Are you ready for a culinary adventure? The Valley of the Sun is filled with them. A foodie destination, here you can indulge your wild side and let your taste buds decide if you want seconds.
Expand your palate with dishes that include such ingredients as lamb heart, rattlesnake, pig ears or calf testicles, or try the Mexican delicacy huitlacoche, which is a fungus that grows on corn (it's an ingredient in the Mini Corn Quesadillas at Sierra Bonita Grill).
For over-the-top dishes, the Lobster Pot Pie at Bourbon Steak weighs in with two pounds of Maine lobster, and the La Bomba dessert at Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar literally drops decadence onto your table.
DISH: Sicilian Cauliflower with Grilled Lamb Heart appetizer
MADE WITH: Sicilian cauliflower, grilled lamb heart, pickled shallots, pine nuts, golden raisins, honey gastrique and bronze fennel grown at The Farm.
WHAT CHEF DUSTIN SAYS: “The amount of anise, black licorice and fennel flavor that you get from the dish is so unique and amazing.”
PRICE: $15 (though varies depending on seasonal ingredients)
Quiessence at The Farm at South Mountain, 6106 S. 32nd St., Phoenix; 602.276.0601
DISH: Paloma Ranch Calf Fries
MADE WITH: Calf testicles that are cut into bite-sized portions, dipped in seasoned flour, then egg washed, breaded with Panko and deep fried. Served with cocktail sauce and fresh lemon.
WHAT PROPRIETOR GARY LASKO SAYS: “They can be described many ways including ‘the last thing over the fence,’ ‘swinging beef,’ ‘bovine family jewels,’ ‘cowboy caviar’ and my favorite, ‘beef tendergroin.’”
The Stockyards, 5009 E Washington St., Phoenix; 602.273.7378
DISH: Mini Corn Quesadillas
MADE WITH: Manchego cheese, spinach and huitlacoche (the huitlacoche is sautéed with garlic, onions and spices), folded into corn tortillas. (Otherwise known as corn smut, huitlacoche is actually a fungus that grows on corn and it's considered a delicacy in Mexico.)
WHAT OWNER NATE HOPPER SAYS: “I first tried huitlacoche during a culinary immersion trip that our opening team took to Oaxaca. Our experiences there heavily influenced the direction of the menu. Sierra Bonita Grill’s opening chef, Bill Leisses, created the recipe for the Mini Corn Quesadillas. I actually didn’t think the dish would sell well because huitlacoche doesn’t sound very appetizing. To my surprise, it has remained one of our staple menu items for the past 11 years, and it is one of our most popular appetizers.”
Sierra Bonita Grill, 6933 N. 7th St., Phoenix; 602.264.0700
DISH: Lobster Pot Pie
MADE WITH: Two pounds of Maine lobster, truffle brandied lobster cream and spring vegetables. Baked in a copper pot with a savory breaded crust, then deconstructed-reconstructed tableside.
WHAT CHEF MICHAEL MINA SAYS: “I believe in creating dishes that are not only delicious, but are memorable. I want people to think about that dish, and overall dinner experience years later. The Lobster Pot Pie is a prime example. The ‘wow factor’ of the tableside presentation really takes the dish to the next level. It’s the perfect dish that combines a luxurious ingredient, yet has a simple preparation, and also the timelessness of a classic American dish.”
Bourbon Steak at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale
DISH: Crispy Pig Ears
MADE WITH: Fried pig ears and fresh Fresno chilis.
WHAT CHEF CULLEN CAMPBELL SAYS: This dish is "a labor of love because [it takes] a couple days to get ready, and honestly I never thought that pig ears would ever take off because they were so weird. I love using ingredients that you don't see everywhere, [then see] people enjoying them."
DISH: The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Cheeseburger Dog
MADE WITH: Char-grilled hamburgers that have been ground up and mixed with chopped smoked bacon, dill pickles, green onion and Cheddar cheese. The mixture is then breaded with milk and seasoned flour, deep fried, and served on a hot dog bun with chopped smoked bacon, shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomato and a housemade secret sauce.
WHAT CHASE FIELD EXECUTIVE CHEF STEPHEN TILDER SAYS: “This item is unique in many different ways. There is a three-day process to make each one of these handcrafted dogs. The ingredients are 100-percent fresh, and no additives, preservatives or fillers go into making this item. We start on day one by making the mix and then refrigerate it for 24 hours before hand-rolling out each dog. After the bacon cheeseburger dog is formed it is frozen for 24 hours before it goes into the breading process.
