Monthly Archives: July 2009

Lola Coffee

Lola outside

A new coffee/lounge/overall-favorite-place opened on the corner Central Ave. and Highland in Phoenix, and I cannot contain my excitement. Though, it’s not exactly new. You may have seen my original Lola’s post, when it was the morning version of Lola Tapas, and if I loved it then, I adore it now in its new location (along the light rail, might I add).

lolas

You know I love the rich, smooth, caffeine beans, but this is THE BEST COFFEE IN PHOENIX.  Daniel Wayne, who opened Lux (which, okay fine, is the second best coffee in Phoenix), ventured on to Lola and brought every dreamy drop with him. My favorite is the mocha, which uses chocolate whipped cream on the European style latte. It’s so good that it’s almost a sin to get a small size of anything. Why rob yourself of even more enjoyment? Get a large. That’s my advice.

Lola coffee

The euphoric experience is only enhanced by the pastries that could pass for the richest of desserts and the lightest of morning snacks, from airy ciabbata bread to strawberry coffee cake, all from local wondershop Sweet Pea Bakery.

lola pastries

I also think they did something brilliantly which is surprisingly overlooked by many coffee shops, which is seating layout. Most restaurants have mastered the art of ambience and how seating areas flow into the experience, and Lola’s does this perfectly. Tables accommodate the wifi crowd while leather couches accommodate a small meeting or moment of relaxation. Lounge-like chairs with the newspaper nearby provide space for the individualist. No matter how busy, it never feels crowded. All that to say, it’s a reliable neighborhood place to be able to relax.

Can you tell I love Lola’s? If you would like to fall in love all over again with coffee, with the art of a handmade pastry, or with morning in general, head there now.  Even if you’re a night owl, Lola’s is open till 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Now you have no excuse.

Lola Coffee

4700 N Central Ave

Phoenix, AZ 85012

(602) 265-5652

Lola

Via Delosantos Mexican Food and Lounge

In Phoenix, everyone seems to have their favorite spot for Mexican food. For us, it’s Via Delosantos. We discovered it several years ago and ever since, it’s been our “go to” place when we’re craving some good ol’ Mexican eats. I tend to be a creature of habit with my food, so it’s a numero 15 for me every time — that’s 2 cheese enchiladas with rice and beans. For Mike, it’s a carne asada burrito made the way he likes it, with all of the ingredients inside the tortilla. It’s so refreshing when a restaurant makes your food the way you like it. Of course, we always manage to fill up on chips and salsa. Maybe that’s why I’m always getting my second enchilada to go. It’s just as yummy the second time around!

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As you can tell, Delosantos is very casual and laid back. Other than the food, it’s why we really love it here. There’s nothing better than being able to relax with some good food, good drink and good company. (And these days, it helps with the bottom line since their prices are more than reasonable). The next time you’re in the mood for some Mexican food, give it a try.

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9120 North Central Avenue

Phoenix, AZ 85020

drip coffee lounge

drip coffee lounge

With my love of coffee in Phoenix, I have worked drip into my routine of gotta-have-it coffee shops, and I love it so much, I’d like to stand on a street corner and tell everyone about it. Okay, or maybe just write this blog entry. It’s  a fantastic nook on the periphery of downtown Phoenix that is both retro and modern, minimalist and cozy.  The space is fresh, so is the food, and amazingly – the concept. It’s hard to upstage the latest-and-greatest caffeine pump of the moment, but drip really is something new.

drip street menu

First of all, it goes where many other shops don’t – organic. As a recent adopter of the all-organic lifestyle myself, I was through-the-roof excited to have a place to go that shared my gastronomic viewpoints, but let’s be honest – it’s not all spinach and carrots, either. May I tempt you with the cream cheese and nutella panini? The prosciutto, parmesan and mozzarella, tomato on a baguette? They even have an in-house baker with completely vegan cupcakes that I’d swear you wouldn’t know the difference. Local favorite: the OMG brownie. With incredibly reasonable prices, this is a no-brainer particularly for the downtown crowd.

