Exploring PHX

Phoenix is a big place, spread out over a large area. Reminds me of Houston in that way. Sixth largest US city, over 4.5 million peeps in the metro area and growing vigorously. Also, the only state capital with a population over 1 million. There’s your bar bet for the day.

I’m staying on the far west side of town, equivalent to Katy in Houston, I’d guess. It’s basically desert with a north-south/east-west grid of roads laid down, and every now and then they throw up a housing development or strip center. Still some ag use in this part of town. Here’s the aerial of my neighborhood.

destiny rv park 226aerial

It’s starting to get hot here, well up into the 90s yesterday. But it’s a dry heat, of course. This place ought to run exclusively on solar power. In the 10 days I’ve been here noting but blue skies and sunshine.

As promised in the last post I’ve been checking out the foodie scene. Tuesday night was Vincent on Camelback. It’s been around for 30 years and I went there about 22, 23 years ago. So I figured it was due for a second visit.

Vincent menu

The menu certainly looked promising.  I appreciate a menu that fits on a single page, but with sufficient variety, and this one fit the bill. I could have ordered anything on it.

Vincent duck tamale

Couldn’t resist trying the duck tamale, but actually it was a bit bland. It definitely needed salt, which the server even admitted, but still kind of blah.

Vincetn beef wellington2

As a special they had beef wellington, which is such an unusual offering these days I had to have it. Looked great, but again the execution lacked a bit: the beef was overcooked a tad and just lacked much pizzazz. Nice cozy atmosphere, it wasn’t loud (it wasn’t busy, Tuesday night and all), service was properly attentive. So they had lots of positives, but when the food falls down, that’s tough to overcome. Not that the food was bad, but both dishes could have stepped up a notch. Generously, I’d give them a B.

READER POLL: please add a comment to this post and tell me what you would have ordered off that menu.

Couple of nights later it was:

Arrogant Butcher1

Regular readers may remember I went to a place in Charleston called The Obstinate Daughter. What’s with all the attitude in restaurant names these days? This place is right downtown, a few blocks from the baseball park, and it was hopping.

Arrogant Butcher2

Here I went with the zucchini fritters at server’s suggestion and then the meatloaf. Fritters were fine but nothing special and the meatlof was again rather bland. I grew up not liking my Mom’s meatloaf but I have had some darn good ones in recent years, but high hopes were dashed in this case. Perhaps a little humility, Mr. Arrogant Butcher?

There was a place right across the street from where my car was parked:

chop suey house

A chop suey house? What year is this, 1962?

It’s always nice to run across a Texas favorite in other parts of the world. I stumbled on Rudy’s the other day. Actually, Rudy’s is my favorite BBQ in Houston, and this one in PHX certainly upheld the tradition.


I passed on their wine offering. At $3.50 a bit rich for me.

Rudy's wine

Next was a place called Artizen Crafted American Kitchen and Bar, which is a mouthful to say but reasonably accurate as a description (cutesy spelling aside).Artizen (7)

I opted for the tasting menu. For the “Amuse” they served the veal cheeks, which were quite good, although I thought the mushrooms were a bit superfluous.

Artizen (5)

Then came the tuna crudo, which was excellent.

Artizen (4)

Next was the carmelized fennel risotto, which was also very good to this risotto afficianado. No picture, though.

Artizen (3)

This is the pheasant confit. When I think of confit I think of very tender and falling off the bone. This was neither.

Artizen (2)

An excellent carrot cake topped off the meal. The wine pairings were generally spot on, so I have to give this place an A-. If they had hit the bullseye with the pheasant they could have had an A+

So last night I went to a most unusual place called Sonata’s which features dishes from eastern Europe: borscht, sauerkraut soup, pierogis, that sort of thing. It’s a very sleek, modern, attractive place. Bars inside and outside, quite a bit of outside seating. It was busy but not packed. I sat at the inside bar and watched some hoops and enjoyed a kickass bloody mary.Sonata's (1)

Then the kitchen dropped the ball. I ordered a grilled octopus as an app, but after almost 30 minutes it still had not arrived. The bartender went to check on it and I told her to go ahead and order cabbage rolls. In 2 minutes the cabbage rolls arrived, and the octopus came 2 minutes later. But all’s well that ends well, both were delicious.

Sonata's (4)

Cabbage rolls have never exactly been a staple of my diet, but these were the best I’ve had.

Sonata's (5)

And for dessert, cripsy cheese pierogis with chocolate hazelnut whipped cream, which they comped due to the service snafu.

Sonata's (2)

Food rates an A, but service gets a C. My brief survey of the Phoenix food scene indicates it’s tough to find a place that has it all going on at once.

Caught a couple more baseball games this week, both involving the Astros arch enemy the Rangers. There was one humorous incident involving Carlos Gomez, now with the Rangers,  whose name is mud in Houston after totally stinking up the joint last season. At one point he broke a bat and looked into the dugout for a replacement, but none was forthcoming. He began walking toward the dugout and pointing for a replacement, but still none. He keeps walking and suddenly someone throws a bat toward him out of the dugout which bounced end over end and landed in  front of Carlos. Carlos had a “what the heck” look on his face. I never saw a batboy come out. Maybe Spring Training hijinx, but I can tell you Carlos was NOT amused.

Not far from the RV park is the Estrella Mountain state park that has quite a few hiking trails. Hit one the other day called the Baseline trail. Fortunately it was not too hot, but there wasn’t a lick of shade anywhere on the trail.Baseline1Baseline15

Gives a good sense of what the trail is like.


I didn’t see many critters.

Baseline11Baseline16 (4)

A few things are blooming, but not much.


Cacti everywhere. Places I would not want to land if skydiving.

Baseline16 (5)

I’m guessing this is a dead cactus?

Baseline16 (7)

Where you go to have a bad day at black rock.

Plan to hit some other trails this week.




2 thoughts on “Exploring PHX”

  1. Steve, I enjoyed every word of this post. Thanks for the time one this one. I never knew Rudy’s was that big a chain. Grand adventure.–best-r


  2. Probably would have been torn between scallops and seeetbreads.

    Keep it coming. Loving riding along with you

    Sent from my iPhone



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