Disclosure: My stay and my meals at The Hermosa Inn was hosted. HOWEVER, as always ALL opinions are my own.
When I first moved to the Phoenix area the first thing my friend Lois said to me was, “you have to say at The Hermosa Inn.” And my Buick ambassador soulmate kept saying it to me, on every trip she came into town and we shared a meal. I didn’t really understand the importance of her statement because I had yet to be indoctrinated into the staycation culture that exists here.
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It’s a no-brainer that the 200+ resorts, inns, and hotels are popular for business travelers, spring training fans along with Midwestern and East Coasters trying to find some escape from snowmageddon, but I had yet the learn their power over locals.
But now spending my second summer in Phoenix, I absolutely get the charm of a staycation and I am on board! Lately, it has been 100 degrees as early as 9 or 10 am, and after a while no matter how nice your house is, you just go plain stir crazy staying inside! So getting out and getting into a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered.
So when my good friend [Doctor] Cacinda Maloney of Points & Travel, a 30+ year resident of Phoenix, went to Lon’s for her wedding anniversary this year I took notice. Other people had recommended that I try a drink or a meal at the Hermosa’s namesake bar and restaurant as well, but with Lois's voice in the back of my head and Cacinda’s choice for her special occasion, I knew I better get over to The Hermosa Inn soon.
So that is what I did. And boy am I glad. I left my old job on a Friday and was set to start my new job with a one week break in between, however, I was committed to travel to Billings for a project there, so in reality, I had 4 days, (a weekend and 2 days) to unwind before ramping back up on a new job. I could not think of a better time to have a little escape than The Hermosa Inn.
We started this version of our staycation AZ-style by taking in Lon’s famous weekend brunch. As I have mentioned many times, we are a bit picky when it comes to food so the bar is always high. From our very first bite of sizzling bacon (house-made peppered bacon served with Noble bread, maple syrup with a touch of late harvest vinegar) until the last bite of our dessert our second dinner the second night absolutely every meal was impeccable. I've never been one to think that hotel restaurants are a destination, but now that I've had a few meals at Lon's I am prepared to revise my thinking.
Chef Jeremy Pacheco is a 9th generation Arizonan who grew up on an actual farm. Farm-to-table isn't a thing or trend, it is real-life. I have run into few chefs that have had that magical touch where every single ingredient on the plate serves a purpose, is at its peak of perfection, and where every component, while subtle, completes the dish. The property is lovely, the rooms have that perfect Southwest hacienda charm, but the food, is where The Hermosa Inn slays.
Okay, enough geeking out. Let's talk about the food!
Weekend Brunch at Lon's
The whole point of a staycation retreat is to get away from the everyday routine of cooking, cleaning, and laundry. But you guys know me well, I was lured in by the food and the weekend brunch menu offered by Lon's was delightful. We placed our order and observed the room watching to see what was coming out of the kitchen. One thing after the other looked extraordinarily well plated. When a dish I didn't recognize came out, two ladies at the table next to ours leaned over and whispered, “those are the lemon ricotta pancakes” with a very knowing smile. It seemed there were a lot of local regulars who knew a good thing when they saw it. I had not seen pancakes as high as those which were served with a blueberry compote and Meyer lemon whipped cream, EXCEPT for those crazy Japanese ones. (If you Google Japanese fluffy pancakes you will know what I mean!). I was impressed.
I stay impressed as our dishes began to arrive. We had the afore-mentioned bacon, I know you see that monkey bread in that photo, we will get to that in a moment. As our main selection, we both ordered the shrimp & blue crab “Louie.” Now I know what you are thinking? A salad? You had a salad. Yes. I had a salad. I knew that over my 2-day stay I was going to drop serious carbs and calories so I wanted to be reasonable. Plus the waiter and the busser suggested it, so I went with it! And man am I glad I did. If you can have an other-worldly experience with a salad, I had it. The menu describes it as heirloom lettuce with hearts of palm, egg, tomato, and Blackstone dressing.
I say that description in no way indicates what I ate. Just the way the lettuce was dressed was indescribable. It could have been just lemon juice, but it tasted like more. The mixed herbs that were sprinkled in with the perfectly cooked shrimp and crab danced in my mouth the watermelon radish was delightful and the hearts of palm, oh those hearts of palm were so fresh – do you know how rare it is to get FRESH hearts of palm? Also, it is tomato season, but you'd never know it in Phoenix as you can't get a decent tomato to save your life. You know why? All the good ones are grown at Abby Lee and all the local chefs take them! You would have thought the tomatoes were gold the way Mr. Misadventures and I guarded them on our plate. They were my last bite and so worth it!
Okay, so you caught that monkey bread in the first photo? Not low carb, I know! That sort of snuck on the table compliments from the kitchen so I couldn't send it back and after one bite I did not want to. Truth be told (and I'm telling on him), Mr. Misadventures ate most of it, but I got a few bites in. Given our recent adventures in Brittany where pastries are insanely good, we were pleasantly surprised at this offering. The bread is actually much like a brioche and the caramel reminded so much so the salted caramel dessert from the Brittan coast (plus pecans) and the cream cheese frosting had a butter-like taste and consistency. The one thing I would do to change/improve (total personal opinion) is to hit it with sea salt to get the salted caramel/salted butter effect.
Lon's House a.k.a The Hermosa Inn
The actual inn is part of the original property of artist Lon Megargee. He drew and painted Arizona landscape, Native Americans, and cowboys and was known for his talent and his hospitality. He himself worked as a cowboy on his uncle's ranch so he knew the life and was also a firefighter and police officer in Phoenix. He bought 6 acres of land in the Paradise Valley area and built a home studio to work in which is now the site of Lon's restaurant. He kept adding to his home and eventually called it Casa Hermosa. Because he was such a great host, his guests stayed awhile and he transitioned his home into a guesthouse. After passing through hands over the years it became The Hermosa Inn and 43 casitas were added around the perimeter of the property making it the beautiful retreat it is today.
After brunch, we walked the grounds to check out the botanicals that were on site. Because of the winter rain we had, everything was green and lush (despite the heat) and there were tons of birds and hummingbirds.
We just could not get over the wildflowers!
There are discreet little sitting areas throughout the property which would be perfect for reading or drinking a glass of wine in the autumn or winter. There were also hammocks and lawn games dispersed throughout the grounds.
It was quite warm, 115-degrees, so I decided to enjoy the pool a bit while there was some shade over the water. I also enjoyed private cabanas a bit before I cried uncle and headed to our casita for some (air-conditioned) air!
We stayed in a Deluxe Casita and relished the space we had! If it had not been 1000-degrees outside we would have enjoyed the evening on the front porch with a glass of cool white wine. Mr. Misadventures loves a porch or terrace, but even he wouldn't risk sunstroke during these particularly hot days! Alas, we suffered in silence in our glorious room!
Don't I look tortured here?
I'm reading the life and history of Lon Megargee in a fascinating book that is left in the room. I had brought my own reading material but got sucked into this book! And of course, I'll never complain about a king-size bed.
This was the rest of the room:
I've got to come back in the winter to use that fireplace! We also had a beautiful bathroom. I particularly liked the bathtub and was dying to take a bath, but given the shortage of water in the summer (well actually all year, I do live in the desert after all) I couldn't bring myself to waste that much water.
That painting above the bathtub is a cowboy in a bathtub with his horse checking him out through the window – it is so perfect for the room and is a copy of the original one painted by Lon!
We spent a quiet afternoon in our casita and then moved onto the next highlight of our stay, dinner!
Dinner(s) at Lon's
Given the fact that my friend Cacinda is always globe-trotting all over the world, I rarely get to see her. So when I found out she was in town, I invited her and her husband to meet us for dinner at Lon's our first evening at The Hermosa Inn. She lives 10-minutes down the road and loves the restaurant so it was a perfect opportunity for the husbands to meet! [Please note that this meal was not hosted by The Hermosa Inn, although my dinner our second evening was.] We met for a pre-dinner drink at Lon's Last Drop bar next to the restaurant where they serve craft cocktails and Arizona beers. During the winter the bar extends onto the beautiful patio. The restaurant does too and I would have loved to have dined under the mesquite trees!
We sat down for dinner and decided we would all enjoy the chef's Taste of Summer menu which was 3 courses for $49 (very reasonable) and an added wine flight for $20, one glass with each course – I was very surprised given the location and the quality of the food. Our courses consisted of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. With a warm bread basket and housemade butters, it is plenty to eat!
