Nikki's Got Four More Picks for Arizona Restaurant Week -- It's Not Too Late!
Arizona Restaurant Week kicked off last Saturday and ends this coming Sunday, September 23 -- which means there's still time to find a great bargain if your favorite restaurant isn't already booked. "You snooze, you lose" definitely applies here.
New Times A "tot" at Atlas, chef Joshua Riesner in background
Although it's true you may no longer be able to book a reservation for Saturday at 7 pm (the primo time slots are likely already taken), a little flexibility on your part (dining early, dining late, booking a week night) could still land you a stellar meal for a relative pittance. I've shopped the Arizona Restaurant Week website extensively -- as should you -- and here are four more places I'd love to check out because they show effort, not just a re-hash of the regular menu at a reduced price.
A sidenote: When I'm shopping Restaurant Week, I don't expect to love every single course; I won't be eating them all anyway, given that each course category generally has two or three choices. So I simply read and see what jumps out at me, what makes my mouth water, what makes me say, "Oh my God, I want to eat that RIGHT NOW."
Ask a die-hard local food-person to name a half dozen of their favorite restaurants and chances are, Atlas Bistro -- the little BYOB that could -- will probably be on that list. Chefs Joshua Riesner and Keenan Bosworth are wildly creative (sometimes changing their eclectic American menu daily), and their commitment to sourcing exceptional local ingredients is evident course after course. For years it was said that the excitement was on the plate, given that the room was a box, the decor a bit minimalist (to put it kindly). But now the Atlas boys are working with Bonner David Galleries, and the place has a far more sophisticated look. And because the BYOB-bistro is located in AZ Wine Company -- a wine shop with an impressive inventory -- you can select a wine that will complement your meal and save yourself a ton of money: no usual restaurant markup, no corkage fee. For Restaurant Week, Atlas's three courses are appetizer, salad and entree, not the usual app/salad, entree and dessert. Works for me. I can add a dessert, which I always share anyway, for an extra $8-$10. What strikes my fancy is: hand-rolled porcini gnocchi with maitake mushrooms (1st course); apple wood-smoked duck breast with peaches (2nd) and grilled pork porterhouse with spaetzle and Amish Asian pear butter (3rd). Pork and pear butter? Yeah, baby!
Smoked Paprika Braised Pork Shoulder, Queso Cotija, Guacamole, Shaved Baby Radishes
Kurobuta Pork Belly, Butternut Squash Hash, Tamarind Peach Glaze
Hand Rolled Porcini Gnocchi, Maitakes, Ginger Cabbage, Black Bean Miso Cream
Grilled Romaine, Fried Rainbow Valley Egg, Spanish Anchovies, Capers, Raisins
Roasted Striped Beets, Gala Apples, Horseradish Cream, Prairie Breeze Amish Cheddar
Applewood Smoked Duck Breast, Peaches, Sweet Corn, Cranberries, Almonds, Arugula, Frisee *Add $5
Grilled Pork Porterhouse, Spaetzle, Spaghetti Squash, Bacon Brussel Slaw, Amish Asian Pear Butter
Niman Ranch Tri-Tip Steak, Roasted Fingerlings, Baby Rainbow Carrots, Black Mesa Ranch Feta, Caper Aioli
Wild Caught Market Fish, White Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Fennel, Baby Spinach, Green Goddess