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October, 2009, Page 186
Photography by Andrea Smith
Is there any tastier treat than the classic Arizona
indulgence of deep-fried dough? We didn’t think so.
(Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa)
5594 West Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Chandler
Dismiss all ideas of frybread that you learned at the state fair or a roadside stand. There’s likely no other restaurant in all of America, or perhaps the world, that treats this humble starch with more respect than this Mobile 5-star, Gila River Indian Community-owned destination.
Chef Michael O’Dowd says one of the secrets to making the simple dish into a gourmet masterpiece is to use the finest traditional ingredients. That includes Blue Bird flour, the preferred Indian brand, plus lots of lard.
His toppings are beautifully over the top, like the lavish lobster degustation, presented as a frybread trio of butter-braised tail with avocado mousse, tear drop salsa and lobster coral; lobster knuckles in sweet corn panna cotta with sour radishes; and lobster cobbler with mesquite meal and burnt Irish porter cheese.
For a sweet finish, instead of everyday powdered sugar and honey, O’Dowd wows with a dessert frybread capped with Ibarra coffee ice cream, macerated berries and candied hazelnuts.
Sacred Hogan Navajo Frybread
842 E. Indian School Road,
With its downtrodden strip mall exterior and scuffed, spare interior, there’s little to draw the naïve diner into this tiny store. Yet, you step up to the counter, the server offers a yaa’teeh (“hello” in Navajo) greeting, and some nights, there’s even a live Native American flute player rocking the house. This, friends, is the real deal.
This frybread – lighter and crisper than many other versions you’ve had – shines in an array of styles, from doused in honey, to slathered in peanut butter, to our favorite, a massive “B.R.G.” smothered in pinto beans, mild red chili and spicy green chili beef, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and red onions. You can get frybread as a sandwich, cradling grilled lamb and fire-roasted green chiles, or even stuffed with three scrambled eggs and Spam. The bread comes as a side to authentic mutton stew, too, or rib-sticking blue corn mush seasoned with Navajo cedar ash.
And if there’s any room left in your belly, you can wrap it up with a frybread buried under vanilla ice cream, powdered sugar, cinnamon and chocolate syrup.
The Fry Bread House
4140 N. Seventh Ave.,
How long has The Fry Bread House been cranking out its dangerously delicious delicacy? Forever. It’s the granddaddy of all Valley frybreads.
This Tohono O’odham-owned-and-operated shop may put out a little heavier bread than some others, and a little more grease may soak into the white paper that wraps each order like a bow-tied bunting. But this is a knife-and-fork feast all the way, mounded with delights like green chile beef so spicy your lips will curl back in a happy, painful grin.
Whether you choose taco style or open-face, your bread can be fancied up with fiery beef-pork chorizo, housemade refried pinto beans, ground beef, cheese, or a hearty bowl of menudo or savory hominy stew.
There’s even a vegetarian option, crowned in beans, green chile and sour cream.
For a sweet temptation, choose butter and jam or butter, cinnamon and sugar. And why has no one ever thought of this blissful combo before – chocolate and butter? Truly, it’s frybread to die for.
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