What to expect at Tesota, chef Doug Robson's new Phoenix restaurant | Phoenix New Times

New Phoenix restaurant Tesota takes you on an international adventure

Tesota's menu travels the world. But fresh ingredients and bold flavors bring it all together.
Start your meal at Tesota with Baked Brie, dry-rubbed chicken wings or the Greek Grain salad.
Start your meal at Tesota with Baked Brie, dry-rubbed chicken wings or the Greek Grain salad. Tirion Boan
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When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

Chef Doug Robson, the creative force behind Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe, has expanded beyond Mexican food with his latest concept, Tesota.

The new restaurant is now open on Camelback Road in the former Southern Rail space, and the menu isn't focused on any one kind of cuisine. Instead, it picks recipes from around the world. It's a format that either could seem confusing as to what the restaurant actually serves, or perfect for groups that can't decide where to eat.

Luckily, a recent visit determined it's the latter.

There are two ways to approach the menu. You can pick a theme and stick to it. For example, if you're in the mood for Italian food, pair a glass of red wine with a pizza or bowl of pasta. Craving Asian flavors? Start with the rice paper dumplings and then move on to the wok-fired veggies, a crispy fish katsu sandwich or yakisoba noodles.

The other technique, for those who prefer a little chaotic fun, is to choose your own adventure by picking dishes from all over the map. If this is your style, we recommend dining with a group that's game to share.

To start, try the Baked Brie. The small wheel of soft cheese is a funky variety, with a texture and flavor more similar to goat cheese than its traditional creamy self. The Brie is topped with bacon and red peppers and served with crusty pieces of toasted baguette.

Another great option for a sharable starter is the Greek Grain salad, which is packed with fresh veggies, sweet dates and punchy olives. Most of Tesota's salads come in two sizes, and the smaller option is plenty for sharing alongside other appetizers.

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The Gemelli "Peas and Carrots" celebrates freshness and is the perfect summer pasta.
Tirion Boan
Standout pasta dishes feature locally made noodles — cooked to a perfect al dente — from Sonoran Pasta Co. The Shrimp Bucatini Puttanesca packs a spicy punch and is topped with large shrimp.

The Gemelli "Peas and Carrots" is a sleeper. The menu description sounds simple — a list of veggies with some pesto — but the dish is a celebration of freshness. The bright pesto is made with arugula and pistachios. The bowl gets a spread of cool black truffle whipped ricotta, and the pasta is topped with just-cooked fresh asparagus, sugar snap peas and heirloom carrots.

Another dish perfect for these hot summer days is the tuna poke bowl from the "Focal Points" section on the menu. White sushi rice is topped with a hearty portion of fresh fish alongside a chunky guacamole made from edamame. The bowl is rounded out with pickled ginger and yuzu aioli.

On a menu packed with so many different options, pizzettas, or small individual pizzas, take up a significant section of the page. The restaurant came with a pizza oven, so Robson decided to make the most of it, he told us prior to opening.

"As chefs, we are attracted to smoke and fire," he said.

A number of the restaurant's dishes get a kiss of fire. From the pizzetta list, the chorizo option is rich, oily and spicy in the best way, perfectly balanced against dollops of creamy goat cheese atop a fluffy crust.

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The cocktail list at Tesota ranges from classic to tiki, with a little of everything in between.
Tirion Boan
And don't forget about drinks. The cocktail and wine menus are as diverse as the food, both in flavor and region. The Sun-Dried Martini is a unique savory sip made with Sedona's own Suncliffe Gin, and the Warner Old Fashioned is a bourbon-forward cocktail with heirloom pineapple amaro paired with the warmth of walnut bitters. Other cocktails feature spirits from around the world, including pisco, dry Curaçao and mezcal.

The wine list offers options from Spain, Argentina, California and beyond and includes a mix of traditional and natural options. Continue on your gastronomic adventure with a glass of Austrian sparkling orange wine.

Fans of Southern Rail will recognize the light, airy nature of the large dining area and patio. But many things have changed. Robson and his team have infused the restaurant with color. Large paintings decorate walls draped with white-and-blue botanical print wallpaper, and pops of teal offset the dark wood tables.

There's a little bit of a lot of different styles wrapped into the decor, just as there is with the menu. So settle in, start your meal with French cheese, dive into a Greek salad and round it out with an Asian entree. You may find yourself asking  "how does this all work together?"

The through line is the ingredients. Each dish celebrates the freshness of its components. All of the flavors are bright and individual. As the menu travels the world, nothing gets lost.

We haven't yet tried Tesota's steaks, and we didn't get to the cheeseburger or choripan with chimichurri. With a menu that turns in so many different directions, it's impossible to get a full sense of everything on one visit. But that's OK. We'll happily return to embark on an entirely different adventure next time.


300 W. Camelback Road
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