sunupbrewing091316SunUp Brewing in Phoenix hosts its first beer dinner of 2018 – dubbed ‘‘A Feast for the Four Senses’’ – at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13.

The four-course menu is designed to captivate diners with sounds, aromas, textures, and tastes.

  • Reception beer: Craft 64 Crafty Blonde
  • Appetizer: Deconstructed vegetable tour with grilled portabella mushrooms, deep fried eggplant, seared paneer, and shiso leaf with a sumac cream sauce. Paired with Barrel Aged Black Ale.
  • Salad: Frisee salad tossed with feta cheese, dried blueberries, jicama, and saffron dressing topped with watermelon radishes. Paired with The Whitty Assistant.
  • Intermezzo: Lemon honey granita
  • Entrée: Marinated bistro tenderloin, lightly smoked then seared in brown butter, with sweet pea, mint, and parsnip puree with roasted kohlrabi. Paired with Rubezahl’s Daughter.
  • Dessert: Herbed shortbread enrobed in lavender chocolate with salted dulce de leche and clotted cream. Paired with Russian Imperial Stout with Cacao Cask.

There also will be a vegetarian option with a marinated seitan steak as the entree.

Cost is $45 per person or $80 per couple. You can buy tickets at the brewpub or here.

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La Ristra New Mexican Kitchen in Gilbert adds brunch on Saturdays

BY Jess Harter Monday, January 8, 2018

LaRistraChilaquiles010817Good news for East Valley brunch fans: La Ristra New Mexican Kitchen in Gilbert now is offering its Sunday brunch menu on Saturdays as well. It’s available from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. both days.

  • Biscuits & Green Chile Gravy: Two homemade biscuits topped with a homestyle green chile and sausage gravy. Served with two eggs any style. ($10.99)
  • Breakfast Sopapillas: Two sopapillas tossed in cinnamon and sugar and stuffed with eggs and bacon. Drizzled with honey. ($9.99)
  • Steak & Eggs: Two eggs served on top of carne asada with Hatch green chiles and onions. Served with two flour tortillas. ($15.99)
  • Adovada Benedict: Toasted English Muffin layered with adovada pork, two fried eggs, Canadian bacon, and topped with our homemade jalepeno hollandaise. ($11.99)
  • Santa Fe Style Eggs: Two fried eggs on top of a blue corn tortilla, beans, and your choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo,adovada or chile Colorado served enchilada style. ($11.99, pictured on left)
  • Red Chile Stacked Hash Browns: Hash browns layered with pinto beans, fried egg, cheese, and your choice of sausage, chorizo adovada, or Chile Colorado, Topped with bacon & avocado. Served with a side of flour tortillas. Not served with additional sides. ($10.99)
  • Breakfast Chilaquiles: Homemade corn tortilla chips layered with red & green enchilada sauce, cheese, pinto beans, two eggs, & your choice of chorizo, bacon, sausage, adovada, or chile Colorado. Not served with additional sides. ($10.99, pictured on right)
  • Hatch Chile & Egg Muffin Sandwich: Toasted English muffin served with Canadian bacon, egg, green chiles and cheese. ($8.99)
  • Breakfast Burrito: Scrambled eggs, beans, cheese, bacon, and your choice of sausage, chorizo, adovada, or chile Colorado served enchilada style. ($10.99)
  • Southwest Scramble: Eggs, peppers, onions, and your choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo, adovada, or chile Colorado served with a side of flour tortillas. ($11.99)
  • Bottomless Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s ($14.95)
  • Kids Breakfast: Two sausage patties, scrambled eggs, and potatoes. ($5.99)
  • Kids Egg & Cheese Burrito: Eggs and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla and served with a side of potatoes. ($6.99)

Unless noted, all brunch items are served with homestyle potatoes and your choice of pinto beans, black beans, or calabacitas.

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RomeosEuroCafePaellaRomeo’s Euro Cafe in Gilbert holds its weekly ‘‘Taste of Romeo’s’’ dinner, hosted by chef Romeo Taus and his wife, Janice, in a private dining room, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11.

