The Mission

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3815 N. Brown Avenue, Scottsdale

Terry Ellisor and Chef Matt Carter (both of perennially popular Zinc Bistro in Kierland) have created a dark, hip venue -- decorated with crucifixes, mirrors, glitzy chandeliers and an incredible, glowing salt wall -- for Carter's modern spin on the rustic cuisines of Latin America. Housed in the historic building that briefly held Union Wine Bar, the Mission is off-the-beaten-path but hardly forgotten. Twenty and thirty-somethings head to the bar for off-the-hook Sangria, imaginative margaritas and a bit of flirting, while serious foodies just head straight to the tables, where Carter dishes up everything from tostada appetizers and steamed clams with chorizo (bathed in heavenly sauce) to Mexican street corn (don't miss it), salmon drizzled with huitlacoche crema and signature, slow roasted pork shoulder with garnishes for build-your-own tacos. Even side dishes are outstanding. Try taro fries with spicy amarillo aioli, tiny hand-made corn tortillas with butter, earthy black beans and ridiculously good grits, doctored up with chipotle, butter and honey. If you can manage, save a little wiggle room for espresso-chocolate churros (served with mini milkshakes) and crisp-edged pumpkin bread pudding, drizzled with scotch and sprinkled with roasted pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. Yowza! Lunch and dinner daily; Brunch Sa-Su. $$-$$$