Monday, March 11, 2013

By Ellen Bell - Staff Writer

I've got this Spring Training thing down. Where to stay....where to sit at the game...where to wait for autographs...the basics.

But there is one aspect of the Spring Training experience that has eluded me all these years; where to eat.

When it comes to finding a great dining experience near Tempe Diablo Stadium, I've struck out more times than Mo Vaughn. No matter how I try, I usually end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, ordering the wrong thing.

Like the time when I the hotel concierge suggested that I take my ten year old son to a local sports bar and grill to watch some March Madness basketball. 

“It’s a great place,” he said. “Full of local color. You’ll love it.”

I should have known what I was in for when we pulled up to the Monkey Pants Bar and Grill and read the sign out front that said, “We've Got Crabs.” I will never forget that dinner. Neither will Tyler.

But It hasn't all been scary food and sketchy sports bars. I have a few favorites that I can recommend.

Riazzi’s Italian Garden
2700 S. Mill Ave
Tempe, AZ 85282

A classic Italian spot that is rumored to be a favorite of the Angels Manager. I didn't see Mike Scioscia when I was there, but a group of umpires were in the booth next to me getting their daily carb load. Get the veal.

Rustler’s Rooste 
8383 S. 48th St. 
Phoenix, AZ 85044

A beer,a brew and a view. What more could you want after a long afternoon of baseball?

How about live country music every night or an indoor slide that leads into the dining room for the kids? Rustler’s Rooste is a hop, skip and a cow pie toss from Tempe Diablo Stadium, and the great kids menu makes this a good option for families.

Monti’s La Casa Vieja
100 S. Mill
Tempe, AZ 85281

This classic steakhouse is perfect for those who like to mix dinner with local history. Located inside an old adobe hacienda, Monti’s has been a Tempe staple for over a century. Steak. Loaded Baked Potato. Don’t bother me. I’m eating. 

I’m also a fan of the old favorites like Don and Charlie’s and The Pink Pony in Scottsdale.

Even with these great options, I’m still searching for the perfect place that will hit it out of the gastronomical ballpark. Something with great food, fun atmosphere and a price point somewhere in between Ruth Chris Steakhouse and Whattaburger. 

So I throw it out to you, What’s your favorite Spring Training restaurant?
Love to hear what you think!

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