Need Scottsdale Suggestions for Feb.
We are going to the Four Seasons for President's Week '08 and need help with dinner. We are a bit of foodie snobs (hailing from NYC). Need good atmosphere and dont really want to eat in hotels. My research so far reveals: Union Wine Bar & Grill, Canal, Mosaic, Wildfish Seafood Grille, Christopher Fermier, Sassi, Tapino, Binkley's and Cowboy Ciao (which seems very far from our hotel). Suggestions greatly appreciated!
Sassi and Mosaic will be closest to your hotel with Mosaic probably being the more unique dining experience. Sassi is an enormous restaurant, but I've never been disappointed there and the views of the Valley are as good as the Four Seasons. Speaking of, they actually just re-opened their restaurant (I can't remember what it's called now), so the new menu might be worth a shot. And, per the local food critic's "suggestion" they actually blew out a wall and made a window so the view would be amazing. Union and Cowboy Ciao are in downtown Scottsdale - about 30 minutes from your hotel. Cowboy Ciao is one of my all-time favorites, but if you are feeling adventurous, Sea Saw next door (same owners) is out of this world. Chef Nobu won a James Beard Award last year and was one of F+W's Best New Chefs. You can also grab a glass of wine at Kaz Bar right around the corner (same owners). I have had two great experiences at Union and love the small plates format, but I've heard through the grapevine that ownership has shifted, so I'm not sure if that's changed anything. Tapino is about 20 minutes from your hotel and is definitely well worth the drive - another place with small plates and a great wine selection. There is another thread in the SW section about another CH New Year's Eve experience at Binkley's and I think that should pretty much sum up how amazing it is - it's about 15 minutes from your hotel. I think Wildfish is a regional chain and I haven't heard great things (never dined there), so that would be one on your list to skip.
In addition you are not that far from Keirland Commons, the ladies will like it for shopping. In addition you will find Zinc Bistro, Greene House and North. Good eats
Christopher's is wonderful, but is in Central Phoenix, probably a good 45-60 min from the 4Season's. If you're down that way shopping or such I highly recommend it, along with Tarbell's, Daniel's, and Fenix for decent food.
In North Scottsdale there is also the Persian Room on Scottdale and Frank lloyd Wright. It has great kabobs and other middle eastern fare with a great upscale ambience. also try Uncorked Wine Bar if you like small plate and vino feel, very nice atmosphere. It's right next to the Capital Grille and is easy to find.
You might also want to try the market at Vincent's on Saturday morning. It runs from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Good place for late breakfast or lunch. Wine tasting, lots of options. If you get down to Camelback Vincent's is great for dinner also, and I love their Bistro for lunch.
Two-thirds of the restaurants you have named are far from your hotel, which is remotely located in a corner pocket of far northeast Scottsdale. As mentioned above, the closer ones are Mosaic, Sassi, Binkley's, and Tapino. The others are all good choices but may involve drives of 20 miles or more.
To get more recommendations, maybe you could tell us more about what brand of NYC foodie snobbery you adhere to? Are you looking just for fine dining, or are you open to strip mall gems? Are you looking for exclusively European cuisine, or are you open to local traditions reflecting Mexican and Latin American influences?
By the way, someone mentioned a possible change in ownership at Union. I don't think that's the case. What I've heard instead is that the small plates format at Union has been a tough sell and that the owners have therefore tweaked the menu by adding entrees.
Good to know about Union, minus the news about small plates - I found it to be a really good gathering place for big groups where you have people coming and going, some eating and some just drinking, etc. And we got a half price bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc on a Monday night....hopefully they haven't discontinued that one!
re: Beaver Street
Agreed. I liked the small plates concept paired with a nice wine and beer list. I don't think the small plates are a complete goner, though. I believe they're just being augemented with entrees for those who have big appetites or just don't like the small plates concept.
Union Wine Bar and Grill
3815 N Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
We go to the Four Seasons four times a year. We recently just returned. Some of our favorites: Mosaic. Deborah Knight marries unique ingredients and does great things with grains. Her menu is unusual. Service is great and space is pretty. I used to like Sassi, but had heard it went downhill. It was closed when we we there. The views are amazing and the various rooms are gorgeous! I would give it a try again. Interested to hear what you think. People like Giovannis around there, too, but I have not been. If you want to try Wildfish, the same menu is at Eddie V's, which is in DC Ranch--much closer to the hotel. Great seafood--ambience not all that original, though (and kind of boring). but, DC ranch is a fun place to people watch. You could have tapas at Sol Y Sambra also in DC Ranch...or just have a glass of wine outdoor at the wine bar (name escaping me) and save dinner for other spots. If the group likes steak houses, try Mastros, also very close to the hotel and a fun scene. They also have Ocean Club (at Kierland) if the group prefers seafood, and it is also a fun, people watching scene. Cowboy Ciao is good, although the stetson chopped salad and other small plates are better than the main courses. Still, worth the drive to go there or Sea Saw for sushi and have a cocktail at the Kaz Bar beforehand or afterwards. If you want a really fun place, to relax outdoors on a weekend, try Greasewood Flats literally across the street from the Four Seasons. It is a true cowboy bar with all outdoor seating. Live music on Sat and Sun...bikers roll in Sunday afternoons. Make your own fire in an open oil drum, order a green chili bacon cheeseburger (or chili), and a house margarita--even roast some marshmallows. You'll have a great time day or night, I promise. finally, at the hotel, you have to have a margarita on their deck and watch a sunset. have a wonderful time. Please report back, as we are going back in March!