drip menu

And we haven’t even talked about the coffee. For me, it’s gotta be dark and rich, very smooth, and cream – words that are thrown around in the coffee biz but I take them very seriously. Drip checked off all those items and more. It was decadent.  The presentation doesn’t hurt either. You take a seat, catch up on the news, and the service is more attentive than just grab-and-go.

drip coffee

If you haven’t tried drip yet, take a swing on 7th and drop by. You really can’t go wrong…and don’t say I didn’t warn you about the nutella panini. You’ll be hooked.

drip street view

drip coffee lounge

2325 N. 7th Street.

Phoenix, AZ 85006

www.dripcoffeelounge.com

Barrio Cafe

Hello, Guacamole.  Hello, Margarita. Hello, Good Time!

Barrio Cafe sign

You voted Barrio Cafe as the Best Mexican Restaurant in the Phoenix area, and we agree! Barrio is known for many things, including the tableside guacamole, the but most of all – the food.

Barrio guacamole

Locals will line up for an hour or more to be seated at one of the tables in the quaint room of Barrio just for the amazing flavors and combinations that they offer. Started by Chef Silvana Esparza in 2002, Barrio quickly became THE place to go. Maybe it’s the “Filete de mi Tita,” filet mignon with Mexican style crab, longaniza and Ancho chile sauce dripping over the top. Or maybe it’s the “Pollo en Mole,” with the most delicious red or black mole you have ever had – so flavorful, light and smooth.

Barrio eats!

Maybe it’s the “Pescado del Mar,” which is this tower of halibut, shrimp, scallops, crab and lobster, with a white wine and shallot cream sauce, chorizo and poblano peppers. How she marries these flavors together is amazing to me. Then again, her sauces can’t be beat. Everything is just enough spice, but not too much heat. Barrio’s creations hail from Southern Mexico, so the jalapenos and peppers that override the flavors in most traditional Mexican places are absent.

Barrio is not your normal beans-and-rice Mexican food, but rather an energetic, gourmet incarnation of Mexican cuisine. Not to mention, a treasure in the heart of Phoenix.

Barrio Cafe

2814 N. 16th Street

Phoenix, AZ 85006

www.barriocafe.com

Lon’s

You voted Lon’s as the best patio in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, and we couldn’t agree more.

Though I’d argue, it’s one of the best restaurants the Valley has to offer.

Sitting in the former home and studio of artist Alonzo Megargee, there is a rustic elegance, where the servers wear jeans but the patrons wear dresses and slacks. The cuisine and history command respect, and one bite in, you realize what is so special about this place.

Lon's at the Hermosa

Lon’s is at the Hermosa Inn, a quiet boutique-type hotel in Paradise Valley, so quaint and tucked into the landscape of centuries old palo verde trees, saguaros and creosotes, that without GPS, you’d nearly miss it. Lon’s is deemded an authentic hacienda – one of the few remaining in Arizona – but the views from the patio are completely unique. With seats under the stars, next to the fireplace or the melodic fountains, you look onto the northwestern hump – or the head – of Camelback Mountain. The Praying Monk is clearly silhouetted, the red rocks illuminate at sunset, and then they bring the food.

Patio at Lon's

It’s one of those places where everything is their signature, but there are a couple dishes that will really blow your mind. The natural braised beef short ribs come both as an app and an entree – they must know they are in high demand. They melt into your mouth, and the mac ‘n cheese with truffle oil is showstopping. My other favorite is the two pepper roasted pork, with the chutney and citrus butter asparagus.


Braised Beef Short Ribs

Two Pepper Pork

The bar, restaurant and patio are all like vignettes – everything seems quiet, private, and comfortable.  I highly recommend it to celebrate a special occassion or a quiet dinner to relax.  Just take it for the locals who voted it as the best patio, Lon’s is the place to be.

Patio at Lon's

5532 N. Palo Cristi Road

Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

(602) 955-7878

www.lons.com