First Stop: Sedona, Arizona
Food Lesson: Listen to locals.
I had so many restaurants listed in Phoenix to try during our 2 days there. The question was “Which one for our first honeymoon night?”
That thought was scratched from my mind as our plane began its emergency landing… while I was in the bathroom no less. My mind went from ‘hmm ..BBQ or seafood’ to ‘oh God, don’t let me die in a flying porta-potty.’
After it became clear the plane was not taking off again, we all made our way to the terminal. Our first honeymoon meal was the finest of hot dogs, in the romantic city of Omaha, Nebraska. (In all seriousness, a huge thank you to those working that hot dog stand. They could have closed on schedule like all of the other restaurants/stands. Instead they stayed open to make sure EVERYONE on that plane was fed.)
I contemplated who to call to come pick us up and take us home. There were no hotels or rental cars available due to a college football home game and no flights out until Monday morning… 2 days later.. because.. of course there’s not. Suddenly, a lovely couple asked us “did I overhear you say it is your honeymoon? Are you staying in Phoenix?”
Sedona, actually. They immediately suggested Elote, a local Mexican restaurant. It came with a warning to get there before it opens as they do not take reservations.
We quickly got in the habit of asking locals what places to eat at, from tour guides to hotel workers. After the 4th person in about 3 days suggested Elote, we knew we had to try it.
We arrived around 4:15 pm. The restaurant did not open until 5:00 pm. Being the antsy person I am, I was not about to wait 45 minutes outside in Arizona heat. After walking around for about 30 minutes, we returned to find a line that stretched from the 2nd story entrance to the parking lot. Crap.
We began with a corn dip appetizer, which was their namesake. How could you go wrong? You can’t… and they certainly did not. I have never had a corn cheese dip that tasted so light. Served with a large hard-shell tortilla, that was in pieces by the time we were done with it.
The main dishes came, and boy were they a beauty. We both ended up with enchiladas, one beef, one chicken.
The ability to add so many sauces, spices, meat and cheeses without making your guests feel like they need to be rolled out of the restaurant, is a true skill. They have understood their audience and their environment. People do not want heavy, bloating food when they are about to walk out into 90 degree weather.
After sitting in silent awe for a few minutes after our meal, we made the decision that it would not be our last. We went back to Elote 2 days later.