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must do restaurants

johnnyflynn Nov 16, 2010 08:31 AM

Hi guys am coming to Scottsdale from England on honeymoon and wondered what you all thought were the "must do" restaurants are.
We are staying at the Valley Ho and will have a car
We are not fussy eaters and really want to try proper american food (and a good mexican)
Also if anyone could add what the weather is like there in april that would be great!

ps have looked at loads of websites and they all look nice but wanted a locals local !
Thankyou very much.

  1. P Chef Nov 22, 2010 11:25 AM

    Hi Johhnyflynn,

    Elements is a must do fine dining restaurant in town. Chef Beau MacMillan who does Iron Chef on TV turns out great creative food with an unsurpassed view, from the Sanctuary resort. It is pricey, but romantic, civilized, and in my mind worth it. I'd second Binkley's in Carefree too, but I'd pass on Cafe Bink.

    You may also enjoy Renegade Canteen in Scottsdale. There, James Beard Award winning chef Robert McGrath, re-thinks classic western campfire foods, with some success. It is more costly than fast food but a bargain for interesting fine dining.

    I'd really skip Chompie's. I'm used to LA and NYC Deli so to me Chompie's is a train wreck. If you are seeking American Deli fare, try the other suggestion. If you just want a pretty good corn beef sandwich or pastrami sandwich, I'd try Miracle Mile Deli. The auto link from Chow doesn't have the N. Scottsdale location, I've been to so I am assuming (and hopefully not making either one of us an A$$) ((We have an American phrase about how to spell assume "don't make and "ass" out of "u" & "me" if I was too collaquial)) those are good too.

    I don't think any one mentioned Pinnacle Peak Patio Steak House, or Greasewood Flats. They are both sort of olden days style cowboy steak places, with an outdoor campfire cooking feel to them. They are not the hight of our culinary steak movement like Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak might be, or BLT but they have an authentic Southwestern feel, you may never get in jolly old England. Both are very close to Pinnacle Peak too, which might lend itself to a pretty steep desert hike to build up an appetite and an appreciation for the steak and a drink. If you do hike, bring plenty of water and take your time. Its about 1 mile (some # of KM) to the first observation point, but it sure is pretty and it shouldn't be too hot yet. I do it slowly with a 3 year old and all their toys, water etc. on my back. Then I can chow.

    I'd visit old town Scottsdale too. If just for the walk about. Saddle Peak Ranch is a bar, really with mediocre food, but they do have a mechanical bull and a western feel. Cowboy Ciao, down there has a good reputation, so does FNB.

    As for authentic unique SouthWest Foods, in addition to Kai mentioned, we have a few Fry Bread (native American fried dough) places, and some pretty good New Mexican style places. If you like the heat and the flavor, try to get to Barrio Cafe, and/or Richardson's. The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale is pretty good but expensive for small dishes. I never wasted my time trying Mexican in the U.K. but imagine it is weak. I apologize if I am wrong and disparraged anyone's U.K. Mexican food. Nopalitos (the green cactus pads) and Prickly Pear Syrup (from the red "tuna" of the prickly pear cactus used for cocktails or Lemon aid) are nice adventurous eating opportunities. If they don't do Barbeque in the U.K. that might be a thought. Joe's Real BBQ in Gilbert does a good job. Big Daddy's in North Scottsdale, isn't as good but it is a lot closer to your hotel.

    I don't know the purpose of your trip, or how long you have but if you have the interest and time, you may also want to check off the red rocks of Sedona (2 hours drive north mostly on I 17). from your bucket list. Up there in Sedona The Elote Cafe, has great cutting edge Mexican.

    Lasty, if like me, you try to maximize the return on your travel investment of time and pounds, you may want to put in a few more hours drive time and hit the Grand Canyon. I don't think those Dover Cliffs are exactly the same thing. The Canyon is pretty wow especially for honeymoon photos.

