Mechanical bulls are stampeding into the East Valley. A month after Saddle Ranch opened in Scottsdale, Cadillac Ranch opened last weekend at Tempe Marketplace.
Both restaurant/bars feature a menu of steaks and burgers, a mix of rock and country music and, at the center of the action, the aforementioned robotic bovines.
Cadillac Ranch, which also has locations in Nashville, Tenn. and Cincinnati, is on the second level at the center of The District, the Marketplace's food and entertainment strip, with Dave & Buster's, California Pizza Kitchen and San Felipes.
A signature Cadillac burger and fries costs $9.75. Other burgers include a black-and-blue burger (Cajun spices and bleu cheese), a Cincinnati chili burger and a Tempe burger (guacamole, salsa and pepperjack cheese), all $10.75 with fries.
Entrees range from barbecue chicken ($13.75) to a rack of St. Louis-style ribs ($23.75) to an 8-ounce filet mignon ($26.75). Desserts include fried cheesecake ($5.75).
With Cadillac Ranch's proximity to Arizona State University, look for a crowd of mostly college students and other 20-somethings. A DJ will spin music every night, and there are 20 TVs to watch sports.
Cadillac Ranch, 2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Information: (480) 894-1111 or www.cadillacranchtempe.com.
East Valley chefs Kevin Binkley and Jack Strong, along with Scottsdale restaurateur Sam Fox, have made the "long list" for this year's James Beard awards, the restaurant world's version of the Oscars.
A preliminary ballot featuring 20 nominees in each category was sent to voters, who will trim the field to five in each category. Those finalists will be announced March 24, with winners announced June 8.
Binkley, owner and chef of Binkley's in Carefree, and Strong, chef at Kai at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa near Chandler, both made the ballot in the category of Best Chef: Southwest.
Nobuo Fukuda, chef at Seasaw in Scottsdale, won last year's award for Best Chef: Southwest. Arizona has had nine winning chefs, more than any other state in the region.
Fox, founder of Scottsdale-based Fox Restaurant Concepts, is competing for Outstanding Restaurateur, a national category that includes Wolfgang Puck and Laurent Tourondel, who's opening a BLT Steak in Scottsdale this year. Fox restaurants include The Green House, Olive & Ivy, Bloom, Sauce and North.
Scottsdale's Kazimierz World Wine Bar made the list for Outstanding Wine Service, which recognizes "excellence in wine service through a well-presented wine list, knowledgeable staff and efforts to educate customers about wine."
Vincent Guerithault of Phoenix's Vincent on Camelback is up for Outstanding Chef, another national category in which the nominees include Michael Mina, who just opened one of his Bourbon Steak restaurants in Scottsdale.
CAFÉ BINK OPENS
Speaking of Binkley, the chef’s Café Bink, a more casual sibling to the fine-dining Binkley’s, opened Tuesday in Carefree. The cafe is open for dinner, but will add lunch next week.
Café Bink, 36899 N. Tom Darlington Drive, takes over half of the Pizzafarro’s restaurant, which is downsizing and staying open in the Bashas’ Plaza. Information: (480) 488-9796.
Digestif, the first of four restaurants that Peter Kasperski (Cowboy Ciao, Kazimierz Wine Bar) will launch this year in downtown Scottsdale's SouthBridge development, has opened.
The menu is described as "Cal-Ital," or Napa Valley Italian, since chef Payton Curry honed his skills in California wine country.
Seasonal ingredients, locally grown when possible, are featured, and pastas are made in-house daily.
Pizza pastries, called crostatas, are $9, while pastas are $14 and $15. Entrees, which include crispy skin duck breast and seared black bass, are $22 to $29.
The casual restaurant has a "Beatnik basement" decor with brick walls and concrete floor. Mostly indie rock plays on the sound system, and employees wear rock 'n' roll T-shirts.
Digestif, 7114 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, is open 11 a.m. to midnight daily. Information: (480) 425-9463.