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Too Many Choices in Scottsdale

Too many good choices and recommendations in Scottsdale. Will be in Scottsdale in June, staying at Sancutary. Can only go to three places to eat. $$'s are no object. What are your top 3....

Dan in Detroit

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  1. My top three choices would be:

    1. Cowboy Ciao. (Southwestern Cuisine) - A board favorite. www.cowboyciao.com

    2. Voltaire (French) - My personal favorite. Old world French in a wonderful setting. www.voltairerestaurant.com

    3. Since you are at the Sanctuary, go to elements right there on site. Get a cocktail and watch the desert sunset and then have dinner at elements.

    Welcome to Phoenix!

    1. 1) T. Cooks (not actually Scottsdale, but neither is Sanctuary) http://www.royalpalmshotel.com/phoeni...

      2) See Saw, 7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale AZ

      3) Voltaire http://www.voltairerestaurant.com/

      Now, my confession. I've never been to any of them, but, they're on the top of my list when I'm up for a splurge.

      3 Replies
      1. re: johnseberg

        I'm second-guessing my T. Cooks choice, given you're from Detroit, and probably have a lot of Mediterranean choices at home.

        1. re: johnseberg

          My out of town guests always best remember the not-so-hound fantastic but unique to AZ places like Pinnacle Patio, Greasewood Flats, Tortilla Flats, etc. Likewise I always swing them by Sanctuary for a cocktail. You simply can't duplicate those environs anyplace else.

          1. re: johnseberg

            I travel to Detroit occasionally since I have family there. There are certainly lots of Middle Eastern and Greek restaurants there, but I can't think of anything quite like T. Cook's. T. Cook's is uniquely excellent and, I believe, a fine recommendation regardless of the OP's point of origin.

          1. re: Molto E

            for money no object, i'd agree 1000% with molto.

            i've only been to 2 of the 3 though and the 3rd is 1st on our list of fine dining places.

            sea saw is incredible. if money was no object, that would be our first choice every time. you would be doing well to check the website http://seasaw.net/ and click events. the uber omakase is it. nobu just won his james beard award a few weeks ago.

            binkley's is our other huge favorite. he'll have his beard award soon i'm guessing as well. he & his wife own it. they worked at the mobil 5 star restaurant the inn in washington, dc and then kevin worked at the 5 star french laundry after that. the food is amazing. the amuses are brilliant. to give you an idea of the philosophy there, you can order off the menu or your choice of a 4, 5 or 6 course tasting menu. where you normally have a fixed tasting menu and everybody has to have it, you pick every item on your menu and they also encourage everyone to have their own selection. i love the freedom they give and they pull it off incredibly well. not having big $$, we feel this is the best value in the valley. sea saw can hurt though it's totally worth it.

            kai is the other place we've been wanting to go. the reviews are incredible. it sounds like it is a wonderful experience.

          2. So, I'm going to vary a little.

            1. elements, the view is great and so is the food. Some one just did a review a few days ago, check it out. Drink all you want and you don't have to worry about driving back to your hotel.

            2. Coupe de Tartes. It's a BYOB place right in central Phoenix, maybe 10 minutes from your hotel. Super romantic...oh, maybe that's not what your looking for, but if you are, it's a great choice. Start out by going to Sportsman's for your wine, then head to CdT. The onion tarte app is amazing.

            3. Richardson's of New Mexico. Not fancy at all, laid back, but a total Phoenix experience. Again, in central Phoenix, 10 mins from your hotel. The carne adovado is wonderful and so is the chile cowboy steak. They mix a mean cocktail and have a good wine selection too. It shouldn't be too busy, since it's off season, but you may have to wait a little since they don't take reservations.

            Enjoy your stay!

            1 Reply
            1. re: geg5150

              I will second the rec for Richardson's. You won't find anything like it back home.

              Hi geg!! Hope the new home is treating you well.

            2. I like the recommendations above and will add an endorsement of Tarbell's -- on the east side of Phoenix and within five miles of your hotel in Paradise Valley.


              1. Lots of good recommendations I read so far. I would go with Sea Saw, Binkleys, and Pizzeria Bianco. If you don't want to deal with the wait at Bianco, definitely get a sandwich at their lunch place, Pane Bianco.

                For somewhere "southwesty" I would recommend visiting the Ranch Supermarket and food court for lunch - that has plenty of atmosphere and is dirt cheap too. For a fancy dinner try Roaring Fork or T Cook's. For somewhat more casual the Roaring Fork bar food is awesome, or try Los Sombreros.

                A word about Sea Saw - if you're going all out then try to get the "special" omokase. The regular tasting menu is also good and if it is your first time there you will certainly like it, but the special omokase is the best because it is whatever is freshest and most interesting, sometimes some pretty exotic stuff. The problem is getting the special tasting menu. You have to call ahead at least a few days, and you have to make sure you get the right people on the phone. During the day the staff at Cowboy Ciaou answer the phone for Sea Saw and they have no idea about the omokase. So the best thing is to call after 5 and speak to Chantal or Nobu. I am speaking from experience, having had my request not passed on properly to Sea Saw and being very disappointed when I got there. Anyway, this place is that good that I'm willing to jump through these little hoops to get the food.

