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Scottsdale decisions. Any mistakes?

Hey guys! i just made reservations based on my synthesized comments from all those fab replies for our week in scottsdale at the 4 seasons. whatdoyouthink?
Cowboy Ciao (Sun), T.Cooks (Mon), Tapino (Tues), Mastro Steakhouse (Wed.), Sassi (Th), Mosaic(Fr).

1. should we do richardsons rather than t. cooks (anniversary dinner).
2. should we do sol y sambra rather than tapino?
3. i really want a good fish/sushi but i have a shellfish allergy so sea saw won't work for us because the menu is too limited and there is no sushi.
4. is the food at mosaic overrated? the atmosphere looks so cool.
5. is mastros too generic?

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  1. 1. No. T Cook's is the perfect venue for an occasion that special. Richardson's isn't remotely romantic.
    5. Mastro's is pretty impressive, if you really like steak or giant seafood platters, or if you're feeling tony or wanting to show off a bit. It's tough to have an intimate dinner there, though. However, you could swap your Mastro's night for Richardson's and pay a lot less, and get some local flavor in a neighborhood grill joint. It kind of depends on your mood or your priorities for the night -- you'll get good food either way.

    5 Replies
    1. re: themis

      thanks. the stone inside mastros looks very cool although it is very expensive but if the steak is superb it is worth it. Everyone says T. Cooks is fantastic but the decor looks a bit over the top. We considered Binkelys instead of t. cooks as well. Tough decision.

      1. re: marbet815

        the decor is not over the top at all. it is gorgeous..my favorite setting for a meal in AZ when I am at the 4 Seasons. you will love it. very romantic and perfect for an a nniversary.

      2. re: themis

        i agree but when you are a total carnivore, as we are, we need to consume a great big porterhouse to clog our arteries at least one a week. should i substitute any of the others for richardsons?

        1. re: marbet815

          It is a good thing to keep up the level and not give that sneaky good cholesterol a chance to gain the upper hand.. :) Bear in mind that RIchardsons is far from Vegan.

          1. re: AzDumpling

            It's almost impossible to clog your arteries more anywhere else than at Richardson's!

      3. It is not that Mastro's is generic but lord knows you can get a great steak in any city. Whereas Richardson's is not something you can get just anywhere. It is nice when here from the East Coast to try something not available at home.

        1. You have a nice list. I would agree with the others that Mastro's is very good, but I'm sure you can get a good steak where you live. I would suggest swapping Sol y Sombra for Tapino. This is not a slap at Tapino, which I enjoy, but Sol y Sombra offers better food and atmosphere, and is certainly more unique. I would probably do Rancho Pinot Grill (more unique to the area) over Mastro's or Sassi, but it seems you are trying to stay pretty far north in Scottsdale. Regardless, I'm sure you'll enjoy all of your choices. Have a great trip.


          10 Replies
          1. re: barry

            Ok. i just changed switched tapino to sol y sambra. a lot of people have recommended rancho pinot grill in reply to my last post, but the website makes the restaurant look a bit cheesy, like an olive garden atmosphere. am i off base here?

            1. re: marbet815

              Rancho Pinot is an eclectic blend of cowboy artifacts and European bistro. The little touches are all around, but not overbearing. Matter of fact, once the food and the wine begin, you'll be hard-pressed to even notice them - they are little touches and just seem to fit in. I'd typify the total "scene" there as upscale casual: some gentlemen in jackets, but most in sweaters. There is a "homey" atmosphere and that usually goes for the service, which has always been familiar, comfortable, and efficient.

              As for the question of T. Cook's v Richardsons, while I enjoy Richardson's, it would never come to my mind for an anniversary dinner. T. Cook's would.

              Mastro's has never made a good impression on me, but with all of the folk, who swear by it, I must have just had several bouts of poor timing. I do agree with others, that good steakhouses exist in almost every city, and I did not see anything (in my visits) to indicate that you'd likely encounter anything, that you could not find in Chicago, Indaianapolis, etc.. Were it my list, I'd add Binkley's, but that is just me. BTW, the atmosphere at Binkley's is similar to that of Rancho Pinot, without the "brands" on the wooden furniture - upscale casual. T. Cook's is a bit more formal, but, for me, that is NOT a bad thing. Also, the food at Binkley's will make you think that you are in a much more formal restaurant.


              1. re: Bill Hunt


                M&M Jfood coming to your fine city next week and am hoping you could give us top five choices. We seem to have similar tastes from dicussions on NOLA board.

                As you know the jfoods do not drink so looking for regional good stuff, mid to high end. Wednesday and Saturday night open. Staying at Biltmore but have a car. Already looking into the websites of your listings here.


                1. re: jfood


                  Glad you're coming to these environs. The food scene is surprisingly good in in the Phoenix-Metro area. The surprise is usually for those in areas of the US, that are considered more food-centric, than is AZ.

                  Fist stop for you would be to locate the Superbowl thread on this board. There were a lot of great recs in that thread. I had very few quibbles with any spot mentioned and probably commented on those.

