Restaurant Review: The Mission in Scottsdale, AZ

In a previous post, I mentioned that I’ve kept a list of restaurants I wanted to try in US Airways hubs in case a flight ever got cancelled.  Then my problems could be opportunities, and I’d have a delicious time waiting out my flight change.

One of US Airway’s hub cities is Phoenix and Mexican/Latin food is my absolute favorite.  When there’s been bad weather during a connection, my brain starts swimming with margaritas and tacos.

I recently found myself intentionally in Phoenix, and figured I’d try something off the list.  I was leaning towards the Mission already, but when I asked New Girl in the Air for a recommendation and she mentioned the same, I was sold.

The Mission describes itself as “modern Latin cuisine” and I agree with that sentiment.  The menu items sound familiar, but their preparation is something unique and delicious.

The Mission was very crowded when I arrived.  I was tempted to make reservations just in case the bar was full, but saw reservations for one were only available at 5pm anyway.  At 5pm, there’s rarely a backlog of tables causing people to crowd the bar, so I figured I would be safe for a spot at the bar.  Plus, since the Mission seemed like a good date spot, I figured most people would be going for tables.   It also turns out that it was Restaurant Week in the area, so a lot of the crowding could have been from that.
I searched online ahead of time to see what food they were known for.  I saw a lot of recommendations for the Blood Orange Margarita, and while I’m wary of both blood orange syrups and margaritas for their sweetness, I wanted to give it a try.

a drink with a lime wedge

I was extremely surprised.  It wasn’t sweet at all.  I’d describe it as tart.  When I brought this up to the bartender, he smiled and explained this was because they did not use any syrups, and they made everything all in house.

Since I was there so early (and while prep was still going on), I got a taste of just how in house those margaritas were.

a person in gloves holding a lemon

The price of the margaritas weren’t shocking to me, since I moved from New York to DC and am used to cocktails being $10-$12, but they are definitely above the usual range for that area.  With that said, they are definitely worth it.  The freshness, the tartness, all of that was incredible.

a close-up of a drink

Here’s a sip for you! 😉

a bowl of chips and salsa

I got the Tableside Guacamole (though requested it  not be made tableside, as I was at the bar!) and was surprised by the kick it had.  The salsa had way too much of a kick for the Northeast-girl, but it was very savory without being too acidic.  The guacamole had large chunks of avocado in it and had roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) on top.  The tortilla chips were very fresh, light and crisp, but what I liked about the chips made it difficult to dip them without breaking them, so I gladly used a fork to scoop the guacamole onto the chips.

I wanted to try one of their mojitos as well, so I ordered the recommended Sophia Loren, a strawberry-based mojito.   Based on my previous comments about the Blood Orange Margarita, the bartender thought I might think it was too sweet, and suggested the Watermelon Mojito.

a glass with a drink and lime slices

The Watermelon Mojito was made with watermelon sorbet and basil.  And while it was sweeter than the margarita, it was not cloying at all and was very refreshing.

I ordered the Mahi-Mahi tacos next.  These were highly recommended in many reviews, but people also complained about the portion size.

a plate of food on a table

It wasn’t that the portion size was small, just the tortillas.  While I love tacos, I do get disappointed when my filling-to-tortilla ratio is heavily in favor of the tortilla.  I love shrimp tacos, and it is really disappointing to only find three shrimp in a huge taco.  So this was the opposite problem.

Well, the only problem is, how do you eat a taco that small?  I finally sheepishly asked the bartender, and he explained some people “go for it” and try eating it with their hands anyway, but most people opt for the knife and fork.  This was a relief to me because that was my first instinct, but it felt wrong eating a taco with a knife and fork.

The mahi-mahi was fried in a beer batter and was just plain delicious (and I felt a bit naughty eating something SO deep fried, but it wasn’t greasy).  There was a citrus sauce on top of it and a little bit of an non-sour cream.  I didn’t finish the tacos, but partially because I did not want to be too full for dessert.  But I was extremely satiated even without fully finishing them.

a plate of food on a white plate

I moved to dessert next.  I heard recommendations for the espresso churros, but the bartender strongly suggested the Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  And I am so glad he did.

a close-up of a dessert

This tasted like fall.  There was no-over sweetness to it.  In fact, most of the sweetness came from the light scoop of ice cream and the pomegranate seeds.  The sauce around it is scotch based.  The pomegranate seeds were surprising, but worked really well, and I really liked them with the toasted pepitas on top.  I later found this dessert listed as one of the top desserts in Phoenix.  I am not surprised!

The bread pudding was not the soggy-spongy mess I am used to, and was really solid in one piece.  I think everything was baked together and instead of allowing the sauce to soak in, the bread pudding was placed in it just before serving.

One of the waitresses gave me a small taste of a frozen margarita to go with it.

a glass of orange juice

I will be back in Phoenix for a special occasion soon, and I think the Mission sold me on returning for that.

Part of it was the Champagne menu:

a menu with black text

Usually, whatever sparking wine is available by the glass tends to be really low grade, and you need to buy a bottle for something nicer.  I love starting a special meal with a glass of champagne, but at a place like the Mission, where I’ll want to be drinking margaritas, I won’t want to commit to a whole bottle.  I love that you can get Tattinger by the glass, and that their “lower grade” selection is also excellent.  I really like Poema Cava!

a bottle of champagne in a bucket

It didn’t hurt that I was sitting next to this all night!

a group of people standing in front of a building

The outside seating was tucked away and romantic.  I do think I will still sit at the bar next time, even with a dining companion.  The bar never got crowded, I never felt rushed, and a few sets of tables turned over in the time I was there.  I really enjoyed being able to leisurely order my next course after I had already finished my first.  It gave me time to digest, and I was able to eat more–always a good thing! 😀


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. Yum…time for me to go back to Scottsdale.

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