Inside the Saguaro Hotel, this little hip dive does deceive! There is no way in hell anyone passing would take one look inside and think, "James Beard"? But that is precisely the case! This is a James Beard award winner for cuisine! And despite all dive bar obstacles, we braved it and went for it!
This place is not a dive! At a closer glance, it is actually rather chic and very intriguing! An imitation of a dive bar with all kinds of cool happenings! The only native English speaking Bon Vivant was the only native English speaker in the entire place....table at the end, Portuguese, and they were just waiting for more, that table filled full of fun people, staff spoke Spanish, and another group that came in later for a birthday party, were all French! The place was packed before we left with a very international crowd!
This is the dish that put them on the map! Seafood Ceviche! This is an absolute must - to not try this is to go to Paris and not eat (at all)! It was presented in an alternative way but this was in-genius! Imagine a single Piranha taking a single bite...and then immediately a frenzy! This did not last long on the table at all!!! This was our favorite! They earned it.
Fish tacos followed with an equal innovation: flat. The size of the fish wouldn't fit inside a proper taco and was thus presented artistically. These are expertly made and to not fool anyone - the crust is light and the remaining bulk is fillet. The crisp shell falls away to a perfect fish fillet. The density of the fry is maybe 2 millimeters tops. Most fried foods are greasy: this was clean. The remoulade underneath was made in house as were the tortillas. The blending of flavors blew our minds...some even looked around and joked, "Is this a dive bar or the coolest place in California!!!?"
Pulled pork as it should be, moist. The pork is soft and moist, uncommon in pulled pork. The Fries were extremely crisp. Being from Texas, pulled pork isn't really our thing but this was quit delicious!
Queso Fresco Cheesecake. This was unbelievable!!! Never have we had a cheesecake like this! Queso fresco is dense but this was light, airy, and full of flavor! The caramelization on top was just the right balance of sweet and savory! After a small taste, the Piranha's ravaged it! This cheesecake will remain in our minds for the rest of our lives and that is not marketing propaganda - that is innovation of flavor and a powerful impact!
Outside, blissful from a proper meal....