Wait, what? November's already over? Ah, so it is. And with it, some of the best things I ate.
From dishes like a Mexican breakfast by way of Paris to an abundantly spiced Chettinad dish and a perfectly prepared rainbow trout, here are 10 of the best things I ate in November, selected from reviews, first-time visits, and places I've popped into just because.
I hope it inspires. Enjoy.
Abuelita at The Mission
Nothing warms the soul during cooler weather quite like a comforting cup of hot chocolate. And when it comes to this popular heated beverage, no one does it quite like The Mission in Scottsdale. Only available during its weekend brunch (seriously, let's change that), the Abuelita ($5) is pretty much the cinnamon-tinged, chocolate-laced drink of your dreams topped with a heavenly clouds of fresh whipped dulce de leche or pumpkin whipped cream.
See also: 10 Best Things I Ate in October
Mutton Chukka at Chennai Chettinaad Palace
This North Phoenix restaurant focuses on the meat-centric and abundantly spiced cuisine of Chettinad, a remote region of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. For a true taste of the region, you'll want the mutton chukka, ($14.99), a bold dish of braised then fried lamb, bay and curry leaves, and red onion slices. After you work at the bone-in chunks of meat to get to their flavor, there is a heat nothing short of stunning, a complex harmony of Indian spices that punish and delight in equal measure.
Continental Club at Hopdoddy Burger Bar
The burgers at this Austin-based eatery (from the owners of Roaring Fork and Salty Sow) probably won't replace your sit-down restaurant favorite, but they're solid enough that, for counter-service eats, they already rival some of the best in town. The sleeper hit is the turkey burger called the Continental Club ($8). On par with its beefy brethren, it's layered with a well-seasoned, juicy turkey patty, applewood-smoked bacon, and a basil-mayo pesto along with provolone and arugula on a pillowy but sturdy wheat bun.
Broiled Rainbow Trout at Grassroots Kitchen & Tap
The rainbow trout ($19) at this Houston's meets neighborhood hangout in North Scottsdale is nothing short of perfect. The fish is supremely fresh, broiled in a bit of oil and gently seasoned with salt and pepper. And the accompanying chard, sautéed until it's rich and mellow then topped with a tuft of grated Italian Pecorino, tastes as though it had been plucked from the nearest garden that day.
Ceviche de Camaron at Mariscos Altata
At this very good (and very noisy) Mexican beach party on the city's west side, you'll find prawns marinated in citrus and mixed with chopped bits of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and spices for ceviche ($3.75) so heaped upon a crunchy tostada base that it spills out onto the plate. Follow each bite with a generous, fizzy swig of spicy, salty, and tomatoey michelada.
Noodles with Shrimp, Corn, and Curry at China Magic Noodle House
The magic at this modest Chinese restaurant, around the corner from Lee Lee Oriental Supermarket in Chandler, comes first from watching the stretching, slinging, spinning, and pulling of dough into five kinds of made-to-order noodles. After that, it's up to you to make whatever you've ordered -- like an excellent plate of noodles, shrimp, and corn in a mildly spicy curry sauce ($5.95) -- disappear.
Cuban-Style Sandwich at The Deli
The Deli calls itself the best-kept secret in Queen Creek -- and it is. Find it and you'll want Blake and Nicole Mastyk's (Cartwright's, Tonto Bar & Grill) version of the Cuban sandwich ($4.95/half, $7.95/whole). Packed with roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and a Dijon aioli on your choice of bread, a half portion of the sandwich is probably all you'll need -- especially if you're adding on a side of stellar bacon-studded potato salad ($1.50).
Huevos Frenchos at Essence Bakery
For a Mexican breakfast by way of Paris, you'll want the Huevos Frenchos ($7.25) at this top-notch bakery and restaurant (now in Phoenix as well as Tempe) from Eugenia Theodosopoulos and husband and co-owner Gilles Combes. The luscious and creamy French-style scrambled eggs come topped with avocado and bright tomato salsa. Sides of perfectly prepared potatoes and an (optional) plump and peppery sausage bring a bit of French country comfort to an a.m. meal worth getting out of bed for.
Oven-Baked Wings at Pizza People Pub
The wings ($5.95/5, $10.95/10) at Tim and MaryBeth Scanlon's new restaurant in Midtown are very good -- oven-roasted, meaty, and with just enough sauce. Even better is the fact that they come with a miniature garden of dip-worthy fresh veggies (forget the straggly stalks of celery) that not only provide a nice balance to the protein but make you wonder why everyone else isn't doing it this way.
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At Brad and Kat Moore's urban shrine to sausages in downtown Phoenix, the best premium dog in the pack is the Sunny ($9.50). A peppery, juicy chicken frank topped with bits of grilled seasonal fruit, prosciutto, arugula, goat cheese, honey and cracked pepper, this sweet and creamy creation is more or less Short Leash's summertime culinary picnic of wiener-dom.
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