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Need Restaurant Recommendations for a New Yorker in Scottsdale for an extended weekend

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Hello. DH and I will be in Scottsdale in early February staying at the Hyatt for an extended weekend. We're trying to eat in places that New York does not really specialize in, as in Southwest cuisine.

Doing research, it seems that Cowboy Ciao and Roaring Fork are two board favorites. We were thinking of those two restaurants for dinner. It seems that we must make it to Phoenix Ranch Market for lunch. Kazbar sounds interesting as well. Do you have any other recommendations?

In addition, I will be meeting my friend and her four children here as well for either dinner or lunch. Her children range from 4 years to 16 years old. I was thinking of an inexpensive to moderate Mexican restaurant. I think that Phoenix Ranch may be too chaotic. How is Chino Bandido? Arriba Mexican Grill? Los sombreros?

I appreciate any suggestions you may have. Thank you!

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  1. Phoenix Ranch Market now features a full-service restaurant called Tradiciones. It might be a good choice for the meal with the kids.

    1. I find Arribas to be overrated. Since you'll have four kids with you at your Mexican dinner, how about El Encanto in Cave Creek? Some think the food is medicore, although my husband and I like it....but the ambiance is great. there's a pond in the middle of it, with ducks, geese and large turtles, which is highly entertaining for kids, and would keep them occupied enough so that the adults could actually have a conversation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: orangetravelcat

        I agree about Arribas. I bet they were great a few years ago.

        El Encanto is a great place for kids. Even the 16 year old will enjoy it. And, yeah, I guess the food isn't stellar, but it's pretty good. Last time I went I had the spinach enchilada and it was nice. I think when you have kids with you it's cool to think of a place they would enjoy more than having an ultimate dining experience.

        Plus walking around Cave Creek is fun. A tourist trap, yes, but kind of fun.

      2. try "jalapeno inferno " in north scottsdale around pinnacle peak area for the BEST sonoran mexican, upscale , outdoor seating

        1. I'd like to report back on my trip. Unfortunately, due to illness, my meals were severely curtailed. I did end up eating at Phoenix Ranch which was very good. Ordered the combo platter of chicken enchilada with green tomatillo sauce and pork tamale served with rice and refried beans. The pork tamale was incredibly moist and full of flavor. I also enjoyed the bright fresh sauce on the enchilada. DH ordered chicken enchilada in mole sauce which was too heavy on the chocolate. Mole is supposed to have a little bit of chocolate, not to the point you can actually taste the chocolate bar. We also shared the appetizer platter which was good, but full of deep-fried items (just not my thing). The ambiance was quite festive. Portions were too ample -- I have no idea how people can walk away from that restaurant with no leftovers!

          Had some small plates at Cowboy Ciao. While good, I thought it was too heavy with not enough finesse. I felt that the dishes sounded better in theory than they really were. We shared the abs of squeal, louisane gratin, seared scallops and beet risotto, mini-mushroom pan-fry. I was disappointed that the mini-mushroom pan-fry was composed mostly of button mushrooms. The polenta squares weren't enough to sop up the rich yet tasty sauce. I wanted something like bread. The gratin was way too salty. The abs of squeal were good, but my favorite was the slaw -- I needed something vibrant to perk up my palate after all that heavy cream in the dishes. I really did enjoy the scallops with beet risotto. The risotto was very tasty, though I thought the goat cheese sauce was overkill. We also shared the bread pudding with the famous bacon brittle. When I first tasted the bacon brittle by itself, I wasn't too crazy about it. But I then had it with the ice cream and bread pudding and thought it was fantastic. It just lent a hint of saltiness to the entire dish. Unfornately, we were too full to finish our dessert.

          We also at at Vu, the restaurant located at our hotel. The meal was fine -- we shared the red king crab appetizer and a diver scallop appetizer. We were a little bit surprised to see one diver scallop and the crab being the same size as the one diver scallop. They were pretty good, but at $16 appetizer we expected a bit more. Our mains were the hawaiian moi and I believe a squab dish. Very well prepared. But the surprise was the dessert -- it was definitely the highlight of my Scottsdale trip. Actually, I have never tasted anything like it, and was so enamoured with this dish. It was eucalyptus creme brulee with port sorbet and smoked gouda cheese. It was absolutely sublime. The gouda added such a complexity to this dish. It may sound strange, but the flavors definitely work together. I wish I could find something like this in New York.

          1. Even though you are not looking for a New York style experience you should not miss the food at Vu in your hotel. You will be very impressed with some of the finest food in Scottsdale. The "southwest" food tag is highly overrated here and you can do a lot better expenading your search to places like Vu, Binkley'sand See Saw.

            1. Actually, as a native NY'r, i have to say that you should balance your decision not only on food, but atmosphere, and that might help you decide, because as you can see, you're not lacking for choices.

              But perhaps one of the things I always note when i'm in NYC is how crowded everything is, how intimate the spaces are, and how loud most places are, just due to lack of space and views.

              For that reason, I would recommend someplace with spectacular views as well as food. I'm sure a number of people on here can recommend.