October 15, 2010

Greek food in Flagstaff, Arizona

Greeks have a special word to describe their feelings about the importance of sharing the dining experience by eating out with others: paraia. It basically means good food, good times or as famed British writer Lawrence Durrell put it, paraia is “a transcendence of the dinner table to include conversation, the view, ambiance and the overall spirit of place.” Flagstaff’s Greek restaurants go about capturing paraia in different ways, all with some good food and a little “Opa! Opa!” for your taste buds!
Taverna Greek Grill
2420 South Woodlands Village Boulevard
Taverna's Chicken Pita
A Gorgeous lodge like setting with big wooden timbers, Taverna feels like you're eating in a fine dining establishment (that’s laid back and casual). And fine it is, with the largest variety of Greek food in town. The menu features classic Greek foods like gyros, pitas and other authentically flavored fare, some with a modern interpretation. The ingredients are all fresh. The feta is creamy and generously served, as are the other pita ingredients from gyro meat to, thick sliced chicken breast. The sauces are light and flavorful and add the perfect touch. They also have a kid-sized gyro on the kids’ menu, which is an added bonus for families! Besides the pitas, check out the Keftedes (Greek meatballs wrapped in lettuce topped with tzatziki sauce), Loukaniko (grilled sausages and peppers), Spanakopita (a pastry filled with spinach, feta, egg and herbs), Souvlaki (skewers of beef, lamb, pork, shrimp or chicken), and so much more. Desserts include baklava, phyllo pastry layers filled with nuts and drenched in honey syrup, and loukoumades, which are a scrumptious Greek version of fancy donut holes. Check out a full menu at tavernagreekgrill.com.

Greek Islands
109 E Phoenix Ave
This homey hole in the wall with a teeny tiny patio (but hey, at least they have one) seats maybe thirty people tops but is a great escape from traditional Flagstaff. You'll find the owners working here, serving up all sorts of authentic Greek specialties. The chicken chunks are boldly marinated in a lemon herb blend that brings a mouthful of flavor in each bite. The gyros are overstuffed and the thing to get if you can’t decide. Get something, anything (like the calamari) with the housemade marinara sauce. It is fantastic - unique and surprisingly different - a flavor that hints to anise, fennel or something similar that will bring you back bite after bite. Other things to try at Greek Islands: moussaka (which is basically an eggplant and lamb casserole), spinach pie and beef or chicken souvlaki. Note, Greek Islands is cash only, but not to fear there's an ATM right inside. They’ve got their full menu on Facebook

Pita Jungle
320 S Regent St
Mediterranean influences bringing together Greek, Armenian, Middle Eastern flavors with an American flare at Pita Jungle. Sure they've got your gyro and falafel pitas but they also have options you wont find other places in town like my favorite Mediterranean Roasted Chicken (Shawarma) pita with grilled marinated chicken breast, mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, pickles, garlic sauce and tahini. Or try the Hummus & Taboule (Middle Eastern wheat salad) plate or the Lentil Fetoosh Salad (a mix of lentil and rice cooked with caramelized onions, over mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, pita chips topped with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Do add a side of those garlic new potatoes too! On the unique Greek fusion pizza front, pita jungle has pita and lavosh pizzas that bring a unique taste in their crust and toppings that include feta cheese. Try the Glazed-Chicken Lavosh Pizza with crispy wood-fired lavosh bread topped with honey-mustard glazed chicken, wood-fired onions, cheddar, feta, mozzarella and herbs. For dessert go for the baklava or rice pudding (aka Rizogalo). Check out a full menu at pitajungle.com.

Mountain Oasis
11 E Aspen Ave
The vegetarian and more mecca that is Mountain Oasis spreads its international reach of flavors to Greece. Home to many a popular Greek dish from gyros to falafel, Mountain Oasis also serves up dolmas, stuffed grape leaves with a homemade lemon tahini dressing, and a favorite Greek salad with feta, kalamata olives, Greek dressing and gyro meat. Mountain Oasis also makes their own hummus. You can get it as an app with pita bread, garnished with sprouts, cucumbers, kalamata olive and tomatoes or get it on a wrap with avocados, cucumbers, carrots, black olives and lettuce. Check out their full menu of Greek and other international delights at themenuplease.com/mountainoasis.