The dinners typically feature five courses selected from the restaurant’s regular menu. This week’s selections:

  • Greek Skins: Gyros meat and artichokes with feta and kasseri cheese
  • Janice’s Kale Salad: Shredded kale, carrots, red peppers, green onions, craisins, mushrooms, and roasted almonds tossed in a creamy honey Dijon dressing. With an herbed goat cheese fritter
  • Chicken Veneto: Chicken breast, whole black peppercorns, capers, spring onion, mushrooms, and garlic in Marsala cream sauce.
  • Paella Barcelona: Shrimp, chicken, clams, Italian sausage, hearts of artichoke and palm, spinach, red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and brown rice (pictured).
  • Rhapsody in Blush: Raspberry liqueur-soaked sponge cake layered with mascarpone and white chocolate raspberry mousse.

Cost is $30 per person plus tax and tip. Add five wine tastes for $10. RSVP: 480-962-4224.

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elpalacioanthony0823162018 already has turned out to be a year of extreme highs and lows for Anthony Serrano. Just four days after accomplishing one of his career goals by appearing on the popular Food Network show ‘‘Chopped,’’ the chef is closing his eight-year-old El Palacio Mexican Restaurant & Cantina in Chandler.

The restaurant’s final day will be next Sunday, Jan. 14, Serrano announced Saturday in a heartfelt video message on El Palacio’s Facebook page:

‘‘I’m making this decision with tremendous sadness and reluctance. I’ve spent eight years of my life trying to make the restaurant profitable using all the means at my disposal. We’ve been featured multiple times on local and national TV. We’ve won multiple awards at culinary competitions across the country. We’ve tried using various marketing companies. We’ve tried launching great promotions. All on top of offering great food and service at a great value.

‘‘All this success and hard work, however, has not translated into enough new customers to support us. Sure, in the course of eight years we’ve made our share of mistakes and missteps, but we’ve always tried to correct and learn from them. However, after eight long years we’ve realized everything – even a restaurant – has an expiration date.

‘‘I’ve poured my heart, soul, and health into this business, not to mention an enormous amount of my time, energy, and my own financial resources, as well as those provided by my family. After much time and reflection, I’ve come to realize the strain is just too much and this restaurant is no longer viable from a business perspective. …

‘‘Unfortunately, the public’s unbreakable loyalty to chains and big corporations, the popularity of fast-casual restaurants, and the recent increases in the minimum wage are a few of the leading factors in this decision.

‘‘I’m also very sorry my amazing staff and managers now have to look for work. Their dedication and hard work are a true testament to what makes this country great and why I love small businesses so much.

‘‘In addition, I want to thank our wonderful and loyal guests that have not only become friends but part of my family. Your loyalty and love make this decision tougher than it already is. We have a lot of great and happy memories at El Palacio, and we hope you do as well.

‘‘Our pride and honor has kept us from sharing our struggles publicly, but because of the substantial financial burden this has caused my family, I’m launching a GoFundMe account to help us honor our final financial commitments and hopefully not close on such a low note.

‘‘I wish everyone the very best, and I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life, whatever that may be. We hope you come in one last time before we close up Jan. 14.

‘‘Remember, there are plenty of small businesses just like us that are drowning in a sea of chains and need your support. Always try to dine and shop local and support your local business.

‘‘Thank you and God bless.’’

Serrano tells MXSW his immediate plans after Jan. 14 are to remain in the East Valley to work on his blog and his brand.

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Talebu Coffee & Wine Cafe closes after 5-year run in Chandler

BY Jess Harter Friday, January 5, 2018

TalebuCoffee010518Looks like 2017 claimed one final restaurant before officially closing its ledgers: Talebu Coffee & Wine Cafe in Chandler.

The popular hangout and live-music venue opened in December 2012 on the northeast corner of Alma School and Warner.

Besides coffee drinks and wine, it offered a menu of bruschetta, salads, and sandwiches.

According to a source, the landlord isn’t renewing any leases in the strip mall.

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ElPalacioSerranoChopped010217Anthony Serrano, chef and owner of El Palacio Mexican Restaurant and Cantina in Chandler, continues to build his national profile tonight on the Food Network’s popular show ‘‘Chopped.’’

