Desert Digest

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El Berraco | Photo by Tiffany Acosta    Taking a trip down to Tucson? Take a tour of the city’s flourishing foodie scene while you’re in town. After all, UNESCO designated The Old Pueblo as a distinguished City of Gastronomy in 2016. Grab a Cuppa at Cup Café Ready to get out there and embrace the world again? Start with brunch or dinner at Cup Café, located in the century-old Hotel Congress. Helmed by executive...

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I think it’s safe to say that desert dwellers are always looking for ways to cool off, especially this week. With temperatures hovering around 115 degrees, we thought it might be a good time to share a refreshing cocktail from Culinary Dropout. The crowning touch, Ron Zacapa 23 rum from Guatemala, sends this drink into nirvana territory. Enjoy this rum cocktail poolside, or visit Culinary Dropout and sip along with an order of beer-battered fish...

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Photo courtesy Studio Alcott   For fans of creative cocktails with sweeping Valley views, the highly anticipated Don Woods’ Say When rooftop lounge is finally open in Uptown Phoenix. Cocktailian Ross Simon (of Bitter & Twisted and Little Rituals fame) heads up the beverage program at this vibrant retro rooftop bar. If you live in the Uptown area, you have probably driven by the enticing dark neon sign for more than a year, anticipating its...

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Got a dream of opening your own restaurant? Start with a pop-up. That’s the savvy direction budding restaurateurs are taking these days, given that pop-ups offer an inexpensive way to test locations, menu items and concepts, generate buzz, build an audience, and gain credibility. Cassie Shortino is following that very path, having recently left her position as the executive chef at Tratto to start Shorty’s Charpit, a pop-up she will hold once or twice a...

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When Tony Andiario left Tratto four-ish years ago, I worried that the place would not be the same without him. Then Cassie Shortino, who had been working for Cullen Campbell at Crudo before it closed, stepped in and filled those shoes like a boss. I remember arguing back then with a food-loving pal of mine about the virtues of Andiario’s elegant chicken liver mousse versus Shortino’s far more rustic seared chicken livers with strawberry jam...

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THE SCENE Oh, I forgot how wonderful it is to visit a new restaurant. To sit down at the bar and really drink the place in. To try a smattering of dishes to truly get a sense of the chef’s headspace. To actually feel the vibe, not just observe it from the takeout counter before rushing home.  I rediscovered this pleasure this week at a media happy hour at the week-old Campo Italian Bistro and Bar, the newest incarnation of James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Stratta’s space in The Village at...

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Now that the dog days of summer are here (apology to all the dogs), it’s time to crack out the cool, refreshing drinks. Top of the list: Cold brew coffee. Andrew Robertson of Press Coffee has shared a recipe with us and a couple of tips on how to make the best cold brew. When making this full-bodied coffee, it’s beneficial to use reverse osmosis water or distilled water with the addition of Third Wave...

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All the news that’s fit to nosh.  Seeing Green: Things are getting minty fresh at ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho. The restaurant’s monthly “Show Stopper” Shake is The Jolly Green Mintser, a vanilla-mint shake crowned with a stack of cream cheese brownies, milk crumb, mint ganache, Andes mints and fresh mint leaves. Order the over-the-top treat from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. at ZuZu. It costs $20 but can easily be shared by multiple people. Plus, $1 from each shake sold in June will benefit Desert Botanical...

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Que Chevere — the brick-and-mortar Venezuelan restaurant in downtown Mesa that evolved from a popular food truck of the same name — has been around almost a year, and I marvel that I never found it before. Maybe I’ll just blame that little lapse on the pandemic. Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Orvid Cutler and Maria Fernanda (he manages, she cooks), it’s a plainly furnished but charming little spot whose good vibes come from...

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THE SCENE Is anyone else having crowd anxiety as we return to restaurants? I can’t be the only one. It’s simply natural to be a little jittery around gaggles of people after the past year and a half of social distancing, quarantining and fearing the physical proximity of others, lest we infect each other with a horrific virus. It’s challenging to rewire your brain and body to accept closeness – especially for someone like me, a social introvert who thrives in small groups but is easily...

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Renata’s Hearth | Photo Courtesy Arizona Biltmore   Now open 5th Street Burgers & Fries If you’re looking for a burger, 5th Street has 10 varieties, including a build-your-own option. 1158 W. Washington Tempe, 480-912-1621, 5thsteetburgers.com Artichoke Basille’s Pizza New York-based pizzeria opens a second location in Phoenix, featuring 16- and 22-inch pies, slices and  “not pizza” starters and entrees. 6031 N. 16th St., Phoenix, 602-314-6776, artichokepizza.com Brooklyn V’s Pizza Brooklyn native Vito LoPiccolo opens his...

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