Each couple ordered 2 out of the 3 available appetizers: more Abby Lee tomatoes served with pickled local peaches, black pepper feta, and a charred herb vinaigrette and cucumber gazpacho with Dungeness crab, marinated melon, in a piquillo pepper emulsion. Mr. Misadventures and I shared and enjoyed them both, everything tasted “fresh” and bright. For entrees, Cacinda and I both ordered the roasted Mary’s chicken breast (wood fire roasted!) with AZ cheddar mashed potatoes (I skipped these), broccolini, in a cippolini onion jus. While the [cave]men in the family ordered a smoked Duroc pork short rib with blue corn cheddar polenta, roasted corn, peppers, grilled pineapple, and barbacoa sauce. My chicken was straight-forward, cooked well, still moist, but without the cheddar mashed potatoes, it lacked something. My fault as you shouldn't mess with the chef's vision!
For desserts we each couple took the 2 available choices: a mango pineapple semifreddo with pina colada cream, shortbread crust, and crisp meringue and the key lime cheesecake with coconut sorbet, blueberry sauce, and a coconut-graham cracker crust. I didn't love either one, but I didn't hate them either. I just felt they did not have the sophistication that the rest of the meal had or possibly the balance of the ingredients was off. I felt like they needed a hit of acid or salt or something. The dessert course came with a new discovery and a new favorite drink. I had never had Moscato d’Asti and man, have I've been missing out. This Italian sparkling wine is subtle and sweet and amazing!
It was a lovely meal and I continued to be impressed with Lon's! The next night we basically repeated the process. The Taste of Summer menu is such a good deal, and the food is so well prepared it just felt like a no-brainer to do it again! I couldn't get enough of the Abby Lee tomatoes so we both did that as a starter. For our main course, we both decided to have the 3rd choice that we had not tried the evening before. It was served with sugar snap peas, local mushrooms, I’itoi onion pesto, and a lemon vinaigrette. From the moment I took my first bite I knew it was the best-prepared halibut I'd ever had. I even told our waiter that the preparation is how I expected my halibut meals in Alaska last year to be prepared, but sadly while they were good (how could they not be with halibut coming right out of the water?) they were over-cooked.
The snap peas were cooked to perfection – sweet with a, you guessed it, snap. I didn't know the type of mushrooms we had, they were new to me, but they were subtle and balanced (I forgot to write it down) and I had never had onion pesto, but would for Mr. Misadventures to figure out how to make it! We tried to beg off dessert as we were fully satisfied and had not loved them the previous evening, but our server would not hear of it. He understood we hadn't been fans and told us we had to try Lon’s signature candy bar with chili-spiced ganache, Marcona almonds, feuilletine, salted caramel sauce, Caramelia ice cream. We agreed to split one and I am so glad that we did as it was the perfect combo of salty, sweet, chocolate, and spice – get this if you visit!
Hacienda life and Cowboy Culture
We really enjoyed our stay at The Hermosa Inn and like most of our Staycation AZ projects and Arizona summer ventures, we know that they are even better in the fall and winter. We are mid-Century modern folk when it comes to our own home, but we love staying in adobes, casitas, and haciendas. The Spanish-style architecture is so beautiful and the property has plenty of details like fountains and wood-carved doors and cowboy culture. We felt like we were on a retreat away from home and that was the whole point of doing a staycation in the first place.
I would recommend The Hermosa Inn if you are coming to visit Phoenix, Scottsdale of Paradise Valley, it will feel like you are escaping into a retreat even if you choose to partake in any of the many things to do in the area, even in the summertime. You will return “home” every evening to a quiet place with exceptional food. With only 43 rooms that cater to adults-only, you will feel pampered, well-rested, and well-fed when you leave! [Don't forget to bring the following items with you on any trip to the region.] As for a staycation, if you live in the greater Phoenix or Tucson area – come check this place out – it is so convenient to shopping, coffee shops, and other restaurants, you can pop in and out (or note at all) and feel refreshed when you leave.
How about you? Have you been to The Hermosa Inn? Have I convinced you to visit? Do tell!
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