Best quality Southwest Dining in Scottsdale/Phoenix
re: Tohono Rat
I like Humble Pie & think Tom Kaufman is a great guy, but they are not southwestern. Maybe Rancho Pinot Grill across the street owned by Chrysa & Tom would fit the bill. I love their food, but even their menu falls outside the southwestern category even though it is a very "local first" place.
You beat me to the punch. For a SW take on classical FR cuisine, I cannot think of better. Forget your culinary geography, and go with the flow. It is not often that a classically trained FR chef wins a James Beard award for SW cuisine.
You must do the duck tamales as an app. and I suggest pairing with a nice Côte-Rôtie, or similar Rhône (Northeren). Ask Howie if he has anything special "in the back."
Kair would definitely be number one to me, too. In addition to Vincent's, another somewhat lower priced option might be Quiessence. It also emphasizes fresh local ingredients, and is in a really nice setting (a combination of 2 restaurants and a small farm near South Mountain), especially now that it's finally cooled down outside.
For MUCH lower priced options, you might look into Barrio Cafe, Los Sombreros, or House of Tricks. The first two are sort of dressed-up Mexican, the third is more American/Southwestern. These are definitely in a different, informal category of restaurant, but all are good (and House of Tricks also has nice outdoor seating).
2814 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006
Los Sombreros Cafe & Cantina
2534 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
House of Tricks
114 E 7th St, Tempe, AZ 85281
Vincent On Camelback
3930 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar
6106 S. 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042
Your 4 best choices for an outstanding Southwest cuisine and dining experience are:
1. Kai at Wild Horse Pass. Kai means seed in the Pima language. The use many ingredients grown on the lands of Gila River Indian Community. James Beard award-winning Chef Janos Wilder from Tucson consults for them. Some other outstanding dishes include- Native American Influenced Tartare with White Sturgeon Roe, Desert Mint & White Sage Tea Marinated Duck Breast with Turkish Dates & Foie Gras Tart, Grilled Tenderloin of Buffalo from the Cheyenne River Tribe, Veal Ribeye Rubbed with Sandalwood, Dry Mole & Green Chile Sand.
2. Vincent on Camelback. Chef Vincent Guerithault is also a James Beard award-winner. He has taken his French training and paired it with local ingredients to create outstanding dishes like Duck Tamale with Anaheim Chiles and Raisins, Sautéed Veal Sweetbreads with Blue Corn Meal, Red Wine Thyme Sauce and Wild Mushroom Potato Cup, Grilled Wild Boar Loin with Celery Root Purée and Habañero Sauce and for dessert Tequila “Gold” Soufflé.
If you want any more regional cuisine, but still on the upper end of food experiences you will want to consider the next two restaurants.
3. Barrio Café. The Barrio serves a chef driven interpretation of traditional Mexican cuisine. Among the items on the menu are - Tequila Lobster Quesadilla, Pollo en Mole -chicken with black mole, Pescado del Mar - seared halibut filet topped with shrimp, scallops, crab and lobster in a white wine-shallot cream sauce, chorizo and poblano peppers, Cochinita Pibil - 12 hour slow roasted pork with achiote rojo & sour orange with salsa Yucateca, and for dessert try the Churros. A couple of warnings about the Barrio Café it is very small and has limited parking.
4. Los Sombreros Cafe & Cantina. The owner hails from Central Mexico and opened Los Sombreros approximately 15 years ago. This is closer to traditional Mexican food than you will get at any of the above restaurants. Appetizers include things like Queso Fundido, which is served several ways, Huitlacoche crepas, and Fig & panela cheese salad. Entrées include Crab Enchiladas, Chilaquiles de Camarones, Puerco en Mole Verde andLamb Adobo. A couple of warnings about Los Sombreros - the decor is very casual and it can become very loud because it is in a 1920s farmhouse with hard finishes on all the surfaces of the rooms.