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Jul 15, 2008 12:08 PM

Moving to Carefree...

We are moving to Carefree in a couple weeks and I was wondering about night life. We are accustomed to the east coast's little neighborhood dive bars....ethnic neighborhoods with great street food and upscale dining within walking distance of our house. I know that there is nothing in "walking distance'" from our new home....but where do the 30-something foodies hang out??? We are big fans of Binkley's and will be making it there often as its just on the other side of the mountain from us....but what about the dive bars....the local scene to see good bands and have good beer???? ANY info is welcome...I'll take ALL suggestions!!!! I've never lived in AZ....I'm an east coaster at heart...used to NYC life. This will be a big change for me!

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  1. Some fun places in the vicinity are:
    Cave Creek Coffee Company..... an eclectic wine bar/coffee house/ indy music venue.

    Cocomo Joe's....great Bands on the is decent carribean themed...owned by Mastro's Group
    great tropical drinks and beer!!! Fun Crowd!

    Harold's in Cave biker/football bar during season. Big Pittsburgh Steeler Bar! Great Fried is nothing special.

    Armitage Wine Bar DC Ranch....
    Great small plates and panini's

    Sol Y Sombra

    3 Replies
    1. re: ciaogal

      To the fun category I would add Primetime - a great sports bar near Grayhawk.

      Another dinner spot up there would be Painted Horse.

      There are enough Ray's Pizza in NYC, but there also happens to be one on Carefree Hwy and I-17 (there's a grocery store in that complex).

      1. re: azhotdish


        Ray's is 3134 W Carefree Hwy 85086 (the one on 101/FLW is better IMO)

        Primetime Sports Grill
        20701 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

        Painted Horse Cafe
        10989 E Dynamite Blvd # 103, Scottsdale, AZ

        1. re: azhotdish

          I would add Uncle Louie's. In the Terravita mall - where the Albertson's market is at Scottsdale RD and Carefree HWY. . A little Italian joint. It's nothing to shout about, but it seems to be a neighborhood kind of place.
          In the same strip mall, you'll find The Good Egg. Decent breakfasts.
          I'll second the recs for Cave Creek Coffee. When I'm in town, I'll go grab my coffee there each morning, and bring some whole beans back home.

    2. Not in the "dive" category, but wanted to make sure you were aware of Cafe Bink -- the bistro baby brother of Binkley's. Much more casual & price-friendly. Sit at the bar & nosh.

      Cafe Bink
      36889 N Tom Darlington Dr, Carefree, AZ 85377

      1 Reply
      1. re: emmaAmethyst

        that is already on our list...can't wait!!!

      2. Welcome to Carefree! I live just a few miles north of the "downtown" (that's a bit of a joke) and love it up here. You are in for a huge change from NYC...but if you love the desert you found the perfect spot. There reall aren't any small dive bars like in an urban sense. You will have to ask for that in a general phx post then drive a bit to find those.

        Up in Carefree/Cave Creek there are fun things to do. In downtown Carefree there are a few restaraunts - none are fantastic, but they are nice and close. The little wine bar/cafe close to the sundial is very pretty and comfy (the food is hit or miss). The tapas place downtown is quite good.

        The Boulders resort is just down the street. I've had mediocre results with their gourmet room. Just a warning. The cute little shoping mall El Pedregal is filled with cute art shops/touristy things and I think there are 2 pretty decent restaurants on the top floor. They don't seem to last long up there, so I can never keep the names straight. Pretty nice atmosphere and decent food/fancy cocktail kind of places.

        Harolds has been mentioned. It's in Cave Creek and quite the hang out. The food really is pretty bad, but if you go on a fri night it is pretty amusing the things you will see. A lot of real cowboys and plenty of posers. Lots of bikers real and the "attorney/weekend warrior" type...especially Sat/Sun a.m. The closest thing to a real DIVE is a biker bar across the street from Harolds...I can't remember the name but you will find it. The pres of the Hells Angels hangs out there (I wish I was kidding). It is fun to people watch if you are into the unusual. Some of the women are dressed up in the most outrageous, tiny leather motocycle's a hoot.

        The Cavecreek Coffee Co. has been mentioned. It's a real hang out. Always something going on there. They used to have a good music scene at night. Not sure about now. LeSans Souci is the most precious old fashioned french restaurant (closed in summer), but I just saw a for sale sign, so you'll have to keep your eye open. It's kind of across the street from Binkley's.

        For pizza the Bad Donkey at Tom Darlington & Cave Creek is really quite nice. The couple that own it are locals and really try to treat you well. The cobb salad is pretty darn good. The pizza's are pretty good.

        For lunch (other than Cafe Bink), go down Scottsdale Road to the Safeway/Target center. There you will find an outpost of an Az legend, the Herd Museum. Check out the museum for indian art, but most importantly have lunch at the cafe. The mini cakes are delicious.

        Down on Jomax is a restaurant called Mosaic. It is pretty upscale and very nice for a long dinner. As someone else mentioned, check out the DC Ranch strip mall (it's very high end--but still a strip mall!) for the tapas place. Very good. Also try the fish restaurant there, I think it's Eddie V's? The happy hour is pretty darn good.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Elmo

          Thanks Elmo. I figured it would be totally different than home. The sense that I got on our last visit is that we would be on the younger end of the spectrum when we got out there....figured we'd be going into downtown Scottsdale/PHX area. We went to Harold's last time we were in....and I even lived in Pittsburgh for 3 years....the food really was matched the service.

          1. re: CheesemongersWife

            Another place that has been omitted is El Encanto. Nice view, right off the golf course.

            El Encanto Mexican Cafe
            6248 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

            1. re: azhotdish

              I have to agree with you... El Encanto is a great spot for Mexican food. I love it there! The outside patio is great (of course not in the summer months). If you like margaritas, try their prickley pear. It is delicious!

              1. re: santhi23az

                Everything looks so 'tropical''s something I'm just not used to. Very resort-ish....almost like a full time vacation spot. it should be a great adventure for this die hard east coaster!

                1. re: CheesemongersWife

                  I am also a die hard east coaster and it did take some time to get used to. But, I do feel like I am on vacation every day of the week :)

              2. re: azhotdish

                El Encanto, while okay, is not on a golf course. Are you thinking of Tonto Bar and Grill? It's at Cave Creek Road and Rancho Manana - a converted ranch house which has a great view of the golf course and very good food. It's one of my favorite Cave Creek/Carefree restaurants.

                1. re: BevK

                  Bev, you're right, I was thinking Tonto Bar & Grill. Usually only get up there around FBR Open week.

          2. What's wrong with Carefree Station? If someone has already mentioned it, I apologize. Too..many...words...

            2 Replies
            1. re: wynnedog

              If you like Tonto Bar and Grill Cartwrights their sister restaurant is great their Seafood preparations!
              They also offer Game Meat such as Elk and Buffalo.....We love to eat near the fireplace!


              1. re: wynnedog

                You know, I've given Carefree Station 3 chances. 1 brunch, 2 dinner. While the place is lovely and the menu looks good it is pretty expensive and kind of misses the mark IMHO. But it's so charming I do like going. Will give it one more chance when the weather gets cooler.

              2. Oak's Diner & Flapjacks
                6219 E. Cave Creek Rd.

                A great breakfast dive. They do all the usual morning items very well and have an extensive selection of their own creations. Real hash browns served here.