Every once in a while you come across a new restaurant that you think will be good, but it is actually so great that it just blows you away. I’m happy to say that I had this experience at TRES Tempe, a brand new restaurant in south Tempe.
To call TRES Tempe a hidden gem is apropos. It’s somewhat hidden, located at 7192 S. Price Rd., next to the newly opened Home2 Suites Phoenix Tempe and Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Tempe ASU Research Park, in the Discovery Business Campus. But it’s also conveniently located at the 101 Freeway and Elliott Road.
A friend and I decided to try it out after hearing that it had just opened. After checking out the menu offerings described as “a clean and modern interpretation of the Mediterranean and the Southwest, prepared with locally sourced ingredients in a wood-fired oven,” we wasted no time in heading over for lunch.
The space is open, airy and modern, but also warm and inviting due to the large windows that allow lots of sunlight in. There are lots of cool decorative elements, like a black and white graphic tile behind the open kitchen and a beautiful bar in the center of the space. We were seated and our server came to our table immediately and described the menu with lots of good detail. He had tried everything on the menu and made a few suggestions of his favorite items. The menu is true to the promise of blending Southwestern and Mediterranean flavors to create dishes that are both rustic and elegant.
The menu is fairly robust and fun reading, so it took us a while to decide what to order. From the small bites menu, we got off to a great start with the AZ Tepary Bean Hummus and the Daily Market Flatbread. I’m a hummus addict and this hummus, with its silky texture and subtle seasonings, is as addicting as any I’ve had to date. The Daily Market Flatbread was also a winner. The tender, slightly puffy flatbread could have easily stood on its own. But the toppings—machaca beef, cojita cheese and salsa verde were just plain over-the-top tasty.
Moving on to the Medium Bites Menu, we shared the Arizona Harvest Salad—a refreshing combination of mixed baby greens, roasted pistachios, Wilcox apples, Crow’s Dairy chevre, local citrus, raisins, avocado, dried cranberries with a light and refreshing citrus poppy dressing.
It was the perfect accompaniment to the other dish we shared, the TRES Cheese Torte, which our server described as a combination of lasagna and chilaquiles. This dish is layers of spicy herbed ricotta, roasted poblano peppers, corn tortillas that is surrounded by a river of the most sublime salsa verde ever. My friend and I agreed that it’s one of the best things we’ve ever eaten. It’s killer, lights-out delicious. I know I’ll be craving the TRES Cheese Torte all the time.
As full as we were, we couldn’t ignore the dessert menu. How could we with such luscious sounding treats as TRES Chocolate Piedmont Hazelnut Torte, Tres Leches Cheesecake and Seasonal Fresh Fruit Crostada, to name just three? We settled on the Cheesecake and Torte. Let me just say that the Tres Leches Cheesecake was so good it left me speechless. It’s the creamiest, most velvety cheesecake I’ve ever tasted. And, if that weren’t enough, it’s drizzled with an amazing cajeta caramel sauce the likes of which, I’ve never experienced and a mound of scrumptious mole spiced pecans. The Crostata, a light and airy pastry, stuffed with pears and topped with Queen Creek Blood Orange Olive Oil gelato, was also heavenly.
The Executive Chef, Steve Zimmerman, has extensive experience in hospitality, and he was able to create this menu from the ground up. We chatted with him for a moment and you can tell that he has put his heart and soul into the menu items and they do things the right way. They make their flatbread from scratch, all their sauces are made fresh in house and it shows. Food made with this much love just tastes better.
Once you’ve experienced their fresh mix of flavors, the comfortable ambiance and excellent service, you’ll agree that it is another gem in Tempe’s treasure chest of great restaurants. I plan on making many return visits to try everything on the menu, which I forgot to mention also has some killer cocktail creations.
TRES is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m.to 11 p.m. For more information and to drool over the menu, visit http://trestempe.com/. To check out a full list of restaurants in Tempe, visit the Tempe Tourism Office website, www.tempetourism.com.