Scottsdale’s restaurant scene is literally booming. So much so that local residents who’ve lived in the area for years and years are still discovering new trendy spots to satisfy their taste buds. Before visiting the area, I didn’t think of Scottsdale as a “foodies” city, but boy was I wrong. Exceptionally, ridiculously, deliciously, wrong. We found each dish crafted to absolute perfection and so carefully executed I felt as if I was dining in a top New York City restaurant each night.
If you’re planning a few days of activities in Scottsdale (hot air ballooning and jeep tours are highly recommended), make sure you plan out your meals too! Here are some of my favorite places in the area in which I was lucky enough to try. Follow along for my top places on where to eat in Scottsdale – I promise you’ll never go hungry!
So, without further ado,
Where to Eat in Scottsdale, Arizona:
If you’re wondering where to eat in Scottsdale and staying at Hotel Valley Ho (if you’re not, get your butt over here), you’re in for a breakfast treat. Simple food made well is what the restaurant’s all about. They pride themselves on using fresh and local ingredients, and Food and Wine Magazine even named Executive Chef Charles Wiley as one of “America’s Ten Best New Chefs”! Make sure to order a frosty ho-j, a fun take on an orange creamsicle, and perfect with the red velvet waffle.
And, I heard the benedicts are worth the calories. Might not be the best choice if you plan to stick to your New Year’s resolution of healthy eating… but then again, the bacon is out of this world, so I say it’s worth it. Get the fruit parfait and you’re all good. We came here twice, we loved it so much (but then again, that over-sized cinnamon bun was calling my name).
Their tagline, “A sanctuary for tastebuds”, could not be more correct. Take one look at the eclectic menu and you’ll see flavors from all around the world, including miso ramen with crazy noodles, southern fried picnic chicken, and slow roasted pork pibil tacos. We honestly spent 20 minutes deciding what to order, as each dish was more different than the last. After much deliberation, we ultimately decided on a meat and cheese plate (I’m still talking about the tomato jelly) and the famous R&D Dinner “The Phoenix”, where we were able to choose 3 specials.
Make sure you order one of their famous classic cocktails (or two, or three…). My “Upton Girl”, a combination of hand muddled basil and blueberries, fresh lemon juice, vodka, and bubbles, was the perfect selection for this berry-loving girl!
We finished off with a platter of ricotta cheese donuts (#yum!) rolled in cinnamon sugar atop whipped cream and fresh berries. It was the perfect way to finish off our first day in Scottsdale. The Upton really knows how to satisfy my cravings!
The Upton boasts a colorful and lively outdoor patio and lounge (heat lamps included), as well as an intimate indoor seating area. A little hard to find, so make sure your GPS is on.
Arizona Food Tour: A Taste of Old Town Scottsdale
The following restaurants I sampled during the walking food and historical tour around the area. We spent the early afternoon sipping great wine and eating treats while listening to fascinating tales of the city. While we were only at each place for a short amount of time, I’d love a return visit to each!
The Rusty Spur Saloon
Here we tried a hash green chili slider, which was topped with roasted green chilis, cheese, and bacon. The restaurant used to be a bank back in the day, so the history here is quite impressive! The decor is quite interesting.. let’s keep it at that! 😉 Donate some money and tack it on the wall – everything goes to a children’s hospital in the area!
Our waitress described The Mission as a Peruvian style restaurant through a French lens (sounds fancy, right!) The place specializes in pork, so naturally, we had pork shoulder tacos with pineapple habanero glaze and roasted tomato salsa! It is a tequila house, and the blood orange margarita looked downright amazing. Since the chef is kind of a big deal in the area, this place gets PACKED, and it’d be wise to make a reservation ahead of time. 🙂
Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars
Ok, so not technically a restaurant, but here you can sample (and buy) the freshest olive oils around the world. Samples included surprising mixtures, like raspberry balsamic and low fat vanilla yogurt. In addition, we got an in-depth 10 minute explanation on some of the health benefits (loads of antioxidants included)! It’s always fun to learn something new (just be careful not to spill any oil on your shirt).
Grimaldi’s Coal Fired Pizza
When I first saw the sign as we rounded the corner, I instantly got excited (super, duper, unexplainably excited). Being from New York, I’ve been to the original location in Brooklyn, and I had NO CLUE they expanded to the South West! Made my entire day! Not many people know, but the reason the pizza tastes so remarkable in NY is all because of the water. If you’re headed here on the food tour, note you’ll be receiving a FULL large 1/2 cheese, 1/2 pepperoni pizza for every 4-5 people (aka COME HUNGRY!)
5th and Wine
This is the cutest place, and the best venue for a sangria toast, bruschetta, and some fried pickles! From the outside, it honestly looks like a no-thrills place, but trust me when I say the inside will surprise you! Pop art on the wall, comfy chairs and couches, and wide-open spaces make this spot ideal for fun gatherings or happy hour after work.
Chocolade Van Brugge
Liege waffles! Belgian chocolates! Speciality hot chocolate! We tried a sample of a liege waffle with speculoos. Just take a look in the counter and you’ll have difficulty picking out a piece or two. You’re probably wondering what makes a liege waffle special, and I didn’t know beforehand either. A liege waffle is a caramelized waffle made with a brioche dough (has three different rising periods, equaling fluffier dough). Yum.
