Restaurant: Alter Ego
Location: 108 East University Drive, Tempe
Open: About three weeks
Eats: Wings, American dishes, and vegan options
Price: $9 to $30
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily
Full disclosure: I love hotel restaurants. They have a way of making you feel like you’re on vacation, like you can splurge and abstain from checking email, even if you’re just doing takeout on a Thursday night. Alter Ego, the new restaurant on the ground floor of the Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown, had this same affect on me. It's located less than a mile from my house, but I ached to stick around and get a room.
A few bites into the skirt steak chimichurri, and I knew I’d made the right choice. The menu item combines steak slices, a salad of arugula and slivered radish, papas bravas (or heavily seasoned little potato chunks), and a green, pesto-like chimichurri sauce that is as salty as it is thick and textured. You want to get a little bit of everything into each forkful.
Even in the age of takeout, I highly recommend you pause the movie, get the lights up, and pay attention to this dish as you dissect and chew/evaluate, working your way to the sauce-stained bottom of the compostable (extra points) takeout container.
There are several interesting flatbread choices here, but we went with the three cheese and aged pepperoni: jack, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese, spicy pepperoni, and some arugula tossed on for color, looks. The flatbread pizza looked as though it might have been an unfortunate casualty of the travel time home, but a bite of it gave me my second surprise of the night. No travel time could take away from the intensity of this flatbread. I always want to salt pizza, to dip it into something — to not let the bread win. But that was not the case here. The salt made the flavors pop.
They came with a bright-yellow turmeric coconut yogurt sauce. Thank goodness this sauce came in a larger cup. I found myself reaching for pieces of the flatbread and leftover papas bravas to get more of this yellow yogurt goo into my face.
Unable to finish the peppers, they spent a night in the fridge. Both the peppers and sauce held up well — at least until lunch the following day.
The house fries were, unfortunately, an actual casualty of the travel time. Nobody’s fault. The few steak fries that did manage to stay close to their ideal form were crispy on the outside, soft and starchy inside, and barely needed the complimentary ketchup.
I’ve had better cobbler — it could have used a little more texture — but maybe I was just cranky because I just wanted more of the goat cheese gelato. I want to date this gelato. I want to take a bowl of it to all my favorite spots in town and introduce it to my family. In the future, I will kindly ask if I may have a full-assed pint of this to take home.
We didn't try any of the cocktails. When the time's right, I think I’ll come back and try the Alter Mi-Tai (Mi Campo Blanco Tequila, Kula Dark Rum, Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur, pineapple and lime juice, and cinnamon simple syrup).