Best Dining as Theater 2010 | Le Chalet | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Is it the bubbling bowl of molten cheese delivered to the table with soft hunks of bread, perfect for sparking conversation and a little dinnertime fun? Could it be your waiter flipping booze bottles behind the bar when he's not regaling you with drool-worthy food descriptions? Or is it perhaps the old-school performance art of a cook dousing hunks of beef with whiskey and flambé-ing them tableside as meaty juices drip onto a platter of rice? It's probably all of the above that makes Le Chalet a hell of a fun place to dine. And did we mention that they have TV screens showing someone in your kitchen making your crepe? Yep, that adds to the experience, too.
Sit at the long, gleaming counter at Posh, check your likes and dislikes on the unorthodox menu of ingredients, and settle in for a leisurely meal that's custom-made just for you. It sounds a heck of a lot like an omakase meal at a sushi bar, but this is something else — contemporary American cuisine with French influences (brûléed foie gras torchon) as well as Asian touches (raw bluefin tuna served three ways). Of course, it comes as no surprise to find out that chef-owner Joshua Hebert has worked in Japan and has brought back an appreciation for the way sushi chefs personalize the dining experience for each customer. Hang out at Posh's counter and you won't just see Hebert at work. You'll also get to meet the man behind the food.
What's the secret to success for this always-hoppin' winebar (which cloned itself last year, yet still has its mojo)? Somehow, the folks at Postino have found the sweet spot of style, service, and accessible food, whether you're talking a lively weekend brunch with friends, after-work vino and a bite, or a cozy, candlelit meal with a date. The selection of salads, bruschetta, cheeses, and sandwiches is simple but perfectly suited to go with one of the wines from the eclectic rotating menu; you can also buy by the bottle and take a little bit of the fun vibe home with you. Cheers to the good life at Postino.
Heather Hoch
Hitting the town with somebody new? Tasty eats like grilled asparagus with preserved lemon, delicious handmade pastas (we love the tagliatelle with speck, grilled radicchio, and pecorino crema), juicy burgers, and, of course, pizzas make this parlor a favorite for both lunch and dinner. Craft cocktails, beer, and wine keep conversation well lubricated, so to speak, and if it turns out that your date isn't all that interesting, there's plenty of fun people-watching in the dining room, outdoor patio, and bar area. You can't go wrong with The Parlor.
Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse
It doesn't matter whether it's a clear, starry night, a hazy pink sunset, or the middle of an electrical storm, there's no better place to dine and get an eyeful of the Valley than from J&G Steakhouse. Perched up at The Phoenician, facing south, celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's stylish steakhouse has vast city views that compete with the excellent steakhouse fare coming out of chef de cuisine Jacques Qualin's kitchen. While we prefer to get the deluxe treatment in the dining room, the views are just as good from the lounge, where you can order a burger and beer and get a taste of the J&G experience at a sweet price.
Courtesy of Modern Steak
Steaks here are delicious, but there's more than meats, er, meets the eye at Modern Steak. We also adore the lovely, fresh salads, quirky eats like the foot-long Kobe beef hotdog, appealing seafood dishes such as miso-glazed Chilean sea bass with crispy oyster mushrooms, and desserts that aren't just an afterthought (a sampler of moist cupcakes, crowned with creamy frosting, is our favorite). What's more, the scene here is packed with tasty eye candy — just wading through the crowd to get to the bar makes for interesting people-watching, and the cleverly shaded patio makes dining right next to the Fashion Square parking lot seem genuinely desirable. Who'da thunk it?
Sick of typical dips? Scoop up something with a little snap from Sabeur Ruin, a.k.a. Dr. Hummus. A native of North Africa, Ruin regularly prescribes his chickpea concoctions as the cure-all for dull party fare. A secret family recipe handed down from his grandmother, the hummus comes in four flavors, including Original, Artichoke, Garlic, and as a nod to Ruin's adopted hometown of Phoenix, Spicy Jalapeño. Pair one of these with Dr. Hummus' homemade pita chips and you've got a healthful snack that is just what the doctor ordered.
Kyle Lamb
Describe a flavor with adjectives like smoky, spicy, and multi-layered, and you might expect to be sampling a fine wine, not noshing on the culinary handiwork of the folks at Schreiner's Fine Sausages. After having purchased the business from its original owners, Gary Schiller has been handcrafting quality meat products for almost 30 years. His experience and love for the business is evident in the amazing flavors produced in the small smoke shop located behind the iconic red-and-white retail front. With more than 60 varieties to choose from, we feel confident that just one bite of a Schreiner's sausage will have you singing its praises.
When it comes to food, simple is usually best. Why mess up something yummy with unnecessary complication? So when we're hungry for kimchee, we simply head for Paldo Market. Paldo has freshly made containers of the Korean staple ready to go in multiple varieties. If Napa cabbage is your favorite flavor, rest assured it's so delicious that the temptation to consume it all on the drive home may be too much to resist. We prefer the green onion version, stir-fried with a little bulgogi. Either way you're consuming a locally made version of a dish Health magazine declared one of the world's healthiest foods.
We shouldn't be telling you about this. But on Friday mornings, Royal at the Market gives birth to the most decadent of breakfast treats. It's got chocolate. It's got bacon. It's available for only a few nanoseconds. We're talking about bacon brownies. If you're at the Royal at 8 a.m. (if you can't make it that early, you don't deserve the brownies), you'll smell them baking. Get in line and pray to God that there's no one ahead of you. The faithful will be rewarded with the most lusciously indulgent salty square of satisfaction known to man. Those who show up late will find that they're sold out. How long do you expect bacon brownies to last?

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