On the recommendation of a couple of complete strangers who meandered into the bar this past week, yesterday I decided to drag Floyd on over to Revolu, this new restaurant in Peoria (such a good sport, suffering through all these delicious meals with me). Now obviously I was excited to try somewhere new, but more so I was excited because there was something that could be described as “unique” and “local” and “upscale” being put in Peoria. Because we have upscale and there’s definitely local and at least a few unique places but not very many that fit all three of those categories. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no reason for Scottsdale and Downtown to have a monopoly on delicious food and great experiences. Lets get down to it!
Overall Impression of Revolu
Super positive! Revolu has a great start and I sincerely believe that they will continue to grow and improve in the coming year. There is no doubt that I will be eating here again soon.
Salsa Sampler Appetizer
“Old School” cocktail
7 assorted street tacos
Total: ~$65 after tip
I had a hard time deciding which drink to try here… the cocktail menu is short, but pretty well put together. All the liquors are perfectly respectable though I would love to see a larger tequila selection, in keeping with the theme.
Floyd tried the “Revolu Rita“, made with Cazadores Reposado +Triple Sec + House made Sweet & Sour. He enjoyed it, though he did make a face like it was pretty strong. I found it to be not particularly strong at all, though I also make a habit of drinking my liquors nearly straight so in that respect I think it was probably right where it aught to be. As for flavor, it was a well balanced margarita, a feat that is unusually hard to come by when dining.
I finally settled on the “Old School” – Captain Morgan Black + House-made Horchata + Simple Syrup + Ginger Beer + Nutmeg. My impression of this drink sort of goes in stages:
First step- “huh, I didn’t expect this in a pint glass (for whatever reason), I shouldn’t drink through the straw, I won’t get enough of the nutmeg smell…”
Second step- “A little watery, I feel like it could be condensed to get a more intense flavor.”
Third step – “You know, on a hot day this would probably be a really great drink to sip on the patio!”
Fourth step- “Oh yeah, it’s all starting to blend now, that’s the flavor I was looking for.”
Overall, I was happy with the drink, though I don’t know that I would order it again. Personally I might find myself just getting Rum and House made Horchata as I feel like that might be much more satisfying for my personal drinking habits. Also, then I can get better acquainted with their Horchata, which I’m rapidly discovering I totally love (and not just because it’s so fun to say).
My only other criticism of the cocktail menu is that personally I would loose the michelada off the bottom, or move it around to the side with the beers. It is wildly out of place among the other hand crafted, high quality cocktails on the menu and I would expect it to perform better when listed next to the beers since many people will outright dismiss a cocktail menu.
First thing’s first: Appetizers.
We were a little torn between the salsa sampler and the guacamole tasting (which had been strongly recommended by the bar-strangers), but I am not as big a guacamole fan as apparently everyone else in Phoenix, so we started with salsa.
(2 year edit: I revised my statement about Guac, everyone else was right and I was wrong. That shit is delicious. Also the guac sampler from Revolu is really really good. I like the original the best, then their bacon infusion, then their Asian fusion.)
I also feel like any sort of Latino restaurant lives and dies on the quality of it’s salsa, particularly here in the southwest. The sampler consisted of four salsas: Red + Green + arbol + avocado along with chips. The chips weren’t the best I’ve ever had, but they were good and not overly salty, which is nice for me and mandatory for some.
The ‘arbol‘ was the spiciest among them and I would categorize it as reasonably spicy since Floyd nodded appreciatively and I didn’t cry and ask for some milk when I ate it (on account of being a total weenie). The ‘Red’ was the next spiciest and Floyd’s favorite since it had a nice flavor to go along with the kick. Personally I liked the ‘Green‘ best, since it was enough spice to wake me up but still had a lot of character. The avocado salsa (not to be confused with guacamole) was very odd, but not bad. It was slightly too lime-y for my personal tastes and was probably the one we ate least of. Floyd did have some fun mixing the different salsas together to see which he liked best (it was the avocado and the arbol) so if you are a salsa aficionado, go to town.
Next up we have tacos! Isn’t that a sentence everyone loves? One of my favorite things about their menu was the mix-and-match quality of the tacos. The menu at Revolu offered your tacos a la carte or as pick 15 or pick 25 taco trays, which is absolutely perfect for families. As it was, Floyd and I tried 7 of the 9 listed. I was mildly disappointed there wasn’t a “One of Each” platter, since that would be perfectly shareable between 2-3 people and a great way for new comers to get acquainted with the restaurant. As it was though, I didn’t even finish all of mine so I certainly wasn’t hurting for food. Let’s go in order of most enjoyed:
chile marinated shrimp- This was hands down Floyd’s favorite, and very well might have been mine too if he had shared any. My trepidation at the implied spiciness of the name is outweighed by the fact that I’m a total slut for shrimp. It looked spectacular and had at least 3-4 shrimp in that little taco.
Roasted Seasonal Veggies- Now this taco was mine (because Floyd objects to the mere concept of a veggie taco) and I’m a huge fan of assorted vegetables, particularly if they’re roasted. This one consisted mostly of Pico de Gallo and roasted brussel sprouts, which I don’t normally like but these had a really fantastic flavor. It made me want to try their brussel sprout appetizer, or at the very least recommend it to my mom. This taco had a whole lot of flavor and I can very easily picture myself eating 3-4 for a lighter, healthy lunch.
