Monthly Archives: April 2010

Mother’s Day Top Picks

You’ve gotta do something special for your mom, sister, wife or friend this Mother’s Day, so how about some good conversation over a very good meal. But you don’t want to do something too typical, right? Right. So here are our top three-ish options for where to take her for something special.

1. Quiessence at the Farm at South Mountain

Quiessence is known for it’s literal farm-to-table meals, for it’s amazing Chef LaPrad and the very scenic beauty. Just driving up, you feel like you’re somewhere magical. Well, it gets better for Mom’s Day, because in addition to a very affordable $59 per person three-course dinner, you can also get your mama a massage and take family photos on the beautiful grounds. The food is amazing too; choices of Creamy French Onion Soup, Alaskan Halibut, Pan Seared Chicken – all local, all amazing.

Seating times for dinner are 4-5pm or 6-7pm, with the massages and photos from 4:30-6:30, depending on your dinner time.

Check out the menu and call 602-276-0601 for details and reservations.

Quiessence at the Farm at the South Mountain

Quiessence at the Farm at the South Mountain

2. Cafe Zuzu at Hotel Valley Ho

Let’s say your mom is kinda hip, a little funky, but classy all the way. Where should you take her? One word – Zuzu. You can sit in their retro dining room, or outside under the palms, to enjoy their food from the much beloved Chef Charles Wiley. The Thick Belgian Waffles with Sun-dried Cherry Butter is a sure winner, or the Stuffed French Toast made with brioche and filled with lemon cream cheese and berries. It’s all a la carte, and more standard breakfast options are available as well.

Brunch runs from 6am – 3pm, but the special menu doesn’t start till 11am.

Call 480.421.7997 for details or visit

3. Greater Phoenix Resorts

You really can’t go wrong with any of the resorts here, but hit Prado at the Montelucia, the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge or the Fairmont Scottsdale for some elegant and special brunches. Frank & Albert’s at the Arizona Biltmore is a more casual but still very nice choice, and while it’s not really a resort, the Wrigley Mansion is super cool and sophisticated and will be very memorable, both from the food and the ambience.

Peaceful Soul


Peaceful Soul

Peaceful Soul is a shop just on the edge of downtown Phoenix on 7th Street next to The Main Ingredient, that always piques the curiosity of drivers-by with the furniture sitting out front. While at first I wondered if it was a new yoga studio, maybe a beverage place, maybe a clothing store, I was excited to hear that they had one of the best collections of furniture in Phoenix.

Drop by and you’ll find long rooms filled with pieces from around the country, hand-picked by the owner. Every style, every era – you’ll find it here. They sell new pieces, consignment and resale, so to go in with an open mind is your best bet.

One part you must check out – the jewelry “vault.” It’s literally an old bank vault from when the building was constructed as such in the early 1900s. You’ll find some pretty great handbags and accessories in there, too.

If you’re a local looking for an eclectic resource for furniture, this is your spot.

Peaceful Soul
2501 N 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Opening: Musical Instrument Museum

Musical Instrument Museum

Tomorrow marks the opening of the Musical Instrument Museum in North Phoenix, and the new museum is a landmark for Phoenix and the country.

You may be wondering what goes in a museum like this, except, well, instruments. For starters, it goes way beyond the recorders you had in 3rd grade music class. Different areas showcase instruments from around the world, from countries you probably haven’t heard of.

There will be some special eye candy that you will recognize, though. John Lennon’s piano is there, all the way to modern “artifacts” like instruments from the recent Black Eyed Peas tour. The best part is that they’re not behind glass. That doesn’t mean you can go play “Imagine” or anything, but the founder, Bob Ulrich, wanted the guests to be able to see the instruments up-close.

And when all the “seeing” has built up in you, you can go to the Experience Room to play a whole bunch of instruments from around the world yourself, including a huge gong. What’s not to love about banging a gong?

The Museum is also going to have concerts, starting with this weekend to kick it all off. On Sunday at 6:30pm Grammy award-winning folk and bluegrass fiddler, singer and songwriter Laurie Lewis, and bluegrass collaborator Tom Rozum will perform.

Prices for the MIM are affordable too, with adults at $15, seniors $13, kids 6-17 $10, and kids under 6 are free. The MIM is open 9am – 5pm Monday – Wednesday and Saturdays, 9am -9pm Thursday – Friday, and 10am – 5pm on Sundays.

