July 30, 2008

Canyon Breeze

By Angele Sionna

300 N Hwy 89A (in the Sedona Center)
Sedona, AZ
Partial menu at: canyon-breeze.com



The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>= good, but not great

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$ = $10

Value (what you get for your money)
** = okay - overpriced for quality/taste


Need a break after shopping in Sedona’s uptown tourist area? A good place to stop for a margarita, taco salad, and a great view is Canyon Breeze. There is nothing fancy about this restaurant. You order at a counter, are given a light-up buzzer, and seat yourself.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Canyon Breeze Taco Salad"]Canyon Breeze Taco Salad[/caption]

I head straight to the patio, which always seems to have a cool breeze passing through. It feels just like you’re hanging out at your balcony at home with the over-sized comfy chairs. It’s good for kids too because there’s no need to worry about too much noise in this casual atmosphere. When your order is ready the buzzer lights up (which thrills my two year old every time) and you pick up your food and drinks and bring it all back to the table on a tray.

On my latest trip to Canyon Breeze, I went with my mom who was visiting from out of town. She always requests to go here because she enjoys the atmosphere and sitting in the sun. Plus quite honestly, she doesn’t like when waiters come over and bother you while you’re eating. You don’t get any of that here, as there aren’t any waiters at all.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Canyon Breeze Cheeseburger"]Canyon Breeze Cheeseburger[/caption]

The menu at Canyon Breeze is varied, everything from taco salads and enchiladas to hamburgers with fries. I order the chicken taco salad whenever I’m here. It comes with mixed greens, guacamole, sour crème, salsa, and lots of grilled chicken breast all served in a tortilla bowl. Again, it’s not fancy but it tastes good. I also like to order a margarita from the separate bar inside the Sedona Center and drink that while waiting for the food to be ready. My mom ordered the cheeseburger and fries special on this visit. The fries are really good: crispy, flavorful, and fresh without being too salty. The burger was a burger. Nothing special, but juicy and satisfying.

The theme really of Canyon Breeze: simple, easy, and something for everyone… right in the middle of the big tourist shopping area. It’s worth a try if you’re around, but not worth a trip to Sedona just to eat there.

For more photos of Canyon Breeze, click HERE.

July 26, 2008

Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q

By Angele Sionna

2321 Carlisle (at I-40), Albuquerque, NM
Menu at: rudys.com


The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>>= always great, unique, and flavorful no matter where you’re from

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$= under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay

Barbeque is really all about two things when you get right to it: the sauce and the meat. Great meats are slow cooked with flavorful woods that subtly permeate their smoky flavors into the food. Done right, they practically melt in your mouth. The sauce, on the other hand, needs to be bold. It should stand-up and grab your attention.

In my mind, barbeque meat and sauce doesn’t get any better than Rudy’s Bar-B-Q. The secret is the sauce. It’s distinctive with peppery flakes, a sweet tanginess, and a zesty kick that shoots across your tongue as you’re savoring all the flavors. This once small town country store in the Texas Hill Country has become an expansive enterprise with 25 restaurants across the southwest. (You can see a list and map of every location HERE.)

My most recent visit to a Rudy’s was in Albuquerque on Carlisle at I-40 as a lunch stop on our road trip to Texas from Arizona. (read more about that road trip HERE.) It was PACKED! But then I’ve never been to a Rudy’s that wasn’t. This particular Rudy’s is a franchise operation. They have the same look to the building and the same menu, and except for not having the choices in type of brisket (lean, juicy, etc), you could mistakenly think you’ve wondered into the lone star state... down to sipping a glass of their excellent sweet tea.

Rudy’s Bar-B-Q is all pit-style flame cooked with oak wood, which gives everything a delicious smell and taste. My favorite is the sliced turkey. It is smoky and juicy with hints of buttery flavors. Add the “original sause” with its peppery, zesty kick and I’m in food heaven. Their brisket is probably the number one item on the menu. It is tender, juicy, and melts in your mouth. You can smell the oak that’s used to smoke it in every bite. Another top item: sausage links which have a little kick to them but aren’t spicy. All of the meats are served by the pound (or quarter pound or half pound).

