Jorge's Chicken and Waffles in Tempe Has a Chicken and Waffle Cone -- and It's Not Bad

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Chicken and waffles from Jorge's Chicken and Waffles in Tempe
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Jorge's Chicken and Waffles
Restaurant: Jorge's Chicken and Waffles
Location: 1212 E. Apache Blvd, Tempe
Open: About a month
Eats: Chicken & waffles, Mexican
Price: $15 and under/person

Jorge's Chicken and Waffles. Even the name is intriguing. And when you look at the menu -- a diverse assortment of dishes that includes fried chicken, Belgian waffles, and carne asada tacos -- this new Tempe restaurant is at least worth a try.

Located next-door to Curry Corner, the 3,200-square-foot Jorge's Chicken and Waffles offers a large dining room and a side patio with views of busy Apache Boulevard, as well as a full bar. We stopped by for an early Friday dinner, and enjoyed a quiet meal in a mostly empty restaurant.

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Counter Intuitive in Scottsdale: Painkillers and Bacon Beignets at Peter Kasperski's Latest (Rotating) Concept

Categories: First Taste, Hooch

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Lauren Saria
Micah Olson makes a New Orleans-inspiried cocktail at Counter Intuitive in Scottsdale.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

This one, by the way, is more of a First Sip.

Day-drinking be damned. Weekday drinking, too -- or so the story goes for the highly-anticipated cocktail concept from Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar owner Peter Kasperski, which is now open to the public as Counter Intuitive. Only awake from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., the menu features cocktails from top-shelf Valley talents Micah Olsen and Jason Asher and will change themes every few months. First up: Infused bourbons and a Bourbon Street-infused menu with a back story: a New Orleans estate sale for the deceased, sadly fictitious Bartholomew Chesterfield Ignatius Sugarman.

We went to pay our condolences.

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The Montauk in Scottsdale: Great Patio -- But Skip the Lobster Roll

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Lobster Roll from The Montauk
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside The Montauk
Restaurant: The Montauk
Location: 4360 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Open: About three weeks
Eats: New American
Price: $15 to $20+/person

Designed to look something like a Long Island beach house, this new spot took over the building that formerly housed Bungalow, a sports bar and restaurant. With a new white paint job on the outside and a dining room decorated in eclectic, East Coast preppy style inside, there's no doubt that, at least aesthetically, The Montauk is a nice change.

As for the menu, it almost seems as if The Montauk can't decide between embracing its Long Island theme and appeasing the tastes of Scottsdale's conservative and health-driven diners. You'll find clam chowder and a lobster roll, but also an $11 hot dog and green curry shrimp.

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Cafe Tranquilo at The Clarendon Hotel Isn't Quite as Good as Gallo Blanco -- Yet

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
A selection of tacos from Cafe Tranquilo at The Clarendon.
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Cafe Tranquilo
Location: 401 West Clarendon Avenue
Open: Less than two weeks
Eats: Mexican
Price: $10 to $20 a person

Fans of Gallo Blanco at The Clarendon Hotel aren't done mourning the loss of the popular restaurant. But already, there's a new restaurant in the space. Really, it's just a new version of Gallo Blanco that's not operated by or associated with former restaurant operator Doug Robson.

The new iteration of the restaurant is called Cafe Tranquilo, and to help get things up and running, Clarendon Hotel owner Ben Bethel has brought in chef Dan Maldonado. Local diners may recognize his name because he was half of the culinary duo behind the now-defunct Tacos Atoyac. Since that spot shuttered suddenly last spring, he has opened his own taco restaurant called Mucho Macho Taquerilla.

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House of Tricks in Tempe Has a New Lunch Menu -- And We've Got Bad News for PB&J Fans

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
The new vegetable sandwich on the lunch menu at House of Tricks
Fans of House of Tricks in Tempe may notice a few changes to the restaurant's lengthy lunch menu. Earlier this year the restaurant removed a few items from the lunch selection and replaced them with new dishes.

The changes include taking away the restaurant's popular PB&J sandwich, which was made with balsamic macerated strawberries, pistachio butter, shaved fennel, mascarpone cheese, and arugula. The good news is the new dishes include excellent options such as harissa pork tenderloin served with charred eggplant puree, and arugula and chickpea salad.

