Recipe for a great margarita: Run, don't walk, to El Encanto.
There's just something about the margs at Valley landmark El Encanto. Perhaps it's the quality ingredients. Perhaps it's the fact that they're so killer strong we're on our butts after just one. It doesn't hurt that the setting is so spectacular. Sit on the courtyard patio overlooking the huge pond at the old, mission-style building and watch the ducks and geese (be nice, and spring for a cup of birdseed from the bubblegum machine nearby). Service is another bonus: These folks have been around, they don't take any guff, but they know Arizona history and they melt like butter when you treat them right. Cheers, El Encanto.
Rabbit, fig and pine nut baklava with quail egg and chive sauce? Oh, sure, we had that for lunch. Eggplant tacos with lamb, arugula, Kasseri cheese, cucumber-radish relish and roasted tomato-garlic sauce? Yawn. Yeah, right.
Chances are even the most cultivated culinary diva hasn't experienced such extraordinary pairings as baby greens with roasted goat cheese, sun-dried pears, almond-honey brittle and balsamic-cactus fruit vinaigrette; or charbroiled beef tenderloin with potato-leek gratin, butternut squash, spinach, smoked bacon and provolone-filled green chile on a pool of sun-dried cherry barbecue sauce.
Medizona can get even the most jaded foodie to eat up and take notice.
At Farrelli's, we can scope out a potential paramour and enjoy a fine meal and a movie for only $43 (Here's the math: tickets, $12; sodas with free refills, $3; juicy Angus cheeseburgers on sourdough rolls with piles of fries, $18; and for dessert, homemade cheesecake, $10). For a first date, there's no debate: It's Farrelli's.
But mostly, we come for the sweet, ready-to-eat creations. There's no better pan dulce -- warm, fluffy and with just a hint of sugary tone. The empanadas are endearing, too, tart with pineapple or smooth with pumpkin. And these cooks know how to crank out the cookies, brightly colored frostings and all.