Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eating Out for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we drove to Arizona to visit family. It worked out best for us to eat out for Thanksgiving, which was a first for me. We ate at Bill Johnson's Big Apple in Mesa, AZ, one of the few places where we could get a reservation. Bill Johnson's is a Western-style restaurant chain with locations all over the Valley of the Sun. It's mainly famous for steak, BBQ, and breakfast. The Thanksgiving menu was just OK, a step above cafeteria food. However, the wait staff was very friendly.
But we did have some excellent food elsewhere on the trip. On the way down, we stopped in Las Vegas ($29 rooms at Circus Circus), but we decided to forego the LV buffet. We had heard good things about The Egg and I (aka The Egg Works) for breakfast. They have great pancakes, waffles, and eggs served about every way you can imagine. We tried the mashed potato omelette, which sounds a little strange, but tasty and very filling. It was kind of like an loaded baked potato in an omelette. (The fact that there were garlic mashed potatoes made it even better.) The Egg and I (Las Vegas) should not be confused the The Egg and I chain based in Colorado (with a location in St. George and a new location opening in SLC). (I wonder if the Colorado chain is why the other locations in LV are called Egg Works.)
In Arizona, we were sad to see that Mama's Pizzeria (by ASU) had closed down. We used to hang out there when I was a student. We had dinner at Monti's La Casa Vieja (now run by Michael Monti). This place is on the National Register of Historic places. Still the same great steaks, but we're pretty sure that the spaghetti recipe is no longer Leonard Monti's family recipe. (It tastes like generic food service sauce.) And Monti's is much more expensive than I recall. We also stopped at The Golden Gate, a Henrichsen family favorite. This is a decent and affordable family-run establishment with the best hot and sour soup I've had anywhere (and we've looked).
The biggest surprise was The Queen Creek Olive Mill, Arizona's only olive farm and mill. We stopped here for breakfast on the day we returned to Utah. Here the Del Piero family produces locally grown artisanal olive oils using sustainable farming methods. (Yes, you'll feel like you're in Napa Valley. But it's Queen Creek.) Their "Tuscan-inspired" menu includes fresh fruit waffles, a variety of breakfast sandwiches, and eggs benedict. You can also buy a several olive products and other locally produced food products. If we lived in Queen Creek, everyone would be getting olive oil for Christmas.

1 comment:

Josh Daniels said...

My condolences for having to "eat out" on Thanksgiving. I would really dislike that myself. There is just something about that home cooked meal that makes it better. You sort of lose some of the Thanksgiving magic when you eat out.