Just consider this a warning before your favorite restaurant goes a little beastly and tries to slip hooves onto its menu. Even if it has marmalade pesto foam on it, refrain. The day may come when you have to eat a foot. Today is not that day.

This is the part where you fall on your knees and thank whomever you need to thank that you live in Phoenix. You have amazing restaurants you can depend on, places that haven't changed their menus or recipes in decades and are there for you when you need something wonderful and reliable. Places that would never allow you to feel smug for ordering a bed of weeds even if you were attending a pretentious party afterward. This city was built on refried beans and tortillas. Stuff that's passed the test of time and not only survived, but still thrives. Each is a stone in the rock-solid foundation of Phoenix restaurants, and if I don't make it to one of them when I come back to my hometown, I feel cheated and get pissy.

There was a time when I ate at Rosita's Place (2310 E. McDowell Rd., 602-244-9779) every single day. It was down the street from my house, the beans are something magical, and I miss their green and red salsas more than I do my 18-year-old waist measurement. Been around since the '50s, with the pictures on the walls to prove it. Their newest waitress has only been there about seven years. Close your eyes and point to the menu. Everything is good here. Authentic Sonoran style.

During my extended stay at ASU, I survived in part because of the $1.20 wings at Long Wong's happy hour, but also because of Restaurant Mexico (423 S. Mill Ave., Ste. A, Tempe, 480-967-3280), which was then conveniently located right across the street from the university. I learned what mole was here (although to be honest, I was expecting chicken covered in Hershey's syrup), I had my first sope, and I had the lightbulb moment that queso fresco was actually the real Mexican food cheese. The people who eat the Mexico City-style grub here have been regulars for 30 years, even when it was next to a dirty bookstore. Don't be afraid. Now it's next to a law office.

Now, if you put melted butter on my burrito, I am just going to love you forever. Thank you, Casa Reynoso (3138 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, 480-966-0776, www.casareynoso.com), for filling that part of me I had no idea was empty. Established 27 years ago in this spot, the establishment is run by the same family who reigns over southeastern Arizona Mexican fare in the Globe tradition, which consists of fresh tortillas and the creamiest beans on the planet. And melted butter. I personally find that genius.

Rito's (907 N. 14th St., 602-262-9842) is the kind of place that you know about only because you live in the neighborhood or because someone from the neighborhood has taken you there — or you know someone who got shot down the street. Operating out of the old family homestead on 14th Street and Garfield, this place presents some challenges: There's usually a long line, and there's really no air conditioning or inside seating. But there's a reason people still eat there in mid-July on picnic tables under a tree in what used to be the front yard. I am telling you the truth that if you've never had a mixed burrito (beans, cheese, and green chile beef) from Rito's, rejoice, because your best food days are ahead of you. Plus everything's about $3 and is packaged to go, anyway, so if you work downtown or midtown, you're in the game.

Now, as a departure, there are no refried beans or tortillas at my next favorite place, but that's okay: There are plenty of fried things drowning in gravy instead. Mrs. White's Golden Rule Café (808 E. Jefferson St., 602-262-9256) has been in Arizona way longer than Jan Brewer. If you go expecting incredibly good food that may some day contribute to the hardening of an artery you probably don't need anyway, you will never be disappointed. Stand-outs are everything on the menu, which is written on a wall. My choice is usually chicken-fried steak. But I have to warn you: If chitlins should be the special that day, don't think you're a badass because you once ate a pigeon or a rabbit cooked in milk. Chitlins are for the pros only, and should you order those unprepared for the experience, you'll be wishing you had a plate full of nettles instead.

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8 comments
Lechef892
Lechef892

Laura - Love your writing style! i agree with everything you said.

lishuzheng
lishuzheng

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

/'/.../..../...../ˉ\........('(...′...′....ˉ~ /').........\.................'../..........\................../............\..............(.......

Corinne
Corinne

Write on, Laurie!. Always on the money, and always a smart ass!

fatoldcreepylonghairguy
fatoldcreepylonghairguy

Stanley's on McDowell near 22nd st is a pretty good old Phoenix place. I ate at the Nogales cafe in the deuce before it was torn down for AWA, now usair. Totally agree about Mrs. Whites and Ritos. If you read this Laurie, I want you to know I laughed pot loud while reading your other piece about the pot pies. You are a terrific writer and I miss your contributions to PNT. I've read your book of short stories, the one with "Red Mice", and think your writing has improved since then.

helentroy4
helentroy4

This 'nettles as food' phenomenon concerns me. OK, so I'm easily concerned about things.

When I was little and lived in rural Pennsylvania, we called the stuff "Burn Hazel." Years later I learned that it was a bastardization of the word brenhassel (sp? I don't know) a german word for stinging nettles.

I would run through the stuff down by the creek and the sting would last a half hour or more.

Has anyone ever checked to see if these things can sting your esophagus and stomach? I see anaphylactic shock in someone's future unless cooking the darn things renders them harmless.

I'd love to know the scientific stuff behind thsi.

 
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