Salty Sow gets an “Oh, wow!”

Why, oh why, did we wait a whole year into moving here before trying out this place? You mean we could have been eating here for a WHOLE year by now?? Well, on the up side we did end up eating here and fell in love. We were directed this way via Yelp (of course) and the high volume of positive reviews – which obviously weren’t lyin’.

Knowing we wanted to try somewhere new, and diligently trying to check places off of our ever growing “bookmark” lists, this place popped up since we were at the Paradise Valley Mall, which is conveniently right across the street. Parked the car, and headed around the corner to the front entry way.

Once inside the place oozed ambiance and the decor went from classy, high-end styled seats, to folksy art pig paintings on the wall and Edison-esque lighting. We  were ushered to a half booth, half high-top table spot close to the bar and our waitress (and her amazing trainee for the evening) greeted us pretty instantly. Menus were handed over and briefly explained. We were lucky enough to hit them for happy hour – which is seven, yes SEVEN, days a week! Whoo! That’s a big win for us since during the work week it’s difficult for me to get out of work in time for most happy hour offerings.

When our waitress and trainee returned to the table, we explained that we were total noobs to this whole gig and she quickly offered up suggestions from apps, to drinks, to happy hour “must-try” small bites. We opted for the truffled deviled eggs app, my drink was the The Petey, his was a standard rum and coke, a so-called “small” plate of honey rosemary dipped fried chicken, a spit-roasted pork taco, and finally, a beef shoulder taco…all of the food was on the $5/each happy hour menu! I mean…it’s $5…

Eggs = holy cow, best deviled eggs…ever. The salty-bacon bits inside of the delectable truffle mix filling was unreal good. My drink came as a recommendation from the waitress and it was an amazing blend of refreshing citrus and mint along with a touch of tart grapefruit vodka and agave. The fried chicken and tacos, while supposedly “small” plates, were full on meals in and of themselves. The chicken was two full-sized large tenders smothered in what I can only say is honey sauce from heaven. The tacos were stuffed to the brim with meat and toppings. The pork and steak were done perfectly and the toppings, while plentiful, weren’t added on to the point of being distracting from the meat, which is the point of a taco…am I right??

Finally – and go ahead and judge our gluttony here, cause we are totally NOT regretful at all on this – we had TWO desserts, cause, we really honestly could not decide on just one. We went for the bananas foster beignets and the truffle chocolate cake. Seriously tell me you could pick just one of those…go ahead…I’ll wait….

Once they arrived, we did for half of a second regret ordering two cause these babies were ginormous offerings of dessert, for an extremely reasonable price point. The chocolate was my fave, but I’m a chocolate lover. That being said, if we had only ordered the banana dessert, I would have been completely happy.

Overall: A+
A-wait for it-mazing food. Great service from start to finish. Strong drinks. Happy hour ALL week long with great prices. BAM! We’ll be back, no question there.Rosemary Honey Dipped Fried Chicken - Salty Sow

Holy Empanadas!

My husband and I love empanadas! Coming from Orlando we were spoiled to have the option to grab up these amazing stuffed pastries just about anywhere in town from a variety of amazing eateries (and one really great food truck)! Moving out to Phoenix, we have been missing out on these and really wanted a taste of “home” to make us feel better as it heats up to the triple digits.

I explained my predicament to a co-worker and she immediately suggested Republica Empanada. The name alone gave me great hope for this place since most places don’t put a food in their name unless they are ready to throw down in the kitchen with their recipe offering.  We made a plan to head on over on a Tuesday night since that worked best with the hubs schedule so he could tag along and not be sent pictures at work of me munching down some deliciousness without him.

Driving down to Mesa is a bit of a ways for us since I work in Scottsdale, but we live on the edge of Cave Creek, however, we were willing to make it happen for some good eats. The parking lot was a bit tight, but there is plenty of parking on the street and surrounding area, so no biggie. Walking in you’ll see a smaller location with an eclectic sense of design and quirky seating. The hostess / our waitress sat us immediately and took our drink orders, since we lucked out and hit them at happy hour (3-7 p.m.). My co-worker ran a touch late and we enjoyed watching Raising Arizona on their flat screen hanging from the wall. Once she arrived, we ordered up 2 of the dinner platter meals, which includes 2 empanadas of your choice, a salad, maduros, rice and black beans.

Really the meal itself was a blur since I think we scarfed them down so quickly I can’t really tell you which was my favorite! They were all really well made and stuffed to the brim with the fillings listed on the menu. The rice was cooked to perfection and the black beans made for the perfect combo. The maduros, however, were my favorite of the sides. Sweet toasted banana like fruit amazingness on a plate.