For deets on the concert this Sunday and the Spring Concert Series (and just to check out the space), visit

Musical Instrument Museum
4725 E Mayo Boulevard
Phoenix, AZ 85050

Astronomy Day at AZ Science Center

Arizona Science Center

Tomorrow, April 24, from 10am – 10pm, the Arizona Science Center will host Astronomy Day, put on by Honeywell and it’s sure to be a big hit with adults and kids. Where else will you be able to boil water with ice, make a comet and see how telescopes were made in the Dorrance Planetarium (which is amazing on its own).

The best part is that starting at sunset, the party will move to Heritage Park, just outside the Science Center, to look through a huge telescope into the night sky. Astronomers will be on hand all day to answer questions and talk about their science, but this will be the best part for everyone.

Check it out!

Arizona Science Center
600 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

McDowell Mountain Music Festival

McDowell Mountain Music Festival

The McDowell Mountain Music Festival begins today in North Scottsdale, gates open at 4pm (which is perfect, because Happy Hour is from 4-6pm at the MMMF). Tomorrow and Sunday they open at 11am, and the schedule is crammed with local bands, including Ryan Shaw, Easton Ashe, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and the Sugar Thieves.  Assembly of Dust and Steve Kimock Crazy Engine perform at the After Hours events on Friday and Saturday night, respectively, and require a separate ticket. Those shows run from 11pm – 2am.

Single Day adult tickets are $35 on Friday and Sunday each; $45 on Saturday. But save yourself some cash and pay $100 for all three days and make a weekend out of it.

The event is put on by the same crew that owns The Compound Bar & Grill (next door to the MMMF this year), which always has live music and has become a major hot spot in northern Scottsdale/Phoenix.

Read more about the festival, including the full lineups and ticket information on their website.

Location: NE corner of 68th St. and Mayo Boulevard, just SW of the Scottsdale Rd/Loop 101 exit.

The Main Ingredient

You might remember my initial post, filled with anticipation, giddyness, and a watering mouth. Well, The Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe (TMI) is open and lives up to the hype.

“Hype” might not be the right word, considering this place is all about casual and easy-going, relaxing on their patio or maybe in front of the fireplace inside. The old Phoenix home is still there is spirit, enough to feel cozy with your beer and surprisingly delicious food. The menu is unassuming, with Starters, Salads, Hot Sandwiches and Dessert, but what they do, they do well. They have some of the absolute best chips and salsa I’ve had in this town (and I’ve nearly tried them ALL), which pairs beautifully, by the way, with their Coke or Coke Light from Sonora, Mexico (yes, it’s an entirely different product).

I could go on about the food – the Tuna Salad Salad, the Red Goat, Mindy’s Mac ‘n Cheese, The Sheridan sandwich, the Jive Turkey or The Calvano (with sopressata, aged provolone, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers) are all amazing and use local ingredients where they can.

The Main Ingredient Sandwich

The RB&C Sandwich

But you also come for the beer. It is called an Ale House, and while the adult beverages list is also heavy on wine, it has eight on draught, half of those from our great state. The Four Peaks Hefeweizen pairs gloriously with their patio and a pair of sunglasses, by the way.The bottle list is more extensive, and draws heavily from the lauded beers of the Western region.

Whatever you come for – the food, the drink, the atmosphere – this is a place that has made a great first impression on the Phoenix crowd and it’ll be around for a while.

The Main Ingredient Ale House & Cafe

The Main Ingredient
2337 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Local Fave: Devil’s Martini

Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe are known for their nightlife, and make no mistake, there are bars and dance clubs abounding. But just like anywhere else, there are a few hot spots that stick out above the rest. For us Phoenicians, it’s Devil’s Martini in Scottsdale. Now there are two locations – one in Old Town – and “Devil’s north” on Scottsdale Rd & Shea, and now Devil’s Martini has been voted by our blog readers as the Best Nightlife Spot.

At either location, you can expect to find a perfect combination of bar, lounge and dance club, all with a very open, airy, Hamptons-y feel to it. The DJs are always the top crop in town, and the dance floor is pretty packed starting at about 10:30, although there’s always room for one more person, somehow.

