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Oct 29, 2009 06:36 PM

Rubee et al.: your 2 fave PHX neighborhoods for dining?

I have a similar Q for PHX, which I know less well, as I did for ABQ, which I know better. Trying to make sure I understand the lay of the land before I come visit for the first time in a while, which I hope to do in Jan. or Feb. (hear that, R?).

Would love to know what neighborhoods you treasure most for dining, whether because they have the most diversity, the highest quality, the most local feel, or whatever.


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  1. Phoenix area is pretty damn big. Some of the rec's on this board are miles apart, maybe an hour drive or so. If you are coming to stay with good food in mind that's maybe a better question to ask, where you should stay.

    1. As stated above, that's pretty hard to answer due to the size of the Phoenix Metro Area. The answer also depends on whether we're talking about exploring neighborhoods by walking, driving, or public transit.

      Taking a stab at this, I'll offer a few of my favorites:

      Evans-Churchill (north end of Downtown Phoenix) -- This used to be a place where I would have been really scared if my car broke down on the way home from the theater. Now, even as the real estate collapse leaves the area with numerous vacant lots, a lot of entrepreneurial chefs are creating a walkable cluster of interesting restaurants: Sens, PastaBar, Moira, Nine 05, the Roosevelt, the Breadfruit, etc.

      Old Town Scottsdale -- This is the classic answer to your question in terms of both a walkable neighborhood and an upscale dining mecca. 10 years ago, this is where I would have been most likely to send you. These days, the area has taken a beating with lots of restaurants closing and some unproven last-minute replacements trying to fill the void. Still, there's a lot worth experiencing here, including Cowboy Ciao, Petite Maison, etc. The best time to explore might be a Thursday night when the galleries stay open late.

      Uptown -- the area around Central & Camelback has recently become a magnet for restaurant openings. Places like Aiello's, Postino Central, St. Francis, Lola Coffee, and Hula's Modern Tiki are enlivening this once sleepy crossroads. Parking tends to be tight in Uptown, so I'd take light rail to Central/Camelback and explore the neighborhood on foot.

      Tempe -- This would be my answer for an international variety of cheap eats in close proximity. A lot of the best places lie along the light rail line at corners like University & Rural and Apache & Dorsey. Favorites include Kai Hoan, Tasty Kabob, Haji-Baba, Preet's Chaat Corner, etc.

      Camelback Corridor -- From SR-51 east to the Scottsdale border along Camelback Road has always been a center for high-end dining with a mix of established players like Tarbell's and Christopher's coexisting with newer entrants like Noca. With the exception of the immediate area around 24th St. & Camelback, which is walkable, this neighborhood is best explored by car.

      Dobson Corridor -- Dobson Road connects the East Valley suburbs Mesa and Chandler. It's not glamorous and not particularly walkable, but from Main St. south to Chandler Boulevard, it has some of the best east Asian food in the metro area. You can drive out there or take light rail to its northern end. From there, you can explore Asian Cafe Express and Mekong Plaza on foot. To explore places to the south at Southern & Dobson, Warner & Dobson, etc. would require a car or use of the 96 bus. Other favorites along the route include Com Ban Thuan Kieu, UnPhoGettable, Phoenix Palace (for dim sum), & Cyclo.

      Cowboy Ciao
      7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      7 Replies
      1. re: silverbear

        Thx, this is great. Yes, I was thinking walkable neighborhoods (even if you have to drive to get to them). Your descrips of Evans-Churchill, Uptown, and Tempe sound about what I was envisioning!

        Denver's similar, so I think I understand what you're saying neighborhodwise...I mean, it's not like Little Italy abutting Chinatown etc. in NYC. There's the Highlands over here and Colfax over there and South Pearl over there and you'd better have a car...

        1. re: tatamagouche

          Glad to be helpful. In fairness to Scottsdale, I'd include Old Town on your short list. It's still got enough interesting places to rank with the areas identified above.

          1. re: silverbear

            I too will be in the area starting Dec. 4 for a few nites, then will finally see the Grand Canyon (would appreciate thoughts on there and/or Flagstaff) then back to PHX for a nite or two, leave the 12th. Not really a sprawled out city kinda gal but what can you do. I'm pretty sure I can get a great deal at the Doubletree Paradise in Scottsdale but is that by Old Town (I love how the link to Old Town on this is nothing related to the OT area in Scotts). Looking for fun southwestern fare and things I can't get in Boston. Would Cowboy Ciao fit that bill? And isn't there a First Friday arts thing that goes on?

