For free monthly updates, event invitations and exclusive deals, sign-up for our newsletter!
Enter a keyword such as “Italian” or “Hamburgers” or type the name of the restaurant below.
February, 2013, Page 129
Photos by Richard Maack
Empanadas and ceviche
Disguised as a ho-hum corporate eatery, this independent West Valley resto is flush with Southwestern flair.
With its huge, faux-rock porte-cochère entry and comfort-minded American-Southwestern menu, Caballero Grill could inhabit any big-box outdoor retail colony in the country. Suggesting a cross between a Macaroni Grill and an industrial brewpub, it’s the kind of place you’ll usually find lurking near Kohl’s, or in the parking lot of a Residence Inn.
Cosmetically, the former McGrath’s Fish House in Goodyear is everything I tend to avoid when seeking a memorable meal. I visited because I was curious about the independent partnership between owner Anthony Guerriero and his childhood friend, Chef Paul Fratella, and hoped to find a good eatery in this neck of the desert.
When the food arrived, my mood brightened. While not fine dining, there’s no denying the cooking expertise and sparks of inspiration, such as empanadas ($8) – delightfully flaky bundles filled with savory ground beef, finished with a touch of green chile sauce and queso fresco. They’re addictive alongside a not-too-sweet cucumber margarita ($8).
The big space is popular with families for its kids’ menu and with revelers for its happy hour, so it skews noisy. Still, servers are quick, and this is one of the best places in the West Valley to get pulled pork, piled so high on brioche that the sandwich leans to the side like the Tower of Pisa. It’s a finger-licking mess of tender meat moistened with tangy homemade barbecue sauce and layered with slaw and thick-cut, beer-battered fries ($9.30).
One of the signatures is the ceviche bar, trimmed in tile and flanked with tall chairs, where you can watch the cook (cevichist?) assemble your custom combos of daily fish and shrimp, served with chips, on a tostada, or atop leaf lettuce, sprinkled with goodies like sliced avocado, diced mango, diced green apple or roasted corn ($10.50).
You don’t often find fresh wahoo (Hawaiian ono) as a local menu staple, but the dense yet delicate-flavored fish is worth seeking out. Chef Fratella glazes the fillet with an excellent rum-butter sauce ($15.90), yielding a jacket of lightly caramelized, crispy goodness. Sadly, he seems to forget about the sides – the molded scoop of white rice and plain steamed broccoli hardly do the fish justice.
Inelegant presentation also detracts from the first-rate flavors of an Atlantic salmon fillet grilled over pecan wood, piled with flaked Dungeness crab and smothered in hollandaise and Hatch green chile sauce next to two long slabs of grilled zucchini ($18.80). When cooked, the ingredients turn gray on the plate; it should look as pretty as it tastes.
For dessert, I went for chocolate cake ($6.50), an enormous five-layer slab à la mode. It wasn’t graceful, but before I knew it, my companions and I had cleaned the plate.
Caballero may not look like a find, but give the Grill a chance, and you’ll discover a worthy destination in Goodyear.
shrimp salad with pecans, apples and gorgonzola
: 1800 N. Litchfield Rd., Goodyear
: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-12 a.m. Sunday
: Beef empanadas ($8); pulled pork sandwich ($9.30); ceviche ($10.50); wahoo fillet ($15.90); Atlantic salmon fillet ($18.80); chocolate cake ($6.50)
© 2007 Copyright Phoenix Magazine 15169 N. Scottsdale Road Suite C310 Scottsdale Arizona 85254
Travel & Outdoors
Best of The Valley
Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine
Advertise With Us
Web Site Design