The inspiration behind this item was to take the iconic hot dog, which is baseball’s most popular food item, and put a creative ‘over-the-top’ twist to it. We think we nailed it and our fans seem to agree. We are on target to sell over 15,000 bacon cheeseburger dogs for the 2016 season.”
PRICE: $10 (available at Big Dawgs on the main concourse and Extreme Loaded Dogs on the Diamond Level)
Chase Field, 401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix
DISH: Authentic Rattlesnake
MADE WITH: The rattlesnake is fried and served with prickly pear cactus fries and chipotle ranch.
WHAT HEAD CHEF FRANK GONZALES SAYS: “For a taste of the Southwest, try our legendary rattlesnake served with fresh prickly pear cactus fries.”
Rustler’s Rooste, 8383 S. 48th St., Phoenix; 602.431.6474
Also serving rattlesnake....
DISH: Rawhide Rattlesnake
MADE WITH: Lightly breaded rattlesnake loin meat, deep fried pickled jalapeños, jalapeño and cheddar potato croquettes, and served with creamy buttermilk ranch dressing.
WHAT EXECUTIVE CHEF JONATHAN SCOTT SAYS: “The appetizer has been a feature that the steakhouse has offered since the company’s origin. The flavor balance of the delicate rattlesnake meat, spiced breading mixture and creamy ranch offers a nice contrast and complexity. Although rattlesnake and other types of game meat can be a little frightening to try, snake has some of the same flavor characteristics as chicken which in turn easily satisfies the masses.”
Rawhide Steakhouse, 5700 W. N. Loop Road, Chandler; 480.502.5600
DISH: Ramen “Momo” Burger
MADE WITH: A crispy ramen “bun,” sesame plus Sriracha soba, caramelized onions, pepper jack and jalapeño mayo.
WHAT EXECUTIVE CHEF BOB TAM SAYS: "It's a handholdable Asian noodle dish ... ah ha! Simple ... accentuated by the Asian noodles. So, basically it's a yakisoba cheeseburger."
Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour, 1 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix; 602.340.1924
DISH: Chorizo Chicken Waffle
MADE WITH: A waffle with chorizo and green chilies, which are put into the batter prior to cooking. The waffle is then topped with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and fried chicken. Eggs are optional toppings.
WHAT CHEF MARK VOJTEK SAYS: “It came about because a customer wanted chorizo but told me he did not want eggs. So I had to figure out a way to create a dish with all his palate choices but no eggs. When it was delivered to the table, three other surrounding tables immediately ordered it—and the rest is history. The customers love it because it still maintains the consistency of a waffle, but with a little "kick." I serve syrup on the side with it, so you can still have your combination of sweet and spicy. It is one of the most popular menu items at the café!”
Mark’s Café, 6340 S. Rural Road, Tempe; 480.839.6455
DISH: Pig Face Dumplings
MADE WITH: Smoked and braised pig cheeks, kimchi, Sriracha and pickled peppers.
WHAT CHEF AND OWNER JARED PORTER SAYS: "It's one of those dishes that we really focused on when we first opened. We knew it had to be something special in order for people to buy something named ‘pig face.’ I think one of the best things about it is the fact that it's a dish that is 100 percent made in-house (except the dumpling wrapper). It showcases the kimchi that we make as well as the Sriracha, and the filling has a very different texture than what people might expect. We first cure then smoke and finally braise the cheeks overnight to make them very tender. We then shred the meat and incorporate some of the reserved fat to create a very pate´-type of texture. So the finished product is a great balance of smoke, acid, unctuous, spicy and texture. One of our best dishes!"
PRICE: $9 (four per order)
DISH: La Bomba
MADE WITH: The decadent dark-chocolate sphere is filled with guava cheesecake mousse, lemon-lime cream custard, chocolate cookie crumbs, almond streusel, pistachio gelato, dulce de leche gelato, coconut gelato, fresh berries and edible flowers.
WHAT EXECUTIVE CHEF FOREST HAMRICK SAYS: “The dessert is presented tableside, and the server instructs the guests on the count of three to yell, ‘La Bomba.’ The chocolate sphere is then dropped in middle of the table, breaking and showcasing all the delicious, sweet, indulgent ingredients that guests were awaiting in complete anticipation. The ultimate ice cream sundae is then finished with salted caramel, vanilla bean anglaise and raspberry sauces ... it’s an awesome dessert to share at the table and wow your guests ...”
Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, 17020 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale (in the TPC Scottsdale clubhouse); 480.585.2694