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Phoenix Chowhound Challenge/Help


Here is the challenge hoping you will be able to help us out. My bestfriend and I have a tradition of having dinner together once a month. The rules for the dinner are very simple

1. It must considered a fine dining establishment (No Diners, Drive-Ins or Dives for this meal)
2. He who picks the place pays (we alternate months to keep costs down and creativity up)
3. It must be a place that neither one of us has ever been to.

We have been doing this religiously for over 6 years now. It has become one of the things I love most about my life. It's a treat that both of us look forward to every month. We don't take his wife or my girlfriend, it's all about a couple of foodies enjoy great food and wine (hopefully). The challenge is that it has been 6 years of our dinners plus dining out with others. We have month's where we really struggle to find places. So who better to ask for suggestions than the chowhound gang.

Below I have listed the best list we could come up of places that we have been.

We will also be hitting R.E.M and Bourbon Steak this fall/winter.

Sorry about the length of the list:

All American Tavern Kinkaids
Asia de Cuba La Hacienda
Atlas Bistro Latitude 30
Barrio Café Lon's at the Hermosa
Binkley's Luc's
Bistro 24 Maestro's
Bloom Mary Elaine's
Blue Café McCormick and Schmicks
Blue Wasabi Methode Bistro
Braziere Mi Cocina Mi Pais
Camus Michael's at the Citadel
Canal Mortons
Chart House Mosaic
Chelsea's Kitchen Mucho Gusto
Chevront's Ocean Club
Christopher Frem Brassie Old Town Tortilla Factory
Citrus Café Olive and Ivy
City Hall Steakhouse Pepin
Cornado Café Pizzeria Bianco
Cout de Tartes Quiessence
Cowboy Ciao Radio Milano
Coyocan Steak House Richardsons
Cyclo Roaring Fork
Deseo Roka Akor
Different Pointe of View Roy's
Digestif Salt Cellar
Durants San Carlos Bay
Eddie Matney's Sea Saw
Eleve Sol y Sombra
Fate T Cooks
Fiamma Taggia
Fine's Cellar Tapino
Fogo E Brasa Tarbells
Furio Trader Vic's
House of Tricks Trente Cinq
House of Tricks Vincent on Camelback
Houston's Voltaire
Humphrey's Pacific Rim Vu
Italian Grotto Zest
Kai Zinc Bistro

Highlights this year have been NOCA and Digestif both places were very new when we tried them (usually we waited 2-3 months after a place opens to let them work out the kinks) and delivered in a major way. We both agreed easily part of our top 10 in the valley. So please start suggesting places we can always use the help.


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  1. Such is Life/Asi es la Vida (same level as Coyoacán) and Sophie's Bistro might fit in with the rest of that list. Bill Hunt has said good things about Backstreet Wine Salon, but I haven't been there myself--maybe he can say where it might fall on the spectrum defined by your previous selections. Also, Razz's seems to have some fans here, but that's another place I haven't made it to yet.

    Asi Es La Vida
    3602 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

    Backstreet Wine Salon
    3603 E Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

    Razz's Restaurant & Bar
    10315 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

    Sophie's French Bistro
    2320 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ

    1. Caffe Boa in Tempe has an extensive wine list & a knowledgable staff. I have only been for happy hour apps, but they were outstanding. Per thier website the menu changes weekly:

      Caffe Boa
      398 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281

      1. I would suggest adding Rancho Pinot on the list of places to try. Also Estate House (haven't been yet myself but have heard good things). Cibo would also be good if you haven't tried that yet.

        603 N. 5th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 850103

        Rancho Pinot Grill
        6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

        The Estate House
        7134 E. Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        1. BYOB at Boulevard Cafe' in Fountain Hills (Ask if it is still BYOB). Nice family french.

          1. Saw someone already mentioned Estate House. Daniel's is on our list to try as is Cafe Bink.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ccl1111

              Daniel's on Camelback? They have been closed for several months.

                1. re: drewb123

                  Just tried calling their number--it has been disconnected.

                  1. re: hohokam

                    wow. my husband loves that restaurant we havent been in years but my neighbors went a few months ago..

                    1. re: drewb123

                      I peeked at Yelp and saw a couple of reports from May and June of this year, but I have no idea when the people who wrote those reports last ate there.

            2. What about North @ Kierland - or even Bar North. Cartwright's up in Cave Creek. Sassi. Pane E Vino. All places that I really enjoy.

              Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House
              6710 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

              North Restaurant
              15024 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

              10455 E Pinnacle Peak Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

              Pane E Vino Restaurant
              8900 E Pinnacle Peak Rd # D1, Scottsdale, AZ

              1. have you been to padres, on camelback yet?

                Padre's Modern Mexican
                1044 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                1. These are great we have done Backstreet and really liked it, Sophie's was good too. I know we talked about Razz's a couple of months ago and heard great things about it so that one is definately on our list for the future. Asi es la Vida sounds intriguing as well. My dining friend has done Rancho Pinot so I can't use that one, we did Estate House. I have had a few people rave to me about Cibo so that one too will go on the list. Eric and I met in our fraternity at ASU so we are big Cafe Boa fans and like it even better in the new location, even though I miss those cheap beer and wing deals at Long Wongs. Took the girlfriend to Cafe Bink last month and we loved it. Great simple food. French BYOB is always a major appeal we both live in Central Phoenix do you think it is worth the drive to Fountain Hills? We have done Sassi, North and I have done Padre's many times great lunches there. I haven't heard of Pane E Vino could you tell me a little more about that place.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: bpreston

                    Brian, can we switch lives for a month or so? :-)

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Wow, you've been to some great places and hit most of my faves but I do have a few ideas for you. Awesome tradition, btw.

                      I've had one of my best overall dining experiences at Fusion in Scottsdale. It's across Buckboard from the new W Hotel and I think the fact that it managed to stay in business during the construction of the W is proof that they know what it takes to keep customers coming back, even when it's a total pain to get to the place.

                      Fusion - http://www.azeats.com/fusion/

                      I would also highly suggest going to one of the wine pairing dinners at D'Vine in Mesa. I can't comment on the Chandler location, but I've been to three of the monthly wine dinners at the Mesa location and each one was fantastic. It's the last Wednesday of the month, here's what's planned for next week although I think it might be sold out (they cap it at 25 diners).

                      $60 per person (generous pours


                      Amuse Bouche

                      Pan seared pine nut crusted scallop served with house made apricot jam

                      Hors d' Oeuvres

                      Rabbit Pate
                      Hand made black pepper crusted pate, served with avocado and tomato with crostini and sea salt


                      Asparagus Salad
                      Tender asparagus, golden raisins, hard boiled quail egg and celery hearts all tossed in a tarragon vinaigrette


                      Classic Provincial dish of seafood in a spicy saffron broth


                      Loup de Mer
                      Wild Mediterranean sea bass filet, roasted then served over potato gnocchi served in a white wine cream sauce all topped with a fresh tomato relish


                      Cardamom Coffee Mousse
                      Rich and creamy coffee mousse accented with a raspberry glaze

                    2. re: bpreston

                      WOW, what a cool tradition, I want to switch lives with you, too! Have you been to Rokerij? Owned by the Richardson's Family of Restaurants. It is one of my all time favorites. Check out the happy hour specials for some yummy apps. before dinner.


                    3. I see you've been to sea saw and blue wasabi, so how about sushi? If you live in north central Hana is right near you at 7th ave and missouri, and is amazing, always extremely fresh fish but also always very crowded. Or even Yasu sushi near pv mall, which i've never been to but many have raved about on this board could be an option.

                      Also, I know you're going to Bourbon steak but for a slightly less expensive steak, maybe don and charlies in old town Scottsdale? It's a Scottsdale institution and if you go during spring training you could probably spot a big leaguer. It's a fun atmosphere with lots of sports memorabilia and a little more bbq twist than a standard steakhouse

                      Hana Japanese Eatery
                      5524 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

                      Yasu Sushi Bistro
                      4316 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032

                      Don & Charlie's
                      7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AnonymousWaitress

                        Oh yeah, Hana. Not sure how that one got past me.


                        Definitely a good choice. BYOB.

                      2. Marcellino's is hands down the best Italian restaurant in the Valley. They're closed for the month of August but is a definite must for to-die-for pasta! Yasu Sushi Bistro is the the place to go for fresh and delicious sushi, especially if you're looking to try new things that you don't see everyday. Also, Eddie Matney has a new place in Scottsdale, Eddie's House. Check it out!

                        1. How about Delux? I don't know if it's "fine dining", but it's tasty, and definately not a diner or dive.
                          Tapino on Shea is great, too.

                          3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                          Tapino Kitchen & Wine Bar
                          7000 E Shea Blvd # 1010, Scottsdale, AZ

                          1. How about:

                            Elements and Salt Cellar? Both favorite places to go out for excellent dining with friends.

                            5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

                            Salt Cellar Restaurant
                            550 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257