Soar Over the Valley in a Hot Air Balloon!

Springtime is upon us and now is the best time of year for a hot air balloon flight over the Valley! Hot air balloon rides are an incredible way to see the beauty of the desert. Is soaring over the Valley in a hot air balloon on your Arizona bucket list? Check out these local Arizona hot air balloon experts to book your flight today!

If you see your dream home while you’re floating in the sky, give me a call once you’re back on the ground! 602-329-7782

Dining Accompanied by Live Music

A fun date night out to consider is visiting a dining establishment that also offers live music for its patrons.  Here in the Valley of the Sun we have several fun options to check out.  For those who live or want to venture out west, consider dining at the Wigwam’s restaurants.  At Red’s Bar & Grill, for example, acts perform from 6-9 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.  Acts have included singer-songwriter Joey Hendricks (of “American Idol”) and True to Life Duo.  At Litchfield’s, enjoy the music of pianist Bob Dudley and pianist-guitarist Jay Soto, who perform from 6-9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  Finally, the Wigwam Bar features live music from 7-10 pm Thursdays through Saturdays.

Glendale's WestgateStill on the west side of the Valley, is Padre Murphy’s, located at 4338 W. Bell Road.  The Emmy-winning trumpeter Jesse McGuire entertains diners every Tuesday from 5-8 pm.  On Fridays and Saturdays from 8-10 pm, various groups such as Rick Lenzi & Roustabout and the NoBody-BIG Band perform for restaurant goers.  Those in Chandler and Gilbert may want to check out Cuisine and Wine Bistro (1422 W. Warner Road in Gilbert; 4991 S. Alma School Road in Chandler) where there is a deep lineup of musicians from Janelle Loes, Hannah Lopez, Aaron Church, Josh West and others who perform for diners on stage from 7-10 pm Fridays and 6-9 Saturdays.

Also in Chandler is Vintage 95, located at 95 W. Boston St, where acoustic guitarists such as Sarah Vanell, Michael Land, Mike Eldred, and Elijah Mark Atkison perform from 7-10 pm every Wednesday through Saturday.  In Phoenix, venture to Gertude’s (in the Desert Botanical Garden) where diners enjoy live acoustic music 10 am – 2 pm Saturdays and Sundays.  In Arcadia, diners at the Sip Coffee & Beer Garage enjoy acoustic singer-songwriters from 8-11 pm Fridays, 11 am- 2 pm and 8-11 pm on Saturdays and then during brunch (11 am-2 pm) on Sundays.

Finally, in the Scottsdale area, one dining establishment that offers a variety of genres from country to classic rock to hip hop is BLK Live.  This 20,000-square foot venue offers dining and live music from 8 pm – 2 am Wednesdays through Saturdays, at 7301 E. Butherus Drive.  In North Scottsdale, the Herb Box at DC Ranch, located at 20707 N. Pima Road, showcases live music from 7-10 pm Fridays and Saturdays and from 11 am-2 pm during brunch on Sunday.  This restaurant features 20 different bands and musicians, including Sugar Thieves, Adam Simons, Sydney Sprague and Kyle Sorrell.

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Arizona Restaurant Week Fall 2014

restaurant weekArizona Restaurant Week Fall 2014 is September 19-28. This affair offers foodies a plethora of dinning opportunities they might not typically choose and the chance to get outside their own neighborhood to try something different. Options are endless, ranging from spicy Southwestern to fine-dining options to soothing comfort food. Restaurants offer special pre-fixe menus and pricing during restaurant week, so it’s the perfect time to try new fare. Prepare your taste buds for some of the best food in the Valley!

Here, I outline some of my favorite restaurants participating in Restaurant Week Fall 2014. Be sure to check out the Arizona Restaurant Week website for all 139 greater phoenix restaurants. More restaurants are being added daily. Click on any of the restaurant names below to visit their website.

My favorites in the Valley:

The Mission: Latin Cuisine; Don’t miss the Primarita margarita or the espresso churros; Hands down my favorite restaurant in Greater Phoenix

Beckett’s Table: American Comfort Food; Don’t miss the hand-crafted cocktails or the grits

The Gladly: Contemporary American; Don’t miss the chimichurri chicken or the whiskey list, I’m a whiskey snob & the list here is phenomenal

Other Arizona Restaurant Week participants you don’t want to miss; these are some of my staples for date nights:

Barrio Queen; Mexican; Don’t miss the signature guacamole, it’s seriously amazing!

Bink’s; Contemporary American; Don’t miss the hand-crafted cocktails or the Polenta Cake

Bluehound Kitchen & Cocktails; American Comfort Food; Don’t miss the prohibition era cocktails or the tater tots appetizer

Capital Grille; Steaks & Seafood; Don’t miss the bone-in Kona crusted steak, my favorite entree at this go-to special occasion gem

Central Bistro; Modern Italian & French; Don’t miss the warm goat cheese or grilled artichoke appetizer

Chelsea’s Kitchen; Modern American; Don’t miss the tuna tartare & guacamole or posole appetizer

Citizen Public House; Contemporary American; Don’t miss the bacon fat heirloom popcorn…it’s sinfully divine

Nook Kitchen; American; Don’t miss the Arancini appetizer, any of the pizzas and the strawberry basil shortcake

The Henry; Contemporary American; Don’t miss the Chai Lime Ginger Beer (it’s non-alcoholic) or the short rib potsticker appetizer, it’s seriously mouth-watering; My favorite newer Valley restaurant

T. Cook’s; Contemporary Mediterranean; At this AAA four diamond & #1 rated restaurant in Phoenix by Zagat, anything you order will not disappoint; My favorite fine-dining restaurant in the Valley

The Arrogant Butcher; Gastro Pub; Don’t miss the Short Rib Stew, one of my favorite entrees in the Valley

The House Brasserie; Contemporary American; Don’t miss the House Brisket & Biscuit or the Jidori Chicken

If you’re looking to dine out near home, there are a few Arrowhead Ranch area restaurants participating in Arizona Restaurant Week Fall 2014. The consistently enjoyable fare at these places close to home make them a great choice for dinner if you have to get home to a babysitter and don’t want to waste date time driving.

Betty’s Nosh, 67th Ave. & Loop 101, specializes in stuffed mushrooms & seafood; Firebird’s Wood Fired Grill, 83rd Ave. south of Bell Rd., specializes in steaks & seafood; The Melting Pot, locations throughout the Valley, specializes in fondue meals, great for a group.

Bon Appetit!