Friday, December 10, 2010

Phoenix for Turkey Day 2010

Thanksgiving is a time for being thankful, and I am thankful for being able to spend it with my family even if it's only for a long weekend.

Day 1: Turkey Day in Phoenix, AZ

The bf and I flew out on Thanksgiving morning so we'd miss the mad house of people traveling the day before. It was brutal waking up so early to catch the 6:40am flight, but so worth it because we arrived at 10am without missing any of the festivities.

My brother had about 40 people over, which means insane amounts of food! That was about half of it.

My sister-in-law made most of the dishes, and I made my 1st honey baked ham! Costco makes it easy with directions on it, haha.

I see my niece and nephew about once a year, and every time I see them they get so much bigger and more mature. They're so cute... I miss them already.

Day 2: Sushi in the Desert

Tomo Japanese Cuisine
1550 N Dysart Rd Ste. A7-9
Goodyear, AZ 85395
(623) 935-2031

The family was tired of eating leftover Thanksgiving food for every meal, so we broke the cycle and went out for sushi. This is my family's favorite place and accommodated our group of 14 for happy hour very well.

It has trendy decor, and a happy hour from 3pm-6pm on weekdays, with drink specials lasting until 7pm. The staff is friendly, the food comes out fast, and the prices are great for the quality.

Imagine how much food everyone ordered for our table of 14 - a lot! Their menu offers a lot of special rolls, many of which are very cheap for happy hour. The kids don't eat sushi, but there were many other items on the HH menu for them like dumplings, chicken, etc.
Tomo Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Day 3: Hiking, Mexican Food and Fine Dining

Papago Park
Priest & W. Park Dr
Phoenix, AZ 85073

We wanted to do something outside and didn't want to travel far. What's nice about Phoenix are the mountains in and around the city. We went to visit the Hole in the Rock next to the Phoenix Zoo. This is the front, which people were climbing...

...but they have stairs in the back! This is the kind of exploring I like.

You can walk through the hole and gaze down at the scenery below. Why do I look so short?

We also visited another "mini-mountain" nearby, which has this nice amphitheater at the bottom.

The rest of the hike was hard for me because I always thought hiking meant "walking on paths", not walking up a 45 degree angled rock using your hands, and slipping on loose pebbles and avoiding cactus. Let's just say my little niece and nephew kicked my butt, and I ended up waiting for my family to come down from the top while I snacked on vanilla wafers.

Carolina's Mexican Food
1202 E Mohave St
Phoenix, AZ 85034
(602) 252-1503

After making it safely down the mountain without cracking my head open, we stopped by the best Mexican joint in all of Phoenix. This has been a family favorite for years, and my sister-in-law used to give me bags of burritos and tamales to freeze in college.

It's a typical hole-in-the-wall kind of place that serves amazing food for so cheap! The tortillas are so fresh and soft, and the sauces are flavorful and everything is so tender. I wish I had taken some on our flight home!

We didn't want to get too full before dinner, so we didn't order as much as we could have. We had burritos, enchiladas, tamales, and sipped on Mexican flavored drinks like manzana soda and horchata. Each item we ordered was less than $4.
Carolina's Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

Orange Sky
9800 E Indian Bend Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
(480) 850-8606

Our family planned a nice dinner on the 15th floor of the Talking Stick Resort & Casino. They claim to have the nicest view of the sunset, so we requested a window table on the west side of the restaurant.

The space is very open with floor to ceiling windows around the whole restaurant, large comfortable tables and amble space between them. Aside from the main dining room, there are enclosed rooms for larger groups and small sectioned off tables separated with curtains lining some windows. There were also windows into the kitchen, which the kids and I enjoyed seeing.

Curtains cover the windows until the sun is at the right part of the sky, then the curtains automatically open displaying the horizon.

Once the sun has completely set, the lights below provide a nice view too.

The cuisine is American, and was SO GOOD. My brother said it was one of the best meals he has had since moving to Phoenix about 6 years ago. The bread platter was pretty, and we ordered a dozen oysters and an antipasti plate, which was amazing as it had a variety of grilled veggies, meats and cheeses.

Everyone at our table ordered meat (beef, lamb and pork), which ranged between low to high $30s. Every dish comes with your choice of 13 sauces. My lamb was insanely good, and everyone raved about their dish.

We went a bit overboard on the sides ($8 each) because we ordered a lot of potatoes. Each side serves 2 people, so we ended up taking leftovers home. The service was so friendly and professional, I would definitely come back.
Orange Sky (Talking Stick Resort) on Urbanspoon

Day 4: Shopping and Chinese Buffet

Four Seasons Chinese buffet
1461 N Dysart Rd
Avondale, AZ 85323
(623) 882-8388

Sorry guys, I have ZERO pics from that day! The food was ok to me, and it might have been because we were eating so much everyday that my body wasn't able to get excited for a buffet. They do offer crabs and sushi, which I liked.

Day 5: Chocolate Factory

Cerreta Candy Company
5345 West Glendale Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85301-2619
(623) 930-9000

Who knew there was a chocolate factory in the city? My mom said she's driven by so many times and never noticed, and my cousin went to school a few blocks away and had no idea. At the end of our meal at Orange Sky, we were given Cerreta's famous French Mint truffles, which are AMAZING. So since we had a late flight, we stopped by on the way to the airport.

They offer free guided tours, however I wouldn't recommend it. The place is small, and you can't get close to the machines. You can just walk in and look for yourself, which is what we did and it took us about 5 minutes.
They sell so many different chocolates, popcorn and nuts. It's $11 a pound for the bulk chocolates, and they sell others in nice gift boxes. They taste like good quality and are not overly sugary. I wish I had bought more, but will be going back next time I'm in town.
Cerreta Candy Co. on Urbanspoon

Hopefully this post showed you guys some places to visit if you'll be in the Phoenix area!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post - terrific! My nephew lives in PHX and I have never visited (shame on me!). Your descriptions are inspirational. Any details about flights there and back? Any other hints for the uninitiated? I am a Baltimorean, now; former New Yorker, and Miamian. I follow you and am always interested in what you have to say. Take care!

Marie said...

Yes I encourage you to visit your nephew! I haven't really found many great flight deals ever, however this time we took different airlines going and coming back which ended up being cheaper, so take your time searching for flights.

Visiting Sedona (2 hrs away) and the Grand Canyon (4 hrs away) are so worth it if you have time! There are a lot of cool outdoorsy things to do out there.