Although we were stuffed, we just had to give the desserts a try. Empanada dessert?! Um, yes please. So we ordered the fig and cheese and The King (read banana and peanut butter stuffed). Both were tasty, but I think I’ll try the guava one next round!

My overall thoughts? Go and eat things, you won’t regret it!

Aioli Burger Food Truck Adventures

My husband and I were looking to try something new for my lunch break at work.  I’m sure you can relate, right? When you work in one area for awhile you get pretty tired of the “local” options for food and some days you just don’t want to brown bag it either.  Luckily, food trucks come close to us!

I recently started following Aioli food trucks on Twitter to get all the 411 on where they will be and when (you can do the same here: https://twitter.com/aioliburgers).  They are pretty good about keeping up with social media to get you all the news you could want to know about their schedule.

I don’t work in the corporate complex that they were in today, however, I work close enough to make a short drive to get over there and that’s exactly what we opted to do. The parking garage was pretty convenient and it was a short walk to where they were parked and serving.

Their menu ranges from a variety of burger options to gourmet salads, so there really is something for everyone here. I went with the White Truffle and Swiss, and he got the Aioli Burger. Both of us ordered fries – which we quickly learned we could have shared after we saw the generous helping they give you! (Side note: be sure to check in to their truck on Yelp for a free side of fries with purchase offer!)  The burgers were cooked to order and everything was amazing.  I can tell you that there was a solid ten minutes of silence as we both ventured into the world of burger bliss and forgot everything else – like conversation. You know the food is good when no one is talking.

My recommendation: Stalk them on Twitter, find out when they are in your area, and hit them up!

Panda Express – I want to love you, but you make it so hard!

I don’t know why, but I really want to like Panda Express. Maybe it’s the concept, or that I love Chinese food, or that I just really want a quick and easy place to go to for lunch on a workday…  Any way you slice it I really want to love Panda.  I do.  But, on the whole it never lives up to the expectation I have in my head.  Here’s my review for the location at:

  • 14850 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd
    Ste 101

Standard location for the chain. Orange chicken was cooked well, the rice was a touch undercooked a little crunchy in parts, the chicken egg roll was tasty.  Staff was friendly and moved the line quickly and easily.

The place was very clean even though it was right around lunch time and busy.  They kept up on the cleaning while we ate as well after patrons would leave and the tables weren’t up to par.

Overall: B+
It’s not gourmet (I think you probably knew that before heading in), but it’s a good lunch stop!  =)

Check out this review, and more of my reviews on Yelp!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/panda-express-scottsdale-6?hrid=PAraaPBtFiFbazuTGhQXVQ

Hula’s Modern Tiki Bar

Hula’s Modern Tiki Bar

This is an absolute “must-do” when in Phoenix, or their NEW Scottsdale location (opened 2014).

The link above will take you to my Yelp review for this place and all its amazingness!

Since we have been to their Scottsdale location a few times and loved it – we of course had to head to the original! We opted to sit at the bar and enjoyed that they had the patio completely open so we could enjoy the amazing night despite not sitting outside.

We made it a point to head out on a Tuesday since it was 2 for $20 appetizer and drinks night.  Of course we went with the staple Dr. Funk for our drink (couldn’t pass it up) and I had the coconut shrimp rolls, while he opted for the wings and added on the small fries ($4).  The food was great, the projector on the side of the ceiling was fun, and the ambiance overall was a winner.

The only off thing at this location was the bill.  We got our bill and the bartender ended up having to explain what was done. It looked like they rang up our food and drinks and then rang up the $20 deal, so our total was originally $68 dollars, of which they took $38 off in discounts, which was still off, since with the two app, two drinks and fries it should have been $24+ tax, not the $30 it was after all the odd line items.  We are guessing that something wasn’t accounted for in the discounts? It was too confusing to argue over the extra money since we weren’t even sure where the mistake was!

Overall: A-
As expected the food and drinks were amazing, the staff was friendly and ambiance was great (really cool patio, funky window facing out to a church, projector movie on side of ceiling, etc.).  Only downside was a confusing bill, but sincerely doubt that will prevent us from returning again and again!

Weekly Specials Shrimp Rolls

There is a movie projector inside of this location!

There is a movie projector inside of this location!

Mai Tai on left, Dr. Funk on right!

Mai Tai on left, Dr. Funk on right!