Carey is chef and general manager at TQLA

1840 S. Val Vista Drive, Mesa

(480) 813-8752 or

Q:Tell us about your restaurant.

DC:It originated in Houston and is an upscale casual dining restaurant that offers a Southwestern concept. We opened a year and a half ago and offer a menu that is 95 percent fresh. Our vegetables, spices and meats aren’t processed, and we avoid using frozen products when possible. Outside of fresh cuisines, we have 80 different types of tequila and even offer tequila on tap that comes out at 5 degrees. On Sundays we have a weekly brunch, with a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and a pumpkin seed-crusted French toast that you can’t find anywhere else.

Q: What are some things your restaurant is known for?

DC:Our Fajitas Famosa. They’re fresh and hot — (they) literally come out sizzling. For something unique, try our Pumpkin Seed Crusted Salmon with fried green tomatoes, green chile mashed potatoes and a side of our sweet pepper tequila lime butter sauce. For dessert, our ‘leches’ dessert — but unlike other restaurants we use four different milks: condensed, coconut, evaporated and whole milk.

Q: Where do you like to eat out?

DC:I do like making the drive to Yard House in Scottsdale. It has a great selection of ethnic foods. Plus, it has 150 beers on tap.

Q: What do you like on Yard House’s menu?

DC:Being a classically trained cook, I tend to be drawn to classic meals. But when I’m at Yard House I usually order their turkey burger. It’s completely fresh out of the kitchen and is never frozen, which I appreciate. It also has a really great flavor that I like.

Q: What else do you like about the place?

DC:The atmospherse feels fun, upbeat and relaxing. Since I’m a GM and chef at TQLA and know what it’s like to work on the other side of the counter, I appreciate really good service and food quality — which I receive at Yard House.

Q: Any other places you enjoy?

DC:Bacci, an Italian restaurant that is near Queen Creek. It has classic cuisines that I really tend to be drawn to, like their veal.

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