Thursday, October 30, 2014



Oven + Vine

PHMEB10New Downtown eatery from the Portland’s brain trust scores points for comfort fare, adorable digs.

You have to love a restaurant that makes this declaration on its menu: “Food critics are welcome, but loyal customers are king.” No offense taken. Sometimes critics and loyal customers are one in the same, particularly when it’s a stone-cold charmer like Oven + Vine.


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Saffron Indian Bistro

PHMEB07No-frills West Valley eatery emphasizes substance over style.

Saffron Indian Bistro isn’t what you’d expect. Sandwiched between a salon and an Asian market in a nondescript strip mall, the tiny ethnic eatery is waiting-room-stark, with laminate four-tops, counter register and red-and-black Hindi numerals spray-painted on white walls. No burning incense or colorful sari fabrics here.


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Petite Maison

PHM1114Flash-6-PetiteMaisonSacré bleu! Chef James Porter’s Old Town reboot makes glorious transgression of classic French cuisine.

If you’ve kept abreast of the Valley dining scene over the past five years, chances are you know about Petite Maison, whether you’ve dined there or not. Tucked into a quiet block in bustling Old Town Scottsdale, the cozy, unpretentious restaurant has been a vanguard of classic French bistro food from the moment its first customer plunged a spoon into a bowl of rich, sherry-laced French onion soup capped with a gooey crown of Gruyère cheese.


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Second Story Liquor Bar

PHM1014EB11Costumed servers and clever concepts only tell half the story at this food-forward Scottsdale pseudo-speakeasy.

Sometimes first impressions can be deceiving. On my initial visit to the Second Story Liquor Bar, I pegged the restaurant as a tad gimmicky – the servers are dressed in Mad Men-era lace and pearls, the menu reads like a four-act play divided into intro, prologue, plot and finale, and the place has the feel of a speakeasy. Even the Second Story name is a contraption, a double entendre to describe both the upstairs location and the culinary backstory.


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Little Miss BBQ

PHM1014Flash-7-MissBBQLilliputian ‘cue joint wins big with moist,
slow-smoked meats and savory sides.

Little Miss BBQ is one smoking hot mama. Drive past the tiny one-room restaurant during business hours and you’ll likely spy a long line of hungry patrons-to-be outside, their fingers figuratively crossed in hopes of deterring the now-familiar “sold out” sign.


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Southern Rail

PHM1014Flash-6-SouthernRailChef Justin Beckett conducts a delectable whistle-stop tour of Southern culinary traditions at his new high-toned Camelback eatery.

Slow cooking, a traditional pillar of Southern cuisine, demands a large helping of patience. So does launching a restaurant inside a hotly-anticipated urban infill project.


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Cha Da Thai

cha da thaiRare tastes of Bangkok street classics elevate this Thai mom-and-pop to “pseudo-destination” status.

Dollars to duck panang there’s a decent Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, so getting in your car to drive to another one doesn’t make sense, unless the other one is the barely year-old Cha Da Thai. While not ostensibly destination dining – it’s a pretty modest-looking operation – Cha Da is worth seeking out thanks to an adventurous menu that transcends the typical American-Thai litany of satay, tangy noodles and fragrant tom kha soups.


Read more: Cha Da Thai