By Heather Hoch
By Lauren Saria
By JK Grence
By Eric Schaefer
By Robrt L. Pela
By Eric Schaefer
By Laura Hahnefeld
By Laura Hahnefeld
Lunch: Cheap ethnic restaurant gems exist more in myth than reality. But Eliana's (1627 North 24th Street) is no dream. The Salvadoran specialties here will keep food lovers wide awake. Pupusas are fabulous corn masa patties stuffed with pork, peppers and cheese. The homemade chicken tamale takes you right to Central America. Wash down your meal with a tropical fruit drink, a refreshing antidote to the desert heat.
Dinner: Sometimes, primitive instincts drive me into a carnivorous frenzy. Since I've lost the hunting prowess of my cave-man ancestors, I satisfy my urge for huge slabs of prime animal protein by dropping big bucks at Morton's (Shops at the Esplanade, 2425 East Camelback), the Valley's premier steak house. The New York sirloin is ravishing enough to give vegetarians second thoughts. The 24-ounce porterhouse and butter-soft filet mignon move me to pound my chest in triumph.
Day Five: Thursday
Breakfast: Why mess with success? At the Original Pancake House (6840 East Camelback, Scottsdale), the proprietors know how to do one thing exceptionally well: make pancakes. It's good enough for me. These made-from-scratch beauties are so marvelous you can dispense with the syrup. The apple pancakes and Dutch Baby are the main glories, but every flapjack creation will start your day right.
Lunch: The soul food at Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe (808 East Jefferson) is not for the faint-hearted. Whether it's the man-size pork chops, the Southern-fried chicken or the chicken-fried steak, you won't have to do any soul searching to wipe your plate clean. Why the "Golden Rule" Cafe? Instead of getting a check at meal's end, patrons tell the trusting cashier what they had. Mrs. White's puts both your conscience and your belly at ease.
Dinner: If I were forced to eat at the same restaurant seven nights in a row, I'd probably choose RoxSand (Biltmore Fashion Park, 24th Street and Camelback). That's because the stylish, inventive "transnational" fare here never gets stale. Appetizers like rice tamales filled with curried lamb or Moroccan-inspired b'stilla and entrees like sea bass with a horseradish crust, or air-dried duck served with buckwheat crepes and a pistachio-onion marmalade, continue to keep me on the edge of my seat.
Day Six: Friday
Breakfast: If you've ever wanted to step into a Norman Rockwell painting, the Farmhouse (11421 South Gilbert Road, Gilbert) should feed your fantasy. This 1928 Craftsman-style house looks like it sprang from the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. The hearty, old-fashioned breakfasts do their own kind of feeding. Fluffy pancakes and rib-sticking omelets will give you the energy to plow the lower 40.
Lunch: For sophisticated noontime fare in a sophisticated setting, it's hard to top Christopher's Bistro (2398 East Camelback). The deferential service makes you feel like a somebody, even if you're not. The wonderful wine-by-the-glass list makes it easy to rationalize drinking before sunset. And the light, midday bistro fare--mostly pasta, fish and salads--will send you back to the office with a huge smile.
Dinner: Every year I readjust my list of personal restaurant favorites. Every year, Marquesa (Scottsdale Princess resort, 7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale) stays on it. That's because its Catalan fare continues to astound me with its complexity, variety and flavor. It's all irresistible: crabmeat and fontina cheese baked in sweet red peppers; saffron-coated mussels; paella Valenciana; zarzuela, a seafood stew; and saffron-poached shrimp layered with wild mushrooms and cheese.
Day Seven: Saturday
Breakfast: Whenever I want a taste of the old Brooklyn neighborhood, I head to Chompie's (3202 East Greenway Road). Most of the people here look like refugees from the outer boroughs, too. They've come for the same reason I have--great Jewish deli breakfast favorites, served in a bustling deli setting. Fill up on Phoenix's best bagels, homemade cream cheese, pickled herring, matzo brei, blintzes and rugalach. You can go home again.
Lunch: You could say that Los Dos Molinos (8646 South Central) is the place that launched a thousand chips. The New Mexican-style food here is hot, Hot, HOT! Adobada ribs, marinated in red chiles, light a flame in your heart. So will the green chile enchilada. Douse the fires with wonderful sopaipillas, which you can hose down with honey, cinnamon or sugar. The homemade tortillas are also outstanding.
Dinner: I want to end the week with exquisite gourmet fare. That means I'm headed to Christopher's (2398 East Camelback) for the staggering, seven-course "Menu Prestige." By the time I polish off the house-smoked salmon, foie gras, sauteed sweetbreads, lobster and scallops, smoked sirloin, the cheese plate and the chef's masterful hot-and-cold chocolate dessert, I can't believe I'm in the state of Arizona. I am, however, in a state of complete contentment.