Oscar Eats Out: Restaurants Best-Suited for This Year's Best Picture Nominees
Hang in there, motion picture fans, the wait is nearly over. Hollywood's orgy of self-congratulation and promotion, otherwise known as the Academy Awards, is this Sunday, February 26. And what better way to celebrate than with a Valley dining experience or two best-suited to the spirit of your favorite Best Picture nominee?
Here's a list of our favorites to get the movie reels spinning, but feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section.
Based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name, this picture's got Civil Rights-era America in the '60's, a white woman named "Skeeter" and her relationship with two black maids, and Jackson, Mississippi. Dining translation: Southern cookin', y'all. And in the Valley, that means Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe and Lolo's Chicken and Waffles (now with locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale). The only "Help" you'll need after eating at one of these two Southernfried favorites, is getting out of your chair. Hey-Yo!
A romantic drama set in 1920s Hollywood, this black and white and (mostly) silent nominee seems the most suited to an experience at Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club, the 1940s-style theater in Scottsdale -- but alas, the Valley favorite went the way of silent films last year. Which brings us to Wright's at the Arizona Biltmore, the only existing hotel in the world with a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced design, and whose sophisticated fare and stylish surroundings wax nostalgic with the era.
Directed by Martin Scorsese and a marketer's nightmare, this nominee (about an orphan who lives in a train station and hooks up with an automaton to solve some sort of mystery involving his dad) is set in 1930s Paris -- and that's the part we like best 'cause it means French restaurants. Where to start? Well, there's Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge, 2012 James Beard Award nominee Vincent on Camelback, Petite Maison, and Zinc Bistro just to name a few. Who needs a creepy automaton when you're awash in butter and cream?
Midnight in Paris
Since we can't have another nominee hogging up all the French restaurants in town, for this picture about an engaged couple -- one who's having an affair and the other who's having magical experiences after midnight -- we're concentrating on the less-French aspects of the film. Notably, for its adulterous fling, we'll go with Tryst Cafe in North Phoenix and for its stylish, late-night focus, upscale restaurants with extended hours like FnB, Posh, Noca, and Citizen Public House.
The Descendants This comedy-drama starring silver fox and Dr. Doug Ross, a.k.a. George Clooney, as a Honolulu-based lawyer dealing with his bratty kids after his wife goes into a coma means restaurants with a hot island flair. For that, you'll want to check out Hula's Modern Tiki, Aloha Kitchen in Mesa, or Leo's Island BBQ in Peoria. (R.I.P. Maui Dog, whose eats were as dreamy as Gorgeous George himself.)
Tree of Life
An American drama about a family with three boys in 1950s Texas with director Terrence Malick's what-the-hell's-going-on experimental touches like fragmented non-linear narrative and . . . wait a second, let's just stick with Texas on this one -- specifically, barbecue. And If you're looking for Texas 'que in Phoenix, then Texas BBQ House in South Phoenix is the place to mix excellent dry-rubbed and smoked meats with Malick. Polarizing or pioneering directorial style? Discuss.
Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on a kid's book set before and during World War I by British author Michael Morpurgo, we're going with English-themed pubs for this nominee about a young boy and his four-legged friend. If nothing else, the British definitely know how to tie one on, and that means a pint or two at The Rose & Crown or the George & Dragon Pub. Bonus points for riding up on your trusty steed who comes to you when you imitate the call of an owl by blowing through your cupped hands.
A drama about Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's attempt to put together a ball club on a budget and based on Michael Lewis' 2003 book of the same name, this picture is perfect, given the start of Spring Training season in the Valley. Next week, look for posts regarding eats around each of the stadiums, but in the meantime, get to some old friends and baseball-centered favorites like Don & Charlie's and Pink Pony (now with an updated interior and menu) in Scottsdale.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, this nominee tells the story of a kid searching New York City for the lock that matches a key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11. Too damned depressing to get happy about New York pizza joints in the Valley, we'd recommend simply grabbing a drink at your favorite watering hole on this one -- or, go with a more literal interpretation of the title and pop into Lux Central and hope the mac 'n' cheese is on the menu. That should make you feel better.
How'd we do, movie munchers? Can you think of additional pairings for these nine nominees? Let us know.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.