With pages full of flavors traditional to Mexico City, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Cozumel, the menu at Haciendas Mexican Grill is like an atlas of Mexican cuisine. Guests can taste the classic Mayan influence on the nation’s dishes with the cochinita pibil, a cut of pork that slowly marinates in a stew of achiote, orange juice, and banana leaves, or revel in the country's knack for sauces with the dark-brown dressing of the pollo con mole. The chefs also take slight liberties with the dishes, infusing the chocolate fondue with ancho chiles and transforming the humble hamburger with oaxaca cheese and chipotle mayo. To honor Mexico's extensive coastlines, the chefs drench jumbo prawns, stuffed salmon filets, and lobster ravioli in spicy cream sauces.
Outside the dining room, guests can experience Mexican culture with specialty margaritas, tap and bottled beers, and other libations in the restaurant’s three bars. Like an interstellar pub crawl, each bar features a different atmosphere: one sports a scenic view of the mountains, another buzzes with a row of LED TVs, and an outside patio grants fresh air and warm sun ideal for a round of icy beverages.
For 36 years, the Desert Foothills Theater has cast adult and youth actors in beloved classic plays and musicals, obtaining 32 ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence nominations and winning five awards in the 2010–11 season. In a colorful, orchestrated production of Broadway mainstay The Music Man, curtains rise on the arrival of traveling salesman Professor Harold Hill in River City, Iowa. Like most towns, River City is perfect except for its lack of a children's marching band, and Harold smooth-talks townsfolk into buying instruments and uniforms for a band, promising to coach the youths himself though he has no musical knowledge. The lovely but stern local librarian, Marian, throws a wrench in his plans, feels guilty for hurling a blunt object, and falls in love with Harold, complicating his seamless scheme. The Cactus Shadows High School jazz band joins actors in a jubilant soundtrack brimming with classics such as “76 Trombones,” ”'Til There Was You,” and ”Pickalittle.” Outfitted in turn-of-the-century costumes and cast with a delightful mix of adults and authentic children, the play fills the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center's intimate auditorium with vivacious energy.
Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.
Running with 1,500-pound bulls is inherently dangerous—the organizers of the stateside Running with the Bulls don't deny that. But that doesn't mean that the thrill of Pamplona has to come with the mistreatment of the animals, which is why participants who hit, slap, harass, or otherwise impede the progress of the bulls will be removed from the venue. With those distractions aside, spectators can focus on the essence of the run: watching 12 horn-swinging bulls dash through a quarter-mile course on the heels of runners who must have heard that this event was called Running with the Lambs. But the event gives the community more than elevated heart rates, as each three-day spectacle begins with a charity run that benefits Operation Hawkeye, an organization that supports the families of Special Operations forces who've been killed in combat.
As its name would suggest, Carefree is a laid-back town, with a sense of humor to boot. Look out for quirky street signs (Ho Hum Road and Nonchalant Avenue) and keep in mind the town’s motto (“home of the cowboys and caviar”). Phoenix lies about 30 miles to the south, and the Continental Mountains rise just to the north and create a nice backdrop opposite the Black Mountain range. There are a handful of hiking trails in the area, but for those who prefer the comforts of saddle, you can rent a bike from the hotel or sign up of for a guided horseback ride through the desert. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.