- Arizona -
This small town, located at the base of the beautiful Huachuca Mountains in southern Arizona, is starving for quality dining. There are a greater number of establishments to avoid than establishments to boast. Recently, a small growth of new restaurants has expanded the limited pool of tasty eats, but unfortunately, the majority of citizens have palettes that fail to recognize quality food resulting in quality restaurants that eventually suffer.
One of Sierra Vista's newest restaurants, it has proven to be more than just the typical 'slap some soggy pasta on your plate and cover it with red sauce from a jar' restaurants. Housed in an old Blimpie shop, the inside has been redone to resemble a small, efficient, delicatessen. The chef's prepare diner's meals behind a glass cooler in the main dining area as the wait staff busily and efficiently caters to patron needs.
Food: My husband and I were treated to a bread basket after ordering and were delighted with the taste, warmth, and quantity of bread we received. The bread basket consisted of two white rolls and two slices of homemade foccacia. The rolls were slightly crispy on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside with a perfect flavor. The homemade foccacia, like the rolls, were warm, soft, and topped with Italian seasonings that made the mouth water. A delicious addition to our salads and meal. For our main meal I ordered Penne en Salsa Rosa with Marinada and Crema sauce. The dish was served hot, fresh, and bursting with flavor. Unlike some Italian restaurants, the sauce was actually filled with flavor. The combination of marinara and cream is one of my favorites and I was not disappointed in the least. It was creamy yet still tangy from the fresh tomato and basil flavors of the marinara, a delicious complement to the perfectly cooked al dente penne. My husband ordered the Scampi Shrimp sauteed with white wine, garlic, butter, and herbs with Fettuccini Alfredo. The fettuccini was also perfectly cooked to our preferred al dente consistency and smothered with creamy alfredo sauce. The sauce, however, was not heavy like what you might find in a jar, it was light and flavorful and tasted like a mating of fresh cream and sliced parmesan. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and dripped in the flavors of sauteed butter and garlic. A very nice pairing with the flavors of the fettuccine alfredo. The only unfortunate part of the meal was the shrimp were not completely deveined, a point of contention for my husband and I's preferences of seafood cleanliness. After our meal we decided to order dessert, our favorite Italian dessert of Tiramisu. It was a little different than many of the Tiramisu's I have had previously, but it was delicious! The lady fingers, cream, and liquor flavors were nicely mixed throughout the cake making every bite a dream. A creamy sauce was drizzled over the top adding an additional flavor I couldn't quite identify, however complemented the rest of the flavors beautifully.
Service: The wait staff was quiet yet efficient. They weren't overly friendly but were very timely with refilling water, delivering food, and attending to any other matters.
Ambiance: There is limited seating and the inside is void of frivolous decor. It can get noisy and fills up fast with the limited seating, however it is clean, well lit, and pleasant. I wouldn't suggest it for a romantic dinner, but it is perfect for a nice lunch or quick evening meal.
Overall we enjoyed the food and will most certainly return.
Rating: 4 of 5
Recommendations for Sierra Vista
Local Restaurants: Tanuki, Hana Tokyo, La Casita, The Outside Inn, The Mesquite Tree
Chain Restaurants: The Olive Garden (coming soon), Texas Roadhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings
Fast Eats: Chipotle, Schlotsky's, Subway
Breakfast: The Landmark Cafe
Avoid: Cafe Ole, Delio's, Outback, Applebee's, Manda Le
TucsonThis southwest city is far from void of quality dining. Whether diners are searching for the more traditional French, Asian, Italian, and Mexican style restaurants, or want something more eclectic, unique, and off the beaten path, they will always find what they're looking for in Tucson. From white tablecloth fine dining to drive-thru hamburgers, there is something delicious for everyone.
MY husband and I went to Vivace for dinner one Friday evening for a romantic night out and absolutely fell in love with it. The ambiance, the food, and the service were impeccable and we will most certainly return.
Food: I ordered the crab filled breaded chicken breast with cream sauce. The chicken breast was phenomenally tender and succulent to bite into while being well seasoned with flavor, not salt. It was filled with delicate pieces of crab that were soft, flavorful, and fresh. Although I am not a fan of breading, as it usually always adds unnecessary grease to the dish, Vivace's use of the breading on the chicken breast was light and only enhanced the flavor of the dish. The chicken was finished with a sparingly drizzled cream sauce, the perfect amount to complement the poultry and seafood flavors, yet adding it's own unique flavors that were mouth-watering. The dish was accompanied by a side of vegetable rice, which was delicious. The rice was not a typical rice, it was creamy and delicately flavored with additions of petite cut broccoli and carrots. My husband ordered the stuffed center cut pork chop, again breaded, and stuffed with a spinach-cheese filling and topped with a Marsala wine sauce. Once again, the meat was delectable, very nicely seasoned and extraordinarily tender. As with the breading on the chicken, that on the pork was light and enhanced the flavor. The spinach and cheese filling was a perfect complement to the meat and the light Marsala wine flavoring. The pork was accompanied by garlic potato puree which for any potato lover was an absolute treat. The potatoes were whipped into a divinely soft confection and had a perfect amount of garlic flavor, freshly there yet not overpowering. The combination was a treat for the palette. For dessert I ordered the warm bread pudding, a favorite of mine. It's made with croissants, apples, and baked in a Tuaca caramel sauce with fresh berries and whipped cream. I have to say that it was one of the best bread puddings I have ever had. Soft, warm, and with incredible flavors of fresh apples, caramel, and cinnamon, the dish was beyond heavenly. My husband ordered the chocolate fondue which was made of dark chocolate and accompanied by two scoops of coconut gelato, one rolled in coconut shavings and the other rolled in hazelnuts. Again, the dish was delicious. The fondue was perfectly warmed and creamy. The scoops of gelato were perfectly flavored of coconut and the coconut and hazelnuts which engulfed them were fresh and perfectly paired. The combination of the gelato and the chocolate was divine. There was nothing we didn't eat that we would have any hesitation as to recommend.