                  Next, the Biltmore Area is very "central." You will be in Phoenix, but not that far from Scottsdale. Remember, Phoenix-Metro is huge and the freeway/Interstate system is not the best, though adequate (except for the constant re-construction). There is NO public transportation. No tube, rail, or similar. Once you have a handle on the spots that you'd like to hit (from that Superbowl post), we can tailor your route so you can make it in the shortest time, with the least amount of grief.

                  I'll have to tailor my normal recs., as I include wine into all dining experiences. Still, the food here is great and quite diverse, though not as ethnically oriented as say NYC, San Francisco or LA.

                  Depending on what the transportation situation is, I'd put Binkley's (up north a good bit) as a must-do.

                  Just did Wright's AT the Biltmore for our anniversary (review to follow soon, I hope) and was impressed. It was first time there in some years, and they hit the high notes well.

                  Look over the Superbowl thread, and get an idea. There are a lot of "Link(s) to Place" in that thread, so having MapQuest open might help you a bit. Once you have your short-list done, post an article on your ideas, and I, and others, will be glad to chime in. Note: in the Superbowl thread, IIRC, things are laid out by region. You will want to eschew Glendale, Peoria, Buckeye, etc., and concentrate on Phoenix and Scottsdale. Do not recall what names, or numbers, those regions got.

                  For a frame of reference, Binkley's is the Brigtsen's of Phoenix-Metro.

                  The Usual Suspects:
                  T. Cooks
                  Wright's (at the Biltmore)
                  Cowboy Ciao
                  Vincent's on Camelback

                  Oops, Link to Place just crapped out on me. I'll post those in a minute, when I can Reply to this reply.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    OK, trying again:

                    Looks like they took this time. I see why it is still a "beta."

                    Let us hear from you, once you have done the preliminary research. Lots of great spots.


                    Sea Saw
                    7133 E Stetson Dr Ste 1, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                    Cowboy Ciao
                    7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                    6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

                    3213 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                    T Cooks At the Royal Palms
                    5200 East Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                    Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa: Wright's at the Biltmore
                    2400 E Missouri, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                    Vincent On Camelback
                    3930 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      Thanks Bill.

                      Mrs Jfood will have to "suffer" at Biltmore for 2 nites while jfood works and Binkley's looks great. Jfood went to Deseo at Westin a few months ago and liked it a lot. How would you place this resto in this crowd.

                      1. re: jfood

                        I'd rate it right up near the top. We find that we do Binkley's and Vincent's the most. Next level would probably be SeaSaw, then Deseo & Cowboy Ciao. Now, remember, that I am also factoring in the wine-element in my choices.

                        Immediately in the Biltmore area, Christopher Gross' bistro is another good choice. He has talked of moving, but I think he's still there and his cooking is great. Only problem that I have had was regarding the wines (not an issue for the Jfoods), and with his ex-wife/sommelier, Paola.

                        Also, we had a great breakfast at the Westin Kierland in a strangley named spot (cannot recall that strange name at the moment, but I did a mini-review on the SW board, after my rec. for breakfast spots in that area), that share some of the Deseo space in the AM. I'll poke around to see if I can get that name. In the past, we've had good breakfasts at The Biltmore, out on their patio, overlooking the pool. Cannot recall the official name of that spot, but it's just north off of the main lobby. Not inexpensive, but good.

                        Back to the Westin Kierlands, I like the Blue Sage rest., but I am a fan of Chef Mark Miller. It is a bit downscale, but has always come through for me. It is not the experience that Deseo is, but is interesting. There is a good cigar bar in the Westin too, though their prices are really "up there." I have most of their selections in my wine cellar, so I only spend time there, when wife is hosting a bunch of folk, and we go there to do Port n' cigars. Imagine the Gurka "pre-imbargo" Cubans going for US$150 and I have a box, that cost me ~US$25/stick. While I do not mind spending my $'s for great whatevers, I do hate to feel hosed. Still, if wife is hosting a bunch of Drs. from Philadelphia, and they want a cigar bar, I hardly flinch.

                        Now, do you have any little Jfoods going to ASU? I thought they were all at Tulane.


                        PS the breakfast rest. in Westin is: Nellie Cashman's Monday Club Cafe (same location as Deseo)

                        Christophers Fermier Brasserie
                        2584 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

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

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Thanks so much Bill and Misohungrychewlow -

                          Wednesday at Cowboy Ciao and Saturday Vincent's.

                          Will post reviews of these places.

                          1. re: jfood

                            I've only eaten at Cowboy Ciao once and that was a while ago, but FWIW I don't think it was anywhere near being at the same level as some of the other places mentioned...so will look forward to your report jfood, but did want to pass along a bit of a cautionary note.

                            I haven't tried Kai but based on the reports here on CH I'd put it on my list...(bit of a shlep from the Biltmore, however. Ok, more than a bit...)

                        2. re: jfood

                          jfood's pooch -- tell mr&mrs jfood that Chef Vincent on Camelback and Tarbell's are very good recs near the hotel. If they feel like having a tasty breakfast or a croissant or a croque, consider Au Petit Four in the Esplanade across the street from Biltmore Fashion Park. Hankering for a burger? Roaring Fork on Scottsdale Road (4800 block). Japanese? Try Hana on 7th Ave. & Missouri, straight shot from the hotel ... Sushi and other specialties served by a family with passion. No alcohol although they allow BYO. Take a little drive? Kai at the Wild Horse Pass resort has drawn wide acclaim for fare that may not be duplicated elsewhere.

            2. as for sushi.. I would try going to Yasu Sushi Bistro off Cactus and Paradise Village Parkway in Phoenix. It was voted one of the best new restaurants of 2008.

              2 Replies
              1. re: plsedntfdmodels

                And, don't forget Greasewood Flats, esp. on sunday afternoons, around 3pm when the bikers roll in..have a green chili bacon cheeseburger (can ask for it med rare) or the chili. A lot of fun and across the street from the hotel.

                1. re: ljero

                  Definitely plan time for for Greasewood Flats if the weather while you're here is anything like it was this afternoon - 78 and perfect. We were coming home from Flagstaff and often don't get up to this neighborhood so decided we needed to stop today and hang out on their patio and enjoy a most respectable burger with an ice cold beer on a beautiful sunny day. it's a great way to spend a nice afternoon.

                  we're also fans of Mosaic and Binkley's which have both been recommended to you already here. The hotel will drive you over to Mosaic which is great, don't know if they run as far as Binkley's or not, but definitely ask, I wouldn't be surprised if they do and you'll be able to enjoy the wine pairings so much more with a ride.

                  If time allows stop in at Cave Creek Coffee too, maybe for dessert one evening.

              2. Rancho Pinot is far from cheesey and nothing like Olive Garden. A very good choice.

                1. If you like seafood, you could do Ocean Club...

                  38 Replies
                  1. re: ljero

                    hey ljero and ejs1492! i got that list in large part due to you guys and silverbear. i have greasewood flats for lunch for sure along with spotted (or is it painted) and butterfields for breakfast. How did i do?

                    1. re: marbet815

                      The list sounds great. Take us with you! :-) Butterfields is good for breakfast but it's nothing extraordinary. If you want breakfast greatness, make the trek to El Chorro. The best eggs benedict and sticky buns on the face of the planet.

                      I'm not a big fan of Mosaic, but it's close to your hotel and has a great following here. My experience there didn't wow me, but that seems to be the exception, not the rule.

                      1. re: ejs1492

                        El Chorro is now on the list! Mosaic definitely hasn't gotten rave reviews but the restaurant atmosphere looks so authentic. We have time to change that and since we love tapas, we may just go to Tapino our last night or Rancho Pinot Grill. We will report back.

                        1. re: marbet815

                          For a similar dining experience, with better food, IMHO, I'd look to Lon's at the Hermosa, over El Chorro.

                          Just what you need - more suggestions!


                          Lon's At the Hermosa
                          5532 N Palo Cristi Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

                        2. re: ejs1492

                          I agree with the comment about Mosaic, I'd drop that from your list. I couldn't believe a restaurant in such a beautiful location had very few if any views and I don't remember them having a patio either. A total waste of location, they might as well be in a strip mall. The chef is extremely creative, but so is the chef at Binkley's and the restaurant has more energy.

                          1. re: ejs1492

                            are you saying i should remove Mosaic and replace with Binkley's? What about Richardson's or Rancho Pinot Grill? i think my selection is pretty eclectic (tapas, italian, steak, SW, elegant continental). I am probably missing a great fish restaurant.

                            1. re: marbet815

                              I don't know that we have a great seafood restaurant - I've had amazing fish dishes at restaurants - including the chilean sea bass at Mastro's - but none were at seafood restaurants. As for Binkley's, I think it gets WAY more praise from this board and local/national critics then any other restaurant in the Valley. Binkley's would probably be the perfect "last meal" of the trip. You're definitely hitting some of the Valley's very best, hope you're able to share what you thought.

                              1. re: hungryinaz

                                Coming from a land of great seafood, and then traveling to many more, I agree with you. There are a lot of Valley chef's, who do seafood dishes very well, but none is what I would call a seafood restaurant, by any form of imagination. Of the true "seafood restaurants," here, I have been horribly underwhelmed by each, but then I grade hard.


                                1. re: hungryinaz

                                  It certainly seems that Binkley's is universally recommended by you scotts. so, i will switch mosaic with binkleys but i have one concern. While all our trips center around our chow, we dont like to eat a lot of food. In Fact, we often skip apps altogether or get 2 apps and an entree. Binkleys seems to focus on these 4,5, and 6 course meals. Would they have an issue if we weren't big eaters? OR are their portions small enough that we wont feel engorged?

                                  1. re: marbet815

                                    Portions on the multi-course tasting menus are significantly reduced. If you're really foodies, I would not visit the Phoenix area without eating at Binkley's. Although it is not universally loved by those on this board, I think it's among the best we have to offer when it comes to true culinary excellence and attention to detail, with casual, low key, unpretentious Arizona charm.

                                    1. re: marbet815

                                      Not in the least. As Ejs1492 points out, the portions are just about perfect. Also, expect to see a handful of amuse boches. In all, the full menu, with the extras, will be less than one is likely to encounter in many "family-style" restaurants, with just the mains. I find that it gives one the ability to experience so many flavors, textures and preps, without being overly filled.

                                      Just did the 11-course tasting at Chef Mavro's, Honolulu, HI, and it was the same. There were a ton of courses, obviously, but I thought the total amount was perfect. Just before that trip, I was in Nashville at the Old Hickory Steakhouse, and 2 entrees plus a split appetizer, and one split-side, put us over the top - just tons, and tons of food. I had to force the cheese course, and I love cheese courses. My biggest complaint of that restaurant was the "super-sized" portions. A family of 4 (including 2 teenagers) could eat on what I'd consider a normal order. Binkley's is not like that. You should not leave hungry, by any stretch, but you should be able to complete the entire menu, and still look forward to that last course.


                                      1. re: marbet815

                                        If you do decide to do Binkley's for your anniversary, let the good folks there know it's a special day for you and they'll go out of their way to make it personalized

                                    2. re: marbet815

                                      Here goes:

                                      Sunday: Cowboy Ciao is a good start...you have to have the Stetson chopped salad. I did not have much luck with entrees there, but others on the post love it. The menu is eclectic and ambience fun. Have a cocktail before or afterwards at the Kaz Bar, right around the corner--no sign to speak of, so just ask at CC (same owner).

                                      Monday: T. Cook's. If you are looking for romance, you cannot beat The Royal Palms and this retaurant. If they still have the Calera Pinot on the menu, you must order it. The setting is gorgeous here. Keep this one.

                                      Tuesday: Sol Y Sambra would be my choice, but just b/c I love DC Ranch. Have a glass of wine at the Armitage wine bar.

                                      Wednesday: If you want steak, Mastros is the way to go. If you want seafood instead, you would like the Ocean Club (Kierland)--their sister restaurant specializing in seafood, or Eddie V's (DC Ranch). If you want sushi, but with other non sushi items, Pure is pretty close, but I was put off by the owner there or Yasu.

                                      Thursday: Sassi. Hmmm. I am interested to hear what you think on this one. I have not been there in so long. that being said, the time we did go, I loved the ambience and the food with the separate rooms. They spent over $1M for the space. We have not been back since, as I heard mixed on the food, but I have been interested in giving it another shot, as I have heard more postivie reviews recently.

                                      Fri-Mosaic: We have had nothing but wonderful (albeit expensive) food here. The chef Deborah Knight is creative with focus on interesting grains, etc. Often times has abalone on menu. It is also nice b/c it is so close to 4 seasons. You will get sick of driving all around for food and it is literally next door. That being said, people love binkley's. Surprisingly, I have never been there, as I feel like I have a lot of wonderful, high end French restauarants at home in Chicago..they have the same types of menus and ambience. When visiting, I am always looking for something more unusual. But, it is on my list. I just would not trade T. Cook's for it. Maybe you can make a res for fri for B, check out mosais when you arrive, e.g. the ambience and food, and then make your call.

                                      Lunches: Sun Greasewood for the burger, music and ambience. If you do not mind a drive, you really have to go to The Barrio Cafe for lunch tue-fri or sun for brunch. It is a fun, low key Mexican spot with great food...try their chili en nogada, fish tacos, cochinita pibil, tableside guac with pomegranates a must, and churros y chco for dessert. side note: it is prob 30-40 min drive, but close to airport, if that works--worth the drive if not.

                                      Other: Have a margarita and an app on the deck at the four seasons for sunset. Great views. Oh, and if one night, you decide to stay in and relax, their more casual restuarant is fabulous. You can order off of any of their menus to be served there outside by the fire.

                                      Hope this helps. Let me know if you need any other help!

                                      1. re: ljero

                                        this is extraordinarily helpful. i will let you know about Sassi and i changed t.cooks to binkley's but am having second and third and fourth thoughts about that. i also changed mosaid to wildfish because you are really the only one who raved about that restaurant. i may change that back in light of what you wrote. certainly sounds like i should.

                                        1. re: marbet815

                                          Maybe switch Mosaic to Binkley's for your last night? They are both relatively close to the Four Seasons. T. Cook's is just so gorgeous--really romantic ambience. My parents loved wildfish--same owners as Eddie V's but hipper, I guess. We usually stick to Eddie V's as it is closer to the four seasons and at DC Ranch. They do a great job with seafood, we love their parmesean crusted sole. Excited to hear your thoughts on everything (esp. Sassi and Sol Y Sambra--as we have not been yet). We will be back in March.

                                          Final thought: Lunch, a margarita, or Spanish coffee (what we typically do), at La Hacienda in the Princess Hotel...a great authentic Mexican restaurant with mariachis. Fun way to end an evening with a flaming coffee.

                                          Also: AJ's grocery store for flowers, snacks, great little wine collections. i love this little grocery store. Saturdays they grill burgers and brats outside.

                                          Finally: For another cutting edge prepared foods store, go to Dish. You can walk the store with a $2 glass of wine on Saturdays. If you prefer coffee, across the street is a coffee bean and tea leaf, a great west coast coffee chain. Order an ice blended with extra expresso beans. We never leave town w/o at least one!

                                          Have a great trip! It is 20 below here...wish you could take us with you!

                                          Cannot wait to hear your report.!

                                          1. re: ljero

                                            Not to confuse you, but please remember that wildfish is quite a drive for you. Although my family enjoyed their meal, you could have as good of a meal at Eddie Vs is you want fish or Ocean Club. My mom also commented that it is on the highway...and Mastros is just a steakhouse if that is what you are in the mood for. I always want more foodie type food when I am there, so I tend not to go to those places....e..g I prefer Mexican, small plates, sushi, etc. this trip I want to try Tapino or Sol Y Sambra (based on what you think), Yasu sushi bistro, and probably Mosaic/Sassi.

                                            Have fun! It is gorgeous there! They just also finished the renovation at the Four Seasons and the new rooms are so pretty--I love that they brought some colors such as raspberry into the rooms.

                                            1. re: ljero

                                              $24 FOR TWO BURGERS, A BLOODY MARY AND A BEER.



                                              1. re: marbet815

                                                I have always enjoyed Stingray for sushi, getting good quality fish and good service even in a "scene-y" atmosphere. Above average, not destination spot by any means but a solid choice for sushi in Old Town.

                                                1. re: marbet815

                                                  I just returned from to Miami from Phoenix where I ate well! If you like imaginative, full flavored Nuevo Latino like pioneered in Miami, Roberto Madrid is doing it terrifically and aesthetically at deseo in the Westin Kierland. I am rarely prone to hyperbole, but everything I ate was outstanding. The ceviche trio was out of this world, the chicharrones of shrimp were amazing, and the churrasco delicious. Service, counter vibe, kitchen cool -- all were great. I recommend it.

                                                  1. re: taiga

                                                    I do agree with your citing Roberto Madrid at Deseo. Great food, and not exactly what one expects in AZ, with its New Mexican influence. Do not have experience with the fare in Miami (at least not in the last 30 years), so cannot comment on how close/distant, his take might be, but the food is excellent, and Chef Madrid takes this all very seriously. To me, food need not be "authentic," so long as it's really good. I use that tenant with New Orleans/Cajun/Creole cuisine. It does not have to mirror what I can find in South Louisiana, but must be very good. Thanks for the mention, as I had overlooked Deseo and I should not have.


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

                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      I'm a little late replying here Bill, and I am, a bit unhappily, often caught up with authenticity when perhaps I shouldn't be, especially with Japanese. That said, coming from Miami, Roberto Madrid and deseo do it flawlessly; he told me that Douglas Rodriguez, pioneer of what we call Nuevo Latino designed the menu and worked with his staff. In any case, it was absolutely great, and I loved the positive feelings throughout the room, the way he interacted with his staff, the way they addressed us eating at the counter, and the wait staff. The whole experience for me was top notch! In Miami, there are usually some things which diminish the experience, but not here. In the end, he served us Cara Cara oranges which look like grapefruit inside oranges and had an unusually unique flavor.

                                                      1. re: taiga

                                                        Thanks for the "authenticity" report. My experience with Latin-
                                                        Caribbean is somewhat limited, though New Orleans did have quite a few Cuban restaurants. Most were geared more towards a Creole take, so authentic is not something that I can speak of.

                                                        We were fortunate to dine under Chef Rodriguez & Chef Madrid, and loved the food on all visits. Nice to hear from one, who knows.


                                                  2. re: marbet815

                                                    Stingray is good. I prefer Dozo. Dozo is usually pretty quiet, as it is a bit off the beaten path. The quality is good, and the prices are lower. http://sushidozo.com

                                                    1. re: marbet815

                                                      I think Stingray is pretty over-rated, but it offers an amusing Scottsdale scene and I've heard the fish is pretty good. I'd recommend PURE for better sushi, better scene, although it's in a sleepier area of town.

                                                      Sorry to hear that you didnt enjoy Sassi....I think the food doesn't quite match the setting and I didn't love the veal chop either. I enjoy their bar small plates more than anything else there.

                                                      1. re: marbet815

                                                        Marbet: Glad to hear that you liked Greasewood! I am sorry to hear that Sassi has still not gotten their act together. I guess I will have to wait a few more trips to see if they get their act together! Cannot wait to hear about Sol Y Sambra, as I would like to try that or Tapino when I arrive in March. Please let me know the likes and dislikes from there.

                                                        What does the rest of your dining week look like at this point?
                                                        Are you going to Binkley's?

                                                        Excited to hear the rest of all of your reviews and also see if you find some fun lunch spots...don't miss Barrio Cafe if you don't mind a drive and want some Mexican for lunch and the drink/sunset at the four seasons...

                                                        A drive into Cave Creek is fun for the southwestern shops, but if you eat at binkley's, you can do that prior to dinner....

                                                        1. re: ljero

                                                          ljero- Here goes:
                                                          In spite of everyone's suggestions, we had a reservation at Mastros for Monday night because sometimes there is nothing better than a good porterhouse, creamed spinach and pommes frites. We checked out the place before hand though and didn't love it. At the hotel a couple of people said that Capitol Grille was great (and we love it in Washington DC) so we made a reservation. Once there, we knew there was no way we were staying--very stuffy, empty, no vibe bad carpeting (my pet peeve). So, we booked and went to Pure for sushi which was horrible. The sushi didnt taste fresh (we returned the hamachi roll which was filled with left over fatty strings of yellowtail), and the tuna tartar looked as if it was prepared yesterday and pulled out of the fridge, straight to our table.

                                                          Last night we went to Sol y Sambra. Love the DC Ranch area, so cool architecturally with the stone and wood. The restaurant is very cool as well but the chow was another awful experience. We started with 4 small plates and not one was edible--the tip off was that they were delivered to our table within 5 minutes of ordering them While they were supposed to be hot, they were all room temperature at best. The pollo looked like a large glob of goo and the bad sauce was designed to cover the taste of the chicken which was certainly not bell and evans quality, the chorizo was hard and chewy and couldnt be swallowed, the ribs were just plain horrible. We had been on the fence about going there or Tapino, so we left Sol after 30 minutes (having returned two dishes and asked for the check) and went over to Tapino. Hated the decor, but the tapas were delicious. We had the lamb, angus steak and the bacon covered dates, coupled with some great sangria, it was some good chow. again, though, the decor is bordering unbearable. Tapino food with sol y sambra atmosphere would be one good tapas restaurant.

                                                          We dont know where we are going tonight. Still trying to figure it out. I am meeting a friend for drinks inn Carefree so we dont want to venture too far south after that. we want some good mexican food so we are considering Los Sombreros.

                                                          Thursday, we are going to the artwalk at the waterfront so we are chowing at cowboy ciao and friday we are going to binkleys!

                                                          1. re: marbet815

                                                            Don't go to Cowboy Ciao. You won't like it.

                                                            1. re: marbet815

                                                              That said, you should have gone to Lola for tapas! If you still have time, it is definitely worth checking out.

                                                              800 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85014

                                                              1. re: marbet815

                                                                Marbet: As for Mastros, we went that one time, and it was good, it was jsut nothing out of the ordinary. Capitol Grille is a chain, so I have never even ventured there. Pure is bad! Our experience there was bad, as well! Not only was it expensive with the rolls being avergae at best, the owner was a jerk!

                                                                I am disapopinted to hear about Sol Y Sambra--guess I can take that off the list. I find the same problem, either good food or good atmosphere--not both. My mom did not like the food at Sol Y...I WANT to love it b/c of DC Ranch..although I should jsut stick with Eddie V's there (although it does not have great atmospehre, as well--but great seafood). We hear good things about Tapino--but heard not much in way of ambience--why can't we have it all?! :)

                                                                I have been to Los Sombreros, and I know some will disagree, but I thought the food was average, at best. I like Barrio Cafe better, but maybe the locals would have better input on this one. The margs are not great at Barrio, but the guac, fish tacos, chili en nogata, cochinita pibil and churros are all great. Or, go and check out La Hacienda at the Princess hotel--authentic food, great margs, mariachis certain nights...good combo of good food and ambience...food being pretty good...

                                                                Re: thursday, the art walk is fun. Again, we liked the ambience at Cowboy Ciao, but NOT the food. We loved the stetson chopped (had a few of them, actually), but that was about it--and we tried a lot on the menu. I hope you have a better experience. Definitely have a drink at the Kaz Wine Bar first. I really liked this place. I also want to try Sea Saw, but you are probably over sushi after Pure.

                                                                re: Friday--excited you are trying Binkely's--if you love it, I will definitely go. We have never been as we never want French in AZ. We go to T. Cook's, but again atmosphere outweighs food there, I think.

                                                                My family still swears by Mosaic, but I have not been in too long to comment. It is on the list for March.

                                                                Keep me posted! sounds like we have similar taste, and similar problems when dining out! :)

                                                                1. re: ljero

                                                                  I see Los Sombreros and Barrio as having different missions, both of which are admirable. The food at Los Sombreros, however, has never failed to live up to my expectations, while Barrio's food has.

                                                                  The menu at Barrio is certainly more ambitious than that at Los Sombreros, but in my experience, Los Sombreros more consistently hits the mark it's aiming for than Barrio does. In the end, my preference is to pay for consistently well executed "mid-level" cuisine in a casual setting as opposed to inconsistently executed more "haute" cuisine in a slick setting.

                                                                  I'm willing to chalk up my disappointing experiences at Barrio to bad timing, off-nights, etc., but when it comes time to choose where to eat, those experiences (and the wait and the higher cost) naturally affect my own decision making process.

                                                                  1. re: ljero

                                                                    ...continuing...we went out for drinks at Armitage in DC Ranch and then just stayed at the Four Seasons for kobe beef burger and vodka. it was excellent. Thursday for lunch we ate at the Enchantment hotel in Sedona-bad food but you cant beat the red rocks for atmosphere! We went straight from Sedona to Cowboy Ciao simply BECAUSE WE HAD TO HAVE THE STETSON CHOPPED. It may be the best salad we have ever had. We considered going back for lunch on Friday but since the weather was really bad we went to kierland and ate an Zinc. Back when, i think silver bear or ljero said that if we go to Balthazar in NYC, then Zinc is a poor substitute. And it is-the burger (we are big with meat) tasted like my mother's bad meat loaf and the pommes frites, which looked amazing, were overcooked. and the waiter at zinc and cowboy had the same issues. they tried to appear really cool and put together and didnt write anything down and than got it all wrong---another pet peeve of mine.

                                                                    but the bad food experiences of scottsdale were a faded memory as we dined at Binkley's last night. While the amount of food at the 5 course tasting was obscene, the confluence of flavors and aromas and textures were amazing. the curry pear soup was delectable, the short ribs were like butter, the marche salad rivaled the stetson! I do not understand why the Binkleys dont venture to a more beautiful place to further enhance the dining experience. the food is so outrageously superb, the service supreme; yet, the place itself is so ordinary. i would think in a different place they could get two seatings. We sat at 845 and only once couple sat down after us so by 10, most tables were empty. Anyway, i would come back to this area just to dine there again.

                                                                    We leave today to return to a foot of snow. I want to thank all you foodies (esp. ljero, ejs1492 and bill hunt) for all your wisdom, humor and patience.

                                                                    1. re: marbet815

                                                                      Marbet: So happy to hear you liked binkley's! We made a reservation there in March.....cannot decide where else to go! did you eat outside or in? what did you think about the outside area?

                                                                      RE: Enchantment--we did that last time. gorgeous views, picturesque drive, but Enchantment restaurant was bad! Wish I would have known you were going out b/c if your SO likes turquoise, there is a great little shoppe.

                                                                      Re: Cowboy Ciao--I love that salad...glad you did, too....question is: did you like anything else? Did you go to Kaz Bar?

                                                                      Re: Four Seasons....it is so pretty there---you hate to stay in, but the views are great, service exemplary and always has great food. did you try the kobe sliders? hope you made a sunset on the deck!

                                                                      Travel safe!

                                                                      1. re: ljero

                                                                        And greasewood flats, of course! :)

                                                                        It was nice to talk with you, marbet!

                                                                        1. re: ljero

                                                                          ljero--nothing else at cowboy was edible except for the bacon brittle which was outrageous. We didnt go to Kaz Bar because we had come straight from Sedona. The breakfast at Four Seasons was amazing. get the eggs over easy and on the side get flour tortillas, pico de gallo and sour cream. out of this world.

                                                                          We ate inside at Binkleys because it was chilly. While the outside was beautiful and warm with the fireplace and the outdoor heaters, you still hear the cars whizzing by on Carefree Highway so it ruins the mood.

                                                                          Lastly, we checked out Royal Palms since we didnt eat at T. Cooks. the hotel is absolutely stunning. Very Bel-Air. The grounds are breathtaking. We had drinks at the bar which is very cozy.

                                                                          Have a great trip next month and tell me if you were able to take advantage of any of my posts. Where do you live in case i aqm visiting and need some chow info?

                                                                          1. re: marbet815

                                                                            I will let you know where we end up. Sat night we have reservations at Binkley's, and we may do Richardson's one night, as well.

                                                                            I live in Chicago, so please let me know if you are ever in town! You are in NY, right?

                                                                            thank you for the posts.

                                                                        2. re: marbet815

                                                                          Personally, I like the location of Binkley's. It's not hyped up with a bunch of neon and flash - that way you're concentrating on the food and not "Wow - look at that sunset!" ... oh, btw, you're foie gras is now cold. You're there for a food experience - not a nature walk. And I like the fact that there's only 18 tables. Keeps it more low key and special and I'm sure that's they way Kevin wants it - in fact, I know it is. The overhead is relatively low considering the quality of ingredients and thus allows him a lot more freedom when acquiring his product.

                                                                          Try to keep the whole picture in mind.

                                                                          1. re: marbet815

                                                                            I am 100% with you, regarding the venue for Binkley's. It's OK, but is not befitting such a wonderful restaurant. However, I will just assume that Chef Kevin, et al, have looked at the business plan and decided that this is the spot for their demographic and that the building allows them to do more from the kitchen. I'd love to hit the Lottery, buy a really nice space, and convince them to move, but that is not likely to happen. Glad that the food was really good there.

                                                                            Usually, the staff at Cowboy Ciao is right on top of things. I cannot recall even a misplaced plate, in all of the years that we've dined there.

                                                                            As for Zinc, I have been less impressed, than many other, respected members of this board, but then I've had the same feelings for several other hot-spots. Sorry that you did not get them at their best. However, I am past the age of being their demographic target, so it's not a big thing.

                                                                            Thanks for the report. Sorry that it was not 100%, as it should be.


                                                  3. I guess I will add my 2 cents to the mix.

                                                    I would not miss T Cooks. The combination of food and ambiance, are definately among the best the valley has to offer. Tip. If you take a quick left turn right as you pull into the hotel, there is a self parking area, where you can avoid valet parking (although I am sure it is complimentary if you are eating at the hotel). It is the perfect place for a special event dinner.

                                                    Personally I would pick T Cooks over Binkleys any day. I didn't absolutely love Binkleys, thought it was good, but I didn't think its fablousness (sic) justified how expensive it was. BTW, the portions on the tasting menu, are just right. Not too big, but you will not leave hungry (kudos to them for getting this right, as so many American restaurants feed us way too much food).

                                                    Cave Creek Coffee Company is a good coffee shop, not too far from the 4 seasons. They also have a nice wine bar.

                                                    Richardsons, is pretty casual Mexican, and very popular. Depending on what time of day, and which day of the week you go, you might encounter long waits. While the food is good, it is not upscale, or romantic in any way. Barrio Cafe, might be a better choice for innovative Mexican food (you can expect a wait there as well most nights).

                                                    Another tip, Cowboy Caio has a Bacon Brittle if you ask that is quite unusual. It is worth trying (I think they have it at the bar if you ask, and you can buy a little bag of it to go).

                                                    Kudos to you on your choices. I think you picked some real winners.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Booger

                                                      "Thank you for taking us to your special and beautiful Royal Palms. We had a wonderful time - have never been to any place quite like it. It is as serene and calm as it is professional - an unusual and fantastic combination."

                                                      This portion of a thank you note is from a guest, who divides her time between homes in Italy and AZ, and who had brunch with us this past Sunday at T.Cooks.

                                                    2. As I see differing opinions, just thought I'd throw out my 2 cents.

                                                      If you're considering it, I definitely wouldn't miss Binkley's. I haven't been to Mosaic & I love T. Cooks but the food at Binkley's is just plain awesome. The service is absolutely wonderful and it's very comfortable. I expect Kevin Binkley will get his James Beard award this year. I've even overheard folks there saying it is better than The French Laundry. I'm guessing that is going a bit overboard but not bad when you're getting compared to Restaurant magazine's #4 restaurant in the world.

                                                      I'm also a huge fan of Sea Saw (my top AZ two) but I see it's not in consideration. I actually think Binkley's is a great value as you can go big there and still pay about 1/2 of what it costs to go big at Sea Saw.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: ccl1111

                                                        Went to Mosaic for the first time on Saturday Feb 16, and it's not in the same league as Binkley's. To get a true idea of Binkley's go to the posting on their New Year's eve dinner. Usually these dinners are right there with Mother's and Valentine's for ok food and staff that would rather be somewhere else. Binkley's was a true food experience, but also fun and without any pretense (Kevin and Amy Binkley leading the kitchen crew banging pots at midnight). Mosaic is a beautiful room, service was very good but the food, while very good just wasn't quite as pure an experience. Maybe it was a bit too much fusion for us. Wine list is very good at Mosaic if that's important (we had two good half bottles, a white burgundy and a Talisman Cal pinot noir, not always easy to do half bottles).

                                                        Cave Creek Coffee is a neat place, very unStarbucks!

                                                        1. re: caeater

                                                          That NYE dinner was my posting and it is among the best and most extravagant dining experiences of my life. My only criticism is that the amuses bouches weren't quite up to snuff, but the rest of it was insanely gluttonous and delicious. The fact that it' so casual there, the servers a bit quirky, completely devoid of prentense and situated in a strip mall makes it all the more appealing to me.

                                                          1. re: ejs1492

                                                            We were dining at the same time as you, it was up there (in terms of food) with 3* Michelin restaurants in Europe.

                                                            1. re: caeater

                                                              wish i had known....we could have said hello!

                                                            2. re: ejs1492

                                                              Me, too. sounds great. I cannot wait to try it. How many courses do you recommend doing. I am going to read your post right now.

                                                              1. re: ljero

                                                                I just went after Valentine's Day and posted my complete menu; that should pop up with a quick search. I did four courses with pairings and I wouldn't do more than five. The four courses also included three amuse bouches and an intermezzo; so it was plenty of food.

                                                                It was AMAZING.

                                                                1. re: themis

                                                                  what do you guys think about outside v. inside in terms of ambience, etc?

                                                        2. Very good choices! If your looking for sushi I would either try Yasu Sushi Bistro or
                                                          Roka Akor which I believe just opened in Scottsdale.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: plsedntfdmodels

                                                            We just had a splendid meal at The Latilla Room at The Boulders -- a fine spot for a special occasion. We were a bit less enthusiastic about Roka Akor, preferring more traditional sushi establishments.

                                                            1. re: howaboutthat

                                                              Roka Akor really isn't about sushi. Its focus is the robata grill, not sushi.

                                                          2. When I go to Zinc Bistro I always order their Steak Frite, I have been comparing similar dishes in Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas and so far they win. Not sure about other offerings but if you like steak and perfect frites this is not to be missed. I have ordered it for lunch even though it is not on the lunch menu and they are happy to take care of me.

                                                            1. T. Cooks is the perfect place for a anniversary dinner..
                                                              Really like Binkleys too..
                                                              Mary Elaines or Durant's downtown is also a fav of ours..

                                                              1. The spots you chose are all very good, and each will yield a fine experience.
                                                                Do try the new 'high end' restaurant at The Four Seasons. Those that I know
                                                                who have tried it gave it rave reviews, although it is open only a short time.
                                                                Another good choice is Tonto Grill in Cave Creek. Nice drive from your
                                                                'headquarters' and excellent cuisine, without the over the top glitz of some
                                                                see and be seen places in Scottsdale. Should you find yourself in Downtown
                                                                Scottsdale and decide to stay for Dinner another reliable choice is
                                                                Roaring Fork.