Sunday, July 16, 2006

Coronado Cafe - Bungalow Dining In Coronado Historic District, Phoenix, AZ

Coronado Café

Aric Johnson and Christina Leonard
The Arizona Republic

Jun. 26, 2004 12:00 AM

Coronado Café: Think comfort food without the greasy burgers and fried potatoes. Housed in a 1915 craftsman bungalow, the intimate restaurant offers traditional fare with a twist. The café, which doubles as a showcase for local artists, is in a historic neighborhood and was originally the private residence of a local schoolteacher. Since then it's been everything from an antique store and beauty shop to a tattoo parlor.

We visited earlier this week.

Christina: The owners will probably hate that I'm saying this, but it's very "Pottery Barn" in here. The velvet drapes. The hardwood floors. The painted walls. I love it. advertisement

Aric: It feels cozy. More like being at home than in a restaurant. The service is attentive and friendly.

Christina: Yeah, but I don't think your home is this nice. Can you afford all this velvety goodness?

Aric: Nice. I'll say only that that those living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. But seriously, Coronado Café has a warm design that doesn't smack of big dollars. The decor shows smart spending on the right touches.

Christina: OK, enough with the decor. Let's both admit that it's cozy and chic - and maybe more tasteful than our own homes. Let's check out the menu. It all looks appetizing, but nothing too unusual. Lots of sandwiches and salads, but nothing you couldn't get at Subway. They kick in things like caramelized walnuts and crumbled gorgonzola. Today's special: meatloaf and mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy. I've never had meatloaf, but that actually sounds decent.

Aric: What I liked about it was the execution. Sure, anyone can make a chicken salad sandwich. But Coronado's, for $6.95, features poached chicken, roasted poblano chiles, red peppers and an excellent crusty roll. It's basic foods raised to a new level.

Christina: Couldn't agree more. My chicken Caesar sandwich, also $6.95, and chicken-poblano chowder ($3.50 for a cup) were great. But light enough to leave room for dessert. I've been eyeing the cobbler since we walked in here. I don't think anybody's left without dessert yet!

Aric: Neither did I. I went for one of their famous cookies. And again, Coronado's taken something simple and made it something special. The cookie was more like a slice of cake - warm, soft and loaded with chocolate chips. It was great, that is, until you dropped it on the floor.

Christina: You should thank me for that. I bought you a cranberry and white chocolate chip cookie as a replacement. For my dessert, I debated between the cobbler and the brownie sundae, but the staff pushed the mixed berry dish. Think hot, gooey berries with a cornbread top and loads of fresh vanilla ice cream that tastes homemade. It was so large, I shared with "She Who Must Not Be Named," also known as the editor of this section, and we had plenty left.

Aric: Overall, a very pleasant experience for me. Great food, cozy decor and an attentive staff made Coronado a top choice for lunch in the downtown Phoenix area.

Christina: You're such a cheerleader. But this time, I actually agree. My only caution is that because it's such a small, cozy little place - don't expect to waltz in with a large party and expect immediate seating. We had to wait a bit, but it was worth it.

Aric: I liked what I ate, and any good lunch place will have a wait. If you would prefer, we can go to Taco Bell next time. The drive-through is pretty quick.

Christina: Ha. Let's save Taco Bell days for deadline days - and when the company isn't paying.

Note: Reporter Christina Leonard and assistant business editor Aric Johnson love to eat. And they'll try just about anything. Good thing Aric has lightning-speed metabolism. Unfortunately, Christina will have to hit the treadmill big time this week. Maybe she can walk to lunch next time.


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