Mill Avenue took a hard hit when the economy tanked with half the shops and restaurants closing one after another. Over the past couple of years, there has been a decent amount of activity again, with more Mom and Pop types re-opening. Mill Avenue has always been the college nightlife hotspot, but what it has turned into is also a business lunch hideaway and happy hour gathering.
Whenever we spot a new opening on Mill, our office is on it like Amanda Bynes calling celebs ugly on Twitter. We started noticing the corner by Hippie Gypsy on 6th Street slowly transforming into something that looked like a sun deck and counted the days until we read an article on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella as to what was coming.
We were hesitant to go, because after about the first week the Yelp reviews were more than horrid. C.A.S.A Sunba was not a 4 star experience by any means, but as I searched the internet for their menu (since they don’t have a website – wtf), had to force everyone to go when I saw the glimpse of gold in the muddy water.
A macaroni and cheese burrito. Yes, you read correctly. It comes in a tortilla with creamy macaroni and sprinkled with a southwest seasoning. I opted in for green chilis (after learning they were not New Mexican, but not canned) and added in shredded pork. For only $6 this bad boy filled me up for lunch with plenty to take back to the office.
CASA Mac and Cheese Burrito
The restaurant is odd with the new portion mainly outside and then the rest is down the sidewalk at the old Chronic Cantina. The service was alright, but not quick enough for a lunch break, so this filling burrito of queso will have to wait until I need a sobering treat when on Mill.
If you read my initial post on More Chz Plz, you would know that there would come a time when Donovan’s Steak House macaroni & cheese would acquire another mention. Donovan’s is where my love for a thick, juicy filet began but what keeps me coming back is the amazing service.
Located in the Biltmore area, my bosses love to visit the steak house every few months. They know the staff and General Managers so well that they were given a plaque with their last name for whichever booth they are seated in. Then joins Ashley to the mix, miss little macaroni. My bosses couldn’t understand why I didn’t want a seafood tower and rather a side dish of macaroni.
Donovan’s Baked Macaroni
Donovan’s creates the dish from scratch, casserole style. Smoked cheddar, bacon and crusted bread crumbs are all baked and served right out of the oven. Macaroni isn’t the only cheesy dish that I have to order every time I dine though. Another from scratch dish that I crave just writing about are the Au Gratin Potatoes.
I love making Au Gratin at home, so I know how much time goes into making the side dish. The potatoes have to be sliced thick enough so they don’t fall apart after cooking, but thin enough so that they still melt in your mouth. Donovan’s hand layers with plenty of Gruyere cheese and bakes until a perfect golden brown.
Order all of the above and you will have plenty of leftovers for a reminiscent lunch.
I’m in the PR world and love to attend networking events to keep in touch with other locals in the industry, swap war stories and garner advice. One group that is very active on Facebook decided to have an in-person meet up at Modern Steak, a Fox Restaurant Concept.
Modern Steak was one of the many long-distance date spots that my fiancé and I had before he took the plunge and moved back to Arizona, so it has a special spot in my heart.
Not only do they have great steaks and optional at-your-own-table baked potato bar, but the happy hour menu is phenomenal. So much great food for the price. What is something on this menu, making it relevant for this post, but of course a baked classic macaroni and cheese with smoked cheddar.
Mac and Cheese from Fox Restaurant Concepts
To me there are many different ways to make macaroni, and Modern Steak had it just how I like it – creamy sauce that slips through your fork with a crunchy top. Baked in a medium sized metal dish, the macaroni is finished with a crispy brown bread crumb. The dish is served with a spoon for a reason – even for the cheap price, there were at least 3 of us scooping at the creamy shells.
UPDATE: Since last visiting Modern Steak, the restaurant unexpectedly closed. As we have seen from Sam Fox restaurants that pop up, we can only hope a similar concept with these amazing side dishes appears again soon.