Sides are the only things about Rudy’s that could be improved. While I love the buttery boiled potatoes, everything else is just okay. Luckily, all the meats are served with sliced bread so you really don’t need much else in the way of sides. Don’t forget to order up a large sweet tea (with serve yourself free refills) to top off your meal in true Texas style.

The seating is family-style on wooden picnic tables. They have indoor seating, covered porch seating, and a few outdoor tables too. On a busy day, you’re more than likely to be sitting with some hungry strangers but that’s part of the fun. Everyone seems to adopt a friendly Texas attitude when they walk thru the doors.

I miss great barbeque being a Texas-native living in Arizona. So whenever I am even sort of going to drive near Albuquerque, we head to this Rudy’s. The top quality food at reasonable prices means I’m a Rudy’s life-er.
Photobucket
We even order the “sause” from the Rudy’s website to make our home-cooked briskets great. (Admittedly, mine is nowhere near as awesome as Rudy’s but our friends who’ve never been there think we’re the best cooks they’ve met.) You can order a large bottle of their original “sause” for $9.49 (for a 38 ounce bottle) plus shipping and make your home cooking stand out as well. They also have a subtler blend of spices in their “sissy sause.” This is my husband’s favorite. No matter if you’re in Texas, New Mexico, or half way around the world, you can get a little piece of barbeque heaven with this "sause" in your cupboard.

July 21, 2008

Portofino Italian Restaurant

By Angele Sionna

701 S. Main St., Roswell, NM
(no menu online)



The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>>= always great, unique, and flavorful no matter where you’re from

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxx= good but could be improved

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$ = $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay


Here’s a newsflash for you: Roswell, New Mexico has something more than alien mythology to lure in tourists. They have a great Italian restaurant! If you told me that the best Italian food that I would find in the southwestern US would be in Roswell, of all places, I would have thought you were crazy. And then I would have to go to this intriguing place and measure its goodness myself. I recommend you hit the road for Roswell and discover Portofino for yourself.

I went to Portofino on a recent road trip where we stopped for one night in Roswell. (To read about the road trip and other Roswell recommendations, click HERE.) I was in the mood for Italian but not feeling hopeful, as I only saw one review of Portofino on Trip Advisor. There was another Italian joint mentioned as well, but it was a chain, so I wasn’t interested. I was really feeling Italian-flavored cravings, so I decided to ask the nice woman who checked me out with my stereotypical alien tourist t-shirt if she could recommend a place to eat for Italian. She mentioned she heard Portofino was great but had yet to go there.

That was enough for us, as we were tired from our day-long drive, hungry and ready for dinner. We drove a few blocks south of downtown and almost missed Portofino. It’s in a rather non-descript building on Main Street on the left (if going there from the UFO museum and such downtown). I had my doubts, so I went in to grab a to go menu to browse the selections. Right when I opened the door, I knew this is where we’d be dining that night. The aroma was superb. You could tell someone was back in the kitchen making lots of custom dishes. I went back out to the car, informed my family to hurry up, and down we sat.

Boy, did I make the right call! It was even better than my “find” at the souvenir shop (a weird touristy t-shirt with a picture of an alien holding an X-Files DVD. Classic!). I must have been lucky that night because Portofino also delivered with the best Italian food I’ve had since moving from Chicago... at really decent prices too.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="230" caption="Portofino's bread with dipping sauce"][/caption]

While you browse the menu trying to pick just one entrée, the waitress serves up these little triangles of bread with olive oil for dipping. The bread is very unique and almost tastes like a cross between biscuits and classic Italian country bread. My two year old kept gobbling them down and the waitress kept bringing more baskets with a smile. Nice service.