Thanks ljero, Silver Bear, Beaver Street, kmarg and duck 833! To respond to Silver Bear's questions, we are really into ambience, especially something authentic (like Mosaic seems to be) or kitschy (like Cowboy Ciao), as part of our dining experience but do not like the fancy-fine dining-snobby-staid-restaurants like Voltaire (and so many in NYC) seems to be from its website. We like there to be a good vibe, added plus is a cool bar for martinis, and eclectic food choices, not the pedestrian stuff you can find anywhere. We love small plates for the variety, definitiely want to one or two nights of local fare, very into Asian influences, and great steak.
Couple more queries:
Breakfast choices would be welcome as well, great down home traditional grub.
What actually is Kierland Commons and DC Ranch and why didnt anyone comment on Canal? (Haven't yet bought my Scottsdale Eyewitness Traveler.)
And one last thing, IS IT WARM ENOUGH TO EAT OUTSIDE IN FEBRUARY?
If you guys were going to name your top six recommendations for our 6 nights, which would you pick?
Probably should add Spotted Horse to your list also,if will be close to you. Nice upscale place for lunch or if you want to do a little down scale dinner but with very nice well done food.
Kierland is the upscale shopping/dining area in North Scottsdale. Lots of restaurants and places for DW to shop. Zinc Bistro is there, favorite for a long french lunch or dinner, good outside seating. Greene House is on same block, have had many great meals there. North is next to Greene House and same casual dining, but Italian.
DC Ranch has some interesting restaurants, DW doesn't spend much time there shopping (breaks my heart).
Canal is quite new, I have not been there yet. The area is a great place to hit, the new bridge linking old town and Waterfront area is a 10. I have been to the food bar down there, it is now my favorite lunch place at the Waterfront. Especially the Cuban Panini, really good, enough for two.
Weather in February will be good and probably not so good on some days. I was sitting outside at Zinc Bistro for lunch around christmas. Spring training starts at end of February so you should be fine.
Kierland Commons is a shopping center in northeast Phoenix (although often assumed to be in Scottsdale). It offers several restaurants, the best known of which is probably Zinc Bistro. I've had good experiences there.
DC Ranch is a housing development in North Scottsdale. You're question is probably really about the shopping center there called the Market at DC Ranch or something along those lines.
February -- It will definitely be okay to eat outside during the day; nights will depend.
As for top six, I'm going to leave that to others. North Scottsdale is really outer sprawlopolis to me, so I don't know the restaurants up there very well. If you choose to venture into Central Phoenix, I'll be happy to help there.
15034 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Mosaic will certainly fill the bill, and is just up the street. As for Cowboy Caio, don't let the name fool you. It's a fairly sophisticated restaurant, with a great little wine program. Compared to some spots, Greaswood Flats, Rustler's Roost, Pinnacle Peak Patio, etc., it will not seem the least bit kitschy, though it's smallish and a little loud - my one, and only complaint. Chef Bernie Kanuk [SP?] does some very interesting takes on Western, Southwestern and Italian dishes, and always with flair. Oh, there might be a few "petroglyphs" around the walls, but too few to really notice. This is not one of those "cut your tie off" places. It IS worth the drive down, which is about the same mileage, that we traverse from N. Phoenix to CC. Always worth the drive and the wine flights are usually innovative, fairly priced and pair with the fare. We usually do 2 ea., and mix and match for all courses. The bottle selection is very good, though not as deep as some spots - still, the wine is designed to work with the food, not impress your CFO, when you turn in your expenses.
We live in N. Scottsdale (not far from your hotel) and have also spent time at the hotel for weekend getaways. A few quick thoughts:
If you'r'e into Asian influences, you might try Sea Saw, which is right next to Cowboy Ciao. He's a James Beard Award winning chef and - if you can get a table for his omakase menu - you'll be in for a real treat. It's as good as anything I've had and always challenges your sensibilities. The wine pairings are usually excellent and worth the money.
