I spend several months a year in this area and my experience with restaurants in the Old Town Scottsdale has not been good. Except maybe for The Mission, I found most of them touristy, noisy, overpriced, faded and lacking service. This is the reason I went to Pepin reluctantly: I expect a lot of the places where I eat and I am, most of the time, disappointed. But after reading about it in a local paper, I took a look at the Trip Advisor reviews and found them amazingly polarized: people either loved it or hated it. This clearly required a visit in person. On a sunny Saturday, after visiting the local Farmers Market, half a block away, we walked into Pepin around 12:30 (they are open for both lunch and diner, which is already a plus in my books). Seeing that we were the only customers almost made us turn back. But we were hungry and the place looked cozy with authentic Spanish touches, like the red clothes on the tables, contrasting nicely with the white chairs, the painted stucco on the walls, the decorations. We sat by the windows looking at the Park outside and were promptly given menus and asked for our drinks order. The menu took some time to study: it had authentic tapas, much like the ones I've had in the the Tapas bars in Barcelona and throughout Spain. It also had pork, which I love and which is rarely found in restaurants in the States.
From the Cold Appetizers we picked Pimentos con Queso de Cabra (house made roasted red peppers served on a bed of lettuce and accompanied by toasts sprinkled with excellent Spanish Olive oil and goat cheese). Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp sautéed in olive oil, wine and garlic) came from the Hot appetizers and were delicious. While waiting for the next course, we were brought some freshly baked rolls and a yummy dip consisting of olive oil, sour cream (I'm guessing), garlic and some herbs. The Gazpacho soup was served in a large bowl, like in Spain, and the salad Pepin was fresh, crispy and tasty. My lunch companion had some roasted pork tenderloin served with Spanish Rice and steamed vegetables and he gave it rave reviews. We could not attempt deserts after all this food and were disappointed to find out they did not offer espresso, but the lack of good coffee was the only minus. Prices were very reasonable (the whole feast for two came to $37, before drinks and tip) and I am sure we will try it again, next time in the evening, when they offer a Flamenco show.
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