Restaurant recommendations in Scottsdale and surrounding area
I'll be staying with my family in Scottsdale for a week in January. I'm looking for some restaurant recommendations for our time there. We are looking to spend somewhere around or up to $50 or so a person (if it is worth it we'll spend more)...we're staying at the Four Seasons but are willing to drive for something worth its minutes in the car - really excellent food is of primary concern. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
"more than a decade behind the coasts in cuisine" -- This might have mattered when I was just out of college and wanted to avoid being upstaged by classmates who had settled in allegedly more sophisticated cities in the Northeast, but these days I'm a proud denizen of flyover country. Not every trend needs to be followed. Thankfully, some of the sillier ones fizzle out before they get here, and I'm grateful for that.
As for Tarbell's -- He was indeed the winner in a triumph over Cat Cora. I've never been disappointed in a meal at Tarbell's, but it is a long, long drive from the Four Seasons, which is very remotely situated. For sheer proximity, the restaurants identified by Seth and Barry are probably best bets. If you want regional specialties such as Mexican or Southwestern, it may be necessary to head into more central parts of Scottsdale and Phoenix.
Sucorius -- any cuisine preferences?
Well stated Silverbear. I've lived in Scottsdale for nearly 30 years and I've traveled the world and eaten at some of the "best" restaurants the world has to offer.....including those on both coasts and throughout the world. I'm far less interested in keeping up with the coasts these days and have often felt that some of the places acclaimed as "the best" elsewhere were completely over-inflated and over-hyped. Binkley's is among the best ANYwhere. Call me "unsophisticated" or "geo-centric", but I don't view New York as the cutting edge of cuisine any more and I think people need to get over the notion of the east and west coasts being the cultural and culinary centers of the universe!
I second Sol y Sombra for Spanish tapas with some "Scottsdale" mixed in. We've always enjoyed our meals there. Mosaic is next to the Four Seasons and we've also found it to be very good. The price may be over your budget, and if you're going to blow the budget, I would absolutely recommend Binkley's over just about anything else. I hope you enjoy your trip.
Sol y Sombra
Closed, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
10600 E Jomax Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85262
I think Tarbell's is really good but a bit of a drive from North Scottsdale. There is a Spanish restaurant called Sol y Sombra that is just minutes from your hotel, the food is fantastic. $50 a person is about right as long as you don't go overboard on the wine (which is easy to do, they have a great wine list).
The Four Seasons is pretty well north. You have to take that into consideration, as many parts of Scottdale can turn out to be a longer drive than you would like. We just got back from 7 days in Scottsdale, and I have to say, I was incredibly disappointed in the food. I did some homework, including on this board, and we did not have even one good meal. Many of the restaurants were more than a decade behind the coasts in cuisine. Who the heck still puts salty, cheesey mashed pototatoes over a variety of under-cooked vegetables with grilled protein on top and a sprig of rosemary sticking up? It looked like a culinary school project circa 1980 that you can now find only in bad banquet hotels.
Tarbell's - I guess this guy guested on Iron Chef. I assume he lost. Nothing I ate that night was made that day. A wedge of his famous (?) apple (?) stuffing was so tried out it crumbled. The "double cut" pork chop was big. That's it. Just big. An artisenal chop properly cooked would have been a lot more welcome.
Cowboy Caio - Unedible. Literally...could not eat it. A special salad was made by cleaning out the back of the refrigerator and mixing it with standard ranch dressing. Please! Overly salted, gluey, bad mashed potatoes along with a bitter tasting expresso rubbed steak was left in it's entirety. My overly salted, gluey risotto was too, but the slightly overcooked elk loin was 1/2 eaten, albeit with lots of chewing.
Lons at the Hermosa - By far our best experience of the trip. The outdoor setting is beautiful, but ridiculously dark. Service and food were fine. An onion soup had a proper broth and great taste. Fish entree perfectly seared with crispy skin and moist flesh. For the first time all week I felt like the chef might actually be in the restaurant and might actually care what was going out to the diners. Bring a flashlight.