For a main course, I finally settled on the Pasta Primavera ($8.95), though there were so many that looked good. It was served with all fresh vegetables in a thin tomato sauce over angel hair pasta. You could tell this dish was 100% homemade. It was plenty to share with my daughter as well.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="230" caption="Portofino's Lobster Ravioli"]Portofinos Lobster Ravioli[/caption]

My husband got the Lobster Ravioli ($12.95). I really wanted to order that too, but I decided we needed to try more than one dish. Glad we did because both were great! The lobster ravioli is served in a tomato cream sauce and not too rich and not at all fishy smelling or tasting. (A problem some other Italian restaurants can’t seem to overcome on this dish.) But not Portofino. Theirs was perfect. The sauce was so good, my husband finished off the breadbasket soaking up every last drop of that sauce. We hadn’t enjoyed a lobster ravioli dish that much since dining at Sapori Trattoria in Chicago. (If you’re ever in Chicago, it’s worth the trouble leaving the tourist areas for that little gem of a restaurant as well. Sapori is my favorite restaurant in the entire world. No exaggeration.)

I have to say, as you can probably already tell, I was so impressed by this local joint. Decent prices, high quality food, and quick friendly service. A MUST visit! I wish this place was in my hometown! Now you have one more reason (besides checking out all the alien stuff) to visit Roswell.

For more photos of Portofino click HERE.

July 19, 2008

Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli

By Jerry Ireland

314 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City, UT
menu at: caputosdeli.com



The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>>= always great, unique, and flavorful no matter where you’re from

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$                    under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay

Salt Lake City doesn’t readily come to mind when thinking about the nation’s best spots for sandwiches. But with places like Tony Caputo’s Market and Deli, Gandolfo’s NY Deli, and Legers, sandwiches could be Salt Lake’s signature food. At the top of the sandwich game is Caputo’s downtown at the corner of 300 West and 300 South.


Boasting distinctive Italian and southern European food, Caputo’s delivers with fresh food and a family atmosphere. Tony Caputo maybe the friendliest restaurant owner I have ever met. He makes an effort to get to know most of his customers, which is no small task since there are usually lines out the door during lunch hour. Many of the Caputo clan takes part in running the business, giving it a home away from home feel. It seems harder and harder to find that feeling in restaurants these days and that’s probably a part of why Caputo’s keeps people coming back for more.

The Wednesday Special is what draws me in on most visits. Each day of the week offers a different pasta dish and Wednesday is lasagna. Several fresh batches are made by hand and it is easily the best in the city. The pasta melts in your mouth. It’s served with a green salad and a roll. The pasta specials price out at $8.45 and worth every penny.

The menu includes, sandwiches, soups, salads and deserts. My sandwich is the Caputo ($6.45).  It has prosciutto, mortadella, salami, provolone, lettuce, and tomatoesand is served on a hard Italian roll covered with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. What makes this great is the freshness and high quality of each and every ingredient. Both the oil and vinegar are sold at the Caputo’s Market if you are looking to add some of these fantastic flavors for your own cooking. I am not alone in my love for the Caputo as it was named the third best sandwich in America by FHM magazine.

There are 11 other sandwich choices including The Meatball, The Prosciutto, The Italian Cold Cut, Feta and Tomato, and The Cheese Lover. I’d recommend opting for any one of these on focaccia, as it’s my favorite bread in the whole city. Sandwiches run between $6.25 and $7.45 depending on your selection.

Freshness is also the key to Caputo’s salads, which use a base of virgin olive oil, and balsamic or red wine vinegar.  Whether it is using greens, pastas, or vegetables, all the salad choices are made to order and excellent. A Salt Lake favorite is the Vanocur Salad ($7.45) named after a local news reporter. It’s made of seasonal fresh greens with feta, green olives, tomatoes, croutons, pepperoncini topped with balsamic vinaigrette and a roll.

