The past week has been quite the roller coaster ride. So much so that I was happy to get out of town and - finally! - celebrate my 5-year anniversary with J. in California. But before that happened, I had a pretty awful week, ending with me disappointing three other Phoenix food bloggers.
In a nutshell, Mario over at "I Am Jack's Brain" had asked me, JK the Cosmic Jester and Rob (The Food Bar Blog) to be on a team that would write reviews for azcentral.com's website. We filled out the application, told a bit about why we do what we do and hoped for the best. We were accepted, although our choice of "small plates" places to try was turned down in favor of Mexican food.
We were all set to go until we were told that we needed to take photos of all of us. Since I am a faceless food blogger (and prefer to remain that way), I inquired if we could do some creative hats-and-dark-sunglasses thing to show me being there, but being a bit incognito. Alas, azcentral.com said no, I withdrew from the team and it all fell apart from there. Oy.
There was still interest in getting together anyway and we opted to meet at Los Sombreros in Scottsdale for dinner. At the last moment, Mario was unable to make it, but JK, Rob and I met and began our culinary adventure at Los Sombreros.
Rob arrived first and put our name on the list. I arrived after that, followed by JK. We had some good food banter going while waiting for our table. About 15-20 minutes later, we were seated inside, which was unique for me since every other time I had been there, I was seated on the patio.
As we reviewed the menus, we ordered our drinks. Rob had a traditional margarita ($6.50). I had some specialty, top-shelf margarita called the "Pueblo Viejo" ($8.95) and JK had a Limeade ($1.95). I also ordered at Diet Coke ($1.95) - shocking, I know.
Only a few minutes passed before our drinks arrived, along with a big basket of chips and a small dish containing two kinds of salsas. The chips were crunchy and fresh. The salsas were also fresh, but I think we all enjoyed the chipotle salsa better than the more traditional one.
My margarita was quite good and rather potent, but smooth. It had a few overtones of orange and perhaps cinnamon, but I couldn't quite place the final taste. In any event, it was a great drink, but one was enough.
We then placed our order. Rob went with the Guajillo Short Ribs ($16.50), and chose the black beans and vegetables to accompany his meal. JK is a big mole fan and couldn't turn down the Mole Poblano Chicken with black beans ($13.95). I was really turned on by the chipotle salsa and wanted to continue that theme, so I chose the Puerco en Chipotle with refried beans and sauteed vegetables ($13.95). To add to the mix, I also ordered the Jicama Salad ($5.95).
While we waited, ate chips and enjoyed our beverages, we had a great round of chowhound chat including the realization that Waffle House is the secret guilty pleasure of many people, including the three of us at the table.
It was a very short wait before my Jicama Salad arrived. The plate was filled with a pile of sliced jicama, oranges and radishes, all drizzled with a lime dressing, orange juice and a dusting of chile powder. The fruit and veggies were incredibly fresh and the dressing only highlighted their taste. It was sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Rob and JK tried a bit as well and enjoyed it. This was a great way to start off the meal.
Our meals arrived a few minutes after I had finished my salad and I was wearing a big smile when my Puerco en Chipotle was set down. Three large chunks of pork were roasted and then placed upon a plate of a smokey chipotle sauce. The pork was fork tender and the sauce was delicious. It wasn't so spicy, however, that one couldn't enjoy it. My lips were tingling from the heat, but they were not on fire. The pork with the sauce was wonderful and I mopped up as much of the sauce I could with each bite. My only complaint about the dish was that the pork chunks should have been cut in half. At their current size, the very middle was a bit dry. A minor inconvenience, but notable.
The refried beans were served with some queso fresco on top and were wonderful. Smooth, creamy and slightly salty, they were a great side dish.
JK's Mole Poblano Chicken was a deep red dish of spicy mole sauce and tender chicken. He very much enjoyed his meal and admitted that he loves mole enjoys it tremendously. While he did finish his meal and thought it was very good, he said he felt that it was missing something. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he said it was the difference between a very good dish and a great dish.
Rob's Guajillo Short Ribs were amazingly large. The ribs had been cooked in Negro Modelo and then topped with a red chile sauce. They also smelled wonderful. Rob noted their tenderness and that he wasn't sure if he could finish them all, but he gave a good college try at it. He said they were great, but would have liked the ribs to have been trimmed a bit more closely to remove some of the fat.
After our meals, we felt that dessert was in order. On the "specials" board near the host station, we all saw the "Pumpkin Praline Ice Cream" ($4.95 each) and couldn't resist.
In a few minutes, our ice cream had arrived. Three servings of the treat were served in little tortilla bowls cemented to the plate with a dab of whipped cream and topped with a sliced strawberry. The tortilla was filled with three medium scoops of the ice cream. My first bite was creamy and sweet and then I bit into a bit of the praline. Unfortunately, it was not very good. Either the pumpkin seeds, the sugar or both had been burned and that left the praline rather bitter and did nothing to the dish. JK and Rob agreed that the praline was not very good and we all picked around the praline to get some of the very good ice cream.
We finished our dessert and drinks and chatted a bit more. Our total bill was $91.27 including tax and tip. Service was decent and the atmosphere was pleasant. Despite the dessert failing, we all agreed that Los Sombreros serves some of the best Mexican food in the Valley and would return to this fine place anytime.
We all agreed to meet up again (hopefully with Mario the next time) and enjoy another meal at some other great restaurant in Phoenix metro.
I still feel bad about the azcentral.com incident, but I know it won't preclude any of us from blogging about our experiences.
Thanks for a great meal and a great evening, JK and Rob!
2534 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85257