Dark Hall Coffee

IMG_0361

IMG_0364.jpg

Don’t let the fact that this place is located in the corner of a strip mall steer you away. It has a unique atmosphere with beautiful artwork and a dark floral wallpaper that you don’t want to miss. Dark Hall Coffee (same owners as The Coronado PHX) specializes in plant-based drinks and pastries. Lattes, cortados and cappuccinos are all dairy-free. They use a milk blend made from cashews and other nuts. They have quite a variety of vegan pasties as well. Lavender & pistachio cakes, macarons, salted chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and shortbread drizzled with chocolate are just some examples of the yumminess that they make up daily. My favorite are the galettes. I’ve seen fig apple, peach and blueberry. I love the fruity gelatinous center of the pastry and it pairs well with my coffee. This isn’t the largest place so maybe plan on getting your order to go. Dark Hall is definitely worth a stop in if you are in the area.

IMG_0363

IMG_0365

IMG_0367

Galette and Cortado

Dark Hall Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Elite Event: Cocktail Party at Mowry & Cotton

IMG_8411

IMG_8417

I have so many memories here at the Phoenician going back to high school days. They have been going through some renovations and Mowry & Cotton is their fancy new casual restaurant geared to draw in both visitors and locals. This was one of those fun dress-up Yelp events that incorporated the beautiful views of the Phoenician resort. Mowry & Cotton has a large open patio with amazing décor (the growler wall was a nice touch). We were given the story behind this place from the GM. He mentioned that it is named after George Mowry and James Cotton – two businessmen who opened one of Phoenix’s earliest drinking establishments. We were treated with their signature drink (called the Washington & 1st) from their awesome bartender who worked his butt off for us. It was a blend of commerce gin, St Germain elderflower, blackberry, lime & bitters. I got so caught up with my drinks and the conversation at my table that I forgot to check out the food samples they prepared for us. The seafood was gone when I got there, but I did get to try some of their flatbread pizza. The Wild Mushroom and the Chicken Pesto were both pretty flavorful. But I didn’t miss out on desserts. They had these awesome Lemon Meringue, S’Mores and a Peanut Butter Bar samples that capped off the night. I enjoyed mixing it up with some long time Elites and enjoyed meeting some of the new ones. The best part was the awesome gifts Mowry & Cotton gave us – a choice of a cutting board, a branding iron or an apron. All three were pretty killer. Thanks to our Yelp staff for always being amazing and treating us Elites to a fun night. Read my full post about Mowry & Cotton here.

IMG_8431IMG_8445.jpg

Fry Bread House

IMG_6567.jpg

This place is so good! I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently visited here for the first time. Especially being a Phoenix native living close to Guadalupe who grew up on Fry Bread with honey and powdered sugar. Of course my expectations were high for my first visit to Fry Bread House – James Beard recognized and the Green Chili Beef Taco voted as a top dish from AZCentral’s Dominic Armato. Plus all its history here in the Valley going back to when it opened in 1992. The restaurant is located within the Melrose district (after a couple relocations). The decor pays homage to Native American culture with plenty of pictures and a Man in the Maze motif standing in place of a welcome mat. The roped off line to the ordering area at first confused me but I eventually caught on. There was a good mixed crowd here and plenty of regulars. Even though I already had my mind set on the taco, the Chumuth Burro, the Red Chili stew and the Hominy stew with plain fry bread called out to me from the menu on the wall as I waited. Service was quick and easy and they really try to move the line. The green chili taco was a lot bigger than I thought. I’m not going to lie, it was also a bit sloppy to eat. But when you stuff a fry bread with all that yummy gooey goodness it’s probably not going to hold together for long. The fry bread is light and crisp and folded into a taco shape. The chili beef was nice and tender with cheese and the perfect amount of spiciness for me. It was a pretty good meal for $9 and good first experience for me. I’m dying to try that stew next time around. I’m also looking forward to introducing some of my Native buddies to this place.

IMG_6575.jpg

Green Chili Beef Taco

IMG_6574

IMG_6573

IMG_6571

IMG_6579

The Fry Bread House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coup Des Tartes

IMG_6524.jpg

This is one of those sad reviews. After more than twenty years of serving the Valley, Coup Des Tartes is closing their doors. This local French-inspired American bistro (Phoenix’s longest running french restaurant) is the perfect spot for a romantic night out or any type of special occasion. It reminds me of Paris and makes me feel like Roaring ‘20s, Paris-style The tall shady trees and the pretty lights over the large open patio make for a nice hideaway from the busy surrounding area. They also have a private dining space like the Rendezvous Room that can host meetings and they can also accommodate weddings and other outdoor events. What I always loved most about his place was the friendliness of the staff. My experiences here were always met with a warm greeting and excellent service. Sadly after being forced out of their previous location, Coup Des Tartes wasn’t able to fully recover due to labor laws. I’m going to miss their exquisite seasonal menu that included some of my favorites like the Chicken Cordon Bleu, Duck a l’Orange and the Three Onion Tarte. My best memory will always be a fun Yelp event in which we were encouraged to dress in French outfits. I stopped in for one last visit and ordered their delicious French Onion Soup as I mingled with the staff. Thanks Coup Des Tartes for the memories and I hope a day comes that you make a return. Au revoir.

