We at AZ Key Magazine were recently treated to a restaurant tour of the beautiful town of Carefree which proved to be quite the cultured experience! It was a delicious evening adventure that took our taste buds all the way from Modern American, in and out of Italy, a restful treat in Britain with a few more pit stops, and ended with the ultimate in Modern Latin flare. Anyone looking for a unique foodie experience hidden away from the big box restaurants, should know that Carefree holds many gems around each and every corner.
First stop – Modern American: At Café Bink, we were greeted with delicate plates of tomato, basil and hand-pulled mozzarella and a tangy pickled beet with arugula, jalapeño, pine nut, and chipotle mayo. The new restaurant owner worked for the original owner for 12 years and has kept some of the special staples on the menu along with new dishes. Café Bink strives to use local farmers for all of their fresh ingredients.
A break for tea and treats at the English Rose Tea Room was a wonderful choice to settle the palate and enjoy the charming and relaxing ambience of this one-of-a-kind sweet spot. Open for 16 years, many have come to know this place as a unique bit of ‘whimsy’ with darling gifts and trinkets, a great setting for small parties, and even a locale for etiquette classes. On May 19th, they are hosting a very special full day of activities surrounding the Royal Wedding that is sure to be an elegant affair!
A few doors down we were greeted by the casual and fun atmosphere of Venues Café, a two-story space where the downstairs was full of family and friends enjoying a meal classified as ‘upscale comfort food’ where they host weekly karaoke on Sunday evenings. Upstairs is a wide-open meeting and event space that doubles as a beautiful art gallery. The space overlooks the Carefree Desert Gardens down below. Definitely a great place to view the sunset!
Next Stop, Sundial Café! We had the pleasure of meeting Owner and Chef, Shawn Jaynes who specializes in creating a ‘Modern European/ Traditional American’ cuisine. Our tasting of shrimp with Asian apple slaw was amazing! They offer both indoor seating and outdoor patio seating, making it a pet-friendly spot right across from the locally famous sundial monument. And they even offer a BYOB for a minimal corking fee!
Whew!! Time for a coffee break! Around the bend we were welcomed with fresh coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls at Black Mountain Coffee Shop…don’t judge, of course we still had room! The husband and wife owners offer a great variety of coffee and espresso drinks, as well as a full breakfast and lunch menu. And we got to hear all about their son’s recent Olympic experience in South Korea. I could tell this would be a great place to hang out with friends and neighbors!
After our coffee reset, we were ready to go!! And what better way to restart our foodie adventure than to be greeted by the jovial and warm welcome of Mr. Alberto himself, owner of the Italian Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant called Alberto Ristorante. As one review on their website says, “The food is the closest to authentic Italian cuisine that I have experienced anywhere in this area.” The food was both beautiful and plentiful, and Mr. Alberto provided a wealth of entertaining knowledge!
Our very last stop on this taste bud trek was the most unique Modern Latin eatery, Bacán Restobar, nestled within a lovely courtyard with an incredible indoor and outdoor atmosphere, including a glorious upper deck. It was like being truly transported! Bacán is a word used in Spain for ‘Awesome’ – the owner’s daughter was inspired by her studies in Barcelona by the flavors and interior design, and came back to Arizona to work with her Dad and brother to create what was a wonderful experience all around! We shall certainly return!