Honeymoon Guide: Arizona

Continued (page 2 of 12)

BARRIO CAFÉ
2814 N. 16th St.
Phoenix
Tel: 602-636-0240
barriocafe.com

Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza presides over an unpretentious yet terrifically ambitious restaurant serving comida orgullosamente mexicana—proudly Mexican food. The attention to detail is so exacting that she has mole made to her specifications in Oaxaca and driven up. If there's a single star it's the guacamole, made tableside and studded with pomegranate seeds. Among the piñata's worth of other surprises are the tequila-lobster quesadilla first course, the cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork seasoned with red anchiote and sour orange) and the chiles en Nogada (Poblano peppers stuffed with an exotic combination of chicken, raisins and fruit). The downside: Barrio Cafe doesn’t take reservations, and lines can be long. But the bar is a cozy place to wait and sample the many tequilas and Mexican wines.

ELEMENTS
Sanctuary on Camelback Resort & Spa
5700 E. McDonald Dr.
Paradise Valley
Tel: 480-948-2100
elementsrestaurant.com

Even if you're not staying at the region's most style-centered resort, come for a meal at its glass-walled restaurant. Tucked into Camelback Mountain, it has breathtaking views of the starry night sky. Equally stunning is chef Beau MacMillan’s understated American cuisine with Asian overtones. The restaurant's modern-minimalist decor integrates accents of stone, wood and fire into a sleek, sophisticated yet casual environment that sets the stage for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. Make your reservation far enough in advance to secure a window seat, and make sure you’re not stuck at the community table. It’s your honeymoon, after all—there’ll be time enough in the future to socialize.

JANOS
3770 E. Sunrise Dr.
Tucson
Tel: 520-615-6100
janos.com

Adobe meets chandeliers and candlelight in chef-owner Janos Wilder's locally beloved and nationally lauded restaurant. Wilder settled in Tucson prepared to serve French food but found that many traditional foods weren’t easily procured. Instead of sulking, he began exploring new flavor combinations, incorporating indigenous ingredients like the prickly pear cactus, blue corn meal and tropical fruits into his cuisine. (Before assembling a kitchen crew and wait staff, he advertised for gardeners to plant seeds for the foods he’d soon serve.) Patrons dine on dishes like the "10-hour beef short rib" that's braised in red wine and served with a spicy-fruity sauce; a "library" of wine bottles lines one of the dining rooms. The mood and fare are more casual next door at J Bar.

MY BIG FAT GREEK RESTAURANT
4218 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale
Tel: 480-949-8900
mybigfatgreekrestaurant.net

Flaming saganaki—kefalograviera cheese flamed with ouzo and Metaxa—is the star here, but the parade of fanciful flavors begins with appetizer dips like baba ganoush (baked eggplant) and taramosalata (caviar spread). Don’t be intimidated by unfamiliar choices. The exceedingly pleasant wait staff—many of them Greek natives studying at nearby Arizona State—will gladly walk you through the menu, which includes gigantic salads and gyro sandwiches, dolmades (ground beef in grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach and feta inside phyllo dough), braised lamb and a locally favorite assemblage, the Grecian Delight Calzone, that's stuffed with mozzarella, feta, gyro, pepperoni, red onion, green pepper, tomato and lightly spiced with pesto sauce. A traditional "Opa!" is shouted every time a server flames cheese at a table, though the plate-breaking routine is a no-go.

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