                One more thing about Sea Saw - they like to do wine pairings with the tasting menus. If you're really into wine I'm sure you'll love it, but for us it always ends up being too much wine and too many variations. Distracts me from the food and I also get too drunk! So I recommend just ordering what you want from the HUGE wine list and skipping their pairings...

                Hope that helps...

                3 Replies
                1. re: rbloom

                  You had lots of good recommendatios...nothing new here.

                  For local and great but lower cost/casual or more regional:
                  Cowboy Ciao

                  * Pizzeria Bianco* but the customer service issues (parking and wait) personally surpass my tolerance level when there are other choices in town

                  Finer Dining or perhaps Resort Dining (all great!):
                  Sea Saw

                  And then, if those don't work:
                  Barrio Cafe (fairly casual)
                  Mariscos Playa Hermosa (casual)
                  Roaring Fork
                  La Locanda (northern Italian, love the owner and the squid-ink pasta)

                  I know, I know, too many choices!!!

                  But if someone handed me $300 tomorrow I would go to Binkley's, Kai or Sea Saw, hand me $250 and it would be Durant's or Tarbell's and Cowboy Ciao. The rest are all great, but for me that's how they stack up.

                  1. re: HomeCookKirsten

                    this is a great list kirsten. if you added some cheap dives to it, it could be the start of a ch best of az. : )

                    i know winedubar would second rito's (love rito's). maybe throw fry bread house on there. maybe da vang. maybe cyclo. still have to try el nopalito per seth. one other one that we need to go to that's been consistently lauded here is marcellino's.

                  2. re: rbloom

                    good call, rbloom. that's happened to me too at sea saw & i specifically asked that the message be conveyed to nobu or chantal. talk to nobu or chantal.

                  3. You're right - too many choices!

                    My vote would be for:
                    Cowboy Ciao
                    Sea Say (think it is still next door, but will be moving)
                    T Cook's
                    and finally elements @ The Sanctuary

                    I've not done Voltaire, though I promised Seth, that I would. His reviews certainly made it sound great.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Well, I have had several people go to Voltaire on my recommendation and no complaints yet, Hunt, but you are much more versed in the food (and wine) world than I am, so I am only hoping it impresses you on at least some level.

                      /crosses fingers

                      1. re: Seth Chadwick

                        i love voltaire too seth. we live nearby so it seems like a neighborhood spot so maybe that bumps it up a bit for us but i'm happy to go there anytime.

                    2. i'd add rancho pinot to the list of recommendations..great restaurant, locally sourced produced, great wine lists, the whole package :)


                      1. Thank you everyone, that is great feedback. We are going with:
                        - Elements - Thursday
                        - Cowboy Ciao - Friday
                        - either Voltaire, Binkley's, or Sea Saw - Saturday, it depends on what the "boss" wants to do. We spent 2 years in Tokyo so Voltaire or Binkley's may win out.

                        Thanks again!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: dkowal

                          just so you don't have the wrong idea of sea saw, it's not straight japanese food if that matters at all.

                          ox tail, foie gras, lamb, etc. sashimi dishes like cured salmon, basil oil/balsamic reduction, pecorino romano, toasted almond; grilled octopus, house made mozarella, assorted organic tomatoes, wasabi aioli; etc.

                          that being said, we also really like voltaire and love binkley's.

                          1. re: dkowal

                            Good choices, but do not sell Sea Saw short. It is much, much more, than we may have portraied.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              forget tarbell's and a bunch of the others Must got to Marcellino's best northern italian food ever. www.fiverstaritalian.com also they always have 4-5 specials all the pasta is handmade. Delicious!!

                          2. I highly recommend Methode Bistro. http://www.methodebistro.net
                            It's located where Restaurant Hapa used to be (the place where Sea Saw's chef Nobu got started).Original, excellent food. French influence, but very unique.

                            Sea Saw - just awesome. My wife and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary there. We sat at the bar and enjoyed the Omakase. 2 years later I still remember every dish.

                            T-Cooks is highly overrated IMO. The food is not that great, not original at all - straight forward mediterranean cuisine, no surprises. Worst of all, my foie gras was burnt. You really pay for service & location (the Royal Palms resort is indeed very pretty). Their desserts are really grat though.

                            Cowboy Chow - I wasn't impressed, but went only once. Can't even really remember what I had. All I can recall is that my friends were all excited about their chopped salad, one of their "signature" dishes. To me it was as described, chopped vegetables. No more, no less. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt though, maybe I just had a bad day.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: slegay

                              slegay...I second Methode Bistro...it's one of Scottsdale's Hidden Gems....
                              It's wonderful!

                              1. re: ciaogal

                                I agree with TCooks not being great a all and cowboy ciao is ok just had the chopp salad once but haven't been there in 8 years.