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5 Best Things I Ate and Drank in January

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From a neighborhood Mexican restaurant to one of the trendiest places for brunch, each restaurant on this list merits a visit. I can promise there's at least one thing on each menu that I'd be happy to eat again. Some of these bites reflect the current dining trends or the flavor of the season, while others are the kind of standbys you can count on any day of the year.  

I hope you get to try some of it for yourself soon.

Bagel and Lox from Super Chunk Sweets and Treats

Country and Sergio Velador's Old Town Scottsdale sweet shop long has been one of my favorite places for an afternoon snack, and last month, the couple added a menu of savory breakfast and lunch options to the mix, including handmade bagels that make Super Chunk a don't-miss morning stop, too. Made with wild yeast, these sourdough bagels are unlike anything else in town, offering a hard crust and a dense but soft interior. Both the everything and salt varieties are worth a try, but when it comes to a vehicle for slices of lox, you'll want the former. With a schmear of cream cheese and some tomato and onion, it's a near-perfect way to start the day.

Crispy Dog from Short Leash Sit...Stay

If a taquito and a hot dog had a cheese-filled baby, it'd be the Crispy Dog from Short Leash's restaurant on Roosevelt Row. These deep-fried dogs are hard to resist once you've read the description: "Two cheesefurters rolled in corn tortillas and deep-fried." It's also the kind of dish that has you feeling guilty but gleeful while eating. Each bite delivers a satisfying crunch followed by a mouthful of cheese and meat that's perfectly balanced with a healthy dab of the accompanying spicy avocado cream sauce. 

Baked Lumache Pasta from Ocotillo 

If you've been wondering where to find winter in the Valley of the Sun, the answer is in this castiron skillet at Ocotillo in Central Phoenix. The restaurant's baked lumache entrée combines freshly made pasta shells with roasted squash, winter greens, sage, and goat cheese to make a dish that embodies the culinary spirit of the season without being too heavy or too rich. The sweetness of the Butterkin squash lifts the flavors of the dish, while the fragrant sage adds depth and warmth to each bite. 

Bloody Mary from The Henry 

Head to Sam Fox's The Henry on a Sunday morning and you'll find a crowded dining room filled with people digging into breakfast burritos, egg white scrambles, and kale salads. There also will be a roving cart loaded with everything you need to make a Bloody Mary, and when you see it, make sure it stops at your table. Though you'll have several choices of types of vodka to use as the base for your cocktail, you'll want to choose the house specialty: vodka infused with garlic and just a touch of rosemary. The garlic adds a layer of heat to the moderately spicy Bloody Mary mix and the rosemary — just enough to detect but not so much as to leave your mouth feeling like a bowl of potpourri — contributes a complex, herbal quality that will appeal to fans of the gin-based Bloody Mary (otherwise known as a Red Snapper).

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo from Las Jicaras Mexican Grill

Located in Sunnyslope (specifically at 722 West Hatcher Road), Las Jicaras Mexican Grill is an above-average neighborhood restaurant where you can count on finding well-executed, homestyle Mexican food served in the kind of portions that nearly always require a take-home box. The restaurant's giant menu can be paralyzing for first-time diners, so if you're looking for a good place to start try the camarones al mojo de ajo. You'll get a platter loaded with more shrimp than than most people can eat, each one soaked in a bright but balanced garlic sauce. Served with a side of corn tortillas, it makes a filling and flavorful meal at a generous price point. 

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