Is new always better? Of course not. But when it comes to the three new-ish restaurants that made my list of best bites last month, "new" at least means "pretty damn good." Two of my favorite dining experiences in October also came in the form of the most important meal of the day, breakfast, which I think can be seen as an indicator of a bigger breakfast renaissance happening around town. From doughnuts to bagels, breakfast foods are getting some real attention right now — and for anyone who likes to start off the day right, I think it's a wonderful thing. October's best plates also include a roasted chicken that's likely to become an instant classic and a plate of grilled meat that's already one of my favorite dishes in town.
I hope you get to try some of it for yourself soon.
Ocotillo Chicken at Ocotillo Restaurant and Bar
If you haven't already gotten over to the newly opened Ocotillo Restaurant and Bar, then you might be the only one. Already, this sprawling Central Phoenix eatery has become a go-to lunch spot for food lovers — and anyone who can appreciate delicious, real food at a fair price point. The lunch menu includes plenty of interesting dishes you're going to want to try (like the Japanese fish and chips and coconut curry soup), but save room for the restaurant's namesake roasted chicken. The Ocotillo chicken comes marinated in a simple but perfectly balanced combo of chiles, honey, citrus, and herbs that still leaves room to appreciate the flavor of the chicken meat. Served over a bed of potato salad that will have you dreaming of summer barbecues, this is everything roasted chicken should be but all too often isn't.
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Parrillada at Asadero Norte de Sonora
Next time you're craving excellent carne asada, just grab a lunch buddy and head to Asadero Norte de Sonora on 16th Street. The restaurant won't win you over with atmosphere (or parking availability), but it does serve a king-size parrillada, a giant platter of meat served over an open flame. If you order the half size ($13.50) you can choose three meats, though I usually opt for just two: the carne asada and al pastor. Along with the meats you get some of the city's best beans, either corn or flour tortillas, and a generous side of salsa and vegetables. For two people, it's plenty of food to ensure you leave happy and full — and maybe smelling slightly of grilled beef.
Breakfast at Noble Eatery
This month, Noble Eatery, the tiny lunch spot run by the duo behind Noble Bread, opened its doors for breakfast once a week. On Friday mornings, you can now swing by the restaurant for a light breakfast menu of toast and jam, pastries, and coffee. This isn't the kind of hearty American breakfast fare to which you might be accustomed, but rather a chance to slow down your morning, fuel up, and maybe catch up with neighbors and friends over single-origin coffee and artisan bread. With the later sunrise and cooler weather starting to kick in, it's hard not to feel sentimental about fall when you're eating bread made with spent grain from a local brewery while the bakery's wood-fired oven burns quietly in the background.
Grilled Campbell River Salmon at Buck &Rider
It should come as little surprise to Valley diners that the latest restaurant from LGO Concepts is already a hit. The folks who brought us La Grande Orange, Chelsea's Kitchen, and Ingo's Tasty Food unveiled Buck &Rider this month, a seafood restaurant that's got as much style — if not more — as it does culinary prowess. You won't really find any groundbreaking cuisine at this spot, but you will find high-quality seafood handled by folks who clearly know what they're doing. Take the restaurant's grilled salmon for example: marinated in a just-sweet-enough soy marinade and grilled to photo-worthy perfection, it's a salmon dish that might feel familiar — except done better than before.
Bagels at Odelay Bagel Co.
Ahwatukee may not be your first destination for breakfast, but thanks to the recently opened Odelay Bagel Co., it probably should be. Owner and bagel-maker Ryan Probst is boiling and baking more than a dozen types of bagels everyday and offers diners 10 types of housemade schmear to put on top. I tried more than a half-dozen different types of Odelay's bagels, but my favorite was the Everything bagel. Covered in a thick crust of sesame and poppy seeds and onions and garlic both on top and on the bottom, this bagel had both a nice bite and just the right amount of pull. It was doughy on the inside but with a hard exterior and might just be one of my new favorite breakfast offerings.