    Sorry for the lengthy post, I just figured with the distance of travel contemplated for a honeymoon, I'd try to give you a full information dump on what I'd want to do on that one visit. I imagine someone will do the same for me, when I get that U.K. trip scheuled. : )

    As to weather, it will likely be in the 80's to 90's F (? # C?) and sunny every day of your trip like the 359 of the other sunny days we have. We run outside and enjoy when it rains here. : )

    Have a great trip and congratulations on "gettin' hitched."

    Cowboy Ciao
    7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Joe's Real Barbecue
    301 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234

    5700 East McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

    Fry Bread House
    4140 N 7th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

    Richardson's Cuisine of New Mexico
    1582 E. Bethany Home Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016

    Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse
    10426 E Jomax Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

    Greasewood Flats
    27355 N Alma School Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ

    Bourbon Steak
    7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

    Miracle Mile Deli
    1949 E Camelback Rd Ste 160, Phoenix, AZ 85016

    BLT Steak
    5402 East Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

    7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Renegade Canteen
    9343 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260

    1 Reply
    1. re: P Chef
      johnnyflynn Dec 31, 2010 02:04 AM

      Thanks P chef for the great post, If you have questions about the trip to England you are thinking about just ask and I will be happy to help!

    2. Dapuma Nov 17, 2010 04:19 PM

      Next to the Valley Ho is Trader Vic's which would be Tiki Drinks, if you are looking for a couple awesome cocktails you cannot go wrong there, the Navy Grog is amazing

      I would 2nd the noca / FnB / Cowboy Ciao / Delux

      Don't's: Coopertown is pretty poor food, stick to the bottled beer there...

      Glory Glory Man Utd! :)

      Cowboy Ciao
      7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

      7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dapuma
        johnnyflynn Nov 18, 2010 12:20 AM

        Thankyou everyone for the tips looking forward to trying all the restaurants, going to give cooperstown a miss.
        Have printed out the cocktail list from trader vicks .... what a choice!!! may need to visit often!!

        ps Dapuma play up pompey, pompey play up! :)

      2. d
        danieli10 Nov 17, 2010 09:00 AM

        You can walk to Grazie for great pizza. Not far down the street is the Mission, which is excellent Latin influenced fare with a great selection of tequilas. Not too far down the street is Postino for great bruschetta and will not break the bank. Delux for burgers is a good call, too. I love the Valley HO and we had great meals at Cafe Zuzu for brunch and dinner. For sushi or a really nice japanese meal, try Roka Akor or Sushi Roku.

        3146 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

        Cafe Zuzu
        6850 E. Main Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        Roka Akor Restaurant
        7299 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85253

        1 Reply
        1. re: danieli10
          bgut1 Nov 17, 2010 01:52 PM

          I would add Pizzeria Bianco to the "must do" list.

          Pizzeria Bianco
          623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

        2. Bill Hunt Nov 16, 2010 08:00 PM

          In the Metro Phoenix Area (remember, Phoenix encompasses an area from about Luton to Guildford, with London in the middle - 500+ sq. miles, but with much lower population density.

          Though not close to one another, and with two being a ways from your hotel, I have three, that I consider "must-dos."

          1.) Kai at Wildhorse Pass (quite a ways South and West of you) Great and elegant w/ a unique take on SW Native American cuisine.

          2.) Binkley's (in the official town of Cave Creek, right at the border with Carefree. Excellent, and higher-end.

          3.) Restaurant NOCA (much closer to you) Great food, in a modern American tradition. More casual, and do not let the mall location fool you.

          Each is quite different. Chef Binkley studied under Thomas Keller, and Chef Chris Curtiss does modern American as well as anyone. Kai is unique, and though at the higher-end, well worth the drive.

          All have different wine lists, some large, some smaller, but all pair perfectly with their fare.

          It would be a bit like picking Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, La Gavroche and The Green House in Mayfair. All very, very good, but unique. Oh, throw in L'Atelier in Soho, just for the more casual aspect of NOCA.