IMG_6509.jpg

IMG_6514

IMG_6515

IMG_6518.jpg

IMG_6516

IMG_6522

IMG_6521

French Onion Soup

Coup Des Tartes fans are the best and we love each and every one of you. Over the years we have served many many thousands. We have helped celebrate everything from births to weddings and everything between. We have been honored to be part of your life’s events. Because of that we wanted you to be the first to know, it is with great sadness and deepest regrets that I write to inform you of the closing of the restaurant at the end of January 2018. Although business has been steady, financial pressures from the new labor laws, increased competition, and debt from the restaurant’s relocation, has forced us to this end.  Don’t be sad, we are still here for 2 weeks so we would love to see you one more time and say goodbye. We are not sure what comes next but like us on Facebook and add your email to our list to be the 1st to know. Thank you again for your patronage.

 Respectfully,  Ron Pacioni 

Coup Des Tartes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Florencia Pizza Bistro

IMG_6283.jpg

Florencia Pizza Bistro is one of those locally owned neighborhood eateries. Ahwatukee has a lot of these little hidden gems because most of them are located in strip malls. This one has been around for quite some time and resides next door to the popular Melting Pot. They offer three types of pizza – Traditional, Olive Oil (Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mozzarella Cheese with no tomato sauce) and Pesto (Basil Pesto Sauce with no tomato sauce). You can create your own with toppings (over 40 topping choices) or choose from one of their popular specialty pizza creations. Some of the names include the Snow White, Pomodora, Valentinos, Winchester, Clevenger, Malanzane, Bo-Be and the Green-Eyed Chicken. There are many more creations to choose from and they have vegetarian options as well. The dough is house made and their pizzas are thin-crust. I’m more of a thick crust person myself but actually found their thin crust quite enjoyable. They also have panini, calzones, salads and sandwiches if pizza is not on your radar. Their appetizer menu is not incredibly large but they have a nice variety to choose from. I got the mozzarella sticks and felt they were just average. We ordered the Clark’s Classic pizza which consisted of pepperoni and chicken marinated in buffalo sauce. I was a little worried the sauce would soak through the thin crust and make it soggy but it actually held up (even eating it as a leftover the next day). There is a small bar area to the side where you can order a glass of wine or beer. The owner is a Wildcat fan (boo…) and they’ve had fun fundraisers in the past during the annual ASU/UA football game to benefit the local high schools in the area. It wasn’t very busy when I visited but service was pretty good.

IMG_6281

Mozzarella Sticks

IMG_6282

Clark’s Classic

“Duel in the Dessert” fundraiser 

Florencia Pizza Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Loving Vincent

loving vincent.jpg

“Well, the truth is, we cannot speak other than by our paintings.”

 – Vincent van Gogh, July 1890

I’ve been excited to see this moving ever since I saw the trailer. Loving Vincent is a biopic about Vincent van Gogh, and in particular, the circumstances of his death. It is the first fully painted animated feature film. It is made up of 65,000 frames hand-painted by a team of 125 artists. Ever since I took an Art Humanities class ten years ago, I have been fascinated by van Gogh’s paintings. In fact, the first van Gogh I ever saw was The Starry Night when I was in New York City at MOMA. I just recently saw Bedroom at Pasadena’s Norton Simon MuseumFilmbar in Phoenix has added many shows of Loving Vincent because they keep selling out. The film has already been nominated for many awards and I look forward to seeing it.

In 2009, I saw van Gogh’s The Starry Night at MOMA and Bedroom at Norton Simon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Starry Night

IMG_0271

Bedroom

Helio Basin Brewing

IMG_3700

IMG_6693

Quality Crafted in Phx

Helio Basin Brewing has become one of my favorite local breweries. Their slogan is Quality Crafted in Phx. They took residence in an old pool hall that I used to hang out at in Arcadia. Helio Basin is founded by Mike Conley and brewmaster Dustin Hazer. Chef Tamara Stanger creates the amazing food that is served here. It’s the perfect pairing of top quality brews with simple but innovating food. Many of the dishes here have some sort of representation of Arizona in it. For beers, their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. I think my favorite thing about this place is the sense of community they have created here. They have a few large tables for large parties and have the ability to open up the patio for outdoor events. From talking to many guests that I sit next to, Helio Basin had become a popular neighborhood favorite. I came here for their one year anniversary party with a buddy and my son. I ordered a beer flight got a nice variety of beers as my selection. The Robust Porter is one of my favorites. Chef Tamara put together some delicious roasted pig tacos with banana cornbread and Sonoran rice. We had a great time and enjoyed our beers and food. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and definitely check out their great happy hour and Taco Tuesdays!

IMG_3702

IMG_3701

IMG_3703

IMG_3704

Helio Basin Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato