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May 5, 2009 09:19 PM

Lunch Near Desert Botanical Garden in Scottsdale

My wife and I plan to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden a week from Saturday. Any lunch suggestions? Nothing too fancy. Preferences are Italian, Mexican or good American. Coming from Tucson and returning Saturday afternoon, so alcohol is not relevant. Money not a major issue but, like most people, it's a bigger issue than it used to be.

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  1. DBG is actually in Phoenix, although at the point where Phoenix converges with Tempe & Scottsdale.

    Nearby options open for Saturday lunch:

    Honey Bear's BBQ -- bare bones atmosphere, but good barbecue. Original location on Van Buren near DBG is demonstrably better than other locations.

    Caffe Boa -- Italian / Eastern European hybrid. Nice patio with mist cooling and plenty of shade in Downtown Tempe

    Restaurant Mexico -- Mexican classic on Mill Avenue

    Rula Bula -- Irish Pub with better than average pub food

    House of Tricks -- near ASU campus; classic place with Southwestern / Mediterranean hybrid menu

    Cornish Pasty Company -- pasties stuffed all sorts of ways -- a modern take on the traditional miner's lunch

    Regions -- promising new place on Mill. Regular all-American menu plus specialties from a different region of the country each month

    La Bocca -- craft pizzas, bruschetta, salads, etc.

    House of Tricks
    114 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281

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

    Restaurant Mexico
    423 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

    Honey Bears Barbeque
    5012 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ

    Rula Bula
    401 S Mill Ave Ste 101, Tempe, AZ 85281

    La Bocca Pizzeria
    699 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

    Regions Bistro & Bar
    640 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ

    1. Specific to a Saturday in May, I'd take advantage of the end of spring and hit a local farmer's market... downtown PHX, Scottsdale or Vincent's. Each are about 15-20 minutes from the DBG and are both unique and unique to Saturdays. If you were coming in July, I'd go with regular restaurants recs. May is quite warm, but not crazy hot.

      Another option is Tempe's Mill ave - also nearby. This presents a number of eating options and also is easy to visit on a Sat. Both Mill and the Scottsdale market are also popular places for strolling if you want to do a little tourist action and see shops, etc.

      I'm not sure if we have any Italian/Mexican/American spots that are anymore distinct from Tucson when it comes to a casual lunch. But if you are into Asian or Mexican food, we have some awesome markets that are worth a stop. Ranch for Mexican and Lee Lee's and Mekong Plaza for Asian. Both brands are gems and offer lunch options, plus something you'd not expect in AZ.

      1. You are very close to a large variety of restaurants in Scottsdale.

        Doesn't fit your criteria necessarily, but we went to "Noodles Ranch", which is Vietnamese food (but not divey, and a somewhat upscale atmosphere). The Noodle bowls (Bun) are filled with fresh ingredients (lots of veggies and herbs).

        We have been twice to see the exhibit at the DBG (in the span of 6 days actually), and really enjoyed it.

        Fine's Cellar (which is in Old Town Scottsdale, probably less than 10 minutes from DSG) would be a good choice for good American. You could easily make a meal of their cheese platter, and an app. It is a good value, and very reasonable if you don't go crazy with wine (which you said you wouldn't).

        Noodles Ranch
        2765 N Scottsdale Rd Ste 107, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

        1. I had to do a double-take when I read this title..."huh? DBG is not in Scottsdale!"

          Anyway, I definitely second the House of Tricks recommendation. If the weather permits, sit outside and take in the off-Mill Ave. view. Tricks has a wonderful variety of fish and meat dishes. In fact, the Filet Mignon tempted my vegetarian eye. There is also a bar in the middle of the patio that is nice to sit at while waiting for a table.


            1. re: crsin

              I can't speak for others, but I'm sick and tired of the thinking that most attractions in the Metro Area are located in Scottsdale. If the confusion occurred equally in both directions, with people mistakenly saying that some Scottsdale attractions are in Phoenix, I'd be more understanding. However, that's not usually what occurs. Instead, one larger-than-life suburb seems to be misunderstood as the epicenter of all that is worthwhile in the region. I should be clear that I don't think there was any bad intent on the OP's part, but the error bugs me enough that I must issue a gentle correction.

              1. re: silverbear

                Well stated, Silverbear. And this comes from someone who LIVES in Scottsdale! (even worse....NORTH Scottsdale! Eek!) There are so many great finds outside of Scottsdale that are worth exploring and I find myself dining out beyond my neighborhood more than ever before.

                1. re: silverbear

                  I'm from Tucson. I have represented clients in the 64th and McDowell area (Scottsdale people) and didn't know precisely where the Phoenix/Scottsdale boundary is located. That said, I happen to agree generally with your point. While we don't have as many suburbs down here south of the Gila, there is a tendency among many to assume Tucson and ends north of River in the high-rent, Foothills part of town.

                  1. re: silverbear

                    Oh, such as how the Phoenician has a Scottsdale mailing address despite its name and having only a small bit of the property on the Scottsdale side of the zip code boundary? Or how Camelback Inn prefers to say they're in Scottsdale even though they're in the very heart of prestigious Paradise Valley?

                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      At a party - someone there was on the phone talking to an old high school friend on the east coast, saying she lived in "South Scottsdale" ... actually ... Gilbert.

                    2. re: silverbear

                      I think it's much more a misspeak as a product of not giving it direct thought than it is anyone consciously assuming there's nothing in Phoenix (that'd really be an absurd assumption, and that person does deserve to be corrected). But, anyone who cares enough to be on this board can see that the posts regarding restaurants/attractions for Phoenix outnumber Scottsdale, and many Scottsdale restaurants are listed as being in Phoenix. Just on the first page right now, for example, has the thread "Heirloom (PHX)" from ejs. If I'm correct, ejs is a Scottsdale resident, and I'm sure knows that Heirloom is in Scottsdale, but he categorized it as Phoenix. Now, I obviously can't speak for him, but I doubt this was intentional or the product of any assumptions he has. Just happens.

                      1. re: crsin

                        Although I'm not always consistent, I generally try to categorize my reviews on CH by general metro area (Phoenix, Tampa, etc), but I'm usually more specific on my blog.

                        1. re: crsin

                          It's one thing to use "Phoenix" as a generic term for the entire Metropolitan Area. Using the core city's name as a sort of synecdoche for the surrounding region is established practice around the nation.

                          It quite another thing to incorrectly assign attractions in the core city to one of its suburbs. That occurs more frequently than it should with regard to Scottsdale, and I'll continue to pick that nit when it bothers me.

                          If someone believes, incorrectly, that the Phoenician or Kierland is located in Scottsdale, I can understand that because both properties have Scottsdale mailing addresses and market themselves as being in Scottsdale. I'm less forgiving of incidents like the one in which Martha Stewart stated that Pizzeria Bianco, far away from Scottsdale in Downtown Phoenix, was in Scottsdale.

                          Again, I sense no bad intent on the OP's part, and this isn't about him. I pointed out the minor geographical error and then gave a variety of restaurant recommendations in response to the request. Anyone who is uncomfortable with that package can look away.

                          1. re: crsin

                            Agreed. The neighborhoods to the immediate east and north of DBG are Scottsdale and even most residents in the area have no idea of the exact borders. Tourists probably look at a map and see the DBG is 1.5 miles to Old Town, 2.5 miles to Mill and 10 or some miles to downtown PHX. So while DBG has a PHX address, it's much more situated to the restaurant offerings of Scottsdale and Tempe, two distinct cities (and this is reflected in the suggestions).