          As a side note, while most have some very good, interesting FR wines, do not hesitate to delve into some US wines, as most of these will never see UK shores, and the costs will be prohibitive, if they do. If you order any grilled red meat, look to the US Zinfandels, as you will only see the very lowest versions in the UK, and those will cost £70, while they cost US$8.00 here. While we often gravitate to FR wines here, considering the limited selection of really good US wines there, so indulge.

          Most of all, enjoy,


          [Edit] Two restaurants did not link, as I would have liked, Restaurant NOCA and Kai do not. NOCA: http://www.restaurantnoca.com/ and Kai at Wildhorse Pass: http://www.wildhorsepass.com/kai-rest...

          6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

          8 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt
            johnnyflynn Nov 17, 2010 12:53 AM

            Thankyou both very much, lots of helpful information there I will look at the links and thanks bill for the wine advice.

            Have any of you by any chance tried Chompies.? Looks promising to me, also Alice cooperstown. Both were on a tv programon the food channel and they looked pretty good.

            Thanks once again for you're time

            Chompies Restaurant
            4568 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032

            1. re: johnnyflynn
              JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Nov 17, 2010 02:12 AM

              To both Chompie's and Alice Cooperstown: Meh. Chompie's is a delicatessen. Cooperstown is a sports bar. I don't think I would recommend either for someone travelling in.

              Bill's recommendation of Noca is spot-on. It's about as authentic as you can get for a Phoenix dining experience: An amazing place tucked away in a nondescript strip mall. Equally wonderful is FnB in downtown Scottsdale, a little over half a mile away from Hotel Valley Ho. FnB strongly emphasizes local offerings, with a very solid wine list that is all Arizona wines except for a sparkling wine from New Mexico. Get the braised leeks if they are still on the menu when you visit; Food & Wine magazine heralds it as one of the best dishes in the country.

              Hotel Valley Ho
              6850 East Main Street, Scottsdale, AZ

              3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

              Chompies Restaurant
              4568 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032

              7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

              1. re: johnnyflynn
                exit2lef Nov 17, 2010 03:56 AM

                Agree mostly with the Jester, although I do think a visit to an NY-style deli might be of interest to someone from the UK. If you're interested in that type of meal, I personally prefer Stan's Metro Deli, located in Tempe, the community to the south of Scottsdale.

                Within walking distance of your hotel, I recommend the following:

                Cowboy Ciao -- modern, wine-centric Southwestern
                FnB -- as mentioned above
                Marcellino -- best Italian in the Phoenix Metro Area in my experience. Recently relocated from my neighborhood to Scottsdale, but I'll get over it.

                For Mexican, the places I know and like are in Central Phoenix and include the following:

                Gallo Blanco -- modern Mexico City style
                La Condesa -- great taco shop
                La Tolteca -- all purpose Mexican market and quick-service restaurant. Try the nopal tostadas for something unique
                Verde -- nice Downtown Phoenix place with tortillas made on site
                Rosita's Place -- classic Phoenix Mexican restaurant with just about everything on the menu
                Carolina's -- divey place to visit on your way to or from the rental car center at Sky Harbor Airport; known for its tortillas as well

                Cowboy Ciao
                7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                La Tolteca
                1205 E Van Buren St, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                Rosita's Place
                2310 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85006

                Gallo Blanco Cafe
                401 W Clarendon Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013

                7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                7114 E Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                1. re: exit2lef
                  johnnyflynn Nov 17, 2010 08:40 AM

                  Forgot to mention that we both really want to try a good chicken fried steak, also what would you normally accompany that with ?

                  1. re: johnnyflynn
                    johnseberg Nov 17, 2010 09:06 AM

                    Over Easy serves a small chicken fried steak which I like. Texaz Grill is another choice. On both accounts, I find the steak to be pounded a little thin, which makes the coating-to-meat ratio a bit higher than I would like. The portion at Texaz is enormous, and the accompanying potatoes and gravy are very good. I would regard this as an example of "proper American".

