Splurging in Phoenix
I'm headed out to Phoenix next weekend (a week from today) and wanted to know what good gourmet eats are in Phoenix. I try not to dine at chains or multi-location restaurants but rather try to support local joints. I've been recommended Tarbell. It's a special occassion so I'm not too concerned about cost for two of us. As I mentioned, I'll be out there a week from today so I hope I have a chance of scoring reservations at any of the places you recommend.
Heading to Sedona - any idea on yummy lunch spots?
Also any recommendations on a nice brunch? (Champagne brunch buffet, etc.)
Wow. Binkley's. Absolutely, an unqualified must. It may be the best meal of my entire life. Certainly the most memorable.
The food was excellent, creative, but not ridiculous (no confused fusion going on here)
Each dish was perfectly balanced, and perfectly portioned. Presentation was outstanding.
And the service was beyond compare. Immaculate, warm, individualized, and yet totally unpretentious and welcoming. I have never seen such an outstanding staff.
If I could, I would go every week... but it's expensive. But definitely worth the splurge for any special event.
The Superbowl sticky has some great recs. for all areas of the city. Most of the high-points are squarely hit. Also, there is a Sedona thread, with some recs. as well.
One of the better brunches (the best is now history - The Marquesa), is T. Cooks' and well worth the $ and the effort.
Take a look at the sticky and then ask specific questions, based on the recs. listed there. The Valley of the Sun has some great fine-dining, though a few of the higher-end spots are falling to the "steakhouse" genre, and Phoenix does not need any more steakhouses. Seems that the MBAs, who make these decisions think that "me too," is innovative... Most people here, do not. Still, the dining scene will offer you as many James Beard Award winning chefs, as almost any city in the US, with LV a possible exception.
I second Sea Saw, Kai or Binkley's
Others (more casual, less expensive) are Cowboy Ciao, Rancho Pinot or semi-small/local chains Eddie V's or Wildfish
Some small-chain (local-ish) recommendations for splurging are Mastros or the oh-so-over-the top Ocean Club (warning, both can be a "scene")
Or, I would go totally the other direction and head to Coup des Tartes and while the food isn't a tremendous splurge its BYOB so visit an amazing wine store (Sportsmans is my first choice for ease, location, etc. for you on your trip) and buy some AMAZING wine, then enjoy a darling, intimate, delicious meal perfect for your wine.
Similarly, and with some mixed reviews, head to Quiessence at the Farm at South Mountain. Try to reserve a great table by the fireplace or in the tiny "private room" and enjoy the chefs tasting menu.
For brunch, the Phoenician is great or I adore Bloom, but Bloom is not the champagne/buffet type brunch that the Phoenician boasts, but rather a la carte menu.
Another Arizona-local brunch choice is Tradiciones on 16th Street S of the I-10. It's an enormous and largely fantastic Mexican restaurant located next to an amazing Mexican grocery store that is worth the trip alone. Try a cilantro margarita!
Have fun and happy dining!
Binkley's or Kai, but they are very different experiences.
Binkley's is an awesome experience and if you go with the multi-course dinner, you get numerous plates of wonderfully creative food.
Kai is a high-end Native American restaurant with some outstanding selections.
Both are on the outskirts of Phoenix metro, but well worth the trip.
6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331
5594 W. Wildhorse Pass Blvd, Chandler, AZ 85226
Wish I could recommend a good place in Sedona proper, but alas I have yet to find one that I think is worth the drive ( I live in Phoenix). As for gourmet eats in Phoenix, if it's a special occasion I can't help but think of: SeaSaw (think it's seasaw.net). The chef got his beard award, so with high winter season upon us - along with the small size of his restaurant - it could be hard to score a spot. However, since it's only 2 of you, your chances are much higher. Add to that the fact that you've a weeks notice and I bet you can make a score. First rate wines (attached to cowboy ciao and a jazz club that escapes me now - you'll see the link on the site) - I'd go with the omakase menu with the wine pairings. It's been my ultimate here in the valley for years now.
There are many worthy restaurants, so can go with more detailed recs if you can prioritize any prefs i.e; cuisine prefs or ones to avoid; view; outdoor dining; wines or not; music; ambiance - etc. With that in mind a more detailed recommendation could be made, but my overall has got to be seasaw hands down (fyi it's not a sushi place, but more nuevo Japanese ish - read the online menu :-)
hope it helps - and post if you can where you went and how you and yours fared!