Binkleys - Edible, but not for the price. I guess when you have no competition and unlimited, monied clientle you can get away with a lot? Butternut squash soup was plain and underseasoned. Fruit flavored gelatin balls were a failed gimmick. Fish poached in olive oil came out simply fishy and oily.
Actually Tarbell won on Iron Chef. We took our entire company their for our Holiday dinner and everything was great. His macaroni & cheese is amazing. I cannot attest to Cowboy Ciao and Binkleys, heard nothing but good things about them from tru chowhounds.. Has been a while since I have been to Lons but remember enjoying the meal and the atmosphere. Their are plenty of great places to eat in the Phx, Scottsdale area
Expecting bleeding-edge cuisine in Phoenix is foolhardy at best. Things take a while to filter their way in from the coasts, but thankfully not as long as in the Midwest. For southwestern towns, Vegas does a lot better than we do for up-to-date, but I believe this is largely because all of these kinds of places in Vegas are doppelgangers of places either in California or New York.
Speaking of amateurish mistakes, it's eSpresso, not eXpresso. It grates even more in text than it does in pronunciation. I also can't help but wonder if you got to go out for any good Mexican food while you were here. Coming to Arizona and not enjoying the local specialty would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower; you could, but why on earth wouldn't you?
the stetson chopped salad is hardly the fridge clearer you claim. its pretty tasty..as is tarbells, and binkleys. we'll be sure to tell kevin binkley he wasted his time at french laundry, where he got his chops.
also - i'm interested in what research you did before your trip. i checked your posting history and this is the first one on the southwest board. perhaps if you'd asked questions before hand you might have found some other options that cater to your tastes.
Something I just remembered... fridge clearer salads are not necessarily a bad thing. Two of history's most famous salads came about due to a lack of ingredients. Caesar Cardini's restaurant in Tijuana was so busy on the 4th of July 1924 that the kitchen nearly ran out of supplies. Cardini made do with what he had, added a dramatic flair of preparing it tableside, and the Caesar salad was born.
Then, in 1937, the owner of the Brown Derby prepared a late-night snack for Sid Grauman, then-owner of the famous Chinese Theatre. He combed through the refrigerator for what he could find, chopped it up finely since Grauman was suffering from a very bad toothache, and served it up to Grauman. Grauman loved it so much that every time he went to the Brown Derby, he asked the proprietor to make one of his salads. The owner of the Brown Derby was Robert Cobb, and the salad is, of course, the Cobb Salad.
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
Hear! Hear! JK Grence! The list of "fridge clearer" salads has a very long history - so long that it pre-dates Apicius (1st Century AD). Chef's Salad had an early start as the medieval Salmungundi. We have no idea when "Salade Nicoise" first appeared but you can bet the farm that it didn't spring from the pages of a glossy cookery book.
I will be eternally grateful for your clarification of Espresso. The X pronunciation grates on my ears. Too bad that Pappy didn't enjoy what makes the Phoenix area unique instead of wanting us to be saomething we clearly are not.
Although not in Scottsdale proper, Binkley's is an excellent restaurant and one of the best meals in the metro area. You will need to make reservations immediately as they do fill up fast. It will be a bit more than your budget, but well worth the extra expense.
One of my personal favorites is Voltaire, a charming, lovely French restaurant that is a true hidden gem. The food is classic French and $50 a person will get you a full meal.
I would also suggest a couple of inexpensive places as well. Osha Thai serves really wonderful Thai food. The place is in a strip mall, but the people are friendly and the food is delicious. Also, I think some of the best food in the Valley comes from Sabuddy Israeli Restaurant. You can stuff yourself silly for $10-$12 with wonderful Middle Eastern food.
Enjoy your stay in Phoenix metro in January!
6949 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Osha Thai Cafe
10953 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85259
6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331
8340 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250