When a brand new spot opens on the town, we’re wanting to test it out, let our preliminary impressions, share just a few pictures, and dish about some menu gadgets. First Taste, because the title implies, shouldn’t be a full-blown evaluation, however as a substitute, a peek inside eating places which have simply opened — an event to pattern just a few gadgets and fulfill curiosities (each yours and ours).
Restaurant: GuacStar Kitchen & Cantina
Location: 920 East College Drive, #204, Tempe
Eats/drinks: Vegan Mexican meals and cocktails
Open: About two months
Hours: four to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, four to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
I’ve two large takeaways from GuacStar Kitchen and Cantina, the poppin’ new vegan restaurant in central Tempe.
First, the great: Rene Andrade places the chef in chef’s kiss. The previous mastermind behind Ghost Kitchen and the star of our previous chiltepin coverage is popping out wonderful dishes, and she or he’s backed by a form, attentive serving workers.
Now the dangerous: The ambiance is a large number.
Should you get takeout, you’d by no means know. The outside seems cool, all lit up on the second story in a brick-heavy procuring plaza neighboring the Tempe Improv. Music and laughing spill out of the place. It’s actually inviting. However when you climb these stairs, the music is all you hear. A lot with the intention to’t simply talk with the workers. You’re masked, your host is masked, and you’re shouting the way you’d love one thing on the patio.
I do know that GuacStar is in main ASU nation, positioned as it’s close to College Drive and Rural Street. But it surely’s not like they’re on Mill Avenue. The nightclub vibe is odd, contemplating it is only a restaurant. The “spray-painted” graffiti-style brand on the east wall feels a bit performed, like one thing that will have lined the partitions of a tech startup in 2007. The neon-lit bar feels misplaced this removed from Mill’s primary strip. And the playlist is loud, however we lined that, and far and wide, populated with all the things from Alanis Morissette to Garth Brooks to Stone Tempe Pilots to Bon Jovi.
However, hey, no less than we had been heading towards the patio. Besides the patio was 4 tables on a sliver of a balcony. It felt fully indifferent. Extra like we had been being turned out the again entrance than being seated. A “Deliveries Solely” signal could also be in plain sight over your eating companion’s shoulder. Additionally, every puck mild is has a totally different piece of coloured plastic over it for a multicolored aesthetic. Ours was (clearly) blue.
However large advocate on that GuacPoc.
Okay, sufficient griping. On to the drinks.
The cocktails listed here are all tequila-based. Mi Tia is a tropical drink utilizing tequila and all of the enjoyable Tiki components (creme de coconut, pineapple and lime juice, vanilla bean extract). This drink sounded extremely up my alley, and whereas good and handsome, I’ve had a lot better (and stronger) Tiki drinks elsewhere (at locations like The Ostrich or The Drunk Munk). Identical with the Funky Donkey, a tequila model of a Moscow Mule that will nonetheless be interesting to those that won’t love the odor and style of tequila (like my dinner companion). However the lime juice, mango puree, mint Demerara easy syrup, and Q Mixers ginger beer meant this burro was not lengthy for this world. Nonetheless, there are higher mules on the market (like at AZ/88 and even The Duce).
I do not have delicate phrases for the Tropical Warmth margarita, a superb cocktail. The chile de árbol was sizzling, apparently six occasions hotter than a jalapeño in keeping with the menu. I felt that, however the instant hit of the pineapple puree, combined with the God-sent avocado pit and cilantro-infused tequila, gave it a pleasant stability. I’d have had one other if I didn’t must descend these brick stairs.
Concerning the chips and salsa, do not waste time debating which dip to strive. Go straight for the trio — roasted tomato salsa, guacamole, and white bean puree. I demolished the salsa whereas my accomplice raved over the puree.
I went with a plate of three adobada asada tacos for my entree. These had been three hand-pressed corn tortillas weighted with shitake and oyster mushrooms, corn nibblets, jalapeno fresno, and a squiggle of adobo sauce. All three had been heat, flavorful mouthfuls of well-prepared mushrooms. However that’s all they had been — mouthfuls. I used to be shocked at their dimension (fairly small) in comparison with their price ticket ($14). This plate may use one, even two, extra tacos.
The Grilled Guac Pocket is eye-catching on the menu in addition to the plate. It’s a bit of pressed flour tortilla full of sizzling queso, poblano pinto beans, pico de gallo, stringy mozzarella, anaheim chile, and an unattainable meat mix —together with crimson enchilada sauce, guacamole, and avocado crema to make every chunk malleable. It’s additionally incredible. Its first chunk will remind you of Taco Bell, however in one of the best ways potential. Like the most effective late-night, drunk, freshest tasting Taco Bell you’ve ever had, despite the fact that the star ingredient is that Inconceivable Meals meat mix. Large advocate.
Good, however there are higher mules are there.
With mouths burning from the chile de árbol margarita (and my birthday approaching), I wanted cake. Tres leches cake. This was a stupendous dessert, one thing I’d return for alone. The moist little squares of vanilla cake had been superbly topped with hand-torn mint leaf, diced strawberries, and whipped horchata cream. Unbelievable. We left pleased.
Although I nonetheless mildly cringe at GuacStar’s eating room, in-house company (and there have been lots of them) did appear to be having fun with themselves. Backside line: I’d advocate the meals to anybody, vegan or no, however I am unsure I see myself headed again to dine in.
Hold Phoenix New Instances Free… Since we began Phoenix New Instances, it has been outlined because the free, impartial voice of Phoenix, and we want to hold it that means. Providing our readers free entry to incisive protection of native information, meals and tradition. Producing tales on all the things from political scandals to the most popular new bands, with gutsy reporting, fashionable writing, and staffers who’ve gained all the things from the Society of Skilled Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. However with native journalism’s existence beneath siege and promoting income setbacks having a bigger affect, it will be important now greater than ever for us to rally assist behind funding our native journalism. You’ll be able to assist by collaborating in our “I Help” membership program, permitting us to maintain overlaying Phoenix with no paywalls.