The Vig Burger | Photo by Daniel Kim
The Vig isn’t new,” you’re probably thinking, and you’d have a point. Fifteen years have passed since owners Tucker Woodbury and Jim Riley unveiled the first location of their eating-and-drinking empire (with an emphasis on “drinking”), which makes it an odd fit for First Dish. So why are we here? To taste the handiwork of celebrated Valley chef Jeremy Pacheco, late of Lon’s at the Hermosa, brought on board last winter to ramp up the chain’s culinary bona fides. We accepted a media invitation to try out the chef’s new menu.
The Scene: We did our tasting menu at the Vig Uptown location on 16th Street and Indian School. Like all the Vigs, it has ample patio seating and a sleek, Midcentury motif.
Ahi tuna | Photo by Daniel Kim
Highlights: Known mostly for its bottomless mimosas and hangover-helper brunches, The Vig gets an immediate supper-hour shot in the arm with Pacheco. Fans of the chef’s work at Lon’s will find a familiar friend in the ahi tuna/Himalayan salt rock presentation ($15) that now graces the starters menu, here served with yuzu-soy, pickled onions and sheets of paper thin jicama, so you can eat it as a wrap. The sizzling, still-pink tuna mates tenderly with the cooling jicama, and the whole shebang probably has fewer carbs than water, so there you go. Pacheco’s fingerprints are also all over, figuratively, the new fritto misto starter – a generous, crispy-spicy pile of fried calamari and shrimp with shishitos and chipotle aiolo that will surely ruin your appetite if you split it with fewer than three people ($15). Also new: mussels inventively simmered in a chorizo-poblano braise, served with golden-brown French fries sourced from Valley spud mavens Frites Street (again, a meal unto itself, $17); and a formidable, 6-ounce slab of sizzling pork belly, shamelessly shellacked with hot maple syrup and sherry vinegar, and served with a fist of grilled French bread ($15). It makes me sweat just thinking about it.
Sonoran Pasta Co. bucatini | Photo by Daniel Kim
Pacheco has also added a very nice baby iceberg wedge to the menu, dabbled with smoked blue cheese, bacon and cherry tomatoes ($13); and beefed up the entrees with Sonoran Pasta Co. bucatini tossed with grilled shrimp, cherry tomatoes and red pepper for a tongue-tingling denouement ($21). Most if not all of the new dishes exhibit Pacheco’s passion for local sourcing, including the flagship Vig burger, fashioned from Rovey Dairy wagyu, and favored with a thick crown of melted cheddar and smashed avocado ($17).
On the dessert menu: an insane butterscotch bread pudding with whiskey-maple syrup, which I pressed into service the next morning as a highly irresponsible breakfast ($10).
Pacheco says the menu will evolve, change and adapt over the coming months and seasons, with feature items exclusive to the five different locations, but one constant looks to remain: The Vig isn’t just about bottomless mimosas anymore.
Five Valley locations, thevig.us