Did you wait until the last minute to plan something for dear old Dad? Fear not, these three restaurants have been signed-off on by our restaurant critic, thus increasing your odds of having a great meal, whether you take Daddy out for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
Brunch at SumoMaya in Scottsdale
A loud, happy scene is all part of the experience of SumoMaya’s newish Bottomless Brunch, a multicourse spread of about 15 dishes, most of them small plates. True to its name, you can order complimentary seconds (or thirds, or fourths) of any small plate at any point during your meal. More likely, though, you’ll be too stuffed to finish the first go-around.
The first wave of dishes at Bottomless Brunch are mostly sweet and light, seemingly designed to whet your appetite. It starts with a basket of Mexican pan dulce, a modest assortment that might include a concha sliced into bite-size portions; half of a sugar-crusted elote pastry; maybe half of a crispy, syrup-shellacked oreja.
Four savory dishes come next, including huevos revueltos al albañil, well-seasoned, buttery scrambled eggs blended with salsa, and a pomegranate guacamole, punched up with strips of dried fruit, that is wonderful.
The centerpiece of Bottomless Brunch is your entrée — there are about 16 to pick from, and it’s pretty much the only thing on the menu that isn’t bottomless.
Dinner at SoSoBa, Downtown Phoenix
The Mic Drop, SoSoBa’s pork-overloaded bowl of salty, rich intensity.
The restaurant continues to feel like one of the hipper spots on Roosevelt, with its spacious, dimly lit, unpretentious dining room. The low-slung booths and indie rock playing over the house speakers are cozy and inviting. And there is a small, friendly-looking patio bedecked with strings of lights offering front row seats to Roosevelt people-watching and street life. And even with the local forecast entering triple-digit territory, it’s impossible to resist SoSoBa’s small but enticing menu of noodle bowls.
About half the menu is composed of appetizers, and that’s where you’ll find some of the restaurant’s most playful dishes. A good place to start is the sweet chile calamari plate. The light, crisp batter on the squid is hard to resist, as is the nicely piquant chile dressing. A pork and kimchi tostada? This dish is surprisingly great. The acidity of the kimchi helps balance the richness of the braised pork, and a dappling of sambal aioli adds a pleasant hit of heat to this Mex-Korean mashup. It’s the kind of dish that showcases the restaurant’s knack for harnessing unlikely yet compatible flavors, often to delicious effect.
Have a Casual Aussie Supper and Pint at The Great Australian Bakery in Scottsdale
Cottage Pie at The Great Australian Bakery
The counter-service bakery and bar, which has been open for a little more than a year now, is situated inside a sprawling food-court-like space. The large space is casually divided in half between a bakery on one side, and a bar on the other. The bar — an employee told me recently that it’s called the Billabong Bar — is a sports loungey spot where you can sip on a cocktail, beer, or an Australian specialty like a tall glass of Lemon Lime & Bitters, which here is essentially a glass of Sprite gently spiked with bitters.
The main draw at The Great Australian Bakery, though, is the well-stocked bakery case, which is sort of a carb-lover’s version of paradise: It’s lined with neat rows of meat-stuffed, golden-brown pies and various other fresh-baked treats. A highlight is the cottage pie, which is similar to a shepherd’s pie, but instead of the mashed potato crust, the pie is topped with a generous scoop of creamy, homemade potato mash. Inside, the pie is crammed with minced beef, carrots, onions, and peas, all of it pleasingly dressed in a light and savory tomato sauce.
The red chicken curry pie is packed with marinated hunks of chicken, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms, everything wrapped up in the perfume and flavor of a wonderful coconut curry sauce. After eating a dozen or so meat pies at The Great Australian Bakery, this is the one we can’t stop thinking about.