Hot N Juicy Crawfish Is Open in Tempe -- Prepare to Get Messy, Seafood Fans

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Crawfish by the pound with any amount of heat you can handle.
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 Hot N Juicy Crawfish on Mill Avenue.
Restaurant: Hot N Juicy Crawfish
Location: 740 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
Open: Less than a week
Eats: Seafood
Price: $25+ per person

If you've heard of the Las Vegas-based restaurant chain Hot N Juicy Crawfish, then chances are you've either already gone to the new Tempe location or have plans to do so soon. The restaurant opened last Friday at the Centerpoint on Mill complex and has wasted no time in attracting diners. We waited about 30 minutes for a table on Monday night -- and we weren't the only ones. It seems this town has been waiting for a restaurant like this to come around.

And after our dinner, we're sure happy it did.

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Paquime Street Food of Mexico in Sunnyslope: Tortas Paquime Goes Fancy, Fast-Casual

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Beef flautas from Paquime Street Food of Mexico.
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
Paquime Street Food of Mexico
Restaurant: Paquime Steet Food of Mexico
Location: 17 East Dunlap Road
Open: About three weeks
Eats: Mexican
Price: Less than $10 a person

If you're already a fan of Tortas Paquime, the mini-chain of five restaurant that specializes in the Mexican sandwiches, there's a good chance you're also going to like Paquime Street Food of Mexico. The restaurant is the newest concept from the Paquime restaurant family and while the menu will probably look pretty familiar to Tortas Paquime fans, it's about the only thing that will.

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Cakes and Ribbon Bakery Serves Up Sweet Tres Leches Cake and Cupcakes

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Natalie Miranda
Cakes and Ribbon Bakery

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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Henry's Private Kitchen in Mesa Is for the Adventurous Diner -- Who Can Read Chinese

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
The stinky tofu isn't for everyone.
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 Henry's Private Kitchen.
Restaurant: Henry's Private Kitchen
Location: 1440 South Country Club Dr., Mesa
Open: About two weeks
Eats: Taiwanese, Korean, Chinese
Price: $10 and up per person

Since last August, chef and restauranteur Henry Ku has been bringing Taiwanese and Asian cuisine to Tempe at Henry's Taiwan Kitchen, a mini-chain of restaurants he started in Seattle. At Henry's Taiwan the chef delivers accessible and affordable food inspired by traditional Taiwanese, Chinese, European cuisines. By comparison, Henry's Private Kitchen is meant to be a sort of "flagship store" with a far larger menu and more upscale design, according to Ku's friend and business partner, Richard Kuo. The restaurant opened quietly in Mesa about two weeks ago.

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Lola Coffee at Sam Fox's The Yard: Phoenix's First Siphon Bar, Kopi Luwak, and Tapas

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Lauren Saria
Lola Coffee at The Yard has brought back some of the well-loved dishes from Lola Tapas.
In January we told you that Lola Coffee, the Roosevelt Row coffeeshop from one of the city's best-known roasters Daniel Wayne, was headed for The Yard. And whether you love or hate Sam Fox's giant dining and hangout space on Seventh Street, you're going to want to come check out the new Lola Coffee.

There are quite a few reasons, not the least of which is the restaurant has brought back some of the most popular dishes from Lola Tapas, the restaurant Wayne opened with his then-wife Felicia Ruiz in 2005. It closed in 2010.

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Rania's Kabob Grill: Afghan Cuisine Has Come to Gilbert (With Delivery!)

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
Beef Keemah Kabob at Rania's in Chandler.
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
Rania's
Restaurant: Rania's Kabob Grill
Location: 1674 N. Higley Rd., Gilbert
Open: About a month
Eats: Afghani
Price: $15 to $20 per person

We can thank the Ansari family for this Afghan restaurant, located in a shopping complex just south of the US 60 on Higley Road. The restaurant offers a menu of Afghan cuisine including a version of qabili palau, often considered Afghanistan's national dish.

More importantly though for Gilbert-ites: they deliver.

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Sazón Bachata: The Caribbean Comes to Grand Avenue in Phoenix

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Natalie Miranda
Pollo salteado con vegetales

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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Phoenix Burrito House: Super Tortillas in the Melrose District

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
The shrimp burrito at Phoenix Burrito House
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
Outside Phoenix Burrito House
Restaurant: Phoenix Burrito House
Location: 4140 North 7th Avenue
Open: About three months
Eats: Mexican
Price: Less than $10 a person

Those familiar with the former home of the James Beard Award-winning The Fry Bread House will recognize The Phoenix Burrito House. Since the new restaurant moved in about three months ago, the building has gotten a new coat of white paint that does a surprisingly good job of making things feel bright and almost new. The restaurant comes courtesy of the De la Cruz family, which also owns El Zócalo Mexican Grille and El Sol Mexican Cafe & Bakery in Chandler, Mangos Mexican Cafe and Bakery in Mesa, and Méjico in Central Phoenix.

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Méjico in Central Phoenix: Homestyle Mexican Food That Hits the Spot

Categories: First Taste

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Carrie Wheeler
Carne asada at Méjico
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: Méjico
Location: 2333 E. Osborn Road
Open: Over six weeks
Eats: Upscale Mexican
Price: $20 to $50+ per person

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Johnny Chu's RedThai Southeast Asian Kitchen Turns Up the Spice in Sunnyslope

Categories: First Taste

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Lauren Saria
RedThai's Thai Noodle Soup
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: RedThai Southeast Asian Kitchen
Location: 7822 North 12th Street
Open: Less than a week
Eats: Thai and Vietnamese cuisine
Price: $10 to $15 a person

Hong Kong-born chef Johnny Chu has been serving his modern Asian cuisine at T. Spot (formerly Tien Wong Hot Pot) in Chandler for years and added Central Phoenix's Sochu House to the mix back in 2012. In January, we told you he had plans for two more restaurants this year. It's been just a few short months, but the chef opened the doors at RedThai late last week. If you're looking for authentic Thai, keep looking. But for Chu's signature modern Asian fusion cuisine, this spot definitely delivers.

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