HOME > Chowhound > Phoenix >

Discussion

Recommendations for a birthday dinner? (PHX)

  • 8

My son will be in town over his birthday. He's very much into food, but doesn't know the restaurant scene around here particularly well, so I'm hoping to get a few suggestions from you all.

The only issue is that I don't really have anything to guide recommendations: we're willing to go anywhere in Phoenix or the surrounding cities (Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, etc., etc.), no significant budget restrictions, and are open to any type of food (we're adventurous). Just looking for a nice, celebratory dinner, with the first priority being awesome food.

Right off the bat, I was thinking about Kai, Quiessence, or Noca. However, lurking on the board, I haven't seen much mention of Kai. Is the quality still up there?

I'm hoping someone can either comment (vote) on the three choices above, as well as give me some other ideas.

Thank you.

-----
Quiessence
6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

Noca
3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Kai doesn't get mentioned as much because 1) it's very expensive and 2) it's pretty far from the central area.

    That said, you will not be disappointed by dinner there.

    I've had a bad experience at Quiessence but ahve only been there once and given the constant high reviews am willing to agree it was likely an off night. Someday we'll get back. (someday i'll get somewhere to eat again...grad school and a social life are not complementary activities!).

    Anyway, you'll likely be happy wiht any of your three options. Noca is the least expensive of the three but that doesn't mean the quality is any way lacking.

    what type of mood are you looking for? Kai is quite formal. Quiessence less so but still pretty elegant. Noca is more hip.

    -----
    Quiessence
    6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

    Noca
    3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

    1 Reply
    1. re: ziggylu

      Thanks for the info. I really don't have any preconceived ideas for the mood of the place. Obviously they're all very different from one another, but I think we'd be happy with either end of the spectrum (formal vs. relaxed/hip). We've had great birthday dinners at restaurants such as Binkley's (more formal), and equally great times at spots like Cowboy Ciao (relaxed), so it's really mostly about the food.

      Kai does seem considerably more expensive than the other two. Is it worth the extra cost (I assume you're partially paying for the service level, etc.)? Also, it seems of the three, Quiessence is the only one I've ever read any opinions of that have been less than blown away, yet I've also read posts on here claiming it's their favorite/best restaurant in the valley, leaving me a little ambivalent. Would you mind elaborating on your bad experience, ziggylu?

      Also, I'm entirely open to new ideas if anyone has them. I'm kind of hitting a wall coming up with other good options.

    2. I agree with ziggy regarding Kai and Noca. I am agnostic on Quiessence.

      Kai is definitely a budget buster, but I think it is worth every penny. It is a unique experience because the cuisine is high end Native American. The service is choreographed and the evening will be very special.

      However, I think Noca is one of the best restaurants in Phoenix proper and would be an excellent place to enjoy a celebration.

      -----
      Quiessence
      6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

      Noca
      3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

      1. I agree with Seth.

        It's really hard to make a recommendation as they're all very different. We've been to Kai several times, it's our go to spot for special occasions. We live in Chandler so it's not far for us(in contrast we've only been to Binkley's once as it is a long drive and while we very much enjoyed it haven't been moved to make the long trek again). It's not inexpensive. There are plenty of places in town to have a really good meal and spend less. We go here when we want to be spoiled and have a really special evening. The atmosphere, the service, the food - it all plays into it. i've never felt I didn't get my money's worth there but we don't drop in just cuz we're hungry....!

        Noca is entirely different. We've been here,...I guess 4 or 5 times in the last year. I've never been disappointed. Much less expensive. I think their kitchen handles fish at a level rarely seen in Phoenix and while they're not a seafood restaurant this is something I really appreciate about this place as I'm always wont to order fish when I go out. I find Noca loud so when we want a romantic evening this isn't our choice. Others disagree with me on this.

        My experience at Quiessence is posted here if you search. Combination of bad food and bad service as our party was unfortunately at the mercy of a very large banquet that was unfortunately booked that night. Our booking should not have been taken in reality. I am pretty sure ours is a one off experience, we just haven't been there to try it again as this year we haven't done much high end dining. Maybe over my semester break we'll get there.

        If you search on all three of these you'll find many reviews as they've all been discussed here in great detail. Whichever you decide you're likely to have a great meal.

        -----
        Quiessence
        6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

        Noca
        3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

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

        1. I have aslightly different take on Kai. First, the food is very well done with an imaginative menu and food you won't find anywhere else. The room itself is pretty blah. Personally, I think the service is sillly and stilted. It's what passed for continental service in the 50's nad 60's. There are alot of people who like that and if it makes for an entertaining and memorable evening, so be it.

          I also disaggree that it's far out. I think that's the impression because it's out in the middle of the desert on an Indian Reservation. In reality it's about 20-25 minutes from centrtal Phoenix.

          1. I haven't been to Noca. To me, Quiessence seems more intimate, whereas Kai is full of drama. At first their dramatic, almost overstated service seemed weird and made me worry the food wouldn't hold up, but the food was great, so we settled in and ended up enjoying the show. I think I liked the food at Kai slightly better (the one time I've been), but I also think Quiessence is very good (I've been there a few times).

            -----
            Quiessence
            6106 S 32nd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85042

            Noca
            3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

            1. Turns out Kai is closed for an event, and Quiessence is either full or also reserved for an event. Also, just went to Noca a few days back, so that's probably out as well (selfishly). So, back to square one....

              Anyone have any other recommendations for a birthday dinner? I can think of a few places I've been interested in trying (specifically Nine05, Marcellino's, Cafe Boa, FnB), but these all look to be fairly casual and perhaps not "special" enough for a celebratory dinner.

              1 Reply
              1. re: zxcvbnm

                The Mission would be great, especially if you call ahead and let them know how special it will be. Roka Akor possibly?