Desserts include New York Cheesecake ($3.50), Tiramisu ($3.50), Chocolate Cake ($5), and Cannoli ($2.75). My fav: the cannoli. It tastes like it is straight from Italy and should not be passed up.

The marketplace that is connected to the restaurant has the largest selection of Italian foods in Utah and is a Godsend for people from back East or anyone that appreciates top notch gourmet foods.

Overall Caputo’s is, in my opinion, THE best place to grab a quick lunch in the entire state of Utah. I used to go there every week when I lived in Salt Lake. Now when I visit, I make sure to plan my stay so that I can grab a Wednesday lasagna special. Caputo’s is a place that I must stop and you should too.

July 18, 2008

Café Med

By Arikka Fullmer

420 E 3300 S
Salt Lake City, Utah

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>= a favorite, can count on it being good every time

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
***** = superb -lots of quality/taste for what you pay

No need to eat like a lady here... when your falafel is overflowing with crisp onion wedges and sweet tahini sauce just bite in! Café Med is popular with vegetarians and anyone with a craving for Mediterranean spice.

The falafel sandwich has been my long time favorite and I tend to order it over and over. I do switch up the side dish! Café Med’s basmati rice and their lemon rice are delicious choices but I recommend the spinach lentil soup. It’s a hearty, smooth, flavor packed treat that arrives in a generous bowl. The sage colored soup is steaming and thick enough to hold a swirl of cream. The visual is almost enough to satisfy.

Oh did I mention the tahini sauce in the actual sandwich! I just can’t get enough of the yogurt and mint. It’s paired perfectly with several crispy patties of falafel. Café Med blends chick peas and spice into a heavenly blend and price at just $6.99. Other menu items range from $5 to $12.

The service is always friendly and my most recent trip was with a large group of ladies and one child. Café Med was very accommodating. It’s a cozy place for couples or if you want to grab a quick bite alone. You may not have noticed Café Med before because of it’s unassuming location on 33rd South. Look for the brightly colored sign. The patio is inviting and the interior is spruced up with flags, Greek columns, and endearing fake floral arraignments.

July 16, 2008

Bear Paw Café

By Arikka Fullmer

75 N Main St
St George, UT

http://bearpawcafe.com


The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks
>>>>= a favorite, can count on it being good every time

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx = comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money

Here's a little gem I'm so happy I stumbled upon in St. George, Utah with great coffee. The Bear Paw Cafe has a classic facade on narrow Main Street. Forget the chain breakfast joints with typical greasy dishes. The Bear Paw lures you in with it’s vintage feel and by the patient line, you know it’s worth the wait.
The menu can be overwhelming, so many options that all sound so good! The drink menu alone is several pages with a full coffee/tea bar, smoothies, juices and tempting concoctions. The coffee is so good, I keep it simple.
For a simple breakfast try Grandma’s oatmeal, very filling. But my favorite is the eggs benedict with smoked salmon. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the vegi quiche and french toast.
There are plenty of twists on classic items with pecan, blueberry, baked apple, almond, and vanilla. Bear Paw’s rustic front is just a front for its sophisticated menu.
My gripes: The line, sometimes it moves quick, other times its slower than dripping molasses. The service, usually abrupt and all business. And they never bring that yummy coffee quick enough.

July 13, 2008

NiMarco's Pizza

By Angele Sionna


[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="101 S. Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ"]101 S. Beaver Street, Flagstaff, AZ[/caption]

101 S. Beaver St., Flagstaff, AZ



(no menu online)

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>= mixed bag, can be good but can be bad, can’t count on it

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxx= good but could be improved

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$= under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
*** = fair -you get what you pay for, not in a bad way


NiMarco’s Pizza says on their sign that they’ve been serving “Flagstaff style” pizza since 1979. If that’s the case, Flagstaff style is average pizza with a cracker-thin dry crust but really good sauce.

