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Best Al Fresco in Phoenix area

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Hi to all the AZ/southwest Hounds! Boyfriend and I will be in Phoenix this weekend, wish us luck as it's our first time traveling together. :) Being San Francisco Hounds, we appreciate excellent food, but we also only get to dine al fresco once or twice a year (example: it was 54 degrees and foggy-windy here last night.) We'd love and appreciate any recommendations on where to have a great dinner or two while being able to enjoy it outdoors. Any and all input would help tremendously. Thanks in advance!

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  1. weeeeeeeel, its going to be around 110 degrees, are you sure you want to sit outside???

    1. I've got to agree. July and August are the months when it stays hot all day and all night. At dinner time, it's still likely to be over 100 degrees outside. It's not like June when temperatures cool off at night.

      If you still want to eat outside, it might benefit you to choose a place with mist cooling outside. Caffe Boa in Downtown Tempe has a nice patio with mist cooling.

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      Caffe Boa
      398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

      3 Replies
      1. re: silverbear

        Ruh roh..... I had no idea it would still be over 100 at night. But it's a dry heat, right? ;) In your opinion(s), would it be overly uncomfortable to really enjoy an outdoor meal? I'll defer to your expertise...

        1. re: adroit_minx

          Actually not so dry this time of year either...we had a good monsoon storm last night so plenty moist! The good news is that the forecast for the weekend is actually in the low 100s...but...it will probably be a bit humid. You might get some good storm watching in though.

          That said....if you head up to the very very north part of the Valley (cave creek, carefree) it is higher elevation there and the nights are a bit cooler. My tennis league plays a few clubs up in that part of town and it decidedly more comfortable when we play up there at night during the summer then down here in the center of town. But still....this time of year will be hot at night. The sun being set and a mister does make a difference. But coming from the Bay Area you will likely find it hot even when we locals might venture out. I'm not to familiar with the choices up at that end of town for outdoor dining other than Greasewood Flats which is very casual(fun spot for a burger) I don't recall if they have misters.

          My guess is you'll find it uncomfortably warm to eat out. Fortunately there are plenty of places you can pick from where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery from inside and then late at night try taking an after dinner stroll. Some places that pop to mind are the elements at the Sanctuary resort and Kai at the Sheraton Gila River.

          Enjoy your visit!

          1. re: adroit_minx

            At this time of year, it's monsoon season with higher than normal humidity and evening storms. That's why the temperature doesn't drop as much as it does at other times of year.

            I think eating outside would be acceptable only if on a covered patio with mist cooling. The covered patio would be necessary to protect you if there's a sudden storm, and the mist cooling would be necessary to keep you cool. Caffe Boa meets those criteria, and so might Christopher's Fermier Brasserie at Biltmore Fashion Park. Since most restaurants are not terribly crowded at this time of year (Tourists and seasonal residents aren't here.), you could probably choose to eat inside or outside when you arrive at the restaurant.

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            Christophers Fermier Brasserie
            2584 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

        2. What part of the valley will you be in? That will help.

          4 Replies
          1. re: mamamia

            We'll be staying right around the Phoenix/Tempe border, so almost anything in Tempe and Scottsdale could be considered close. I'd also like to extend a blanket THANK YOU for all the great tips so far. Hounds rock.

            1. re: adroit_minx

              I'm from Maine and have been in PHX for three years now. I've become mostly used to the heat, and eating outside is still too much for me this time of year. We visited San Diego a couple weeks ago and forgot how much fun it was to enjoy a nice dinner outside. The ocean view didn't hurt, either. :)
              One problem with the misters is that this time of year, if it's really humid, the dining area can become very wet. We ate at a place two summers ago and it felt like we were being rained on. Other times the mist will almost become a fog bank since it just floats all the way to the floor. Other than the heat, you'll probably feel right at home. :)

              1. re: adroit_minx

                I'd skip the al fresco and just go to Cowboy Ciao in Old Town Scottsdale. Is that wrong of me?

                You won't be disappointed, and the thought of eating outside will be irrevlevant at that point.

