Tonight was fancy night at Mowry & Cotton. I met up with my long time foodie friends Andrea and Merichelle in a sort of reunion night. Mowry & Cotton opened up at The Phoenician in 2007. I was able to attend a fun Yelp event here last year. It is named after two businessmen (George Mowry and James Cotton) who came to Phoenix in 1872 and opened the first fine liquor establishment in downtown Phoenix. They were trying to create more of a community feel instead of the typical saloons that were around. Chef Tandy Peterson has created a nice rustic menu of comfort food that pays homage to meals that were cooked over a fire back then. The concept here is a shared dinner menu that you mix and match with the people at your table. They have several choices of meat and fish to choose from like salmon, sea bass, steak and ribeye. They also have a variety of popular flatbreads (thin pizzas). Other choices are salads, vegetables and appetizers. They have several cocktails to choose from like their signature Washington & 1st drink (named after Mowry & Cotton’s distillery location in downtown Phoenix). They are also open for breakfast and serve brunch on the weekends. The staff wears button down shirts, suspenders and leather boots to reflect the times. For decor, there are old distillery bottle all around the restaurant that plays off the lighting that comes in to create an ambiance feel of the Old West.
Mowry & Cotton
Mowry & Cotton has been running a special Summer Culinary Countdown menu that includes a Bottle and Board for $25. It comes with a choice of a bottle of wine and a flatbread. We tried the Roasted Squash Flatbread and the A to Z Wineworks Pinot Gris bottle of wine. For dinner, I ordered the Grilled Pheasant. It was tender and smokey and comes with lots of fixings like almonds, onions, broccolini and cherries. Others at my tabled ordered the Chicken Pot Pie, the Corn and Chorizo Dip (with Chicharrones!) and Grilled Potatoes. We enjoyed trying one another’s food over good conversation. This is a great new addition to The Phoenician. The rest of the evening was spent in The Phoenician Cactus Garden and enjoying the beautiful views of Phoenix from the lounge area.
There is a reason why this place is called Killer Burger – because the burgers are absolutely killer. Their motto is Healing the Hangry. This is their first location outside of the Pacific northwest where they are killing the burger competition. You just have to say Portland, OR and you know that they are going to push the limits in creativity. Every burger is a 1/3 pound 100% beef and includes bacon. The burger that everyone raves about is their peanut butter burger. Bacon, peanut butter, pickle and their delicious smokey house sauce. These guys were making this burger before other restaurants started incorporating it into their menu. You would think the peanut butter would be thick and sticky. But it is actually very smooth and sweet and blends well with the bacon and pickles. It’s a great burger! If you like meat, go for the meathead – a double burger with bacon, cheddar and grilled onions. But my personal favorite is the Jose Mendoza. This is Killer Burger’s first burger. They pile it with bacon, roasted hatch chilies, Monterey jack, grilled onions and house sauce. Do I need to say more? They have quite a few other crazy burger creations that I am looking forward to trying. Each burger comes with fires and they have quite a variety of beers on tap. This isn’t the place to start your vegetarian diet. But if you are in the mood for a mouthwatering burger, check them out.
Well … my rookie year of being a Yelp Elite is officially behind me. This event was a great way to kick off the new year for all of us Yelpers that got badges for 2017. This was also my first time checking out Bevvy and they did a great job of hosting us. I grew up in Scottsdale and can’t believe how much this area has changed over the years. Bevvy is in the heart of the downtown area. They are a neighborhood gastropub run by Evening Entertainment Group (RnR, HiFi Kitchen + Cocktails) and one of the only licensed off-track horse racing betting pubs in AZ. I really enjoyed their spacious patio area, leather booths, wood-paneled walls and the variety of TV screens and yard games throughout the bar. My only knock is that they are the headquarters for the New England Patriots during football season. I attended quite a few Yelp events last year and made a lot of new friends. So this event for me was about getting reacquainted with everyone and congratulating them on their 2017 badges. It was nice to see most of my Yelp family all under the same roof. They had Yelp backdrops for us to take photos in front of and Yelp Geofilters for us to post on Snapchat. Props to the photo booth guy for killin’ it as always, to Chandon for the champagne, to Bevvy for hosting and providing bacon popcorn and of course to our awesome Yelp staff for the fun evening out!
