food came out separately and I really didn’t see the need for servers when you order everything up front. They are basically there to refill your drinks. But overall I give this place a thumbs up and will stop in again another time.