Chorizo y Papa –
Name implies…- Once again, this was my taco and it was a very very close competition with the Veg Head. I would describe myself as amicable towards chorizo… it hasn’t done me too wrong yet, but I absolutely love a well made potato. (2 year edit, I’m super into chorizo now y’all.) The only bad thing about this taco was that it didn’t have quite enough of the roasted gold potatoes, which had an incredible flavor. I’m not that great at naming that herb but I am more than tempted to just ask for a bowl of those potatoes and some kind of meat. The lack of starchy goodness in every bite might also have been my own fault, since I’m not especially good at holding things without dropping everything everywhere and tacos are basically the devil in that aspect.
pork – Back over to Floyd for this one… Having been raised on Mexican food, Floyd does have a very strong opinion when it comes to Carnitas and he really enjoyed the ones from Revolu. The texture was perfect and they had a great flavor without adding any salsa or lime to enhance it. Simple, classic, great.
Carne Asada cheese crisp…taco? – This is the one taco I was unable to finish, though probably more because it was last than any reflection of quality. What really put this one above and beyond for me was the flavor of the Carne Asada. It was tangy and perfectly cooked and the right size bites for a taco. It was almost certainly also the least healthy of my tacos, but I like to live on the edge. Go bold or go home. Or go bold then go home. Or be bold at home… etc, etc…
Al Pastor –
Pork and pineapple – I was especially looking forward to stealing a bite of this particular taco since that spicy/sweet combination appeals to my constant desire to overwhelm my taste buds but Floyd and I were both somewhat disappointed here. I’m not sure if I just didn’t get a good bite of the pineapple but it was lacking that extra ‘umph’ that the description implied. It’s a bold taco, it should have a bold delivery.
skirt steak – surprisingly, this was the least enjoyed taco. Floyd found it lacking in flavor all around. He ate this one before I had my Quesa-Taco and he does believe that there were different meats in them. It’s unclear whether this was by design or simply one steak was marinated better than the other but we believe it would have been significantly better had it been the Carne Asada I described above.
Last but not least: Dessert! Ahhh it’s my guilty pleasure. Also my not-guilty pleasure… #noragrats. We opted to sample Revolu’s Horchata Shake on account of it being something I’ve never seen on a menu before and an easily shareable item. While we did disagree on the fundamental ideal thickness of a shake (me: hella thick, him: slightly less hella thick), we both agreed that holy crap that’s a lot more shake than we were expecting. It was served in what I believe to be a 24+ oz frosty mug for only $6.
While I do love sweets, this was entirely more than the two of us can handle. I would expect about 4 reasonably sweet loving people to be able to split this shake with satisfaction. Our initial impression was that it needed more Banana, but only just a little bit. Every two or three mouthfuls we would get a bigger ‘naner flavor, but overall it was very good. We were able to take it in a to-go cup and as the shake warmed up a little bit the banana really started to hold it’s own against the cinnamon, but this took about 15-20 min from delivery. I was regrettably unable to finish this delicious concoction but I do greatly look forward to trying the rest of Revolu’s desserts, and sincerely hope that those are as generous as the shake.
Now, I was slightly apprehensive about how much I would enjoy the decor of this place since it was described to me as “that cool Mexican theme” and I’m not always the biggest fan of ‘cool Mexican theme’, I just deal with it for tortillas and sizzling veggies. I was pretty excited to find that it was actually better described as “dia de los muertos” inspired, which I kind of really enjoy. I thought the art was extremely well done, though it is currently limited to two of the main walls. This is almost certainly because they only opened in December and you shouldn’t delay opening just so you can do some more painting. I’m very much looking forward to the additions in decor and fine tuning the overall vibe of the place.
The building Revolu is in has a very nice patio section with garage style doors which can open up to create an indoor/outdoor bar feel which I absolutely love. Some days I just need to be on a patio and it’s about time somewhere on the west side nailed it like that. I can absolutely foresee myself here in a few weeks when winter is over and we have a blissful several days of spring before diving headfirst into summer.
I can only describe the service as excellent. Our server was attentive, not only to us (we were pretty conveniently seated for checking on as you go in and out of the kitchen), but to the rest of her tables as well. She had recommendations for each course which were pretty compelling, but I liked the way she validated our choices when we inevitably ordered something else. I like being validated, especially when it comes to food. The owner was clearly present, going in-between teaching the bartender how to make the signature drinks (best of luck to her! She looked like a good learner.) and going into the kitchen, presumably to teach the cook how he likes things prepared. Or maybe doing all the cooking himself? I don’t know…
We were greeted as soon as we walked in the door by both the server and the bartender, as well as the owner with a quiet, casual enthusiasm that I’ve come to associate with the best of west side Phoenix (Peoria, Glendale, Surprise, Sun City). While there weren’t many people at the time we walked in, and I knew they were open less than a month, there was almost no trace of that ‘new restaurant, oh god please like us, refill your water every 10 seconds’ attitude. They seemed to handle themselves very well as it got busier during the course of our meal and the atmosphere definitely worked just as well for a bustling lunch hour as it did for a quiet meal. I think I would be very hard pressed to feel uncomfortable at any hour here. The owner spoke to us personally as we left, encouraging us to come back and spread good words about the place since we had a great time. Overall I got the impression that he was incredibly passionate and genuinely excited to bring this new venture to Peoria.
General Information about Revolu
– 12 draft beer taps – 6 wines – Weekday Lunch Specials – Healthy options-
Looking For more places to eat on the West Side? Try Cuff in Old Town Glendale!