We chose to go to El Chorro, an Arizona Institution since 1937, and we were not disappointed.
Below is a report on our evening of celebration:
Let me start by saying we had heard about El Chorro for years and this was not our first time dining here. Our first experience was an invitation to an event dinner held by Arizona Opera, which was a fabulous experience all around. The banquet wait staff was absolutely delightful and the food was incredible. And on our way out of the banquet area the restaurant dining room doors were open and inviting, the patio was full and lively (this was still late Spring and the weather was reasonable) and we made a mental note to try El Chorro again sometime on our own.
So, when the time came for our Anniversary dinner, I thought let’s make a reservation at El Chorro, since the day happens to fall on a weekend it is a little easier to plan. I am sure there are other options for making reservations but I chose Open Table because it is easy and an app on my phone.
Saturday arrived and we lounged around most of the day just doing prep work for our podcast until time to get ready. This being Arizona and the middle of August, the “dress code” can be a bit relaxed. I saw folks in shorts and t-shirts all the way to suits and ties. We chose middle of the road with a nice shirt and pants.
We chose to Uber our way over in case we decided to have a glass of wine or several. That was a wise decision. It was really nice to be driven around and not have to deal with traffic or finding a parking place and then the ride back was pleasant for the same reasons. It is an extra expense but well worth it.
The entry to El Chorro is somewhat iconic in design, there is an archway that leads to a patio area that flanks either side of the walkway. We will definitely come back when we can sit outside and enjoy the views. Upon entering the main building we were greeted warmly by three individuals, one of whom seated us right away in the main dining room just off of the bar area. El Chorro certainly lives up to its lodge heritage, it is decorated in a somewhat rustic yet modern décor. The bar area is amply sized for a good crowd and then there is the Dining Room(s), very elegant white table cloth seating. Our waitress greeted us almost immediately and offered beverages. We chose to have Pellegrino to start and began our perusal of the wine menu.
El Chorro has an interesting selection of wines by the glass as well as by the bottle. I am sure there is a more extensive list available but we looked at the wine menu offered in the dining room. Ben likes reds and I like whites as a general rule although we both are a bit flexible. Not knowing what either was going to order yet and given the price of wine by the glass we chose a bottle of Rose from Provence. It was very nice and a compromise that worked well with our choices. Of course, I don’t subscribe to the “you must drink this with this” mentality. I like to drink what I want and what pleases me when I am choosing. If it is a specific wine paring that has been suggested, that is very different. I digress…
As the wine was arriving there was a basket placed on the table. This basket contained the famous or infamous, you choose, El Chorro Sticky Buns. I admit, I am a sucker for a good Sticky Bun and these were every bit as wonderful as they are touted as being. I find it interesting to start a meal with something sweet but I have heard it said, “Life is too short, eat dessert first”, so maybe that is what they are going for. I think it is a great start. I am terrible at taking photos and we ate them before I remembered we needed to take a photo. The photo below is courtesy of the El Chorro website.
The menu is not huge but that does not mean there weren’t choices and difficult choices at that. We decided on two appetizers to start the evening. Ben chose the Flash Fried Lobster bites with a Chipotle Lime Sauce and drawn butter. Oh my, what a delight. Yes, he let me try them since there was 6oz. of lobster. The Chipotle Lime sauce was unbelievably delicious. In fact, I used it on everything, it was that good. I chose the trio of Schreiner’s Sausages served with mustard and a mixture of pickles and other vegetables. I love sausages of most kind and what was served exceeded my expectations (I have to make a point of going over to Schreiners). Ben tried them as well and agreed they were really good. But, what made them even better was the Chipotle Lime Sauce. 😉
We chose to skip the Salad course since we had two appetizers, although there appeared to be several salads I may want to try on a future visit.
The choice of an entrée was a bit more difficult. They have Braised Beef Short Ribs, which was what we had at the event dinner and were exceptional but we wanted to try something different. There were so many choices. Ben settled on their Signature Beef Stroganoff and I chose the Center Cut Filet with a peppercorn sauce rather than the Bernaise (I have this weird allergy to Tarragon….).
The Beef Stroganoff was prepared expertly and presented in a bowl as seen below. The flavors were well blended and paired well with the wine we chose. Ben chose not to put the sour cream on the Stroganoff (I would have to round the flavor) since he doesn’t care for it unless I sneak it in something.
The Filet was cooked to perfection and the peppercorn sauce was served on the side (see photo below). It was served with Haricot Vert and El Chorro signature parmesan scalloped potatoes. The scalloped potatoes were a delight. The steak paired well with the wine and was even complimented by the Chipotle Lime Sauce. See, I told you I put it on everything.
Of course, during all of this food eating, our waitress was very attentive and helpful. We had too much food and were offered boxes to take it home, which made a nice remembrance when we ate it the next day. After that was all boxed up and dishes taken away, we were presented a little pyramid with a candle on top. There was a chocolate cookie crust with a pyramid of what appeared to be a panna cotta or something similar and a couple of raspberries on the side. That was a nice treat. We asked for a dessert menu just to see what was available and chose a nice Mondavi Botrytis as a closer.
El Corro lived up to its reputation and name. Our experience was exceptional and we will be back when the weather is nicer so we can sit outside. Ben says El Chorro goes into his top ten favorite restaurants and I would agree. Thank you, El Chorro, for making our anniversary dinner a memorable experience.
5550 East Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85283
Hours of Operation
Happy Hour: Wed-Sat 5pm – 6:30pm
Dinner: Wed-Sat 5pm & Sun 5pm
Sunday Brunch: 9am – 2pm
Sunday Limited Bar Menu: 2pm – 5pm