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She Said: Ocotillo Restaurant is quintessentially modern Arizona eatery

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I hope you are as pleasantly surprised as I was walking up to Midtown Phoenix’s Ocotillo Restaurant near Third Street and Osborn Road.

It’s a beautifully designed space that offers a full bar as well as a restaurant with both dining and communal areas. The indoor/outdoor concept was the vision of TrueForm and Labahn Ryan Architects.

There is a distinct, modern feel, but with the use of warm colors and inviting desert landscaping, Ocotillo screams traditional Arizona.

We had lunch in the small dining area near the bar. It was a pleasant day and the doors were ajar, making the space airy and luminous, creating a perfect lunch setting.

The menu has a great variety and coincides with the feel of the place, offering creative new items with some traditional but clean dishes as well.

The table ordered the roasted cauliflower as a starter. The cauliflower was browned and topped with fresh mint and basil leaves as well as kale pesto to give a burst of freshness to the savory roasted flavors. It was finished with chopped peanuts which added a nice crunchy texture.

For my lunch entrée, I ordered the Crispy Falafel Burger. It had a slight crisp on the exterior of the patty and was topped with pickled beets, cucumbers, lettuce and a creamy feta-yogurt sauce. The sharp vinegar flavor of the beets combined with the cool feta-yogurt sauce was an exquisite combination to pair with the earthy falafel.

The sandwich was the size of a softball and I could only manage to devour half of it. I didn’t let the rest go waste, as I finished the second half for lunch the next day and, even after being in the fridge all night, it was divine!

The hand-cut French fries that accompanied the burger were a complimentary side, they were both hearty and flavorful and not too greasy.

Within the walls of Ocotillo sits a new coffee bar with a to-go menu. I am itching to get back for a cup of joe, lunch, dinner or even grab some grub for the road.

During our good weather months, I think this will be the perfect Arizona spot to take an out-of-town visitor, but as the 100-plus degree heat is upon us, I’ll plant myself in the air conditioning and explore more of their enticing menu options.