Noca

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3118 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix
602-956-6622

Named for its north of Camelback location, Noca has become one of my favorite restaurants. The simple stylish decor is backdrop to Chef Chris Curtiss's modern American food, built around the very best ingredients he can source. The phrase "local, seasonal, organic" has been so over-used it's nearly devoid of meaning. But not here, where you can see and taste the difference pristine vegetables, perfect fish and superior beef can make. Owner Eliot Wexler and Curtiss work hard to keep their customers coming back often, offering specials or special menus almost every day of the week. Tuesday and Thursday mean Wagyu pastrami (the best you will ever have), piled high on a buttery pumpernickel crouton, topped with pickled cukes and onions and spooned with Dijon foam. Oh. My. God. Actually, I have the very same fondness for Wednesday night's lobster roll. Served on a crunchy toasted split-top bun from Karsh's, luscious lobster meat gets a subtle flavor boost from celery root and roasted garlic aioli. Served with duck fat fries, it's utterly decadent. Through the summer, Noca offers Maryland soft shell crabs on Tuesday nights. Don't miss them. Bar bites (think sophisticated small plates) are offered the first and third Thursdays of every month, and for the quality of the food you're getting, they're a steal. Go with the $50 chef's tasting menu (which means all bar bites, excluding the cheese course) for an even bigger bang for the buck. But Noca's most popular night is probably Sunday, when the kitchen offers Simple Sunday Suppers, three-course meals (with a choice of entree) for $35 per person. They're themed, so one night may be barbecue, another Italian, a third fried chicken. Save room for deconstructed cheesecake (yum yum) and be prepared for an intermezzo of cotton candy. Liked I said, so many things to love . . . Check Noca's website for more info. Dinner Tue-Sun (open Mondays in season). $$-$$$