The 6 best dishes we ate at Phoenix restaurants in November | Phoenix New Times

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The 6 best things we ate this month around Phoenix

From stellar breakfast plates to comforting dinner dishes, here are the best things we ate around the Valley in November.
Ms. Martha's serves a wide selection of excellent Caribbean cuisine. Make sure to try the oxtails.
Ms. Martha's serves a wide selection of excellent Caribbean cuisine. Make sure to try the oxtails. Tirion Boan
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November is a month all about food. It marks the start of the holidays and includes Thanksgiving, the feast of all feasts. But this month, the New Times food team ate more than just turkey and green beans. We buzzed around town enjoying new brunch spots, some excellent island fare one unusual dish that doubles as a salad and a bread course. Here are the six best things we ate in November.

Oxtails at Ms. Martha's Caribbean Kitchen

1820 W. Northern Ave. #110
On a recent visit to Ms. Martha's Caribbean Kitchen, there was no more curried goat. But sadness quickly turned to gratitude when the offered replacement of oxtails arrived at the table. The happy accident ended up being one of the best dishes we ate all month. At Ms. Martha's, the oxtails are cooked low and slow until the tender bites of meat pull gently away from the bone. The texture of short ribs, the meat separates easily from the fat, allowing for a flavor-filled bite. A deep brown sauce smothers the tails, which come sliced in a range of sizes and served with two sides. We're partial to the rice and peas and the sweet fried plantains. Order for takeout and pick up a feast to enjoy at home.

click to enlarge Toasted Owl brunch Phoenix
Prosciutto, brie and fig are a winning combination. At The Toasted Owl, the flavors are folded into breakfast.
Tirion Boan

Prosciutto and Brie Omelette at The Toasted Owl Cafe

300 W. Camelback Road
At brunch restaurants, the omelets often fit into two categories. There are those in which the fillings are folded into the eggs and cooked all together, and there are eggs cooked plain, and folded over the fillings. The versions at the newly-opened brunch spot The Toasted Owl Cafe are the latter. But for the brie and prosciutto option, this style works perfectly. The hot eggs quickly melt the brie while keeping the prosciutto soft and flakey. Over the top, a spoonful of fig jam gets smeared across the eggs, which by itself, forms an unusual combination. But when a forkful manages to include some eggs, prosciutto, brie and fig jam, all of the different flavor notes come together in perfect harmony. This import from Flagstaff is serving an elevated dish to start the day.

click to enlarge Piccolo Virtu Scottsdale
At Piccolo Virtù, one side steals the show.
Tirion Boan

Potato Gratin at Piccolo Virtù

7240 E. Main St., Scottsdale
Piccolo Virtù opened in Old Town Scottsdale in late 2022. It's the third restaurant of chef Gio Osso's Virtù brand, which includes Pizzeria Virtù and the original Virtù Honest Craft. The menu tackles Italian dishes and classic options such as steak and potatoes. But forget a boring baked spud, here the New York strip is accompanied by 2-inch-long triangles of potato magic. Thin slices of potatoes are held together perfectly with a manchego and cream sauce that are cut into triangles. The wedges hold their shape on the plate but are buttery smooth when you take a bite. A slight char and caramelization on the top offsets the cream and adds a little crunch. Don't get us wrong, the steak was great too. But this side steals the show.

click to enlarge Birrieria Tijuana ramen
The ramen birria at Birrieria Tijuana is a fun fusion twist.
Sara Crocker

Ramen Birria at Birrieria Tijuana

3202 E. Greenway Road, #1613
Birrieria Tijuana gives its rich birria a comforting fusion twist, adding ramen noodles to this stew that is usually tucked into tortillas. The brimming container comes topped with optional cilantro and onions along with a bag of round tortilla chips for dunking or crumbling into the soup. The accouterments from Birrieria Tijuana’s salsa bar add a bright pop – a squeeze of fresh lime, a dash of salsa verde, a sprinkling of radish wedges – against the tender beef and warm broth.

click to enlarge Beckett's Table Arcadia restaurant
The Noble Country Toast at Beckett's Table does double duty as a satisfying salad and bread course.
Sara Crocker

Noble Country Toast at Beckett's Table

3717 E. Indian School Road
The Noble Country Toast at Beckett’s Table reads, on its face, like a bread service. But, the starter at Justin Beckett’s classic, comfortable restaurant acts as a salad and bread course in one plate. A thick slab of Noble Bread’s country loaf is topped with house-made lemon ricotta and warmly spiced, harissa-roasted carrots. That could honestly be the entire dish – a satisfying seasonal play on fancified toast. But the salad atop it, with frisee, celery leaves and tendrils of shaved carrots are a beautiful balance that offer crisp, herbaceous, bright note, as well as some height that, when this plate hits your table, will make your party ooh and aah almost as much as when the slices of Beckett’s inimitable fig and pecan pie start coming out for dessert.

click to enlarge Gertrude's Desert Botanical Garden restaurant
Gertrude's apple cider-braised pork shank offers a sweet, comforting taste of the season.
Sara Crocker

Braised Boar at Gertrude’s

1201 N. Galvin Parkway
Gertrude’s, the eatery at the Desert Botanical Garden, is often a destination of convenience after a visit to take in the grounds or, this time of year, to see the candlelit pathways for Las Noches de las Luminarias. But, its apple-cider braised boar shank makes the case for a special trip. The cider adds a bit of sweetness to the gamey meat, which is fall-off-the-bone tender. It’s served with roasted cabbage, fennel and petite carrots with a healthy dose of the braising liquid. The hearty dish includes a thick slice of pillowy soft vegetable focaccia, perfect for dipping to get every bit of the meaty, sweet jus.
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