Serrano will compete in the show’s ‘‘Gold Medal Games,’’ a special four-part event with a grand prize of $50,000 (compared to $10,000 for a regular episode of ‘‘Chopped’’).

Tonight’s episode follows the show’s standard format:

  • Four chefs must use a mystery basket of ingredients to create a breakfast dish in a limited amount of time.
  • The chef with the lowest-rated dish gets ‘‘chopped,’’ and the remaining chefs use a new mystery basket to make an entree.
  • After another chef is eliminated, the last two get a final basket to make a dessert.

The theme of tonight’s episode is ‘‘Frying.’’ The next three Tuesdays will feature new competitors squaring off in ‘‘Grilling,’’ ‘‘Baking,’’ and ‘‘Racing the Clock.’’ On Jan. 30, the four winners will meet in a grand finale for the $50,000 prize.

Tonight’s episode is listed as 8 p.m. Mountain time, but the actual air time varies depending on your cable provider.

El Palacio, located on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Germann, will host a viewing party tonight with $2 Mexican pints and 50 percent off appetizers during the show (in addition to its regular Taco Tuesday specials).

Making the cut

‘‘Chopped’’ announced last spring it was holding auditions in the Valley. Serrano undertook a series of questionnaires, biographies, and two interviews at a Scottsdale hotel in June. ‘‘I actually had the summer flu and was just getting over it,’’ he remembers.

Finally, he was told he made the cut and would be invited to tape a show sometime in 2018 or early 2019.

It turned out to be much sooner. The show’s producers called and asked him to compete in the opener of the ‘‘Gold Medal Games,’’ which was shot in New York in October, just two weeks after the birth of Serrano’s latest child, Benjamin.

The episode was filmed in a single 17-hour day. ‘‘I met the other three chefs at a McDonald’s, of all places, at 5 a.m., and a casting person walked us over the studio,’’ he says.


Shooting the episode

Serrano says his only preparation for the competition was to watch ‘‘about a million’’ episodes of ‘‘Chopped.’’ Given the theme, he says he correctly guessed that each mystery basket would contain a fried item.

He was allowed to bring only a set of seven knives with him to the studio, and before entering he had to surrender his phone, wallet and watch.

‘‘I was hoping we wouldn’t have to skin a fish,’’ he says. ‘‘Being born and raised in Arizona, that’s not exactly my style of cooking.’’

He was disappointed the show’s pantry – which competitors are allowed to raid to supplement the required items in their baskets – did not include avocados, an ingredient he planned to use. ‘‘Apparently, New Yorkers consider them exotic or something.’’

‘Very positive experience’

Serrano is not allowed to reveal the outcome of tonight’s show. In fact, the show’s strict rules prevented him from even sending out a release to local media. He was allowed to post about it on social media – but only using the show’s pre-approved wording and hash tags.

But Serrano is familiar with dealing with national shows and organizations. He advanced to the finals of the World Food Championships in 2016 and made his Food Network debut on ‘‘Ginormous’’ last June.

Tonight’s ‘‘Chopped’’ appearance is yet another high-profile feather in Serrano’s signature fedora.

‘‘I left there, like, ‘What a crazy day!’’ he says. ‘‘It was a very positive experience.’’

(Images courtesy of the Food Network)

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Looking back at the Top 10 most-read MXSW stories from 2017

BY Jess Harter Monday, January 1, 2018

ComingSoon050117Happy New Year! Before we roll onward into 2018, let’s take one last look at what made news in the East Valley food and beverage scene in 2017.

