Phoenix, Scottsdale Recommendations
Hubby and I are going to be in Phoenix and Scottsdale for a week. Would like some really good suggestions for breakfast and lunch. Will have two nights free for dinner. We are interestedin everything, dives and nice places. Some really good breakfast places would be great. TIA
Pizzeria Bianco for pizza -- so that you can go back to LA and make the inevitable, but necessary, comparisons to Pizzeria Mozza.
Chino Bandido for fusion Mexican Chinese (yes, Mexican *and* Chinese).
As for a nice dinner that's sort of unique to the Valley, I would suggest Kai, which offers Southwestern/Native American cuisine you won't find in LA, or generally anywhere else.
And be prepared for 2+ hour wait at Pizzeria Bianco. Is it worth it? Depends on who you ask. Yes, the food is amazing - even the salads. But waiting for 2+ hours for anything except maybe an emergency room doctor (and I gotta be half dead before I will wait that long) is not something that I'm interested in doing. Especially since the wine list in the bar was fairly pricey.
Chino Bandido is really interesting food. I know it sounds like a weird combination, but if you're open minded, you will find yourself truly pleasanlty surprised. However, it's a VERY plain casual place - both locations - one in the W. Valley, the other in Chandler. Neither are convenient to Scottsdale.
Kai - I've never gone, but all reports are positive. Expensive meal, but regional food that you are not likely to experience elsewhere. Quite a long drive from Phx/Scottsdale, but this would be worth it.
I'd add Cowboy Ciao to the list for sure. I hear The Mission is very good. There are plenty of steak places to choose from, but I've tried to list those that have food you may not encounter elsewhere.
Depending on where you are coming from, it would be a kick to go to Ranch Market. Like visiting Mexico for a few hours. My favorite is the one at 16th & Roosevelt, mostly because they have Tradiciones Restaurant as part of the grocery, and the Margarita's are unique and very, very good. Try a blueberry or a cilantro margarita - I know, crazy - but their good (and I don't like frou-frou drinks.)
Matt's Big Breakfast is in downtown Phoenix. It was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network.
We ate there on Friday 9/4/09 and it was very good. Fresh local strawberry jam for the thick toast, a cheesy Denver scramble, and the best hashbrowns I've ever eaten. I don't know what they added or if they were just wonderful potatoes, but I loved loved loved my hashbrowns. Hubby had the pork chop like Guy on DDD, and while I thought it was good, he wished it was fried. He said his scrambled eggs with cheddar were the best he's ever had, and he's not even a huge fan of eggs. He also had some good fresh oj, and a side of bacon. There was a ton of food, we ended up skipping lunch we were so full. It was around $25 plus tip for the two of us, but you could get away with less.
There will be a wait, but it moves fairly fast. And after you have breakfast, you could drive up South Mountain for a nice view of the Valley. Or hit a downtown museum.
And if you like Mexican, I highly recommend either Carolinas or Los Dos Molinos.
Carolinas has the best chimichanga I've ever eaten but its a dive for sure. Been around forever and loved, so I just ignored the state of the dining area and went for it, but my visiting mother-in-law was fairly horrified. (bonus points for that! *grin*)
Los Dos Molinos is hatch chili based, so its spicy, but if you are a wimp like me, you can get the sauce on the side of a lot of dishes and they will still be good. Plus, after a pitcher of "kick ass margaritas" you can handle more heat.
Matt's Big Breakfast
801 N 1st Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004
If these folks are staying in Scottsdale, none of these places are nearby. Matt's may be good, but you can find a place like Matt's anywhere. LDM is well-known, but has passed it's prime. Better off at Barrio Cafe or Los Sombreros. Carolinas - yes, it's special and it's good - but it's more take out than anything. Which people should know before they go if they are on vacation.
You are completely wrong about Matt's Big Breakfast. The reason it is successful is because you cannot find a place like that anywhere and the people waiting for breakfast attest to that. It is small, unique and well worth the visit. Go on a Saturday and enjoy the Downtown Farmers Market just across the street.
As for Carolina's, it is not mainly take out. I am there frequently and would say at least 80-90% is dine in.
Another good breakfast place is Over Easy on 40th Street just south of Indian Schoo.. Also unique and small but with a completely different atmosphere than Matt's. Even longer waits that Matt's on the weekend. You can search both of these on this website. Agree on Barrio Cafe and Phoenix Ranch Market. Definitely won't find them elsewhere.
I've been going to Over Easy before 7:00am, and there is no wait, weekdays and weekends. They open at 6:30. I get in and out pretty fast, and the parking lot is almost full when I'm leaving.
I think it's good to mention that Carolina's is a counter service place. Certainly more people eat in than take out. I'd hate to put it in the fast food category, but, the food comes in polystyrene containers and you're not going to get table service. It's nice to know these things ahead of time.