While Zinc Bistro is consistently good, I'd say skip it. If you're NY foodies than you have access to Balthazar which is what the owner of Zinc was going after. If you have the original, why test out the imitators, right?
Eddie V's and Wildfish have essentially the same menu but Eddie V's is closer to your hotel, however, Wildfish has a more upbeat and fun atmosphere. The scene at DC Ranch Marketplace )where Eddie Vi's is) can be fun and entertaining and you can always sit at Armitage and enjoy a glass of wine.
Have heard good things about Canal but have not tried it myself; from what I've read, it's equal parts scene and cuisine. The people watching in Scottsdale is always amusing....you'll end up very drunk if you take a sip for each over-augmented cosmetic surgery job. (Hey, I can say that since I live in the heart of it,..)
I might suggest skipping Christopher's since he's on the verge off moving and trying Vincent's instead. French, but with a nice Southwestern twist. It has been at the top of its game for a long, long time.
Sassi has amazing atmosphere and is just down the street from your hotel. I find the food a bit inconsistent but the bar is great and so are many of the small plates. If they have squash blossoms, order them, but skip the veal chop. Most of their pastas are excellent; my wife usally orders pasta there and has bever been disappointed.
Binkley's: read my post about our 10 course New Year's Eve tasting menu that we had. I think it's world class cuisine in an approachable, down-to-earth quintessentially Arizona setting. (i.e. fine dining in a stripmall in the middle of a western town where you can wear a suit or you can wear cowboy boots.)
We also love Tapino and think that it doesn't get enough good P.R. I actually just had a birthday part there for 20 people and it was fabulous. James Porter, the owner and chef, does a really good job and has some nice things on the menu like white anchovies and good Spanish wines. It is very reasonably priced.
I would very strongly recommend T. Cooks at the Royal Palms Resort. Other than being one located within one of the most spectacular resorts in town, T. Cook's is fantastic and consistently delicious. I've stayed at Royal Palm and Four Seasons and Royal Palm is in a different league. Might want to think about T. Cooks for a Sunday Brunch if dinner isn't an option. It's a great brunch but not one of those gluttonous gorge-fests that you tend to find at other resorts.
Rancho Pinot and Methode Bistro are both high on my list. There are commented-on frequently on this board. Both are in the same center, so pick one or the other if you want to avoid spending two nights in the same place.
Finally, although I live and work in N. Scottsdale and, by virtue of that, spend a disproportionate amount of my time in N, Scottsdale, I would really encourage you to explore the area. Scottsdale - especially the northeastern corner that you're staying in - can live up to its somewhat embarrassing reputation of having a serious lack of depth and diversity. While I love where I live, there is a lot more out there in Phoenix which is worth exploring. Not leaving Scottsdale would be like staying in SoHo and never venturing into Chelsea, Meatpacking district, Midtown, etc.
FYI - South Scottsdale, where several of my recommendations are located, is about 25 - 30 mins from your hotel. The Phoeix metro area is gigantic and you are in an isolated area where you'll need to allow for about 30 mins unless you're going to Sassi, Mastro's or Mosaic.
Have a great trip and please report back with your thoughts.
First let me say thank so much for taking the time to give me an abundance of really relevant, on point information. (I had already read your post on your 10 course meal at Binkleys having been directed to it by Beaver Street above.) We definitely intended to explore, although even more so now in light of that NYC analogy.
i just checked out the Royal Palms website and it doesn't look appreciably better than the Four Seasons. What makes it so much more spectacular? We are not wedded to the Four Seasons although we love their hotels and, unless we are staying in a boutique hotel, often default to a Four Seasons.
Since you live in the North Scottsdale area, do you want to venture outside the world of chow and tell me the sites, attractions, cultural places/events that we should not miss? (Our kids are off to Europe with our exes so we are going solo.)
Thanks so much for all your recommendations. I was recently in Las Vegas for business so i am certainly prepared for that Joan Rivers/Pamela Anderson look although i was a bit surprised to hear it.
We like to eat at Butterfield's for breakfast. Pretty down-home, but some interesting choices, too. Gets pretty crowded unless you get there early, so be prepared to wait 20-40 min. for your table.
I second the votes for Sol y Sombra, Tapino, maybe Los Sombreros if you feel like venturing a few miles south. A small, but good, lunch place is The Wine List in the area of Pima and Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. (not far from Taliesin West- hint hint). The sandwiches are fresh and delish! They sell wine there, so you can get some interesting wines by the glass, too.
re: The Chowhound Team
You would be doing yourself a disservice not to dine at Binkley's. Our dinner there in November made our trip to Phoenix. In fact, although we loved our stay, we would return just to go there again. While I've been to many of the so called top restaurants in this beautiful country of ours, Binkley's was far and away one of the top 5 best meals I have ever enjoyed. Good Luck.