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Phoenix/Scottsdale/Sedona - "can't miss" local eateries

Hi, I'm a NY/Boston chowhound who will be visiting the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Sedona area in the last week of August. My husband and I are of the opinion that good food doesn't have to be expensive. We're looking for some local eats that the AZ chowhounds would say are "Can't Misses". We love all sorts of cuisine - but given it's the SW, we'd love to experience some good southwestern, mexican, bbq, brazilian bbq (if you have any), and greek (we love a good freshly sliced gyro).. but really, anything goes. Sorry if there's been similar postings - i am having a hard time pinpointing recommendations since this board covers so many states.

I should also mention...we will travel for good food - so really, anything goes.. really!
And finally, we don't drink (expecting a baby).. so we'll need to skip the winebars and brewhouses.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. You've described such as massive swatch of territory that it's hard to know where to begin. Phoenix is 500+ square miles; add in Scottsdale and the other suburbs and we're at over 1,000 square miles. I know you've said you're willing to travel for a good meal, but with gas at $3 a gallon and air pollution and traffic always a concern here, it makes no sense to refer you to a place 30 miles across town if there's an equally good option near where you'll be. With that in mind, could you share a bit more about the resort or general area where you'll be staying?

    1 Reply
    1. re: silverbear

      Thanks silverbear - I'll be staying at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale (or rather, Phoenix, according to some other posts I've seen).

    2. Two spots come immediately to mind that have Phoenix written all over them.

      First is the Ranch Market at 16th Street and Roosevelt, about 25 minutes from your hotel. It's a giganitic Mexican grocery store with the best food court ever. Do a search here and you'll get loads of info.

      Second is Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico, even though you're in AZ, you can't go wrong here. The carne adovado is my very favorite dish on the menu at only $11 with rice and beans. This is not a divey Mexican restaurant, it's a dark, cozy place located in a strip mall...but don't be discouraged, it's great! In the same strip mall is the sister restaurant/bar called Dick's Hideaway. Exact same menu, but there's no signage on the door. Phoenix's very own lil' speakeasy. Located on the NW corner of 16th Street and Bethany Home, about 15-18 minutes from your hotel. Again, do a search and you'll be happy. Disregard any old comments about smoking, as smoking is not allowed in restaurants anymore.

      Enjoy and congrats on the babe to be!

      4 Replies
      1. re: geg5150

        You are very close to the Scottsdale Princess....La Hacienda is a 4 Star Mexican Restaurant.....it's a beautiful Restaurant w/ terrific food!

        La Hacienda
        7575 E Princess Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

        1. re: geg5150

          I was going to suggest Phoenix Ranch Market as well. Being a Maine native who spent lots of time in the Boston area during college, I can't think of anything remotely like PRM there. Be sure that your rental car has insurance, because the parking lot is a free-for-all. :) And be sure to try the horchata. It's awesome.

          1. re: geg5150

            Can you give me an idea of the price range for Richardson's? Thanks!

            1. re: carolinadawg

              Anywhere from about $10 to upwards of $30 for the fish specials and steaks. Since you're not drinking, I'd say you can easily get out of there for $50 with an appetizer and two entrees. Keep in mind that they're portions are really big, so you might want to share one app and one entree. One of my favorite apps is the "skewers" -- one skewer each of shrimp, sausage (homemade), steak and chicken with four dipping sauces, $14 or so.

              Another favorite that's not on the menu, but they'll make it for you is the tenderloin quesadilla, it's wonderful!

          2. It's been many years since I've been, but Rock Springs Cafe between Phoenix and Sedona serves some great homemade pie. It's right off the highway and worth a stop.

            3 Replies
            1. re: harrison

              Rock Springs changed ownership a year or two ago and the pie hasn't been the same the last couple times I tried. It's a fun place to stop between Phoenix and Sedona, though, so if the OP decides to stop there I'd be curious to hear what she thinks.

              1. re: ajs228

                Bummer. It was about 15 years ago when I was there. I'm planning a trip for next year and already have my 12 year old excited - he loves apple pie. I'll have to lower his expectations!