I was very excited to try NiMarco’s for the first time this week. I’ve driven by their place countless times and always thought that their patio looked like fun. It’s a simple house-style restaurant with about a half dozen tables outside. The inside has a relaxed look with a fireplace dominating the single roomed restaurant and wooden booths around the outside of the room and tables in the middle. Nothing fancy, just easy to kick back in. That’s a good description of the menu as well. NiMarco’s serves slices, whole pizzas, calzone, a few types of salad, and wings.

During the school year, NiMarco’s patio is almost always packed with college students when I’ve gone by. On our visit, there were only a few customers, as it’s the middle of summer break. I figured the big college student clientele meant they must have cheap slices and good beer.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="NiMarco's Cheese Pizza Slices"]NiMarcos Cheese Pizza Slices[/caption]

I didn’t try the beer but I did grab two slices. The plain cheese, which I got, were $1.75 each, tax included. Good price. (Adding topics ups the price depending on what you get because they have different “levels” of toppings.) The pizza itself was too greasy and is nothing impressive. The crust was too crusty and really dry. It’s best described as “cardboard crust,” to use a common pizza term. The sauce however was really tangy and good. Unfortunately, not good enough for me to recommend ordering pizza here.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="NiMarco's Calzone"]NiMarcos Calzone[/caption]

What was good at NiMarco’s was the calzone. My husband ordered the “Your Way” calzone ($7.50, including tax) with extra cheese, pepperoni, sausage, onions, and ham. They said it would take 20-30 minutes and it did. Again, the crust wasn’t that great, but on the calzone it is really thin so it didn’t matter as much. It was lacking in the cheese department (and we got extra cheese - yikes) but overloaded with onions. Those should have been reversed for better flavor. This dish is loaded with sauce, and that’s a good thing. Until you get to the second half, because the sauce and all the ingredients’ juices seep thru and make it really soggy. This is particularly bad because everything at NiMarco’s is served on throwaway products – paper plates, paper cups, and plastic ware. While that’s easy for them, it’s not good for us patrons, as the plastic knife just didn’t cut it with the calzone, literally. Add that to the soggy plates and you’ve got a mess.

I find NiMarco’s paper/plastic products policy very wasteful and surprising, actually. It’s like a delivery place that has good seating. They use three paper plates for each entrée. Add that to the other paper/plastic waste from the cups, napkins, and cutlery and I actually got to the point where I kinda felt bad about eating there on an enviro-friendliness level. This may seem kind of silly, but I guess I just expected a little better from a place that prides itself on being Flagstaff-style, as the city and its residents are very eco-conscious.

All in all, the price is right at NiMarco’s but the product reflects it. I would skip NiMarco’s and opt for their competitor just up the block – Fratelli Pizza. (See my Fratelli review HERE.) NiMarco’s does have a better patio and is about a half block closer to Northern Arizona University’s campus, which is probably why it draws such a crowd when school’s in session.

See more photos of NiMarco's Pizza HERE.

July 6, 2008

Javelina Cantina

by Angele Sionna

671 Hwy 179, Sedona, AZ
Hillside Shopping Center
Menu at: javelinacantina.com

The Food
(taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)

>>>>>= always great, unique, and flavorful no matter where you're from

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxxx= you'll love it

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$$$= $15

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money

The best Mexican food I’ve had in Arizona... that about sums up Sedona’s Javelina Cantina in one sentence. Located south of the “Y” on Highway 179 in the upscale Hillside Shopping Center, this restaurant is welcoming as soon as you walk in the door. The décor is modern southwest with stone and metal used heavily throughout. It really reflects the city’s chic artsy atmosphere. Large windows let patrons enjoy the famous Sedona scenery without the heat. But the best spot to sit is on the patio, which features a relaxing red rock waterfall and a great view of the city.

This was our first visit to Javelina Cantina. We heard it was the best in town and had won several awards so we were anxious to try it. That kind of reputation can get just about anyone in the door – but would it live up to the hype? I’m glad to report – YES!

