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Need Scottsdale dinner recs please!

Greetings, I will be working at a conference at the Kierland all next week (Sun-Sat) and would love to get dinner recommendations for nearby good food (lunch/breakfast provided so we're covered for those meals). We are coming from San Francisco and are adventurous diners hoping to find local gems and regional specialties. We're more concerned with food quality than views or stunning grounds but will put up with anything if the food is worth it (even cramped space with fluorescent lighting, but it's got to be really good)!

We also are limited to $50 pp range for dinner, don't want to drive very far nor do we wish to dress up very much. This is an annual conference that we've been several times, and we loved Los Sombreros. and the Havana Cafe on our last visit.

I wanted to try these restaurants, but I'm not sure they fall within our budget:
See Saw
Cowboy Ciao
Zinc Bistro
Sol y Sombra.
Ocean something in Kierland

I've looked through the boards here and on yelp and would appreciate any feedback/opinions on these possible restaurants too:

Roaring Fork
San Carlos Bay Seafood
Barrio Cafe

Also, if there are any not to be missed dishes anywhere, we need to know about them! Thanks for any help.

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  1. My favorite restaurant in Kierland is The Greene House. The menu is very fresh and seasonal. I would definitely recommend over Zinc or Ocean Club. And if you go on Sunday, all bottles of wine are half price!! If the goat cheese ravioli are on the menu, they are a must-try!

    www.foxrc.com

    1. Well, you're in luck, none of those places call for any kind of dressing up! Business casual or resort wear serves you well at all but a few fine dining establishments in the Valley.

      I would bump Barrio Cafe to near the top of your list; it fits your budget and the food is excellent. There'll be a wait, maybe you want to try to go a little early or a lot late. Roaring Fork would be fantastic for a happy hour or a noshing kind of dinner; they are running summer specials, you're in luck! And Zinc Bistro should also be one of your first choices.

      Cowboy Ciao works with your budget but Sea Saw would be harder. It is amazing, though. Worth a stop to Kazimierz' World Wine Bar after, whichever you pick; it shares the cellar with both the restaurants and it's right around the corner.

      3 Replies
      1. re: themis

        You may want to call Sea Saw and see if their "Summer Special" is still available. We had lunch a Cowboy Ciao a few weeks back and in the bill holder there was a card about a prix fixe tasting menu Sun - Wed at Sea Saw. Thought it said $50/pp and that may have included wine.

        Bz

        1. re: Bazel

          I ate there a few weeks ago on a Sunday, and they did not offer me that price for the four course prix fixe. It was $90 before wine. I checked their website(s) and there's no mention of it, but that shouldn't surprise me -- they haven't touched their websites since 2006.

          1. re: themis

            Thanks for the feedback, I think we should try to squeeze Sea Saw into our budget either way, I'll be sure to check about the special summer prix fixe! Between Cowboy Ciao and Sea Saw, we should definitely be able to make a stop at the wine bar too...

      2. Ocean Club right by your hotel is great for seafood and a fun atmosphere
        La Hacienda at the Princess is the only 4 star mexican restaurant in the country
        Cowboy Ciao in Old Town has become my new favorite with a fun eclectic menu.
        Sol Y Sombra will fall in your budget as will Cowboy Ciao
        Greene House is very popular with my guests for the lighter more american menu
        Barrio Cafe is an INCREDIBLE mexican restaurant
        Olive and Ivy, the new hotspot known for its great medeterranian deli fare.

        and just an FYI, I get sick of people saying scottsdale this and scottsdale that, your precious scottsdale hotel is in Phoenix... hehe :)

        4 Replies
        1. re: AZBconcierge

          Just so ya know, the Westin Kierland is in fact in Scottsdale. I think that the one that many think is in Scottsdale but is in Phoenix is the JW Marriott Desert Ridge. I remember hearing that Deseo at the Kierland was amazing, but the last I heard that was at least two years ago, then they just kind of dropped off the radar.

          -----
          Deseo: Westin Kierland Resort and Spa
          6902 E Greenway Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            Actually, from Cactus to Jomax, the city line is Scottsdale Road itself, rendering everything on the west side of Scottsdale Road within Phoenix city limits, despite often having a Scottsdale mailing address.

            If you're really interested:

            ftp://phoenix.gov/pub/BNDMAPS/keymap.pdf

            Of course, the Westin uses this anomaly for marketing purposes, thinking that a Scottsdale assocation will be more prestigious. I'm often the one to point these things out in Scottsdale-associated threads, although I try to be gentle about it. If the resort identifies itself with Scottsdale, it's not reasonable to expect an out-of-town visitor to be aware of the technicalities of city boundaries.

            1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

              I believe AZBC is technically correct. That address lies outside of the Scottsdale city limits (the boundary at that "latitude" being at Scottsdale Rd--7200 East), despite having a "Scottsdale" ZIP Code. 85254 is one of those weird ZIP Codes that encompasses part of the "wrong city"--most of the area in 85254 lies within the city of Phx, but the post office is in Scottsdale.

              94608 is another example of this anomaly--even though the post office is Emeryville, CA, the ZIP Code itself actually encompasses a non-trivial part of Oakland too. If I put my old Oakland address into the Google mapping application using just the street name and number and ZIP Code, the app outputs the address as being in Emeryville.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIP_Code...

            2. re: AZBconcierge

              To be fair, it's the hotels that market themselves as being in Scottsdale.

            3. As long as restaurants as far away as Barrio and San Carlos Bay are in play, I'd like to put a plug in for Asi es La Vida/Such is Life. Though pricier than Barrio, the food at SiL is, in my opinion, at a higher level. Barrio has been quite good in the past (my last visit being disappointing), but never as good as SiL, I think. $50 pp might be tight, but I think if you watch the alcohol tab, you'll be OK.

              Also, I might recommend Lola for Spanish tapas. It's not stupendously amazing food, but to my mind, one of the best bangs for the buck Phx has to offer. Definitely can get a good meal (with wine and an after-dinner drink) for less than $50 pp.

              Another option down here in Central Phoenix is Trente-Cinq, which offers some high quality Belgian and Belgian-inspired cuisine. My only quibbles were their relatively meager beer selection (only 4 labels, none on tap on my last visit) and a server who seemed a bit inexperienced.

              some links (I hope):
              http://feastinginphoenix.com/?p=61
              http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dining/a...
              http://www.trentecinq.com/

              -----
              Lola
              800 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014

              Such Is Life
              3602 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

              Trente-Cinq
              2333 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

              4 Replies
              1. re: hohokam

                Trente Cinq is a chef owned neighborhood restaurant and very casual and reasonably priced. The chef starts cooking the lamb for lamb shank in the morning. It is that kind of place.

                Barrio café, and this goes against every other poster, is way overrated. Would be twice as nice at half the price. And wine by the glass is so over priced that it is offensive.

                See Saw is a great treat but $150 per person is more realistic. And with sushi restaurants like Kiss in SF where $60 buys a wonderful 6-course omakase not sure it is worth the splurge.

                Do try some of the lower end Mexican restaurants, e.g. El Bravo for green corn tamales, Rito’s for burros and Pepe’s Taco for babacoa de cabeza.

                1. re: au lait

                  hohokam, thanks for putting that in terms I understand (I used to live in Emeryville), I am geographically challenged to begin with... and speaking of which, is the Barrio cafe far from the Kierland?

                  And au lait, your comments about the cost of dining at See Saw makes me think we should skip it! We do have some very good Japanese food in the Bay Area (I agree about Kiss too). I am very interested in checking out Mexican restaurants in the southwest, so we may end up checking out the ones you mentioned so we can stretch out our eating budget! How's the lengua at Pepe's?

                  Thanks again for all the information!

                  1. re: foodhoe

                    Barrio is not exactly close distance-wise, but if freeway traffic is not too awful, you should be able to get there from the hotel in under 30 minutes--think of it like a weeknight trip from north Berkeley to the Ferry Building without that pesky toll plaza. ;-)

                2. Good opinions by all. Cowboy Ciao (try the chopped Stetson salad and the mushroom pan fry) and Sol y Sombra (everything is really good and all small plates so you can try a bunch of things) are great and likely within your budget if you don't drink too much. (I'll be at Sol y Sombra tonight). You might want to consider Deseo in your hotel. Great latin influenced food and pretty unique with lots of different ceviche starters. We ate there a few months ago, and everyone thought the food was great. Even if you don't eat there, stop into their lounge from 5:30 - 7:30 every night for the Westin wind down (or something like that). Cheap appetizers and major discounts on their signature fresh fruit mojitos. Good stuff.

                  Ocean Club is right by the hotel, but very pricey. Zinc Bistro is also right there and a favorite. Barrio Cafe and some of the Mexican places listed are fantastic, but you will have to drive a bit. You're hotel is actually somewhat centrally located (on the Scottsdale/Phoenix border), and the area is not difficult to figure out, so don't be afraid to drive a little. Another place you might consider is Richardson's on 16th St and Bethany Home Rd. New Mexican style food in a great little restaurant. Good luck.

                  Barry