                1. re: harrison

                  Good idea! We thought the apple pie was awful. The place is fun to stop, there are a few gift shops and a small farmers market with honey, salsas and pistachios.

            2. There are a few Brazilian steakhouses in the area. Rio Sabor Brazil is just south of your hotel on Scottsdale Rd and Shea. Fogo E Brasa is WAY south. I think there might be another one, but I'm not sure.

              Fogo E Brasa
              4909 E Chandler Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85048

              Rio Brazialian Steakhouse
              10425 N Scottsdale Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

              1. My favorite Mexican food place in Phoenix, not far at all from Kierland, is Carolina's. Best tortillas in town.

                Carolina's Mexican North
                2126 E Cactus Rd Ste 100, Phoenix, AZ 85022

                1. Love Durant's in downtown Phoenix..classic old school steakhouse that is a favorite local hangout..
                  Sedona, I like the Cowboy Club dinner and for lunch, love the Yavapai Restaurant at the Enchantment Resort..stunning view and great food.
                  Jerome, Had an incredible lunch at the Asylum restaurant which is in the old Jerome Grand Hotel.
                  Phoenix, Love the Teepee for Mex.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    For a decidedly casual meal, there's a tiny hot dog stand just down from the firehouse in Jerome. Awesome dogs. When we went, my g/f wasn't hungry but I was, so I grabbed one. We went back to the car with it, but I forgot to get a drink, so I left it in the car while I got one. When I got back to the car, she'd eaten my whole hot dog. And she doesn't really LIKE them. So I grabbed another and kept it away from her. :)

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      I have to say I got a recommendation for the Asylum for lunch and was completely unimpressed. I did have a great dinner at the Cowboy Club though.

                      1. re: queencru

                        Jerome is limited in it's offerings....

                        We have always enjoyed Haunted Hamburger....

                        Have Heard the Red Rooster was good.....

                        and the Mile High Inn

                        Red Rooster Cafe
                        363 Main St, Cottonwood, AZ 86326

                        Mile High
                        309 Main St, Cottonwood, AZ 86326

                        1. re: ciaogal

                          We love the Mile High Cafe for lunch. My husband loves their burgers, and I can get a Southwestern Salad there. The Red Rooster was disappointing the last time we were there. There's also a new place called Grapes owned by the family that owns Nic's (great lasagne and steak) in Cottonwood, but we haven't tried that yet.

                    2. Thank you everyone.. I'm very excited to check out the Ranch Market .. actually planning to go to the Ranch Market straight from the airport to eat and also pick up some groceries since we have a kitchen...
                      I've also added a bunch of the other recommendations to our travel/eating plans.. please keep posting recommendations.. we have a week's worth of food to eat :)

                      any thoughts on breakfast local eats? i love a good hearty breakfast.. corned beef hash, fluffy pancakes.. that sort of thing..

                      You guys are great!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: patplh

                        3 magic words - matt's big breakfast. quality ingredients, simply prepared. depending on when you go there could be a wait. it's quicker than you think tho ;)


                        Matt's Big Breakfast
                        801 N 1st Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                        1. re: patplh

                          I'd recommend Harlow's for breakfast. We've always had great food there. The hash is a huge portion. Unfortunately I'm a dissenter on Matt's Big Breakfast. We went and were very unimpressed. Their menu seemed to be very limited as well. Palatte might be another place to try. We've been twice in the past weeks and had outstanding food both times.
                          JP Pancake is fairly close to your hotel as well. Awesome cinnamon French Toast.

                          J P Pancake
                          9619 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258

                          Harlow's Cafe
                          1021 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

                          606 N 4th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003

                          1. re: patplh

                            Don't miss the produce at the ranch market! It's great and CHEAP! 8 cukes for a dollar, 10 limes for a dollar. I bought a 20 lb watermelon for just about $2!

                            Since you have a fridge, definitely pick up fresh tortillas and cheese for cheese crisps! Great snacking!