                    Maybe the Ranch House Grille will be re-opened by the time you get here. They have a meatier chicken fried steak with green chili that is quite good.

                    Texaz Grill
                    6003 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                    Ranch House Grille
                    5618 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                    Over Easy
                    4730 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                    1. re: johnnyflynn
                      Bax Nov 17, 2010 11:04 AM

                      I'll second the recommendation for Over Easy, if you want chicken fried steak for breakfast (accompanied by eggs and...potatoes if I remember correctly?). It's not exactly what I think of as "traditional" because of the addition of bacon (and I think smoked sausage maybe) to the gravy, but it's very tasty.

                      I tend to prefer my chicken fried steak as lunch or dinner, though, in which case Texaz Grill might be a better choice (honestly I wasn't that wowed by Ranch House, though I don't remember exactly why). While I don't think Texaz is as good as it once was, it still serves up a whopping portion of fairly decent "cfs." I had a friend visit from England a few years ago and while he didn't order the "cfs" himself (I think he had the smoked prime rib instead), he tried some of mine and wished he'd ordered it himself. Texaz serves theirs with mashed potatoes and corn -- I'd prefer something green (the salad is so iceberg-y I'm not sure it counts) -- and a biscuit, if I remember correctly. Starch-fest! I like to get my gravy on the side (white, flour-based gravy flavored with sausage, if you're not familiar with "Southern-style" gravy) and dip each bite into it -- this keeps the breading of the cfs crisper. But a lot of people prefer theirs smothered in the gravy; to each his own!

                      Texaz Grill
                      6003 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                      Over Easy
                      4730 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                    2. re: exit2lef
                      Bill Hunt Nov 17, 2010 04:07 PM

                      I do agree. Were it no longer open (since the sale, it was about 4 other restaurants in that spot), I would have offered a PHX take on a NYC deli.

                      Chompies, is not bad, but I like your rec. better.

                      As for Cooperstown, if one is a big fan of baseball, american sports in general, and/or Alice Cooper, it can certainly be fun. The food is pretty good, and the atmosphere (part pub, and part Strip in Las Vegas, with some Hard Rock Cafe added in) is kinda' fun. I also support Alice Cooper for all of the philanthropic efforts in Phoenix, but for a UK visitor, I'd steer them away, unless some of the above criteria fit.

                      Have to admit that I am geared more towards fine-dining, but can also kick back and just have fun. If it's the latter, then Cooperstown might fit the bill.


                      Hard Rock Cafe
                      201 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                      Chompies Restaurant
                      4568 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032

                    3. re: johnnyflynn
                      johnseberg Nov 17, 2010 09:19 AM

                      I like Chompies, and have eaten there many times at all hours. I think breakfast and lunch are best. Expect large portions, decent bagels, and a big menu. I like the Scottsdale location best. I love a good matzo ball soup, and theirs is pretty good. I would not put them at the top of my list, but, if you have time, check them out.

                      I've never been to Cooperstown, but, I've heard it is slightly above average for a sports bar.

                      Based on their track record, I wouldn't go anywhere solely based on an appearance on Food Network. I guess it's a good source for ideas, though.

                      Chompies Restaurant
                      4568 E Cactus Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85032

                  2. johnseberg Nov 16, 2010 11:51 AM

                    I think you are in a good location for moderate - higher-priced dining. You'll need to drive a bit to find the local flavor. Look at the threads recently bumped by Melanie Wong http://www.chow.com/profile/10039 She was visiting from San Francisco on a quest to find local chow.

                    Los Sombreros is within a couple of miles of your hotel, and has some good Central Mexican food. I especially like the pork dishes and the lamb adobo.

                    The temperature begins to rise significantly in April. It will probably be dry and about 85 deg F. Sunscreen will probably be very important.

                    Los Sombreros Cafe & Cantina
                    2534 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

                    Cafe Zuzu
                    6850 E. Main Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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