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May 23, 2009 11:19 AM

Romantic, relatively inexpensive Scottsdale PHX?

Wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of quality food that is not terribly expensive (entrees $9-$20) & provides good ambiance. Just moved to PHX yesterday and my girlfriend is coming to visit. Hoping to have a nice dinner where we can spend some quality time and not spend a ridiculous amount.

Almost entirely opposed to chain restaurants, to which there appears plenty in this city. I feel they lack authenticity and do not provide the ability of experiencing the local community and local culinary trends of a city. That having been said, I hope to meld the authenticity requirement with good food, atmosphere and price.

I have a car so distance is not an issue.


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  1. Is distance REALLY not an issue? When asking for a rec for somewhere within Phoenix or Scottsdale, you're describing a pretty huge chunk of land, so if you could either give a more specific location or type of food you're thinking, that would help a lot in narrowing it down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: crsin

      Sorry, you've got a good point. We are staying in Paradise Valley so somewhere close to there (within a 10 minute drive). No real limitations on type of food only that it not be a chain restaurant. Thanks!

    2. If you would consider lunch instead of dinner, I nominate T. Cooks at The Royal Palms Resort (5200 E. Camelback Rd.) Walking the grounds of this gorgeous, romantic place costs nothing and luncheon is within your budget. My husband and I were there for lunch last week and enjoyed it as much - if not more - than we have any of our other visits in the past ten years. I ordered the Roasted Red Onion-Rosemary Soup ($8) and Hummus-Stuffed Ravioli-Goat Cheese Salad ($11). My husband also chose soup and had the Tenderloin Burger ($14) that was enough for both of us. Our lunches were outstanding; well-prepared and well-served.

      Search some of the posts here on CH for t.cooks. It is old Arizona with gracious ambience and history. Welcome to Arizona and welcome to Chowhound!

      1. "chain restaurants, to which there appears plenty in this city" -- no more so than in any other American metropolitan area. It's an often-repeated, but utterly incorrect stereotype that Phoenix is somehow more saturated with chains that most of the rest of the country.

        As for your request, I'd suggest Chelsea's Kitchen. It's in Phoenix, but just a few hundred yards from the border with Paradise Valley. The interior space is nice, but there's also a nice shaded patio along the canal. Nice atmosphere -- somewhat upscale but not formal. The food is loosely Southwestern with myriad other influences.

        A second choice would be Radio Milano, an Italian place under the same ownership as Chelsea's. The setting isn't quite as compelling, but the food is good.

        Finally, I'd suggest looking into Noca, a restaurant at 32nd St. & Camelback. Normally, Noca would be above your price range, but on Sunday nights there's a simple supper: three courses for $35. The main course is usually an outstanding rendition of a classic entree like fried chicken, steak frites, or short ribs.

        Chelsea's Kitchen
        5040 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85018

        Milano Radio
        3950 E Campbell Ave, Phoenix, AZ

        3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

        5 Replies
        1. re: silverbear

          ". . .utterly incorrect stereotype that Phoenix is somehow more saturated with chains that most of the rest of the country."

          Well stated, silverbear.

          Noca seems to be the darling of the foodie world right now. I'd love to give it a try.

          1. re: ginael

            Right. I've wondered where the idea came from that the Phoenix area has so much more of an abundance of chains than other cities. My guess is that we have so many great restaurants that set up in fairly unassuming or non-descript buildings or strip malls, that the free-standing, highly visible/accessivle, often flashy and sometimes huge buildings the chains set up in give this illusion? Anyone know of its origins??

            1. re: crsin

              There are certain areas where chain restaurants are thick as thieves. This is mostly thanks to the shopping malls we have around town. Look in the area around Chandler Fashion Center or Arrowhead Towne Center and you'll see lots and lots of very popular chains, with less than half a dozen independent eateries thriving in the midst of Cheesecake Factory, PF Chang's, and the like.

              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                Absolutely right, but show me a major metro area where a similar environment doesn't exist. Suburban malls surrounded by chain restaurants? I've seen that in King of Prussia, PA; Troy, MI; Bloomington, MN; Plano, TX; White Plains, NY; and many other places.

          2. re: silverbear

            Got to add Postino to the mix on this one as well. Also, Rokerjii is pretty darn good for romance.

          3. as funny as it sounds... the Arizona Canal is pretty romantic especially at sunset or after dark. there are a few places that have patios over looking the canal and as long as the misters are on it is not really that hot in the evenings.

            I agree with Chelsea's being a good choice for a mid price, but Noca is a bit pricey. There is an area in Old Town Scottsdale that i relatively new with a few choices for restaurants along the canal. I think it is called Southbridge (I guess they get the name from the location, south of the bridge). I have been to Canal restaurant and it is medium price but the food is really good. if you are in the mood to make snacks into dinner then you will really like it. Save room for desserts because they rock. Canal has a great indoor outdoor bar that has huge garage doors that can open for an awesome open air feel. Metro is a french Brasserie in the same area with a patio but does not overlook the water. very cute spot with bar seating as well as tables. I have been here for brunch and it rocked. I got stuffed and had a few of their signature cocktails and it was not hard on the wallet. I have never been to Olive and Ivy but people tend to like it.

            Good luck

            1 Reply
            1. re: azlocal

              I also have never been to Olive & Ivy, but there are multiple people on this board who have been very "vocal" in the past about really poor experiences there. It may often have a crowd, but the general consensus, on this boards at least, is that it's entirely skippable.

              I do agree that Metro might be a decent option, and I'm with Silverbear on Chelsea's Kitchen. You might think about The Mission--entrees might go slightly beyond budget but you can easily make a solid meal out of a few of their tacos/apps/salads/soups. Reports have been that it can get loud at times, so this may not be the ideal place if you're planning for a Friday/Saturday night. Also, Rancho Pinot has excellent food, is probably a better match for "romantic," and it is possible to stay in budget (or just slightly beyond) if you're careful what you order.

              Rancho Pinot
              6208 N Scottsdale Rd, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

              The Mission
              3815 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            2. Keep in mind authentic doesn't necessarily mean good ;)

              Voltaire is an old-school French restaurant in the middle of Scottsdale (tucked away on McDonald in between Hayden and Pima) that sounds like it might fit the bill quite nicely. I should mention the place doubles as God's waiting room; you'll be the youngest people in the dining room by several decades. But where else are you going to find duck a l'orange or cherries Jubilee on the menu? Entrees run for the most part 25-30, but they do have a coupon on their website ( ) for buy-one-get-one-free entrees with the purchase of 2 beverages.

              8340 E McDonald Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85250