J. and I had hit an impasse on the winter vacation decision. Frankly, I thought we had debated and discussed the topic enough that our brains were fried enough to not think clearly. We both had our desires and our thoughts. If we had more time and more money, we would have chosen Edinburgh because both J. and I have Scottish blood flowing through our veins. But, we simply couldn’t swing it or the hefty $800.00 air fare (each!). We also decided that even a winter location with snow and the like would be fun.
I said to J. that we just needed to wait for inspiration and let fate guide us. So, with that conversation set aside for the evening, I wanted to take J. someplace special that I knew would serve a fabulous meal and give us some comfort. Then, like a strike of lightning, I blurted out the name “Richardson’s.” J. knew about Richardson’s and was quick to agree. It was already pushing 8:30 PM by the time we got out the door. I was hoping this would cut down the wait time.
When we reached the northwest corner of Bethany Home Road and 16th Street in central Phoenix, I knew that we would have a substantial wait, but the thought of New Mexican food had us both drooling and committed to making this meal happen. We entered and gave our name and was told the wait would be about 45 minutes. I turned to J. and was given a nod of approval. I then offered to buy J. a drink while we waited. We ordered two Hoegaardens ($5.00 each) which were Belgian white beers. It was quite good and really set the tone for our meals.
When the time came for our name to be called, we followed the host to one of the largest booths in the place and had a table for 8-10 all to ourselves. That was okay because it helped muffle some of the noise wafting from the rest of the restaurant. We were handed menus and told our server would be with use shortly.
After reviewing the menus, J. and I debated what to get. There were plenty of specials on the large chalkboard mounted to the wall, but the standard menu was just as enticing. When our server arrived, we were set to order. J. started with the Red River Chile ($9.00) and I couldn’t resist the Posole ($9.00). For our entrees, I went right for the Carne Adovada ($12.00) and J. was drawn to the Pork Chop Chorizo ($24.00).
As we waited for our starters to arrive, I couldn’t help but think about how comfortable the restaurant was. The noise level was high, but the booth was cushy and I loved the dim lighting and numerous votive candles on the table. We talked about the various dishes as they were whisked by our table headed for other patrons.
J.’s Red River Chile was first to hit the table and I almost took it for myself. The large bowl was brimming with chorizo, pinto beans, tomatoes and Jack cheese. All of this was sitting atop a large flour tortilla and more cheese. J. took one bite and exclaimed, “Wow! This is fantastic.” I took a taste myself and it was indeed fantastic. The flavors had melded perfectly and I was pleased that it had a very solid, spicy kick to it, but not enough to distract from the taste. The chorizo was delicious and quite rich. Everything about this dish was spot on and I was pleased that J. was enjoying every drop.
My Pozole was served in the same sized bowl as J.’s and I was eager to begin satisfying my hunger pains with this dish. It did not disappoint. The dish was exceptionally memorable with a thick broth, lots of Hominy, and huge chunks of beef all with a red chile splash. This was one of the best pozoles I had ever had and I was wishing I had more tortillas to mop up every drop. What I liked the most, however, was the tortilla that lined the bowl. It had absorbed plenty of the broth and when I took a bite of it, it was ambrosia. A truly spectacular dish that had plenty of spice and lots of bold flavors.
Just as we finished our starters, J.’s House Salad was brought to the table, which surprised us since we didn’t remember seeing that on the menu. The salad was a mix of various lettuces, scallions, slices of tomato and shredded Cheddar cheese, all tossed in a Chipotle Ranch dressing. I thought the salad was pretty good, especially the dressing. J. was quite happy with it because the creamy dressing helped tame some of the heat from the chiles in our appetizers.
We only waited about 10 minutes before our entrees arrived. J.’s Pork Chop Chorizo was pure eye candy. A gigantic pork chop had been butterflied and stuffed with a solid portion of chorizo before the whole thing was grilled and topped with a chipotle mango chutney. This was incredible and super tender. I thought J. was close to ecstasy with the chop. I thought the creation was outstanding. J. also loved the Green Chile Potatoes that were mashed and then piped into an Anaheim chile. It was incredibly creative. The vegetables that accompanied the dish were also good, but J. said they really didn’t live up to the rest of the dish.
When my Carne Adovada arrived, I just stared at it for a few moments because I was bowled over by the amount of pork swimming in the luscious red chile stew. I knew I would have a tough time finishing my meal. The pork was fork tender and the chile sauce was everything I had hoped for. The pinto beans were quite good because they had soaked up some of the red chile and the rice also added a very nice dimension to the dish. But the star of the show was the pork and I thought this was one of the best dishes I have had in Phoenix. I kept mentioning to J. how much I loved my dish and we were comparing and contrasting our respective dishes. I had to echo J. with a big “Wow!”
But as much as we tried, we were unable to finish our meals and asked that the remains be boxed. Our server was more than happy to fulfill our request and we sat there trying to recover from our Bacchanalian feast. When our server returned with a bag containing our boxes of goodies for home, we requested the bill which came to a total of $71.35. It was worth every single penny.
The service was engaging, professional and spot on. We had no complaints about the service at all.
With our bellies full, J. and I also couldn’t stop discussing the fantastic meal we had at Richardson’s. The 45-minute wait was nothing for the high quality of food that we had and I would go back in a heartbeat. Both J. and I agreed that Richardson’s was one of the best restaurants in the Phoenix metro area.
As we moaned about having to move and get back to the car, another bolt of lightning hit and I suddenly realized where we should go for our winter vacation. I blurted out the location and it took all of 0.2 seconds for J. to reply, “Oh, my God! YES!” Our debate had been solved and we spent the time going home talking about our upcoming trip. The spot was perfect because it was charming, romantic, and has a superb culinary scene. It was also affordable compared to some of our other choices because it will be off season for travel.
That means J. and I will have the whole city of Montreal to ourselves.
1582 East Bethany Home Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Hours: Monday through Friday - 11 AM to Midnight; Saturday and Sunday - 9 AM to Midnight.
Notes: Additional parking in back. Bar is open until 1 AM.
Alcohol: Full bar service.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico
1582 E. Bethany Home Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016