Scottsdale for a large group
I am helping to plan a 3 day bachelorette party in Scottsdale and I was wondering if anyone had any food recs for a group of 7 girls, mid-late 20s. We would like to do one nicer dinner (though not outrageous, under ~$70pp) and the rest of the time eat more casual. We've never been to Scottsdale before, should we make reservations everywhere since we have a large group? (Also, we eat pretty much everything but we are coming from NYC and Houston, so we'd like to include food more unique to the area if possible)
I noticed the Le Cordon Bleu restaurant is near our hotel but I saw mixed reviews. Any thoughts on that?
Also, logistically we will be staying at the FireSky Resort and we will have a car one day for Sedona, otherwise we will be relying on cabs and the hotel shuttle (3mi radius) so places near the hotel are preferable.
Thanks so much!
Just wanted to update on our trip before I forgot. We had a lot of fun, thanks again for all of the suggestions!
Luckily our hotel was very close to a lot of restaurants. We ended up going to Olive & Ivy, Cowboy Ciao, and the Mission. We ran out of time and just grabbed quick food for the other meals, and also went to Chocolatree in Sedona (had a few veg/pescetarians in the group and we needed something light)
Firesky, our hotel, had great cocktails. We ordered some snacks as room service and it was just ok but we didn't try the entrees.
Olive and Ivy - everyone enjoyed brunch, prices were reasonable, portions generous, and the ingredients were fresh. They made my ahi tuna rare as requested, which was great.
Cowboy Ciao - a bit disappointing. Large portions (would have preferred smaller portions and lower prices since people didn't want to share, a lot of food was wasted) but items were hit or miss. Weak on the veggie options but that was to be expected. The Stetson salad was good, I liked the pesto dressing. The pork shank was very tender but I didn't really like the sides. Lamb loin was dry. Overall things tended to be oversauced and too salty. They have quotes on the menu about how delicious the mushroom entree was - no one really liked it and it was drowning in a thick salty sauce.
Service was bad. We had to wait awhile for our table, then we were seated at a a huge table so no one could hear each other in the deafeningly loud room. We were charged 20% gratuity for a group of 7. (Standard for groups is 18% even in NY.) I normally tip 18-20% anyway but here it was not deserved. He was ok but messed up twice sending us items we didn't order.This other woman came by with the wrong order, we told her it was a mistake and she left the dish on our table and went to check. Then she came back and said quite rudely, well there's nothing I can do it about it and left it on our table. Our server came by later and said sorry wrong table and took it away, then gave it to the table next to us.
I saw this place recommended many times in forums but I think there are better options.
Mission - pretty good, though a bit pricey for the portions. The guacamole was ok but the avocado was very underripe. I liked the fish tacos and my friend like her steak tacos, although I wasn't crazy about the smokey flavor. We had a socially awkward waiter which was amusing until he lost my credit card and tried to play it off as a joke when he ran away to look for it. "do you guys like how I played a joke and pretended to lose your credit card?" Umm no
Chocolatree - although I would recommend it, it was a bit hit or miss. They often added a lot of salt to balance the lightness of the veggies. This was fine in general except my potato soup was so salty I couldn't finish. (I have a light palate but everyone tried it and agreed) They also had some gluten-free wrap that tasted like salty fruit leather so avoid that. I liked the hummus and the Fiesta Feast was delicious - I love quinoa and the flavors were great for this. My veggie sandwich was fine but boring. Portions are quite large and prices are decent. Despite it being vegetarian a few of us felt pretty bloated afterwards.
With a group of your size, YES make reservations. Where I work, the crowds have been unpredictable to say the least. If you're dining mid-week you *should* be OK to walk into a place, but with the Spring Training crowds I wouldn't chance it. Besides, isn't it nice to waltz into a place and know there's a table ready and waiting?
There were two Le Cordon Bleu restaurants, the fine dining, multi-course L'Ecole, and the casual L'Academie. L'Ecole closed at the end of last year. I went to L'Ecole some time ago, but the experience of L'Academie should be about the same: The food is OK. Expect fairly standard American dishes given little modern twists so the students can feel like they're doing something cutting edge. You'll pay a bit less than you would for a similar dish at a real restaurant since the place is student run. Service is a mixed bag depending on the personality of the chefs in training; some of 'em do a terrific job, some of them definitely should stay in the back of the house. Overall, I wouldn't recommend L'Academie for someone coming here from out of town. There are just too many other special places that are worth your dining time.
Oh! Speaking of special places... One of the things that the metro Phoenix area truly specializes in is delicious food tucked away in the most unassuming, blasé strip malls you've ever seen. A lot of tourists who come to the area miss out on some amazing meals just because a place is squeezed in between a Verizon store and a dry cleaner. One of the ones like this is a mile and a half from your hotel: Scratch. It's in a shopping center anchored by a Fry's grocery store, and right next door to a Subway. They are open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and dinner Wednesday through Saturday. I haven't had dinner there yet, but if it's even close to their breakfast and lunch offerings it's going to be amazing. Lunches are all $9 or less except for the $11 foie gras sandwich. Sandwiches are served on house-made bread, and come with a spring mix salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The pastries are all absolutely killer. Depending on the weather, you might wish to take your food to go and stroll about 1/4 mile over to the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, a beautiful grassy area with fountains and sculptures all over the place. Oh, if only the worker ant line going in and out of Subway for their five-dollar foot long fix knew what wonders awaited them fifty feet to the right!
For your Sedona day, do have dinner up there at Elote. They serve up amazing Mexican food, some of the best in the state. The guy who runs the place, Jeff Smedstad, used to own Los Sombreros down in Scottsdale with his wife. Then they divorced. She kept the restaurant, he moved to Sedona. While Los Sombreros is still holding its own, it's not the same without Jeff at the helm.
re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
Thanks everyone for all of the recs and the cab advice! Elote sounds awesome but they aren't open on sundays :(
We made reservations for Cowboy Ciao and Olive & Ivy. We are looking into restaurants nearby like Scratch and Mission.
we're also looking into NOCA (when we have the car) for their sunday supper.
Someone will say this so let it be me this time. Scottsdale/Phoenix is not a place where taxi's work particularly well. It's spread out and you will nearly always have to call a cab even at your hotel. Between waiting for a cab and the expense this is not a good option.
The hotel shuttle works and you are within walking distance of alot of stuff. Scottsdale Fashion Square is basically across the street and it has several restaurants. Across Camelback Road are more restaurants and then over the canal and you're in Old Town Scottsdale and the restaurants MesaChow menitoned. Just across the street from Firesky is Roaring Fork, sadly not nearly what it was when Robert McGrath was chef owner but very fun at happy hour. Try the Big Ass Burger, only available in the bar.
You didn't mention when you'll be coming to Scottsdale. Restaurants are very busy right now, so reservations are a must. With a group that size, I'd make a res either way, just to be sure.
Within the hotel shuttle radius and with lots of local flavor two places come to mind: Cowboy Ciao & FnB. Lots of reviews of both on this site, and once you're there, walking distance to other nightlife that Bachelorette parties might find enjoyable.