Scottsdale Beer Company uses a custom 10 bbl brewing system to brew their beer. They prioritize freshness and craftsmanship and are inspired by the work of beer masters from past generations. The head brewmaster is an Arizona native and has been making beer for over twenty years. I tried the East End Amber and found it very tasty and delicious. The Chicken Molé Tostadas were recommended by my server and I enjoyed every bite. The tostadas are made of beer brined chicken thighs braised in red molé sauce, served over refried beans and topped with cheese curds, jalapeño crema, cilantro, cabbage, radish, lime-pickled onions, and apples. I’m really enjoying all the craft breweries that are popping up everywhere in the Valley. This place was a pleasant surprise and added to my dinner and play evening out.
Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is a fusion genre of alternative rock, punk rock, and heavy metal and a subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the Pacific Northwest U.S. state of Washington, particularly in Seattle and nearby towns – wikipedia.
As a Generation Xer (the MTV generation), I grew up during in the grunge area. It never was my favorite term for this style of music, but it had a profound effect on my life in the early 90’s. In early 1991, I was really heavy into glam rock music (Def Leppard, Van Halen, Warrant, Poison, etc) and quite a concert junkie. I graduated from Tempe High school in May of 1991 and started dating a girl who change both my music and clothing taste. She introduced me to Alternative rock music (another term I’m not a fan of). At first I was resistant, but later would find myself listening to R.E.M., Depeche Mode, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Violent Femmes and U2. She helped me expand my music taste and it freed my mind to be more open to new things. My parents just divorced and I was officially on my own. I was an angry teenager as the result of the brokeness in my family and was suffering from a lack of self-worth. MTV, booze, girls and music were a big outlet for me. I was a frequent visitor to both Zia Records and Tower Records and built myself a huge collection of CD’s. The concert scene was big here in the Valley of the Sun, but people were unaware of what was going on with the music scene in Seattle. Even though a year earlier on February 19, 1990, an unknown band by the name of Nirvana opened for Tad in a small club in Phoenix, AZ (Nirvana’s first AZ show was actually at the Sun Club in Tempe in 1989 – video below of Cobain outside the club). The story goes that when Nirvana played this gig in Phoenix, the cheap-ass owner of the Mason Jar charged them a rental fee for some of the equipment that they used.
Music history would change forever on August 27, 1991 when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the airwaves. I caught on when the video premiered on September 29, 1991 on one of my favorite shows – MTV’s “120 Minutes”. I remember watching that video over and over for days. Being a glam rock fan, there was nothing glamorous about this band Nirvana. They were just regular looking guys that wore regular clothes that just wanted to play rock ‘n’ roll. The video was very simple as well and didn’t look like it cost a lot to make. I was instantly hooked onto this type of music.
At the time I worked at a Rally’s Hamburgers. A co-worker of mine mentioned how the Red Hot Chili Peppers were coming in concert in Tempe. Their song “Give it Away” was another huge hit on the radio at that time. He told me how Nirvana and some band called Pearl Jam were the openers. I remember wanting to go but for some reason I didn’t make the effort and regret it today. But what a killer line-up! The show was on December 29. 1991 in Tempe and it was heavily promoted on the radio. I remember everyone raving about the show as grunge music was taking the Valley by storm. I remember going to a huge rave party in the desert and somebody was blasting Nirvana on the radio. We were all standing in the back of someone’s truck drinking from a keg and singing to “Teen Spirit”. The girl next to kept going on about how much she loved Nirvana. It was such a crazy movement at that time. Nirvana played Saturday Night Live (another show I always watched) on January 11, 1992 which really thrust them into the spotlight. By this time, hair bands were slowly phasing out.
On January 31, 1992, I went to a Guns N’ Roses “Use Your Illusion” concert tour with a bunch of friends at Compton Terrace. This was back when GNR were being assholes and making fans wait hours for them to come on stage. It was a memorable show for me because I made out with this smoking hot girl from Scottsdale named Wendy Luckett in the back lawn area. Every dude in my group wanted her and I had bragging rights for some time after that. Anyway, a band called Soundgarden opened for GNR and I knew nothing about them. It took me some time to get into them, but they were hard core. I was really into “Outshined” when they played it. I remember they ended the show with Kim Thayil leaving his guitar on stage making feedback noise. This was the next grunge band I would get into after Nirvana. Looking back. I always wondered why they opened for Guns ‘N’ Roses. Apparently GNR felt Soundgarden were too serious of a band and nicknamed them “Frowngarden”. Ben Shepherd’s response was that they weren’t rock stars and were there to play music. I guess in the 2nd show (the night after my show), GNR decided to crash Soundgarden’s set by walking out in the nude with blow-up dolls because it was the final night of the tour. The band members weren’t too amused by this which shows you the vast difference in these two type of bands at that time. One took their music serious while the other one was just there to party.