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Couscous Express Brings a Little Bit of Morocco to McDowell Road in Central Phoenix

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Beef tagine from Couscous Express in central Phoenix
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Couscous Express
Restaurant: Couscous Express
Location: 1915 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix
Open: About a month
Eats: Moroccan
Price: $12-15 a person

If you've recently taken McDowell Road in central Phoenix, then chances are good you've already seen the bright green and yellow sign that popped up on the south side of the street just west of the 51. And though the small storefront still looks quiet most days, there is, in fact, a small restaurant there called Couscous Express.

The new spot comes from Moroccan-born owner Abdul, who's lived in Phoenix for about three years. Before opening this restaurant a month ago, he lived and worked in Yuma, where he sold date shakes.

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Zang Asian Bistro in Glendale Serves Approachable Eats in Generous Proportions

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Fried Lemon Pepper Tofu from Zang Asian Bistro in Glendale
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Zang Asian Bistro
Restaurant: Zang Asian Bistro
Location: 6835 N. 58th Dr., Glendale
Open: Less than a month
Eats: Asian
Price: $15 or less/entree

It's been more than two years since Zang Asian Bistro closed its doors in downtown Glendale. But thanks to restaurateurs David Chang and Tom Harvey, it's back in action and under the same chef who made it a neighborhood staple back in 2005, Kim Ming Poon.

Located adjacent to Cuff, the New American restaurant where Harvey is chef and owner, Zang offers a casual and slightly updated dining room, as well as a separate counter for take out diners.

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Sol Caribe Brings Puerto Rican Flavors to South Scottsdale

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Sol Caribe's
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Sol Carib in Scottdale
Restaurant: Sol Caribe Puerto Rican Cuisine
Location: 1617 N. Granite Reef Rd., Scottsdale
Open: About a month
Eats: Puerto Rican
Price: $15 and under

Not so long ago, in an off the beaten path south Scottsdale strip mall, diners looking for authentic Puerto Rican eats could get their fix at El Coquito. But, alas, it closed and thus left an island-sized hole in the neighborhood dining scene.

Now, in the very same spot, you'll find Sol Caribe Puerto Rican Cuisine. The new restaurant opened about a month ago and offers diners a well-executed and approachable menu of dishes from the Caribbean archipelago.

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Noble Eatery in Phoenix: Claudio Urciuoli Celebrates Simple Food Made With Top-Quality Ingredients

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Canelloni and crab smorgas from Noble Eatery in Phoenix
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Inside Noble Eatery in Phoenix
Restaurant: Noble Eatery
Location: 2201 E. McDowell Road
Open: Less than a week
Eats: Small plates, lunch
Price: $15 and under

Chef Claudio Urciuoli has plenty of fans. Thanks to his time at notable Valley restaurants such as Noca, Pizzeria Bianco (formerly Italian Restaurant), and Prado, the chef has earned a reputation for doing simple, rustic Italian cuisine remarkably well. The only problem for those many fans has been that the last two years or so, Urciuoli been focusing his energies on baking bread with Noble Bread partner Jason Raducha.

Well, as of earlier this week the chef's back in the kitchen, albiet a small one. The duo behind Noble Bread have opened a small lunch spot called Noble Eatery, where Urciuoli is crafting simple Italian fare of exceptional quality.

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Diego Pops Brings Brussels Sprouts Nachos and Late-Night Tacos to Old Town Scottsdale

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Brussels Sprouts Nachos
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

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Lauren Saria
Diego Pops in Scottsdale
Restaurant: Diego Pops
Location: 4338 N. Scottsdale Rd
Open: About a month
Eats: Mexican
Price: $10-$15/person

It's been about a month since Diego Pops opened quietly in the former home of Mexican pottery store off Scottsdale Road. The new dining spot is the second concept to come from the folk behind the popular health food restaurant mini-chain, Original ChopShop Co., and offers a modern Mexican-inspired menu of tacos, salads, appetizers, and sides.

You won't head here for the truest representation of Mexican cuisine, but between the late-night hours and retro-chic design Diego Pops should appeal perfectly to the Old Town Scottsdale dining crowd.

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