Javelina Cantina serves Sonoran-style Mexican food. The prices are above average for Mexican dishes, but about in line with most places in Sedona, averaging about $15 per entrée. There are 15 different combo meals, which are perfect for sampling some of everything. I really liked the variety of combos. They’re not just your typical taco and enchilada choices, though those were options. And as you would expect in Sedona, they have a vegetarian combo as well. The menu also includes several types of salads, fajitas, and Javelina Chef Specials, featuring three signature dishes: Rocky Point Fish Tacos ($15.50), Salmon Tostada ($17.95), and Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Burrito ($14.95). For the junior javelinas, there’s a kids menu with eight different child-sized entrees with a soda and dessert for $6.50.

We met up with family for our Javelina Cantina debut, so we got to try several different things in this one visit. First things first - we ordered chile con queso ($7.95) and guacamole ($7.50) for appetizers. The queso was chunkier than most places with lots of green chiles, but very creamy and good. The menu says the guacamole is made fresh daily and it tastes like it. It was tangy and rich, almost creamy… full of flavor without being overwhelmingly spicy. You can tell a lot about a Mexican restaurant by their guac, so I knew we were in for a treat when the entrees came. And boy was I right!

For the main course, I had the South of the Border Combo Uno ($14.95), one of Javelina Cantina’s signature meals. It comes with one cheese enchilada, one green corn tamale, and one taco plus rice and beans. The enchiladas were, simply said, awesome. A tortilla filled with hot cheeses topped with a flavorful tomato-based sauce with just enough kick but not spicy. Also, thankfully, they weren’t greasy like too many other Mexican restaurants. The tamale was about twice the side of typical tamales. It was covered with melted cheese and served without a husk. It was nice to have a vegetarian tamale. Too often you don’t get much variety in this dish. The masa was thick with a corn, cheese and green chile center. Again, full of flavor but not spicy. I’m thinking that must be a trait of Sonoran-style Mexican food, which I’ve honestly never heard of before eating here. The chicken taco was my least favorite part of my combo but still decent. It was filled with super-thinly shredded chicken but a little dry and bland in comparison to the other items. I added some of the guac we had for an appetizer and it really improved it. My dad opted for beef tacos on his combo and thought they were much better than the chicken ones.

My husband ordered the Steak Fajitas ($17.95). They were perfect for one, but probably not enough to share like at other places. The steak was marinated and grilled with onions, tomatoes, and red peppers. The juices all ran together making a savory sauce. The meat itself was very tender and far above your average fajita meat. The fajitas come with warm flour tortillas, guacamole, and a special spicy sour crème sauce that they call crème fraiche. Javelina Cantina also serves chicken ($17.95), shrimp ($18.95), Tilapia white fish ($17.95), or garden vegetable ($14.95) fajitas.

Not to be overlooked are Javelina Cantina’s margaritas. What Mexican restaurant meal would be complete with one of these! This cantina is not messing around with their margarita menu. It has at least ten different varieties… from a standard frozen concoction ($6.50) to a Green Monster ($8.00), which is a standard margarita with a Midori float, to a Fiesta Titanic ($12.75), which has a mixture of mango and prickly pear margaritas with Midori and Blue Curacao added.

Service at Javelina Cantina is as good as the food. Our waiter was very attentive and friendly. We never felt rushed even though we ate and lingered for about two hours. Speaking of friendly, other members of the wait staff doted on my daughter who was enjoying looking behind the curtain at the bus boy station. They offered her some M&Ms, which she loved. Another thing she loved, Jave and Lina the javelinas mounted on the wall near the bar and the Arizona gift shop at the front of the restaurant. They have all kinds of souvenirs from Arizona wild animal hand puppets to books on Sedona’s famous vortex sites.

Javelina Cantina is definitely my new favorite place to eat in Sedona. (There's another one in Lake Hacasu City too if you're in that part of Arizona.) It is certainly a contender for the top spot in all of northern Arizona, but I may seem to lean slightly towards Flagstaff’s Beaver Street Brewery for that honor. Either way, the Javelina is the best place for Mexican in this whole area. You do pay more for the food here, but everyone in our party today agreed – it is worth it!

