3243 N 3rd St, Phoenix
The arrival of summer can present a difficult choice for would-be diners. On the one hand, few things are as enjoyable as sitting outside to eat dinner on a beautiful summer evening. But when the sun is up, outside is the last place you want to be.
Fortunately, midtown Phoenix’s Ocotillo Restaurant offers diners several options for where to enjoy their meal. Located at the corner of Third Street and Flower, the restaurant has several well-lit outdoor areas where visitors can set up shop for an evening meal, including multiple patios and a beer garden with big wooden tables shaded by an overhang. Inside, guests can sit in the bar area or in a dining room.
Ocotillo focuses on New American seasonal cuisine with a tough dose of local Arizona influence. The dining room décor seems to follow the theme. White walls surround a group of tables pushed closely together, with rows of booths facing across from chairs. The desert influence is there though, as pictures of beautiful southwest scenery line the walls.
You can visit Ocotillo for brunch, lunch or dinner, and there is also a coffee bar. The dinner menu has the usual categories; salads, vegetables, small and large plates. All is not necessarily what it seems though. A server might let guests know that “small” at Ocotillo doesn’t actually mean small.
Ocotillo’s non-large dishes seem to resemble normal dinner plates. A salad with roasted sweet potatoes, cashews and crispy quinoa is the definition of heaping, and could easily be eaten as an entrée. A unique vegetable choice is the Hearts of Palm, served with a citrus theme of grapefruit and orange, along with avocado. Don’t make the mistake of taking a bite without getting a piece of every ingredient on the fork.
The bigger-than-expected size of the “small” plates make them ideal for sharing. The Halibut Ceviche is excellent, with cilantro, avocado and heirloom tomatoes. Corn nuts give the dish the crunch and flavor of chips that traditionally accompany ceviche. Another sea standout is the Grilled Octopus, served on top of white beans with thinly sliced peppers. Chewy, but not tough, the octopus has a strong grilled and salty flavor.
Additional options include Pork Belly Skewers served with a peanut sauce and spicy pickles. There’s an argument to be made that this could be ordered as a dessert. The large plates are massive and could absolutely be shared by two. Steaks, pork chops and fish are all available, but what will get your attention is the Wood Fired Beef Ribs. Coated with Mole Espresso BBQ Sauce, heads turn when this dish is brought out and your fellow diners smell the smoky flavors from across the room. No matter if you’re spending the summer evening inside the dining room or out on the patio.