Since we've been travelling to new places, we have a few new favorite restaurants.
The best Mexican restaurant in Arizona (which probably means it's the best in the US) is Rancho de Tia Rosa, in Mesa. The mole is simply to die for, and where else have you ever seen crabmeat tacos with watermelon salsa? Who would think to put watermelon salsa on a taco? Or to make a taco out of crab meat? There's also salmon tacos with mango salsa. The decor makes you feel like you are in Mexico, and the culinary style is that of Baja California. The margaritas are great, the chips and salsa fresh and homemade. They have another location in Gilbert, but we haven't tried that one and can't think of a reason to go anywhere but the one we know.
My second favorite Mexican restaurant in the US is Barrio Cafe, in downtown Phoenix. It's Mexico City style cuisine, and they make the guacamole fresh at your table. Pricier than Tia Rosa, and much smaller. No reservations, get there early or be prepared to wait.
My favorite Mexican restaurant in Mexico is La Fonda, in Cabo San Lucas (do your own web search, they don't have a web site but there are many review sites). Their menu is very different, and they are off the beaten path and not crowded, at least when we went fairly early.
Maybe the best Italian restaurant between San Francisco and New Jersey is on the banks of the Gunnison River in Gunnison, Colorado. It's called Garlic Mike's. I had a veal marsala the likes of which I have not experienced since leaving the Northeast, and the profiterole must have been beamed in fresh from Paris. Mike could open up anywhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn, double his prices, and be an instant success in the land of 10,000 great Italian restaurants. Red and white checkerboard tablecloths, of course.
My new favorite chain restaurant is Bonefish Grill. We ate in the Mobile, Alabama location last winter, and just tonight in Loveland, Colorado. There are not many of them, scattered around the country. They're a step pricier than Red Lobster, but with a much more sophisticated menu, and atmosphere and service comparable to Ruth's Chris or Morton's. A great price performer for a fairly elegant night out.