10 Best Dishes of 2013
The year's most outstanding dishes in the Valley run the culinary gamut -- from the exquisitely unique to artfully crafted re-inventions of elemental flavors. Put them on your plate and prepare to be wowed.
Scallops at Virtú Honest Craft
At chef-owner Gio Osso's tiny, wonderful Mediterranean-inspired café in Scottsdale, the menu may be different today from it was yesterday and similar tomorrow, perhaps, but it's always in flux. If Osso has prepared his pan-seared scallops for you on the evening you visit Virtú, the culinary stars have aligned in your favor. Delicately light and sweet, they are impossibly pristine, served atop a tidy arrangement of butternut squash, caramelized onion, and bits of bacon with a white chocolate beurre blanc that is even more decadent than you imagined it could be.
El Español at Otro Café
Further playing upon the success of his first restaurant, Gallo Blanco, chef Doug Robson creates Mexican and Spanish-influenced dishes at his newest project in north Central Phoenix that run from traditionally impeccable to memorably sublime. Among the latter is the El Español, a shareable plate of thin-sliced ham, serrano peppers, avocados, olives, and red onion in a savory citrus dressing ready to be scooped up with crunchy pieces of bolillo bread. Lightly earthy, a little spicy, and entirely refreshing, you can picture it coming out of a tapas-style café in Spain.
Guthi Vengaya Curry at Karaikudi Palace
If Karaikudi Palace in North Scottsdale has a specialty, it is the South Indian dishes, which, given the menu's 130-plus selections, are not always the easiest to find. One in particular, the guthi vengaya curry (pro tip: It's number 60) is especially worth pursuing. Consisting of whole baby eggplants stuffed with onions and spices then cooked with ingredients like peanuts and tamarind, the smoky and spicy creation is both a thoughtful nod to its home state of Andhra Pradesh, on India's southeastern coast, as well as a magnificent dish in and of itself.