Otro Cafe, Barrio Queen, Hillstone, Morning Squeeze and Essence Bakery

1 Nov

It’s been awhile, folks. As we all know, it’s hard to eat out when we’re financially challenged. And me, well I really don’t want to go out to eat if I have to think, “can I afford a second glass of wine?” I had to buy a new computer (refurbished, thank you brother Mike for helping me do that!) and extra money for eating out didn’t seem to be available.

In the meantime I’ve been hanging out with friends.

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(Sharon and Rob pictured above)

Also lots of quality time with family and Jack (mostly). If you have good friends and family, you know you are lucky.

My bro Mike is a great lunch companion, who helped me recently with my new computer. I want to give him snaps because he really got me out of a bind. Let’s just say, I really need to be surrounded by smart people.Image

So finally, I have some new eating recommendations for you. Otro Cafe is on 7th St. and Bethany Home Road in a strip mall where there used to be a bakery that called me once (decades ago mind you) to chide me for advertising cake baking services on a nearby coke machine. Hopefully my business practices have improved since then 🙂 Otro is a great place to eat. And their artwork is really cool. Meixcan pop art I would call it.

I have been a couple of times with my Dad, he has then taken my aunt and I have also taken Jack and my brother Mike. Mike and I shared a salad with kale and corn and that had been charred (I think that’s what you call it) so it was very sweet and the vinaigrette was light and complimented the bitter kale. That sounds snobby but if you ever eat kale without the right dressing it does not work.

Otro serves Lux coffee and makes a fresh & light key lime pie.

I’m without pictures of Otro to show you. I think I was just too immersed in the food when I was there.

You must try their paella, serrano jam on bread with avocado, ceviche and sangria. They have a very good wine list. They make sangria with white wine but will make it with red if you ask. And there is a patio which I love. Eating outside is wanderlust. I love being distracted by the architecture of the outdoors, people moving, traffic, etc. A city girl.

I was just telling my friend Nick at work that he should check out Hillstone at 24th St. and Camelback with his best girl sometime. Their patio has levers and architecture that allows open spaces between the bar and the outside patio. The last time I was there with Dad we shared a California roll, on the patio, I had some El Sueno wine (a cab/syrah blend I think) and he had a mojito. We shared focaccia bread with marinated olives and the quality of the olive oil made you really want to finish it. And we shared key lime pie (notice a dessert trend here?) that we would have again, a very buttery graham cracker crust and creamy limeiness. Is that a word? It should be in the urban dictionary.

Hillstone also serves Lux coffee but doesn’t have any AZ wines. (maybe if enough of us ask they would consider it?) No pictures at Hillstone either. Very distracted by the food. And the company too. My Dad is pretty witty.

There patio has a wood burning (or gas burning?) fireplace so you can snuggle with your best friend on cold nights. I love that idea.

This place (Hillstone) is a little spendy. You can spend $100 for lunch if you drink. And have dessert. But everything will be delicious and the service will be exceptional.

During my hiatus I would like to say that Jack has fed me very very very very well. He is skilled! And cooks with love. And makes me these little lunch portions (well they aren’t little!) that are so cute.

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Like he is sending me off to school with lunch.  We have mastered potato salad this past summer. It keeps getting better and better.

And we have traveled a little bit. Went to LA, San Diego, La Jolla and Coronado this summer.

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It was an awesome trip! Ate lots of good food in Burbank, La Jolla, San Diego and Coronado. Gained a few pounds despite much walkies. Had a few drinks! 🙂

Have you been to Barrio Queen yet? It is at Southbridge near Stetson and Scottsdale Roads.

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They have $3 margs at happy hour and 2 tacos for $3 or $4?. And very very cold drafts, cheap. The taco specials at happy hour vary so you be prepared for that. But if you don’t like what is on special, you can order off the regular menu, you just pay a bit more. Huge menu. Get the guacamole. It has dried cranberries in it (or are they cherries?) and that sounds strange but it works. And get a souvenier. They have shirts that say something like “super chingon”  – referring to the food – and I have already told Santa I need one. This is one of our favorite places for happy hour. Her sister restaurant is Barrio Cafe of course on 16th St. in Phoenix and the menu is equally large, and fabulous. And the artwork is fabulous also. Lalo.

Morning Squeeze is a new breakfast place Jack and I started going to recently near Indian School and Scottsdale Road. I like their oatmeal with walnuts and dried fruit (lots of nuts in there). They will also brulee your oatmeal if you like it like that. Don’t get me started on their bloody mary. A big pickle and pimento olive with horseradish. Spicy. Get one of those as soon as you sit down. They will put bacon in it if you want. And I know their bacon is good because I had a blt there last weekend.  Dad and I ate there this week and he said his pancake with fruit on top (and inside) was very tasty and Jack likes their american style breakfast with eggs, hash browns, toast and bacon. We do love our bacon. Here is the BLT breakfast I had recently. And Jack’s breakfast burrito.Image

One of my friends at work (you know who you are!) is going to chide me for that. My love of pork.

Their bar is really cool. It allows you to sit outside. Or inside. And there is quite a bit of taco de ojo (eye candy here). I seem to notice that. My radar isn’t up, folks, mind you. I just notice.

So go to Morning Squeeze for sure, with your mainsqueeze. I’m planning to order a lot of their sandwiches (over a period of time, of course). And their iced mocha is great. Get that.

So… Essence Bakery just opened a block or two away from me. In Phoenix! 38th St. and Ind. School. I am really excited about that. So far I tried their hot cereal (kind of like oatmeal that meets cream of wheat) and I liked that a lot, also I enjoyed their granola with fresh fruit – including strawberries and dates. The chocolate croissant is the best I ever ate. Image

I took croissants to my Mom and Brother Mike (above) and they gave Essence snaps. Dad and I have been there a couple of times, he really likes it too. The only thing these guys need is a liqour license.  A bottle of boujoulais with a sandwich about 2:00 sounds really good to me. On my day off (let me clarify that). And I haven’t been there yet for lunch. But I have seen the menu and the sandwiches and salads look great. Met the baker’s husband (can’t pronounce his name – Joullex?), he is very friendly. I expressed how happy I was that they decided to come to Phx. The New Times food blog Chow Bella just gave their raspberry rose macaroon a very good review. Will be trying some of those soon. Plural.

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