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Saturday, May 22, 2010


771 Highway 179

Sedona, Arizona 86336


With all the upscale and wonderful restaurants in Sedona, Arizona, the place of choice for locals and knowledgeable visitors is Elote Cafe located in the Kings Ransom Hotel. We were tipped off by my friend Nina in Phoenix, and just mentioning the name to our Pink Jeep tour guide and someone in the Sedona Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center produces smiles and offers to join us.

Elote hasn’t that upscale décor. What it has is a waiting room (no reservations), a wonderful bar with the fastest bartender I’ve ever seen who can whip up anything on the relatively short menu in lightning fast time. I have Sangria to die for, and the traditional Margarita receives Rob’s highest praise—“It’s as good as mine.”

At the bar I sit next to another tourist, a musician from Chicago who comes to Sedona periodically to visit a friend and makes it a point to also visit Elote for its superb Mexican food.

The atmosphere is boisterous, and the room is filled with exuberant eaters, enjoying themselves and heartily giving their taste buds a treat. It is a bit chilly to dine outside on the patio, but the party going on inside is wonderful.

After we’re seated, we decide to attack the menu with the same gusto we see around us. We order a second round of drinks.

Our waitress brings a bowl of delicious salsa, spicy but not too. I feel it on my lips, but I don’t shy away. It has the wonderful piquant flavor of cilantro. The tortilla chips that accompany it are outstanding. They’re crisp and tasty, lightly salted, and not at all oily. I find out from our waitress, Ashley, that Elote purchases the tortillas and then makes its own tortilla chips.

For our appetizer we decide to share Fundido de Charro, an incredible mixture of homemade chorizo, carnitas, mushrooms, and rajas (roasted chili strips) topped with melted Mexican cheeses and served in a cast iron skillet. The tortillas that come with it are warm and light. The portion size can make this an entire meal for two, so we eat half and have them pack up the rest. I have never tasted anything quite like this. Absolutely glorious!

For my entrée I choose Puerco en Cascabel, a slow roasted all natural pork with cascabel sauce and homemade queso Oaxaca. Cascabel sauce is made from the cascabel chili, one with medium heat and a complex flavor with hints of wood smoke and nuts. It’s marvelous, and it is attractively served with wedges of perfectly ripe avocado, radishes and purple onions. In a separate dish is a lovely serving of rice and the most delicious refried beans I’ve ever had. I point out the separate dish because too often the rice and beans served on the same oversized platter become lost in or overcome by the main course. Elote takes pride in their presentations and chooses not to let that happen.

Rob chooses Carnitas, slow roasted all natural pork served with guacamole, pico de gallo and arbol salsa. Arbol salsa is made from the arbol chili and this type of salsa is generally recognized generally considered true Mexican—not Americanized. It is also accompanied by the rice and refried beans.

More warm tortillas are brought to the table.

Once again we each eat half the entrée because we must try dessert. We decide to share a Lime Crème Brulee. Elote’s version is a creamy lime custard with burnt sugar crust and candied almonds. The crème brulee dish is placed on a larger platter where there is a mound of whipped cream topped with raspberry sauce and surrounded by fresh raspberries. Think MOUND as in Close Encounters…. The crème brulee is tart and limey, an unusual but delicious flavor, and the whipped cream and raspberries—to die for. This we finish.

We take with us what will become in a day or so one dinner and one lunch accompanied with tortillas! The cost for this feast? Excluding the drinks, tip, and taxes, the total is $52.00. Elote—doesn’t get much more delicious than this!

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