Tuesday, November 12, 2013

El Chorro: A Review

By: The Food Hunter

El Chorro is an Arizona icon with a strong reputation that keeps guests coming back year after year. Originally built in 1934 as the Judson School for Girls. El Chorro was converted to a restaurant in 1937. As one of the valley's longest operating restaurants it has seen the likes of many famous people.  Clark Gable, Milton Berle and even the infamous Marlboro Man have all at one point in time dined at El Chorro. Few places around town have a history this rich.

From the moment you step through the archway leading up to the front entrance to the moment you  leave at the end of your night you are treated as family. The owners are on hand to greet you and the waitstaff  are attentive to your needs and wants. It's efforts like these that have kept the locals coming back time and again.

Classified as a destination dining spot; El Chorro sits on 11 acres at the base of Camelback Mountain. The main dining area, which was recently remodeled by Candelaria Design, was expanded to include both indoor and outdoor seating with large sliding glass doors; bringing a nice open feel to the restaurant.  In addition to the new dining area, there's also a few outdoor fireplace nooks, a bocce ball court, and an organic garden.

The Casa Paloma event pavilion, seats up to 200 people, has it's own prep kitchen and wet bar and is a great space for any event. There's even a private bride's room with an adjoing bathroom. No wonder people describe El Chorro as the perfect place for a wedding.

In addition to their regular drink menu which includes, classic coktails, wine and beer, El Chorro also offers a special seasonally inspired cocktail menu.  Drinks like the Perfect Pear or the Cucumber Gimlet are on the fall menu.

 In the kitchen, Chef Charles Kassels, formerly from the Old Red House in Sante Fe, New Mexico is wonderfully preserving the restaurant's traditional menu while still adding his own innovative creations.

El Chorro is most famous for their sticky buns. These ooey gooey buns of buttery brioche rolled with cinnamon are delicious, there's no doubt about that. Where most restaurants will provide you with a bread basket, El Chorro distinctively offers a basket of cinnamon buns.  I'm not really sure where I stand on this. It goes against everything I was taught (no sweets before dinner) which makes it a little exciting; but at the same time runs the risk of spoiling your appetite. Don't worry if you have bun issues like myself you can always have yours wrapped to go.

Our dinner started with a beautiful heirloom tomato and burrata salad to share. Local tomatoes and hand-pulled burrata cheese were drizzled with local Queen Creek olive oil and a nice balsamic reduction.  The only caveat I saw was not having bread to accompany it.

Crafted with high-quality ingredients, and not something I would normally order, I was  impressed by the vegetarian option I was given as my main course. It was a tower of polenta, eggplant and citrus quinoa mixed with greens and a sweet bell pepper sauce.  The chef included salmon (which is an option along with chicken, shrimp or lobster) but frankly it wasn't necessary.  The components melded perfectly and the taste was superb. I can't say enough about how delicious this dish was.

My dining companion was given the center cut filet served with your choice of sauce: honey chipotle lime, chimichurri, bernaise or brandy peppercorn.  He opted to eat the steak as it should be eaten; sans sauce. The perfectly cooked filet was served with scalloped potatoes and sauteed spinach; an appropriate standard, unquestionably well-executed.

We ended the evening on a sweet note with a slice of warm apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream.

 I enjoyed everything about El Chorro; from the cozy comfortable feel of the space to the delicious food we were served...it's was a splendid night.

El Chorro
5550 E Lincoln Dr
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
(480) 948-5170

Cuisine Type: Seasonal American
Price Range:  $30-$50
Atmosphere:  El Chorro's iconic setting is at the base of Camelback & Mummy Mountains, offering an authentic Southwest desert setting.

Can also been seen at: Arizona Weddings Blog

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