My dad and I had some pretty incredible experiences on our first father-daughter trip. We took a sunrise hot air balloon ride followed by a champagne brunch, saw dozens of beautiful classic cars, enjoyed the Jun Kaneko sculpture exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden, and, perhaps most importantly to us as amateur foodies, we enjoyed a lot of amazing meals over the course of our week together.
The Wrigley Mansion is a beautiful Mediterranean-style home built in 1932 by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. as a 50th anniversary gift to his wife. Its hilltop site provides 360-degree views of the mountains and the city of Phoenix below, and it was purchased in 1992 by Geordie Hormel, a musician and composer who was heir to the Hormel Foods fortune.
Dad and I were somewhat skeptical of the menu at Geordie’s, which included a SPAM Cubano sandwich, but the food turned out to be wonderful. Our three-course lunch began with a spectacular roasted red pepper soup, chicken pesto pasta for me and a brisket burger for my father, followed by dessert. The soup was so incredible that my dad bypassed the dessert of the day — a house-made red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting — for a second bowl as his third course. (The restaurant’s first-ever request of its kind, according to our server.)
I don’t know that we had a single bad meal or even a bad dish in all our time in Phoenix, but our final dinner turned out to be the most special of all.
In his search for places to dine, my dad came across a claim to fame that caught his attention: best grilled cheese in Arizona.
Serving what they describe as “sophisticated comfort food,” Beckett’s Table has a grilled cheese sandwich featuring pancetta and four different kinds of cheeses melted inside cheesy focaccia rolls and served with roasted red pepper tomato soup. It’s a dish they’ve kept on the menu for years, and it keeps popping up on “best of” lists across the country. Chef Beckett even shared the recipe with AZ Central.
Beckett’s Table has live music and half-price bottles of Arizona wine every Sunday evening, and we made the earliest reservation we could to beat the crowd. The wine list contains 17 selections from around the state, and we split a bottle of Arizona chardonnay that was crisp and delightful.
After sharing the grilled cheese appetizer, which truly was award-worthy, I enjoyed shrimp and grits with braised greens and mustard tomato jus as my entree. Dad was on a roll with the soup and chose Beckett’s green chili pork stew with cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, and house-made corn tortillas.
While we dined, we struck up a conversation with Katie, who visited our table to see how the meal was going. She and her husband are co-owners of the restaurant, with her managing the wine cellar and her husband running the bar. “Chef Beckett runs the kitchen,” she said, “and his wife Michelle ties it all together.”
The two couples work hard and play hard, she explained, and they love what they’re doing. They have grown to 100 employees between the two restaurants; this October is Beckett’s Table’s eighth anniversary, and 2018 marks the fourth anniversary of its sister restaurant, Southern Rail. In addition to the grilled cheese accolades, they’ve been recognized for their outstanding wine list, and Chef Beckett himself has garnered quite a number of industry awards.
When Katie learned that we were on a father-daughter trip, she was thrilled. She told us that when her father was alive, Saturday night was their weekly father-daughter date at the restaurant. “He would sit at the bar, enjoying a scotch and soda while he listened to the music,” she said. “I always loved seeing him there and knowing he was part of this.”
Having savored a Laphroaig 10-year as my dessert, I asked if her father was the one I had to thank for Beckett’s solid Scotch list. Katie said that honor went to her husband, Scott. “He believes a great cocktail should be made in a minute or less, and the bar should have ‘all the good stuff’.”
The atmosphere, food, beverages, and music at Beckett’s Table were all delightful, and talking with Katie made the evening even more special. Talk about the perfect ending to our first father-daughter adventure.
Up Next: The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival with my mother for our annual girls’ trip