Southern Rail

ARW

I started Arizona Restaurant Week off with a bang by eating at Southern Rail Restaurant. I had the pleasure of dining at award-winning Chef Justin Beckett’s restaurant Beckett’s Table during Restaurant Week in 2012 and really enjoyed that experience. I recently sat in on one of his cooking demos and was looking forward to eating at one of his establishments. Southern Rail is his most recent kitchen that opened in 2014. Located inside The Newton (former home of The Beef Eaters) and right off the Valley Metro light rail path, SR has become a popular dining destination for Valley foodies. The Newton is a mixed-use concept space where you can shop, read or dine. In addition to Southern Rail, there is a Changing Hands bookstore, Southwest Gardener and First Draft Book Bar.

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Southern Rail is a beautiful restaurant with lots of open space. It has an open kitchen and a large size patio/bar area. Its rustic-style, nostalgic decor that gives off a warm, hospitable feel. The food has an American Southern theme to it with flavors inspired by dishes from Georgia to Alabama to Mississippi. They also have an award-winning wine list along with a selection of local craft beers. With the Restaurant Week menu, you have the option of choosing from three different menu items for each of your three courses for dinner. Because it was my first time, I went with some of their signature dishes. The cup of Gumbo Ya-Ya for appetizer, the Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin for my main course and their delicious Red Velvet cake for dessert. Also included was a local beer (I got one my favs – San Tan Kiltlifter). I was met with great service and enjoyed every bite.

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Gumbo Ya-Ya

Gumbo Soup Ya-Ya

Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin

Cider Brined and Slow Roasted Pork Loin

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

Southern Rail was a wonderful culinary experience for me. The Gumbo soup was full of flavor and delicious. The Pork Loin was nice and tender and you can’t go wrong with the Red Velvet cake. I’m a huge fan of Chef Beckett and his influence on the growing food culture here in the Valley of the Sun. I highly recommend either one of his restaurants. I look forward to stopping in again on the popular Fried Chicken nights on Wednesdays.

Southern Rail on Urbanspoon

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CHEF Movie

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It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about a movie. But after seeing the trailer to Jon Favreau’s new movie CHEF, I was hooked on seeing it. One reason – food porn. I seriously was salivating as I saw the previews. Plus I was a cook for ten years in the restaurant business and I understand life in the kitchen. Cooking for me has always been both therapeutic and a passion. This is the story of Carl Casper, a cook in L.A. who is trying to rediscover his passion for cooking. He ends up going on road trip in a food truck with his son to get his passion to make amazing food back. The film ended up being a great movie and easily one of my favorite ones of the year. In addition to having a great cast, CHEF also has a great soundtrack. I ended up going with my favorite foodie friends that I love to eat out with. My friend Kim is a personal chef and my other friend Pete is (in my opinion) the top restaurant reviewer in Arizona. He and his wife Monica eat out at different restaurants all over the valley. We had a blast and I look forward to seeing it again!

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Line em up!

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IMG_1383I love going to Angels Trumpet Ale House. 31 craft beers on tap. Only 5 feet of line from the keg to the glass with stainless steel taps keeps the beer as fresh and cool as possible. They are always rotating different beers, so you have to keep an eye on the chalk board for your favorite. And of course they have great food too! A bunch of us got together for some beers for a fun night.

Angels Trumpet Ale House on Urbanspoon

Pete’s Fish & Chips

DSC04708A childhood memory of mine is eating at Pete’s Fish & Chips with my Dad. I loved going here! I also spent much of my senior year in high school here with my buddies for lunch. Established in 1947 by Pete Grant, Pete’s is a local favorite here in Arizona. My Dad always got the fish, but I loved the “Monster Burger” or a hot dog. Pete’s is also known for their secret sauce. It’s a flavorful type of ketchup you can dip your fries in. I took my kids here and they were surprised by how good the burgers were. One thing I love about Pete’s is that nothing really hasn’t change much since my childhood days. I love creating new memories with them and we can’t wait to go back.

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Monster Burger, Fries and secret sauce

Pete's Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

Swedish Christmas Julbord

DSC04701Smörgåsbord is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple cold dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. A julbord is a standard Christmas dinner in Sweden. I’m half Swedish and tonight I tried my first Christmas julbord at IKEA. We tried herring, poached salmon, hard-boiled eggs with shrimp, meatballs, lingonberries, ham potatoes with dill, rice pudding and assorted cheeses and desserts. It was all very interesting and I’m glad I had a chance to try something new.

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Restaurant at Ikea on Urbanspoon

Jimmy and Joe’s

IMG_1289Jimmy and Joe’s Pizzeria is a fairly new establishment here in the valley. Family owned, they have a fun story of how they came about. They have a simple menu, great customer service and they donate 10% of their profits to charities. I came here with a group of friends before a concert and really enjoyed the pizza. We got the Popeye (spinach, basil, garlic, feta, tomato and mozzarella) and I can’t wait to come back and try some of their other menu items.

Jimmy and Joe's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon