A 6.5-pound behemoth of a burrito can really only have one name: the Big Papi. At Papi Chulo's Mexican Grill & Cantina these giants of gastronomy, which were recently featured in Phoenix Magazine, are waiting to be conquered by challengers willing to dethrone current champion Stephanie Torres, a competitive eater who has appeared in the Nathan's Famous Women's Hot Dog Eating World Championship. On the regular menu, Papi Chulo's executive chef combines Mexican tradition with Sonoran familiarity to craft authentic Southwestern dishes with a down-home feel. The staff serves regular lunch specials, Mexican favorites such as chiles rellenos, and breakfast specialties including huevos rancheros and chorizo and eggs.
Inside the spacious dining room, imported Mexican furniture sits below exposed wooden beams bearing wrought-iron chandeliers ideal for illuminating a special meal or supporting the weight of a masked Zorro impersonator. Attended by a sunny wait staff, the bar slings specialty margaritas and happy-hour specials every day that patrons can enjoy indoors or on the outdoor patio in full view of Camelback Mountain. Papi Chulo's also hosts regular events including poker nights on Mondays and live comedy every Friday and Saturday night.
El Hefe combines the best of two worlds—the rhythmic dance tracks and drinks of a lively nightclub, and the meaty, peppery cuisine of Mexico and the American Southwest. Quesadillas filled with shredded chicken tinga and prime steak tortas pair perfectly with sports on flatscreen TVs or icy chelada cocktails. Revelers lounge in wraparound booths covered with funky floral prints and gold lamé, helping themselves to pints of beer from the tableside taps, which eliminate the long waits and intricate hand signals required to order at a noisy bar. And as diners chat, servers carry out rustic wooden trays bearing treasures of angus beef burgers topped with jalapeno marmalade, tacos filled with duck carnitas or pork al pastor, and Sonoran-style hot dogs wrapped in bacon and smothered in tomatillo avocado salsa.
Nighttime finds DJs spinning club music as lights swirl above the dance floor, bathing revelers in rhythmic beats and streaks of neon. Party guests toast potent house tequila cocktails or fishbowl glasses of beergarita--garnished with a dusting of salt and an upside-down bottle of beer.
Celebrating their seventh anniversary this December, Loco Patron looks to continue a tradition of pairing refreshing margaritas with inventive Mexican fare. The restaurant's crunchy pork tacos stand out from an extensive menu, garnering the attention of taco enthusiasts and taking home the titles of best pork taco and most school spirit at the 2011 Arizona Taco Festival. The tortilla-bound creations nestle tender shredded morsels of pork atop a bed of lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and a special arbol sauce. Doled out in herds of 6–20 tacos, the porcine delicacies scale to suit various size groups and appetites ranging from hungry to postwork lumberjack.
The Urban Dare Adventure Race is a fast-paced competition that challenges two-person teams to decipher clues, navigate the city, and perform playful stunts. Combining the bustle of a track meet with the brain-taxing sleuth work of a luge competition, the race uses a dozen trivia-based clues to lead contestants to checkpoints all over their sprawling metropolis. Location hunters reach their checkpoints by whatever means necessary, be it hopping a bus downtown, flying madly through a network of secret ziplines, or scuba-diving in a fountain for bus fare. At the mini destinations, racers must use a camera to document their presence or, in some cases, get their passports stamped after completing challenges that may include a climbing wall or solving a riddle.
Pink- and salmon-colored walls, saffron accents, and verdant plants contribute to the Southwest and Latin atmosphere that pervades The Saguaro Spa. Amid regional wood and leather furniture, candles in tin holders, and folk art, therapists lead guests into partitioned or private treatment rooms to perform spa services inspired by the healing traditions and history of the desert. They stroke guests' backs using pressure-point and relaxation-massage techniques, often adding heated stones or wild-desert-herb compresses to melt tension. During body-wrap treatments, aestheticians swaddle bodies in organic, Southwest-inspired botanicals such as lime and aloe or chilis and chocolate.
Aestheticians also rejuvenate busy patrons with 30-minute mini treatments such as a prickly-pear sugar scrub and an orange-blossom neck massage. When they’re not soothing skin and faces, staffers can be found leading guests and gnomes in open-air yoga classes that take place amid cool breezes in an adjacent garden.