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.
Vans have been a big part of my life for years. I still remember having the old 80’s urban street skate hat with the split back tail on the back. Then Tony Hawk made skateboarding a big thing in the late 80’s with his crazy stunts. We would hang around Sidewalk Surfer in Scottsdale and buy boards and the latest Vans shoes. Now here I am today still riding a longboard, watching the X-Games and wearing my Vans. It helps that I raised two boys that have kept me feeling young. Today marks 50 years since the first Vans store opened up in Cali. In addition to their clothing line, they have sponsored many extreme sports like BMX, skateboarding and motocross. They also sponsor the Warped Tour that features many of the top music artists today. I’ll always be a big fan and look forward to many more years of buying a new pair of Vans.
I used to hang out at the old Video Round-Up arcade in Scottsdale back in the day. I even thought it would be cool to own an arcade like Flynn did in the classic Tron movie. Now Cobra Arcade Bar had brought my childhood back to me. This place is a lot of fun and has a cool vibe to it. I discovered while walking to the Super Bowl experience in downtown Phoenix. At first I was a little irked during their opening week when I brought my kid and they wouldn’t let him in (21 and older only). I just wanted him to see and capture the same joy I had as a youngster. But now I’m kinda happy they are keeping this to the older crowd who appreciates the old vintage arcade games. They have a great selection of old school games (about 40 of them) and a cool looking bar for drinks. Ariel Bracamonte and Genuine Concepts are the co-owners of this new rad place. Cobra usually rotates arcade games in and out throughout the week for variety. They even have a row of pinball machines. They have all the classics – Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Mortal Combat, Street Fighter, 1943, Punch Out and my personal favorite Galaga. The tubular ceiling lights are designed to resemble the iconic arcade game Super Mario Brothers. I love that the games are a quarter (or token) like the old days. I grew tired of the newer arcades that make you buy the dumb expensive game cards. Cobra opens pretty late (2am) and can get pretty crowded on some nights. Especially during theme nights or tournaments. But if you are up for a fun retro night out, come to Cobra Arcade Bar!
I finished up the May version of Arizona Restaurant Week at Craft 64. We got a big group of us together to enjoy a fun food night out in Old Town Scottsdale. Main St is home to many great patio restaurants (and art galleries) and Craft 64 is one of the newest additions to the area. They have delicious artisanal wood-fired pizzas along with a great selection of craft beers and wine. Started by a partnership of experienced local owners, Craft 64 has become a local favorite. They make their own mozzarella from scratch everyday and use organic flour and other products from local farmers. The have over 30 local beers on tap and a great outdoor patio area with strings of lights for decoration. We had a wonderful time and received great service from our waiter who educated us on some of their beers.
They had a great selection to choose from for Restaurant Week. I went with the Wood Fired Eggplant Parmesan, their delicious Sausage Pizza and the yummy Nutella Indulgence for dessert. Because we had a large party, we ended up mixing and matching our dishes so we could get a sample of everything.
Wood Fired Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Tomato Sauce
My waiter recommended the Pie Hole Porter Nitro – a local beer from Historic Brewery Company out of Flagstaff. What a great tasting beer! I have really been enjoying learning about and tasting new craft beers. Arizona has been coming out with nice local beers from different regions all over the state.
My best way to describe Morning Squeeze is bright, bold decor (lime green and surfer-blue colors), booths and barstools and a very large dog-friendly patio area. This location is in Scottsdale and owned by the same owner as another Valley favorite RA Sushi. Some of the breakfast items (with some fun names) include the Belfer Fit Bowl (a brown rice, quinoa and egg white bowl), Cool Beans Rancheros, Party Hardy Steak & Eggs, Creme Brûlée Pancakes, Power Protein Pancakes and several Antioxidant bowls. I came here with a friend on a quiet day and received pretty good service. I ordered the Cali Benne (Poached eggs with avocado slices, spinach, tomatoes, on an english muffin with hollandaise). The food was delicious and we had a nice time here.