            And on a completely separate note, should we try to go to the corner where the four states meet?

            Cowboy Ciao
            7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            1. re: Joanie

              Hi Joanie! Wow, on a SW Board post about PHX with 5 contributors, 3 of us are longtime Boston regulars. Funny.

              Edit: oops, except Rubee hasn't contributed yet. But I'm sure she will.

              1. re: tatamagouche

                Ha ha, odd indeed. With all the traveling I've done, never have made it to the southwest or mountain states so figured it was time.

                Thanks for the suggestions everyone. Any specific thoughts on that Doubletree in Scottsdale? Rubee, shoot me an email at joanie at if you can. Thanks.

              2. re: Joanie

                It is really hard to request things of Phoenix you can't get in your home city, when you come from such a cosmopolitan place. I can think of scads of things you might be hard-pressed to find in Boston, but most of those are in the western avenues at small taquerias and carnicerias where most of the Chowhounds don't venture, and I don't think that's exactly what you mean, anyway. Perhaps you mean something like the innovation going on at Binkley's up in Carefree or Kai for upscale native American fare--?

                Scottsdale does a Thursday Art Walk; First Friday is downtown Phoenix. Flagstaff is fairly well covered in recent threads. There is no good food at the Grand Canyon; I would work around it for mealtimes. And no, for your one trip to AZ I would not go to Four Corners. I would go to Bisbee or Jerome instead.

                Binkley's Restaurant
                6920 E Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331

                1. re: Joanie

                  The Doubletree Paradise Valley is about 1.5 miles north of Old Town Scottsdale -- a long walk, but not out of the question during mild weather.

                  Old Town Cafe
                  1025 N Main St Ste A, Cottonwood, AZ 86326

          2. Hi Tatamagouche!

            Can't wait to see you for some great eats together (and adult beverages) like the old days!

            You've got a ton of excellent information already here (Silverbear also has a great website to check out). As already mentioned, Phoenix is very spread out. For us in North Phoenix, everything seems to be 20-30 minutes away. I haven't been to any of the walkable areas except for the SouthBridge/Scottsdale waterfront area, where I've been to Canal (now closed), Metro (a favorite), Digestif, Cowboy Ciao, Kazimierz Bar, and Estate House. You'd have loved Digestif - that would have been the first place I would've have taken you to, though it is closed and the chef is now in Tempe at Caffe Boa, so we'll be checking that area out soon too. You already know my favorites, and I'd love to join you anywhere! A must is lunch at Quiessence.

            Hey Joanie! Nice to know you're going to be in my neck of the woods! Let me know if you want to meet up for a meal or drinks, it'd be nice to see you again. I haven't been to Cowboy Ciao since the new chef, but I think you'd love everything about it - the cocktails, menu, and atmosphere. When Boston Hounds Alcachofa and Palmito were out visiting earlier this year, that was one of their favorites. Trip report link:

            We've only been to one restaurant in Flagstaff, on our cross-country drive from Boston to Phoenix - Beaver Street Brewery - which we enjoyed for a casual meal. Though I haven't been to Bisbee yet, I'd agree with Themis (as I often do!) to visit Jerome - what an interesting and beautiful town. I've only eaten at one spot, the Asylum for lunch. We just had sandwiches, but the view is amazing and I especially liked the flights of Arizona wines to sample. There are some other spots in Jerome that I have on my list to check out for our next visit, like Quince.

            Cowboy Ciao
            7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            Caffe Boa
            5063 E Elliot Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85044

            6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

            Metro Brasserie
            7114 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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

            1 Reply
            1. re: Rubee

              I've said it before and it bears repeating...Tinderbox Kitchen in Flagstaff would be my recommendation.

            2. Great ideas from silverbear. Personal preference, but Camelback Corridor would currently be one of the top neighborhoods on my list if I were, say, thinking of relocating. In terms of dining, this is not just a nice area for "neighboring" restaurant, but it's sort of sandwiched between Old Town and Uptown, with neither being more than a ~10 minute drive away.