                :)

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                Cowboy Ciao
                7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                1. re: mamamia

                  i'd either go to cowboy ciao or rancho pinot. local favs, to be sure..and it won't be a billion degree's out ;)

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                  Rancho Pinot
                  6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

            2. I've got to agree that it might be a little hot if you're not used to it, but this might help you pick a good spot - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/391467

              1. I sat outside playing cards with ice cold drinks for about a 1/2 hour last night around 11:00 (after the storm) and it was barely tolerable. But really for dinner, it's best indoors. I can think of two things, though.
                1) I normally wouldn't suggest a chain place, but the Yard House in Scottsdale (say what you want about it) has a very well cooled patio and is actually a nice place to sit outside and have a beer in the summer. The food is nothing special, but it's fine, and I find it a relief this time of year.
                2) You could eat in or by the pool. If you keep yourself wet, the weather feels okay. It won't work quite as well, now that the humidity is up and you'll have to watch for storms.
                It's funny; I actually love the cold Bay air and always eat outside when I'm in SF!

                7 Replies
                1. re: don giovanni

                  I am finding that many restaurants have their patios closed this time of year.....due to monsoons / heat/and lack of patrons....as it is not peak season.

                  Don Giovanni.....Dinner 'in' the pool sounds divine!

                  1. re: ciaogal

                    I'll have to agree with don g. and ciaogal, "in-pool dining" does sound pretty awesome. :) I can see it now, a floating table anchored by some stones so it doesn't drift off. Are there actually any establishments that will serve diners in their pool? Might be a market for that out there, who knows... If so, I'm IN.

                    I guess it would be all fun and games until the lightning start...

                    1. re: adroit_minx

                      Not to be the bearer of bad news, but food within the pool or pool enclosure is forbidden by Maricopa County Environmental Health Code, Chapter 6, Regulation 8. But hey, I'm all for "in-pool dining". :)

                      1. re: azhotdish

                        Thanks for the county code info. :) Looks like we'll have to hit up a private residence for a pool dinner. Sounds like a great idea for a party, though.

                        1. re: azhotdish

                          Serious? What about the resorts that serve food in the pool areas? I thought the rule was just no glass. I guess I'm in perpetual violation of Chapter 6, Regulation 8 then. Don't tell on me.
                          The pool at my complex has an area that's really shallow, so we just take the patio furniture in there with us. Yes, it's a lot of fun!

                          1. re: don giovanni

                            Yes, I'm serious, as my condo complex of which I'm an owner recently posted these regulations near the pool. After some discussion and reading through the regulation, our "semi-private" pool certainly falls within that regulation. We have a cabana area with a grill, which is exempt from the rule (although it's within the gated area). It's crazy, I know, but it's on the books.

                            1. re: don giovanni

                              Any chance for quick directions from the Phoenix/Tempe border to your complex? I'll bring lots of wine.... ;)

                    2. To the OP, there are a couple good options for 'al fresco' in Tempe.

                      Four Peaks Brewery - do a search on "Four Peaks" on this board and you'll find recs on what to order, beers, etc. It's more than just a brewery - they have a very solid menu, and the patio is quite large (and busy) with plenty of misters. Definitely check out their happy hour, $2.75 pints 3-7 and 10-close.
                      http://www.fourpeaks.com/

                      Also, House of Tricks has a large patio, although I'm not too sure what the mister situation is. I haven't been for a while, but their patio is under a bunch of trees and should be a little bit cooler than some other patios around town. It's worth a drive-by anyway if you're in the area.
                      http://www.houseoftricks.com/

                      I also recommend Caffe Boa on Mill which has already been mentioned.

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                      Four Peaks Brewing Co
                      1340 E 8th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: azhotdish

                        House of Tricks

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                        House of Tricks
                        114 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

                        1. re: azhotdish

                          I will attest that Four Peaks does a good job with the misters. And even if you eat inside, much of the seating is still open to the outside. It can be a bit warm in the heat of the day, but as the sun sets, it's comfortable there.

                          Oregano's doesn't get a lot of love on this board (I enjoy them, myself), but they have a high mister-to-customer ratio at their Tempe location.

                          1. re: azhotdish

                            Yes, Four Peaks is a good idea.

                            1. re: don giovanni

                              Even if you eat inside, you might enjoy grabbing a few drinks afterwards outdoors -- especially since the sun will have gone down. If you're up for a few pricey drinks, I'd suggest driving to the Jade Bar at the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (resort). It's adjacent to the restaurant there, Elements. The bar is very small, they have some excellent unusual drinks (I like the tarragon margarita) and there's a small outdoor patio with a lovely view of the city. That way you can be outside for a bit and then come in if it gets too hot.
                              Even if it ends up storming that night and you can't go outside, you'll still get awesome scenery.

                              -----
                              Elements
                              5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253