Feasting in Phoenix

Welcome to 2014! I love the idea of a ‘new year’. It gives me a means to start over; to leave my troubles in the past; to look forward to new beginnings; to create resolutions; to feel recharged and continue working hard to achieve my goals. A new year also gives me an opportunity to honor old traditions while finding new ways to make them fun and exciting each year. As a child, I spent each new year with my parents and siblings, watching the ball drop on TV and counting down with all the freezing people in Times Square from the comfort of my home. As a ‘tween’, I spent each new year with my parents and maybe even had a friend over for the night, while my older siblings were out at parties. As a teenager, I started going to parties. And now, in my twenties, the plan has typically been to spend the new year in Florida with my parents, siblings and their kids. Everything’s full circle, right?

To ring in 2014, my wife and I managed to escape the cold New England weather and head some place warm – Phoenix, AZ.  Definitely not my first pick of places to spend the new year, but my brother and sister-in-law live there and I’m an easy sell when it comes to them. Not only would we be going to a killer New Years Eve party, but we’d be feasting at all their favorite restaurants. My wife and I are big into dining out, cooking at home, and pretty much anything else related to the creation and consumption of food. Needless to say, we were very excited about the prospect of a Phoenix vacation/culinary adventure.

Upon our arrival on December 31st, my brother picked us up from the airport. We took a 10am flight out of Boston and arrived in Phoenix around 2pm, which means we skipped lunch! What to do? Oh yeah, the west coast has something we don’t… In-N-Out Burger!!! The perfect guilty pleasure to satisfy our serious hunger. Now, as much as I love In-N-Out, I always get stared at like a crazy person when I say, “I like 5 Guys more… In-N-Out tastes like a glorified McDonald’s burger.” Yes, 5 Guys does not make “animal style” burgers, but I think they taste more like a hot-off-the-grill backyard burger than a hot-off-the-production-line fast food burger. It was a good thing I only ordered a double-double animal style with well-done fries and a Coke because later that night, we feasted on some Federal Pizza pizzas before heading out to the new years party at Hotel Valley Ho.

Now, to be honest, after this point the vacation was pretty much a blur and that’s exactly how I like my vacations to be, but I did manage to document every place I had a meal. The idea was that after I returned home, I’d feel more alive than ever knowing I’d eaten all that delicious food and lived to blog about it. So, after I recovered from my food coma, I compiled it all into a spreadsheet and flowed the data through Tableau. The idea was to create a ‘food map’ that detailed and ranked all the places I had a meal at.

Click on the viz below and you’ll be able to vicariously experience my culinary adventure. I only wish Tableau would add in a way to smell the data… maybe in version 10!

Now for the hail of bullets:

  • My favorite restaurant in Phoenix is FnB. Everything from the food to the service to the atmosphere was great.
  • My favorite meal in Phoenix was at Central Bistro, where I had chicken and waffles, along with tons of other delicious sides.
  • I think I ranked Postino very high because I really enjoy dinners that consist of many small meals, similar to tapas, so the 7 different types of bruschetta really hit the spot
  • Cibo had a fantastic outdoor space to eat, with a raging fire and a very cool jazz trio. Great Italian  food!
  • The brunch I had at The Breakfast Club narrowly missed making it to my favorite meal of the trip. Huevos con masa are to die for.
  • And my last point has to be the movie experience I had at the AMC Dine-In Theatres. This place was ridiculous! Reclining leather couches with food and drink service at the push of a button. And I thought 3D IMAX was cool…

Thanks for reading!

Credit to Ben Jones at DataRemixed. I was thinking about using wms for my Tableau mapping, but I thought I’d try Ben’s neat trick to dynamically display a Google  map satellite image through dashboard actions – http://dataremixed.com/2013/06/how-to-embed-a-google-map-in-tableau/

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