New Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, Noca deal, music at Cartwright

This is either good news or bad news for Scottsdale diners: Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles is opening a second location in the Albertsons shopping center at Scottsdale and Thomas roads.

It’s good news, of course, because anyone who’s visited the original location at Central Avenue and Yuma Street in south Phoenix knows how incredibly delicious the food is. Mmm, catfish, chicken gizzards, collard greens, grits and the cheesiest macaroni you’ve ever had.

But it’s bad news because deliciousness equals danger for our diets. Now it’ll be easier than ever to fill up on a meal like the ever-popular KK’s Number One combo of three pieces of fried chicken, two waffles, two cheese-covered eggs, onions and grits. Paired with a jar of Kool-Aid and followed by a slab of Sandy Sand’s Red Velvet cake, of course.

Larry “Lo-Lo” White anticipates an August opening. And White, the grandson of Elizabeth White of the legendary Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe at Eighth and Jefferson streets in Phoenix, promises the same stick-to-your-ribs Southern food – just more of it. He’s taking over a former Kyoto Bowl, which gives him nearly three times the space of his Phoenix restaurant.

Details: Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, 2765 N. Scottsdale Road.

Decadent deal

The response was amazing when James Beard Award-winner Nobuo Fukuda closed Sea Saw in June but quickly teamed up with Noca chef Chris Curtiss for a multicourse crudo dinner later that month.

The $78 event immediately sold out, with diners also happily offering up $35 for wine pairing plus $25 for supplemental dishes such as wild Japanese kinmedai (golden-eye snapper) with bacon miso.

So when Noca owner Eliot Wexler announced another dinner for July 30, what did he do to take advantage of his success? He lowered the price. The new meal will be $50, plus wine pairings for $20, and $20 for an optional supplemental crudo plate.

There are some changes – the first meal was six courses, while the July feast will be four. And the theme is fusion-Asian instead of all-crudo. Yet it’s still an impressive bargain.

“I priced this dinner at that level on purpose, since it’s important to me to let as many people that would like to experience the dinner series have the opportunity to do so,” Wexler said.

“Believe me, my servers looked at me like I was crazy when I told them the price, as we were totally packed last time, but that is not what Noca is about. We want to attract all kinds of diners for the series, and the energy in the room is best with diners from different walks of life all grooving to what we are doing.”

It shouldn’t be too difficult to groove to a lineup of dishes like soft shell crab over panko-fried rice noodles, sauteed johnnycake, creamed corn and nuoc mam; or oxtail with udon, five-spice braise, Vietnamese caramel sauce and broth.

Details: Noca, 3118 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. 602-956-6622,

A lavish lounge act

Cartwright’s owner Eric Flatt has listened to his customers, and now, he’s giving them something to listen to.

His new lounge opened last week, taking over part of the Cave Creek restaurant’s dining room and serving up live music Thursdays through Sundays.

“We kept hearing the same request,” Flatt said: ” ‘Where can we go up here for some great live music, jazz, R&B, soft rock or anything which is not country?’ ”

The music also had to be “not so loud you can’t talk to each other” and paired with “great drinks and great foodie lounge food.”

On the music side, local acts include the Joe Costello Jazz Experience, Groove Shoot and the Eric McCay Band.

On the eats side, chef Aaron Geister has put together what’s definitely not everyday bar fare. For one appetizer, he blends warm Brie, Boursin and feta, rolls it in phyllo with sun-dried fruit and nuts, dunks it in butter, bakes it in a cast-iron skillet and serves it with house-made fennel flatbread. Another dish of house-made garlic sausage of elk, beef and buffalo is broiled over mesquite wood, sliced and arranged with grilled green apples and chiles for dunking in a silky Boursin-mascarpone fondue.

Even a burger gets special, bringing 10 ounces of mesquite-grilled elk and buffalo topped with pepper Jack, Anaheim chiles, roasted tomatoes, house-made pickles, crispy onions and house-made ancho-chili ketchup.

The menu is huge, actually, ranging from Chicken Scratch (a trail mix of house-smoked almonds, cashews, candied pecans, peanuts, spicy sunflower seeds and dried tart cherries) to skillet-fried homemade potato chips dusted in gray salt, pink peppercorns and garlic to pan-roasted ahi and crab nachos with queso blanco and mango-jicama salsa.

For an uncommon nibble, there are also calf fries (aka “swinging steaks”).

“The testicles are fresh veal, so they are a lot smaller than the normal frozen ones you see in most restaurants,” Flatt said. “We crack the skin, pop the meat out, slice it in half and season it with Sonoran spices and bread it in crushed saltines and panko. They’re sauteed in butter until crisp and served with a house-made tangy barbecue sauce. You just can’t believe how many of these we are selling.”

On the cocktail side, the Cartwright crew is playing liquid chef with house-made infusions from fresh ingredients like Arizona watermelon, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries. The Hangman features fresh black cherries, sugar cube, Effen black cherry vodka and club soda, while the One Eyed Jack is a wacky refresher of smoked bacon-infused Jack Daniels, muddled orange zest and pure Vermont maple syrup.

The lounge opens nightly at 4:30 p.m.

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