dinner in Scottsdale
We will be in Scottsdale next weekend for the Big Game. We'd like some dinner recommendations -- places that if this were the only time we'll ever visit Scottsdale in our lives, we must go to. Obviously, we like good food but the "scene" is also important.
Unless something has changed at Canal in the last few months, I would not call that a scene. I was there on a Thursday night and the place was dead except for a few 60+ year old couples. If the OP wants a scene and amazing food, I agree 100 percent with the Mastro's City Hall Steakhouse rec. Another great spot for tasty food and a fun atmosphere (when I see the word "scene" I think lots of energy and a mostly 20-40 year old crowd) would be Sol y Sombra in north Scottsdale.
Majik - When makes a "scene" for you? If you can be more specific, you'll probably get some better suited responses.
Note: most of the places that have been listed thus far are definitely food over "scene" (thank god). No hoards of people, loud music, mingling, flashy design, etc. Just great food in a nice setting. If by "scene" you just mean an enjoyable atmosphere, these are perfect options. If you want something with more of a loud, party atmosphere, you may really want to look at other restaurant options.
Since I am most often trying to avoid anything typified as "scene," I agree. I think for "trendy, happening, etc.," one could go to the Waterfront and choose anything there. However, in another month, the "scene" will probably move to a new location. As for CC, the only problem that I have ever had with it is the db level, and I tell this to Peter (who listens patiently, but can't really do much about the venue) on every visit. I still "tough it out," because of the great food and their wine lists/flights. So what, if I cannot hear my wife? Heck, we've been married for almost 40 years, so there is not much that either has not already said to the other...
Me, I'm just here for the food,
You HAVE to go to Mary Elaine's! It is in The Phoenician, (great place to stay as well!) and the food is incredible! The things they can do with lobster or duck breast..just melt in your mouth...ummmm. I don't know exactly what you mean either about "the scene". This restaurant may not have "the scene" you are looking for, but the quality of the food, service, and whole overall experience is well worth it!
The crowd is older in this restaurant, whenever we have gone (we go to Scottsdale about once a year) but we really like this place and are never sorry we go. It probably is not the trendy, hip, young crowd, but who cares...I can do that back in Manhattan.
The very fact that the OP mentioned "scene" would exclude Mary Elaine's from consideration, IMO. I think Mary Elaine's is the polar opposite of "scene". :-)
So far, of the mentioned places, I think Cowboy Ciao fits the bill the best. And for a top-notch steakhouse with a major "scene", Mastro's CityHall is a good option.
Take a look at: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/482779
I've flagged a lot of fine-dining in/near Scottsdale. Since Scottsdale runs N/S, some Phoenix spots might actually be closer, depending on where you are.
Also, in the last month, there have been a bunch of "Top Scottsdale," "Favorite Scottsdale," etc. threads. A "search this board," should yield tons of threads, with lots of recs.
If the food is the focus, go to Binkley's or Kai (may not be able to get into Kai because they are hosting one of the teams and it may be a full resort sell-out).
Also Sea Saw.
For a scene, Canal or Olive and Ivy.
For a semi-scene but with great food, Cowboy Ciao and Rancho Pinot are excellent choices.
You can always focus on food for dinner then go out after for a scene. I would actually recommend that.
Without knowing where you are staying or what you mean by "scene" I would recommend you take a look at Cowboy Ciao and Rancho Pinot Grill. Both are very highly rated, liked by most on this board and give you a unique experience you may not find elsewhere. Cowboy Ciao probably has more of a scene, but both will be packed and are pretty centrally located to bars and other fun stuff in Scottsdale. I'd recommend making a reservation quickly because every restaurant in town is already filling for Super Bowl weekend. Have a great trip.
7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Rancho Pinot Grill
6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