Taste - Eat to the Beat
A Guide To Good Food (and Drink)
Eat to the Beat
FINI’S LANDING: Grilled Margarite Flatbread, with jack cheese, avocado,
Gary Roberts, one half of the duo Heart & Soul, performs a variety of hit songs for diners on the Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge at Hacienda del Sol.
HACIENDA DEL SOL: Ancient Purple Barley entrée, with maple-roasted acorn squash, confit heirloom tomatoes, romanesco cashew cream, and asparagus pistou.
The Tony Frank Trio lays down a New York-style club vibe during Jazzy Wednesdays at Delectables.
DELECTABLES: Grapefruit tart, created by pastry chef Joy Paul.
By Scott Barker | Photography by Tom Spitz
Blondie may have been on to something with the band’s 1979 hit: food and music are indeed a wonderful combination. Though there are many restaurants that offer some form of live entertainment to diners, we paired the list down to six places that represent an array of cuisines and many types of tunes.
5689 N. Swan Road
Walking into Fini’s Landing, on the city’s far northeast side, is like going on vacation somewhere South of the Border. The Latin-American-themed décor and the spicy comfort food combine like a breeze through a palm tree grove to convince you that you have landed in a place where you can slow down and relax.
Live music — at press time, three nights a week — certainly helps to set the mood, and no matter what your tastes are, chances are you’ll hear it on one of those nights. “It varies,” says co-owner Scott Mencke, “but the one thing that’s consistent is Friday and Saturday night we have three- to five-piece bands. Those range from classic rock covers, to blues and funk bands, to reggae, and even country. We try to mix it up a bit.”
To get the week started on the right note, country singer Andy Hersey plays on Monday, 6-8 p.m. In the past Fini’s has had entertainers on summer Sunday afternoons, too, and diners in need of some live tunes during their escape from the everyday should check the restaurant’s calendar page to see what might be happening.
Music aside, the food is in the spotlight here, and Mencke says that there are certain promotions and menu items that have a big following. “Taco Tuesdays have been really busy because we have discounted tacos and Mexican beers. From day one our number-one seller has been the Chubasco Burger, which is a half-pound burger cooked to order, with cheddar cheese, bacon, fried jalapeños and Chubasco aioli. The way our menu works, you pick your protein, and then there are five different sandwich styles. With the Chubasco, you can order the Angus burger, chicken, black bean burger or salmon. Lately the salmon has really caught on fire with our customers.”
If you love it hot, you’ll flip for the tasty house-made Chubasco sauce, bottles of which are available in several different versions (Original, Poblano, Habanero), as well as in a barbecue sauce incarnation. “We sell that in 8-10 accounts around town, and we also offer it here,” says Mencke.
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sat. and Sun. breakfast 8 a.m.-11 a.m.
The Grill/Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge at Hacienda del Sol
5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road
299-1501 | www.haciendadelsol.com/dining
This local landmark, built by Helen and John Murphey, has been everything from an elite girls school to a hideaway for Hollywood A-listers such as Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne. These days you don’t need to be a Vanderbilt or have a star on the Walk of Fame to stay there, or dine in splendor in an elegant setting that’s also pure Southwest in its Joesler-influenced design.
Live music sets the tone in both of the Hacienda’s dining establishments. Inside in The Grill, you can hear an acoustic performer every day, starting at 6:30 p.m., with festivities kicking off outside in the Terraza Garden Patio & Lounge at 5 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
“Inside, five nights a week we have Eduardo Costa, who is a classical guitarist, and the other two we have a piano player,” explains John Bujarski, assistant manager of Terraza. “Outside, we have a piano player three nights a week, and various bands that come in the other four — Thursday through Sunday. Those can range from a blues band to a duo.”
Monday through Thursday you can start things off with happy hour specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Depending upon the day, the chef will offer other promotions as well. Two menu items receiving raves from guests are the beef filet, served with potato purée, tomato confit and haricot vert; and the butter-braised scallops, paired with house-cured pancetta, lobster mushrooms and potato gaufrette.
For the casual fine dining of Terraza, the Philly Cheesesteak is a top choice. “We just added it to the happy hour menu,” Bujarski says. “One of our most popular salads is the Quinoa, which usually stays on the menu year-round. We’ve carried that over to our happy hour menu as well. As we enter the warmer months, that’s a perfect summer salad.” Combining the protein-rich grain with butternut squash, apple pieces, arugula, pepita seeds, goat cheese and almonds, there is a nice blend of sweet and tart, chewy and crunchy.
Incidentally, comments Bujarski, “A lot of our produce and herbs actually come directly from the organic gardens we have on grounds.”
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun 2-9 p.m.
Delectables Restaurant & Catering
533 N. 4th Avenue
884-9289 | http://delectables.com
If there were a prize at a reunion of local eateries for programming live music the longest, one eclectic Fourth Avenue spot is definitely high up in the running. “I started here in 1985, and we were already doing it then,” says Delectables General Manager Chris Baldwin.