October 13, 2010

Cottage Place offering 'Holiday Cooking' class

Forget that boring old Thanksgiving dinner you normally make, The Cottage Place is hosting a Holiday Cooking class!
On Saturday, November 6th starting at 11am OR Sunday, November 7th starting at noon, Chef Frank will be sharing his secrets for a scrumptious gourmet holiday meal.
Cost is $50 per person and includes instruction, a packet of recipes, tastes of all the food and several tastes of wine that have been paired with the food. Things you can look forward to making and trying out: Roast Turkey, Apricot-Pecan Stuffing, Cottage Place Whipped Potatoes, Frank's famous Winter Squash Soup, a salad with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette, Pumpkin Cheesecake and more.
Call The Cottage Place to make your reservation at 774-8431.

Where to find some good cocktails in Flagstaff

There are so many places in Flagstaff to kick back and liven your spirits. Here’s a look at some sweet spots, many of which are close together so you can enjoy them on a walking tour of the downtown area and avoid having to drive anywhere.

Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen
1300 S Milton
What’s not to love on the drink menu at Picazzos, especially during their awesome happy hour when their organic cocktails (and apps) are half off! That’s a reason to celebrate right there. The drinks are made with organic ingredients – from the liquor to the fruit – and they taste goooood. I particularly have enjoyed the Watermelon Mint Mojito with silver rum, lime juice, watermelon and mint leaves and the Raspberry Lavender Limonade with big juicy raspberries and a delightful lavender lemonade vodka. The floral bouquet comes alive in your mouth. Another popular option- the Ginger’s Hot with Corazon Reposado Tequila, fresh ginger, agave nectar, lime juice and the kicker –fresh jalapeƱos. If a spicy twist is what you’re after, consider the Mango Tango with honey mango vodka, mango puree, lime juice and jalapeƱos. This one is for anyone who enjoys a mango salsa. The taste buds get the sweet and the throat gets the afterburn. The menu goes on and on with interesting concoctions, which is just what summer is calling for.

Tinderbox Kitchen
34 S San Francisco
Dust and delays on San Francisco adding to frustration? Pull over, cool off and chill out with a Shandy or two from Tinderbox. Traditionally a shandy is a mix of ale and lemonade (I fell in love with the shandy at the famous Hoffbrauhaus in Germany. Delightful!) TBox’s Shandy puts a twist on traditional, as per their norm, instead serving up 4 Peaks Sunbru with fresh lemon juice and a shot of Tru Organic Vodka. Good stuff to make those construction pains fade away.

Salsa Brava
2220 East Route 66
Salsa Brava has a large selection of margaritas to meet your desires. Many come in regular and super grande sizes for those days you need a little extra relaxation. Among the choices you’ve got your traditional house specialty Salsa Brava Margarita with or without fruit. Or try the Agavero Cadillac made with Hornitos Reposado and Agavero Tequila, which is made with a flower known to be an aphrodisiac. They also have several mojitos from the classic to peach, mango, raspberry and strawberry options. Of course, one of their Pina Coladas will also go a long way to help you chill on a hot summer day. And not to be left out, the house made Sangria crafted the traditional way with burgundy, citrus fruit, and brandy.

Criollo Latin Kitchen
16 N San Francisco
Making a name for themselves on the happy hour circuit is Criollo with their sangrias and margaritas a plenty. These margs are particularly addicting, so make sure someone else is driving. You’re going to want to keep ordering them and there’s no skimping on “the goods.” They don’t even have a blender I’m told, so don’t ask for a frozen one. Their red sangria is smooth, tangy and goes down fast. All signs point to excellent bartenders.

Lumberyard Brewing Company
5 S San Francisco
While you’re probably tempted to go for a good ol beer to beat the heat at the Lumberyard, seeing that it is a brewing company and all… consider the refreshing change of the unique white sangria instead. This house made concoction features white wine with red grapes, lemon slices and a splash of apple juice. They also offer a twist on a traditional sangria sans brandy but instead has blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and a splash of lemon-lime soda.

Altitudes Bar and Grill
2 S Beaver
Sit back and relax on the patio at Altitudes and catch a summer breeze while sipping on one of their popular cocktails. Ones to try… Coconino Lemonade with Bacardi, razz rum and fresh squeezed lemonade and the Orange Crush with vodka, triple sec, freshly squeeze orange juice and a splash of Sierra Mist.

October 12, 2010

New Jersey Pizza update

I've heard several people around Flagstaff recently say New Jersey Pizza isn't open anymore - but I'm glad to confirm those rumors aren't true... they're just not open for lunch.

The new hours for New Jersey Pizza are Sunday, Monday and Tuesday 5-8pm and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 4-9:30pm.

Read previous reviews of the delish New Jersey Pizza Company HERE

You can find their latest menu and specials at http://newjerseypizzacompany.com.

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