Citizen Public House
It’s easy to see why Citizen Public House was deemed “Best New Restaurant in 2011” by local and national dining critics. This upscale establishment serves elevated “pub grub”, craft beers, and classic and contemporary cocktails. Our Highlands Drifter and Second Generation martini were top notch.
Everything we ordered (and we ordered a lot), was absolutely divine. A few dishes we tried included the chia seared tuna (with thai purple sticky rice, asparagus puree, and a fried leek and micro green salad), the char siu short rib tacos (with pickled red onion, carrot and watermelon relish, and roasted corn), and the burrata (with pickled grapes, red spinach, and noble bread).
Be sure not to miss the signature Original Chopped Salad – it has a Facebook page of it’s own – I’m dead serious. It’s a really unexpected combo of tastes, textures and flavors (think smoked salmon, couscous, dried corn, trail mix, tomatoes, and arugula), but it just works. I would come here for the salad alone, and I’m no salad girl by any means.
Dessert consisted of devil’s food chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, roasted white chocolate ice cream, and salted caramel sauce – the “Heart of Caramel” satisfied us until no end. Well, until we licked the plate clean.
I can’t say enough about this modern gastropub. It definitely exceeded all expectations.
Hula’s Modern Tiki
Looking for a fusion of Polynesian and American flavors? Head over to Hula’s Modern Tiki, probably the best place for lunch in all of Scottsdale. This modern, urban twist on the classic tiki restaurants of the ‘50s and ‘60s boasts an outdoor patio and extensive menu of tropical cocktails, quick bites, and full meals. I agree with Phoenix Magazine – it definitely is “Best of the Valley” – my tastebuds were screaming with happiness after every bite.
All the dishes we sampled were creamy and flavorful, with slight heat but not overpowering. If you want to recreate our experience, opt for the mango chicken caesar salad, the spicy thai chicken bowl, and the shrimp, pork, and south seas fish tacos. Between you and me, I wish I saved room for the coconut cream pie. I guess there’s always next time! Definitely a good deal for the money, the three of us shared 4 dishes (the portions are huge and we had tons of leftovers – whoops!) and the bill was less than $50!
La Hacienda, located at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, boasts vibrant flavors and Mexican ingredients, as well as over 240 varieties of tequila. However, if you’re looking for something a bit different to drink, make sure to order a snake bite flight. This unique take on well, life, features the three main spirits of Mexico (mezcal, tequila, and sotol) with a tomato-based chaser. Definitely not for the faint of heart. And just wait till you see what comes on the plate (the photo gives it away, but it’s even that much more thrilling in person). 😉
Enough about the drinks, now onto the food!
Here, you’ll savor classic Mexican recipes in exciting new ways, only using fresh and indigenous ingredients.
The first thing we noticed on the menu was the guacamole sampler (complete with three different pairings – bacon, spicy crab, and pomegranate), and I can honestly say we devoured the entire thing before we even took a sip of our drink. It was just THAT good. And of course we tried the lobster tacos – ridiculously delicious.
Next course – adobo grilled pacific halibut with Mexican quinoa and smoked-chile aioli! Each bite was more savory than the next (hello poblano cream!), all while being extremely light and flaky. Felt kind of healthy, which was a needed change after consuming far too many calories every meal prior.
If you still have room for dessert, order a platter of the cinnamon churros. These warm Mexican donuts are presented with chocolate sauce, cream cheese natilla, and cajetta for dipping, all which were extraordinary.
And how could I forget the flaming coffee? A show in and of itself, which tasted just as sinful as it looked. If we weren’t completely stuffed I would have finished off that plate like theres no tomorrow.
Definitely something to remember and quite impressive to say the least. Tough to beat since it’s dubbed the #1 Mexican restaurant in all of Arizona! Definitely helps that La Hacienda has teamed up with Chef Richard Sandoval, who is considered the “Father of Modern Mexican Cuisine”. Can’t beat that.
Just when we thought we had really seen it all in Scottsdale’s dining scene, Talevera’s menu really blew us out of the water. While sitting on lux velvety chairs right next to the firescape at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, we indulged in a five course meal, hand crafted by the chef himself.
First things first- the bread. I admit it’s kind of pathetic, but I had a dream about this satisfying carbohydrate the other night. This is no ordinary bread; more like a mini biscuit with sea salted butter, which made it even more divine.
Promise me you’ll order the beet plate, it was surprisingly delicious (I never had beets before…) and a feast for the eyes and belly (the plating was absolutely phenomenal). The ahi tuna tartare, complete with pine nuts, avocado, and radish was quite possibly the best I’ve ever had.
Talavera prides itself on unique streak and seafood pairings, and since we decided to go “healthy” tonight (after a week of obvious indulgences), we shared both the Chilean sea bass and the pan seared john dory fishes. Not only were the fish super flavorful, but the sides that accompanied them were just as good (potato ‘risotto’, artichoke, truffle gnocchi, and chanterelle mushrooms… yum)!
We finished off the meal with a double chocolate s’mores cake. Remarkably sinful. Let that sink in for a moment. This modern take on the classic steakhouse just cannot be missed.
So we ate a lot in Scottsdale. It was almost Christmas, what can I say?!
If you have any questions about where to eat in Scottsdale, feel free to contact me!