Service: We made reservations so there was no hesitation in seating us. We were promptly attended by a well seasoned waitress that took our drink orders and brought us warm fresh bread and water. As I was pregnant at the time we ordered Pellegrino and the waitress brought it, poured it, and kept it in a chilled wine bucket by the table, promptly refilling our glasses whenever they were empty. She was attentive to each course, knowledgeable and helpful with the menu, and had impeccable timing, never leaving us wanting or pushing herself on us to the point we felt pressured to leave. She was also impeccable with etiquette bringing us the appropriate silverware when necessary and brushing the crumbs from the table after each course.
Ambiance: The inside of the restaurant is casually beautiful with a relaxed Italian theme. The tables are covered with white table cloths, and the decor and lighting are romantic yet comfortable. As it is an open restaurant and it was rather busy the night we were there, so the noise was a bit loud at times, but not obnoxiously so.
Overall we had a delightfully delicious experience and look forward to going back.
Rating: 5 of 5
Recommendations for Tucson
Local Restaurants: Acacia on St. Phillips, Lodge on the Desert
Chain Restaurants: The Melting Pot, Firebirds's, Blanco: Taco's + Tequila, BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, El Charro Cafe
Fast Eats: Chipotle, Five Guys, In-n-Out Burger
Breakfast: Einstein Bros. Bagels
The large city and its surrounding areas including Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and Scottsdale is a diner’s haven boasting a huge selection of eateries from around the world. Nearly anything a diner may crave can be found in numerous varieties and settings.
The Breakfast Club
A corner cafe on Scottsdale Boulevard in downtown Scottsdale, this restaurant boasts a pleasant yet bustling atmosphere, and food that is beautifully presented yet somewhat lacking.
Food: I ordered the The Bird omelet, minus avocado, which included turkey, mushrooms, and boursin cheese. It was served with fresh fruit, Potatoes O'Brien, and topped with Crème Fraiche. The omelet was nice and fluffy and quite delicious looking until I cut into it. Triangle slices of deli lunchmeat were slapped inside with a couple dollops of Boursin cheese. The turkey was also somewhat fatty so I ended up spending most of my breakfast slicing away the edible portions of my omelet. The only part I actually enjoyed were the mushrooms which were thinly sliced, nicely flavored, and cooked into the egg. The Potatoes O'Brien consisted of more onions and peppers than actual potatoes, and the potatoes themselves were scantly flavored, and that being primarily of salt. My husband ordered the Cinnamon Challah French Toast with candied nuts, seasonal berries, and Vermont maple syrup. The french toast portions were reasonably sized and nicely flavored but very dry and somewhat thin, basically requiring a maple syrup bath. He asked for the candied nuts on the side, not being one for excessive amounts of sweet, and was thankful when his breakfast arrived with an entire bowl of heavily sugared nuts. This dish was definitely designed for the lover of sweets.
Service: The service was hurried yet efficient and our meals were brought out to us with a fair amount of speed for the number of people crowding the restaurant.
Ambiance: Crowded and noisy yet light and airy. We sat outside under heat reducing misters which was pleasant and much more quiet than inside the restaurant.
The food wasn't horrible but for $8-$15 a plate for breakfast, not a place we will return.
- Colorado -
- Georgia -
AUGUSTA: The town most well known for the Master's boasts some good restaurants, however not where you may expect.
Frog Hollow Tavern
The Frog Hollow Tavern gets my vote for the best restaurant in Augusta.
Food: I ordered the Eden Farms Berkshire Pork, smoked and braised with BBQ'd pork jus, smoked gouda mac n' cheese, braised collards, and onion rings. The pork was a very thick cut of meat that was juicy and deliciously smoky; the outside lightly crisp while the succulent inside fell apart at the touch of my fork. The BBQ'd pork jus had a hint of sweetness, not what most of us expect when we hear the word BBQ, that blended tantalizingly with the smokey flavor of the cooked pork creating a palate pleasing balance. The smoked gouda mac n' cheese was unexpected and delicious. Instead of the typical elbow macaroni presentation, this mac n' cheese was presented lasagna style with layer upon layer of pasta and a creamy gouda blend. This mac n' cheese was such a treat, I have since tried to replicate it in my own kitchen. I have to admit that I thoroughly dislike collard greens, but I did try these and didn't immediately balk at the flavor so I would have to say they're probably on the side of good for any of you lovers out there. I also have to admit that my most detested vegetable of all time is the onion, however I did try the onion rings and they were downright delicious. The onions were Vidalias so they were sweet and breaded in a slightly salty but wonderfully under-greased batter that was crispy and flaky, a nice contrast to the sweet softness of the onion.
Service: My husband and I went on a week night with our six week old son. As anyone with children knows many nice restaurants are less than amenable to young children, but the hostesses were gracious, we hadn't made reservations, and seated us immediately. Our waitress immediately took our drink order, told us the specials, and brought us a bottle of water for the table. We found the service excellent and very friendly. Our favorite part was meeting the owner who introduced himself, chatted a while, and stopped by periodically throughout the meal. We felt very welcomed.
Ambiance: The restaurant itself is in downtown Augusta and from its location, patrons wouldn't easily guess the modernly elegant culinary treasure within. The decor was modern and upscale, yet the restaurant had the warmth and feel of an intimate pub. A brick backed bar, modern dimmed lighting, candlelight adorned tables, comfortable seating, and pristine glasses and stemware adorning the tables. An elegant bistro paired with the warmth of the south.
Rating: 5 of 5
- Rhode Island -