Devil's Martini

The drinks are always flowing, too. Unlike other bars that demand long wait times for a drink, both Devil’s locations have multiple bars so you can squeeze in and get your beverage of choice. The multi-bar floor plan also serves to accommodate the non-dancing (read: most men) crowd. Yes, the dance floor is hoppin’ but there is plenty of seating for those who just don’t have the moves. That’s actually one reason it has become so popular – there’s a spot for everyone.

There’s also a spot in line for you, too. That’s right – the popular places come at a bit of a price. Typically at 11pm or after, you’re gonna have to wait a little to get in. It might be 10 minutes, it might be 30, but it’s always worth it.

Devil’s Martini (original location)
4175 North Goldwater Boulevard
Scottsdale, AZ‎

Biltmore Fashion Park

Let’s just be honest – the best places to shop are also the best places to just be – where you can stroll around, grab a cup of coffee, and leisurely get your fill of retail therapy and a beautiful environment. Enter Biltmore Fashion Park to play the part wonderfully. A bunch of high-end to mid-line shops all with their doors open and the breeze blowing in, not to mention the immaculate lawns, gardens and fountains. Every little turn is a different garden area.

A couple years ago, they also renovated the exterior to harken back to the first days of the Biltmore shopping area, and now it’s a great blend of retro and modern. The Biltmore area is called such because of the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, which sits just behind the shopping center. The sprawling resort was built in 1929 by the Wrigley family (hence The Wrigley Mansion, also in the Biltmore area), and now “The Biltmore Area” refers to the resort, the shops, the surrounding restaurants and neighborhoods. “The Biltmore” can either mean the resort or the shopping center, depending on the context. Now you know the lingo.

Biltmore Fashion Park

The Center Lawn is the big focal point of the Biltmore, and it’s bigger than a camera can get. They have a bunch of events here year round (and about every day for picnics at lunch), but the most popular are the Movies in the Park, where they show generally older landmark films like Singin’ in the Rain or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. James Bond has been known to turn up on the screen as well.

Biltmore Fashion Park

As mentioned, the fountains and gardens are all over the place, mixing with the architectural lines. Lines are not found, however, at the stores. No matter how busy, there is always a certain calm feeling at the Biltmore that makes it great for strolling. And there are the signature stores like Saks and Macy’s and Pottery Barn, but there are also local boutiques like Cornelia Park, a home store that makes the best decorators swoon, and This Little Piggy Wears Cotton, which the locals know as the best kids’ shop in the area. There are also exclusive shops like Calypso St. Barth, Escada and even an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa.

Biltmore Fashion Park

When you’re there, make sure you take time to replenish your shopping fuel at one of the restaurants. True Food Kitchen was opened by Sam Fox, a local restaurateur and Andrew Weil, the doctor known for his lessons in well-being (and if you wanted to try Green Tea Noodles, this is where to do it). Also stop by Christopher’s for an upscale treat (or swing by the lounge for a really good time) and Zinburger for a one-stop wine and burger run (because they go so great together).

Can’t you tell I love the Biltmore? Now happy shopping…and movie watching…and strolling…and eating…

Happy Hour at Tommy Bahama Cafe

We needed to do a little shopping at Kierland Commons (oh, darn) so we opted to stop by the Tommy Bahama Cafe for a little bite to eat and to soak up the beautiful day. From past experience, we knew that they offered some happy hour deals from 4 to 6pm, so we decided to go that route rather than a heavy meal. Their happy hour (or Island Time, as they call it) prices are great – $5 appetizers and wine – and they have live music which sets the perfect mood. Of course, they also offer some fantastic Island-y drinks. I just happened to be in the mood for a little wine this particular evening.

Live Music

Ahhh, this is the life

When our food arrived, I was so anxious to dive in that I forgot to snap pictures first. In the photos below, you’ll see that we had already indulged – I promise, there’s more food than you see here. I had the Coconut Shrimp (dee-licious) and Fish Tacos (also yummy), and my husband snacked on the Quesadilla and Sliders. He loved both, especially the cheeseburger slider.

Coconut Shrimp


So, the next time you’re in the mood for a little Island Time, head over to Tommy Bahama Cafe and get your happy hour on. Great prices, great food and great atmosphere. What’s not to love?

Tommy Bahama Cafe
Kierland Commons
15205 N. Kierland Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