‘Check, Please!’ expands statewide - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

‘Check, Please!’ expands statewide

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Mandy Zajac writes and edits arts, entertainment and lifestyle content for the Get Out section of the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 4:30 pm | Updated: 9:57 am, Wed Aug 1, 2012.

When I get a hankering for Mexican food, a handful of favorite restaurants around the Valley usually do the trick, among them Barrio Cafe in Phoenix and America’s Taco Shop in Tempe. But occasionally, a craving so particular hits that no local restaurant — save for maybe Casa Reynoso in Tempe — can satisfy it.

That’s when I head to Globe-Miami, adjacent mining towns about 80 miles east, where some say you’ll find the best Mexican food in Arizona. I can’t vouch for that, but I can say it’s hard to find a burro, enchilada style, quite the way it’s done up there.

Such far-flung and potentially obscure dining destinations will be revealed when “Check, Please! Arizona” goes statewide. The restaurant review show on Eight, Arizona PBS is expanding its coverage to include restaurants beyond the Phoenix area.

It’s something the show, currently in its second season, always intended to do, says spokeswoman Judy Crawford. Now that “Check, Please!” has more than doubled its primetime audience and increased its Saturday audience by 20 percent over a year ago, it can.

Viewers are encouraged to go to www.azpbs.org/checkplease to nominate their favorite eateries. Viewers who are selected will appear on the show with two other guests and James Beard Award-winning chef and host Robert McGrath. Shooting starts in July and will continue through the fall. The new season launches in January. The show airs 7 p.m. Thursdays (and 3 p.m. Saturdays on Eight HD).

What’s more, “Check, Please!” will host its first tasting tour this fall. Foodies will travel aboard a luxury motor coach to five of the show’s memorable Valley eateries: El Chorro, Fuego Bistro, Christopher’s and Crush Lounge, The Salt Cellar and Malee’s Thai Bistro. Food and wines from Arizona vineyards will be served at each location.

The tour is scheduled for Oct. 23. Seating is limited to 100 guests, and a requested fee of $125 per person will benefit the public television station. For information or reservations, visit azpbs.org/checkplease.

Meanwhile, if you’re in the market for a more affordable and more immediate dining experience, Arizona Spring Restaurant Week runs Saturday through May 27. More than 150 restaurants, the bulk of them in the Valley but some in Tucson, too, offer a three-course dinner menu for $30-$40 per person. It’s a time to put my $5 burro craving on the shelf and indulge in a truly nice dinner for a discounted price. Find participating restaurants and menus at www.arizonarestaurantweek.com.

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