Ideally situated on the Avenue to dine, people watch and listen to live music, Delectables offers everything you might want for a night out, including a lot of variety. Tuesday nights, there’s an open mike night for musicians, so you may hear a well-established songwriter trying out new material, or someone just cutting their teeth in the music business. On Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m., jazz veteran Tony Frank swings sweet, and on Friday and Saturday there are local singer/songwriters such as Leila Lopez and Adara Rae entertaining the dining crowd. And if you favor music in the daytime, the restaurant has had Kenny Allen playing bluegrass from 2 to 4 p.m.
“Usually the music is inside, but we have been known when the weather is gorgeous to have the performances outside on our stage in the garden,” says Baldwin.
Among the popular food specials that pair well with the tunes are Taco Tuesdays, and Jazzy Wine Wednesdays, where bottles of wine are half-price. “Wednesdays we have lots of people come in for our appetizers. The crab cakes are amazing, and people will order those, with a half-price bottle of wine, and listen to jazz,” says Baldwin. “Our five-cheese board is an incredible array of cheeses, fruit and bread, and people also like to get one of those and listen to music.”
There are lots of hearty entrées, too, including a lasagna of the day, vegetarian asparagus Swiss crepes, and chicken picatta, crusted in potato flakes and served with lemon caper sauce.
While you’re enjoying your dining experience, be sure to take a look around Delectables at the latest exhibit. “Every two months we do an art opening; one of our recent ones was Wil Taylor, who is a very good, well-known local artist,” recounts Baldwin. “We often tie in those events to food and music. I ask the artist if they have a musician that they would like to have play at their opening, and if so, I book them so that they can have some energy with each other. The artist will frequently get up and sing a little with the musician, or at least talk about the exhibit.”
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
1785 E. River Road
Bruce Wayne would feel right at home at Sullivan’s, the steakhouse that is richly appointed like an upscale private club. And who knows, perhaps he drops by on Friday nights to recover from a long week of fighting crime as his alter ego!
You don’t have to be a billionaire or a super hero to enjoy the vibe here, which resonates with live music Thursday through Sunday in the lounge area. “We have rotating acts on Sundays,” observes Assistant General Manager Gregory Montgomery. “We do have some solo artists in that rotation, but the majority are duos and trios. It varies as to the type of music, but we do have a lot of jazz.”
The tunes kick off at 6:30 p.m., and with happy hour specials on Thursday and Sunday starting at 4 p.m., you can save money while you’re being entertained. But it doesn’t take any special promotions for aficionados to enjoy the menu items for which this popular eatery is best known. “Our bone-in steaks are definitely our bestsellers,” says Montgomery. “The Cowboy Cut Ribeye is probably our most popular choice, and it’s great topped with gorgonzola garlic butter. I think that’s the way that steak was meant to be eaten,” he adds with a chuckle.
For folks who are skipping beef, there are still plenty of options, ranging from a 1-pound lobster tail to three-cheese mac, with seasonal offerings such as a pork chop or jumbo lump crab-stuffed trout.
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dinner: Mon-Fri 4-11 p.m., Sat 4 p.m.- midnight, Sun 4 -11 p.m.
Cascade Lounge at Loews Ventana Canyon
7000 N. Resort Drive
Step down into the Cascade Lounge, just off the lobby at Loews Ventana Canyon, and you feel as though you are in a big, comfy, sunken living room. What could be a better environment in which to forget the stress of the week? But beyond the beautiful surroundings, the Cascade offers live music Friday and Saturday nights.
“Fridays we have Jack Wood, who plays jazz, and it rotates between him and Corey Spector who does covers, especially ’70s rock music,” explains Loews Outlet Supervisor Mary Hamamoto. “Saturdays nights we have live bands, with The George Howard Band, 360 Degrees Band, Jukebox Junqies, and Priority One as our regulars in rotation.”
Sink into the premier seating, or get up on the dance floor to burn off the calories you took in during happy hour — 5:30-7:30 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, there’s also a reverse happy hour from 9:30 p.m. until closing. The Cascade menu offers plenty to munch on, including quesadillas, carne asada tacos and wings.
On Sunday, the place to be is a short step from the lounge at the Canyon Café. Casual but cool, this eatery features indoors and outdoors dining and Blues, Brews and BBQ, a Sunday brunch spectacular. Despite the name, nearly every type of tempting cuisine is represented on the menu. “People love the variety,” says Hamamoto. “We have shrimp cocktail ceviche, hand-rolled sushi, a salad station, an omelet bar, a breakfast buffet, and of course barbecue. We also have local draft beers available, unlimited mimosas, and of course the live band.”
Bringing the blues and funk to this great way to start a week are well-seasoned musicians like Tom Walbank and George Howard.
Hours: Breakfast Mon-Sun 6-11 a.m.; lunch Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m. TL