Here are last year’s top 10 posts, ranked by the number of reader clicks:

10. Riazzi’s Italian Garden in Tempe closes after 72 years, to be replaced by Quartiere

9. Flying Basset Brewing coming to Gilbert this fall

8. Shocked? Alice Cooperstown closes in downtown Phoenix

7. Vintage 95 closes in downtown Chandler, Equal Parts to take its place

6. Old Ellsworth Brewing, Queen Creek’s 1st brewpub, opens to public Monday

5. Brothers are opening Arizona’s 1st cider house & taproom in downtown Mesa

4. New all-day restaurant Meridiem scheduled to open May 10 in south Chandler

3. Pedal Haus brewer dies after motorcycle accident Saturday

2. Now open: Carolina’s Mexican Food in Mesa

1. Like to try new restaurants? Here are 27 opening in the East Valley

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Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve menu at JCs Steakhouse

BY Jess Harter Friday, December 29, 2017

JCsSteakhouse122917JC’s Steakhouse in Gilbert is offering a special New Year’s Eve menu on Sunday, Dec. 31, when the restaurant will open at 6 p.m.


  • Stuffed Mushrooms ($10)
  • Charred Brussel Sprouts ($10)
  • Fire roasted Artichoke Spears ($11)
  • Smoked Trout & Lobster Dip ($11)
  • Calamari ($11)
  • Shrimp Cocktail ($13)


Entrees served with a cup of soup of the day or dinner salad, vegetables and choice of Baked Potato or Mashed Cauliflower

JC’S Slow Cooked Prime Rib

  • Scottsdale Cut 10 oz ($23)
  • Gilbert Cut 14 oz ($28)
  • JC’s Cut 18 oz ($33)

From Our Broiler

  • 22 oz Porterhouse ($36)
  • 12 oz New York ($28)
  • 14 oz Ribeye ($29)
  • 10 oz Filet ($32)
  • 6 oz Petite Filet ($25)
  • 10 oz Coulotte Delmonico ($21)
  • Alaskan Halibut ($31)
  • Grilled Alaskan Salmon ($27)
  • Alaskan King Crab ($37)
  • Jumbo Shrimp ($25)
  • Seared Scallops ($30)
  • 12oz Lobster Tail ($40)
  • Two 8 oz Pork Chops ($20)
  • Full Rack Baby Back Ribs ($29)
  • Perfectly Roasted Half Chicken ($19)

JC’s Add-Ons

  • 3 Shrimp ($10)
  • Half-Pound Alaskan King Crab ($19)
  • 12oz Lobster Tail ($30)
  • 2 Scallops ($19)
  • Oscar Style ($9)

Live music, featuring The Harry McGraw Band, starts at 8:30 p.m. Reservations: 480-3006-4545.

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Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve specials at Cuisine & Wine Bistro in Gilbert

BY Jess Harter Friday, December 29, 2017

CuisineWineGilbert122917Cuisine & Wine Bistro in Gilbert will offer more than a dozen New Year’s Eve food specials Sunday, Dec. 31.

  • Smoked Salmon Bruschetta
  • Escargots façon Fabrice
  • Duck Foie Gras Terrine
  • French Napoleon Salmon & Scallops
  • French Onion Soup
  • Poached Egg served with Foie Gras Sauce
  • Lobster Thermidor
  • Wild Boar with Bordelaise Sauce
  • Duck Confit façon Shepard’s Pie
  • Lamb Crumble
  • Duck Fillet with Flambe Caramelized Apple
  • Filet Mignon 8oz Black Angus Rossini
  • One pound Ribeye for Meat Lovers
  • >Mahi-Mahi with Wild Mushrooms

Reservations: 480-497-1422.

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HolmbergBound122917Holmberg Bound, a red ale brewed to benefit the Arizona Humane Society, is now on tap at Good Time Charli’s in Chandler.

John Holmberg, a radio show host on KUPD (97.9 FM) and owner of eight dogs, brewed the beer with Four Peaks Brewing last month.

Holmberg Bound (7.5% ABV) only has been available at a few select bars and events around the Valley in December. A portion of all sales goes to the Humane Society.

On Sunday, Dec. 31, Good Time Charli’s will host a New Year’s Eve music festival starting at 4 p.m. Carvin Jones will perform at 4, and Rockland at 9.

On Monday, Jan. 1, GTC will offer a special New Year’s Day brunch (with its full breakfast and lunch menus) from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Brunch drink specials will include $3 mimosas, $4 Loaded Bloody’s, and $5 house-made sangria.

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