                          2. You should absolutely go to the Fry Bread House. I also added a link to Tradiciones & Phoenix Ranch Market; Tradiciones is the full-service restaurant at the market with excellent food in a sit-down atmosphere. The food court will also blow your mind. You could probably eat Mexican/Southwestern food for every meal in Phoenix at a different, excellent place each time. Kai has also been mentioned as a mindblowing place which I have on my list for my next visit.

                            Even though I have spent a lot of time in Sedona, I did not eat much there and have not heard much about their restaurants. Best bet for Chow is in Phoenix.

                            Phoenix Ranch Market III
                            1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                            1602 E Roosevelt St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                            5594 W. Wildhorse Pass Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85226

                            Fry Bread House
                            4140 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                              I'd go out of my way to Sedona to eat at Cafe Elote, Jeff Smedstad's new place...Indeed, am planning a trip around it (oh yeah, and will visit friends in Phx too :-)) now....


                              1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                                I forgot about Fry Bread House. Definitely a must-hit. I hope you aren't watching your weight, though. :) Great stuff there.

                                1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                                  I do not know if they have pasties in Boston, but Tempe does. The Cornish Pasty Company makes a mean pasty and is something I rarely come across on my travels.

                                  Cornish Pasty Co
                                  960 W University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281

                                  1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                                    Cornish Pasty Co is a great rec. Went there on a recent visit to the area. Fun place, and excellent pasties unlike those you might come across anywhere else.

                                2. The original location of Carolina's (mentioned above) is at 12th St. and Mohave in South Phoenix. It's very close to the airport rental car center, making it a good place to eat just after arrival or before depature.

                                  As for gyros, Gyros Express is three miles south of Kierland near the intersection of Scottsdale and Shea. That area is also home to Sabuddy, an Israeli restaurant that serves shawarma (similar to gyros) and what I believe is the best felafel in town. There's also an outpost of Pita Jungle, a local chain with a Middle Eastern emphasis, nearby.

                                  Pita Jungle
                                  7366 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260

                                  Carolina's Mexican Food Restaurant
                                  1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

                                  6949 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

                                  Gyros Express
                                  7132 E Becker Ln, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: silverbear

                                    Oh, you can try Saba's on the SW corner of Tatum and Bell for good gyros and other mediterranean goodies.

                                    Saba's Mediterranean Cuisine
                                    4747 E Bell Rd Ste 5, Phoenix, AZ 85032

                                    1. re: ajs228

                                      went to phoenix last year with my wife. first time. we loved the spicy mexican at Los Dos Molinas. we would put it on our must list.

                                  2. We spent a month in Sedona this summer and ate out mostly at lunchtime. Our favorites were Cowboy Club, the more casual restaurant at the Enchantment Resort (wonderful views), Jeff Smedstad's Elote at King's Ransom motel (don't let the outside deter you, the food is great and very reasonably priced. Jeff was going over blueprints while we were there so I think they're probably planning to remodel.), the Asylum in Jerome, breakfast right beside the creek at L'Auberge, the Oak Creek Brewery at Los Abrigados, and the picnic at Banjo Bill campground north of Sedona along Oak Creek. Don't bother with the Junipine Resort or the Red Planet.

                                    1. Don't miss Farelli's Cinema Supper Club. It's an italian resturant inside of a movie theater. Make sure you call a them a little ahead of time, Iv'e had a hard time walking-in before. It is a little on the pricy side, but it's a lot less expencive than getting dinner and then going and seeing a movie. It's definatly a must if your staying the the Scottsdale area.

                                      Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club
                                      14202 N Scottsdale Rd # 114, Scottsdale, AZ

                                      1. Thanks again to everyone for responding.. i don't think we have enough days to visit all the places you've mentioned - but certainly will be about 5 pounds heavier when we leave :) Thanks again!

                                        1. Pischke's Paradise in Old Town Scottsdale is great for breakfasts. You might have to wait for a table - but you are in Arizona and it's sunny so who cares!!

                                          7217 East First St.
                                          Scottsdale, AZ 85251
                                          (480) 481-0067