**TIP: For 10% off your total bill at Javelina Cantina and other Sedona restaurants, stop by the tourist information center in the Dairy Queen parking lot just north of town on Highway 89 in Oak Creek Canyon. You can find all sorts of coupons and other info about the area.

More Javelina Cantina photos HERE.

July 3, 2008

House of Bread

By Angele Sionna

1237 S. Plaza Way, University Plaza Shopping Center, Flagstaff, AZ
Lunch & Bread menu at: houseofbreadflagstaff.com

The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>= good, but not great

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$= under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="House of Bread in the University Plaza Shopping Center"]House of Bread in the University Plaza Shopping Center[/caption]

House of Bread seems like a little local joint but in reality it is a franchise of small regional chain based in California. The bread and butter of their business, if you will, are their 25 types of homemade premium breads, made with freshly stone ground flour. They do it right in the store everyday. (But don’t show up with the kids to watch because all the fun goes on in the wee hours of the morning, I asked about it.) Their website states that all of their products are all natural with no chemicals or artificial preservatives. You can taste the quality of the ingredients in every product they serve.

The set up inside House of Bread is friendly and welcoming. You could almost forget you’re in the middle of a strip mall if it weren’t for the giant windows looking out to the massive parking lot. Otherwise, it reminded me of a little country store with wooden chairs and tables and a farm mural painted on the wall. House of Bread is especially kid friendly with their “sweet” menu and a wooden kid-sized table parked up against the brick wall. It is covered with lots of toys to entertain your little ones while you kick back and enjoy a cup of organic coffee.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="House of Bread's Blueberry Scone & Cinnamon Roll"]House of Breads Blueberry Scone & Cinnamon Roll[/caption]

My mom, my daughters, and I went to House of Bread for breakfast on a random Monday morning about 9am. We were the only customers sitting down, but there was a steady flow of people popping in to grab some bread and what not. We ordered a blueberry scone ($2) and a regular cinnamon roll ($2). They have several kinds of cinnamon rolls, including some with nuts and others with gooey caramel. The blueberry scone was outstanding. Slightly sweet and filled with giant plump blueberries. Oh so good. The cinnamon roll was good, but not on the same level as the scone. It had lots of cinnamon, a sticky sweet sauce of some sort, and raisins. Good flavors but next time I might ask if they could heat up the cinnamon roll. I think it would have been better warm.

This was my second visit to House of Bread. Previously I’d bought some of their bread, Grandma’s White Bread to be precise. It was exactly what you’d hope fresh bread tastes like. Yum! We made some great sandwiches that week. Great bread is the key to a great sandwich after all. That being the case, the sandwiches that House of Bread serves for lunch are probably pretty good, but I’ve yet to try them. But one day the Cranky Turkey ($4.50 half, $5.95 whole) sandwich with cranberry cream cheese sauce is going to call my name and I’ll update this review then!

Until then, I will just note that sandwiches, soups, and salads are served for lunch from 11am to 2pm daily. Hot breakfast items like toasted egg sandwiches are served from 7 to 11 am daily. You can buy cinnamon rolls, scones, and muffins, in addition to several varieties of breads through business hours. By the way, they make different breads on different days, so check out their bread schedule on their website if you’re looking for something particular.

Something fun and unique to note: House of Bread offers field trips and group tours. So if you have some curious boy scouts or girl scouts, call up and schedule a behind the scenes visit. They even have a special hands-on tour that costs $5 per child, samples included. Details can be found on their website HERE.

**TIP: If you live around Flagstaff, check your mail for House of Bread coupons. You can often find a bargain in the Money in the Mail booklet that comes out monthly. Recent coupons have included buy a cinnamon roll, get one free or buy a sandwich get the second for half off!**

More House of Bread photos HERE.

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