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Planning our yearly trip to AZ

We've been traveling to AZ nearly every August for the last 9 years. Each year, we like trying different spots for dinner. Last year we enjoyed Cowboy Ciao, Cien Agaves, and Humble Pie. We stay up in North Scottsdale at the Four Seasons. We spend our days at the pool and then go out for casual dinners. Budget isn't a huge issue but considering we are fairly light eaters, I think keeping it under $50-60 (not including drinks) should be a fair range.

This year, we are flying in on a Sunday and I've made reservations at The Mission for lunch/brunch before heading to the resort. On Monday evening, I've made reservations at Cowboy Ciao. Tuesday at Cien Agaves for Taco Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are still open. We were thinking of going to Sassi on one evening for happy Hour and a light dinner.

So, I guess we need one more but are willing to reconsider any of the places we already have reservations at. I read something about the chef at Cowboy Ciao having left? I also thought about cafe Bink. Do you know when they are closed for summer break?

Here is a link to last years post:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/728844

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Cowboy Ciao
7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Sassi
10455 E Pinnacle Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Humble Pie
6149 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Four Seasons
, Gilbert, AZ 85233

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  1. The original chef at Cowboy Ciao left, but that was years ago. Within the last year, he has opened another spot in Old Town, Citizen Public House. I highly recommend it. I've had nothing but excellent food, service and drinks there. It would be a great choice. I would also strongly consider FnB.

    I've never done Cafe Bink for dinner, but have had a few great lunches there. I wouldn't doubt that their dinner service is of equal quality. Not sure about summer hours, unfortunately.

    Enjoy your trip!

    -----
    Cowboy Ciao
    7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Cafe Bink
    36889 N Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ 85331

    FnB
    7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    Citizen Public House
    7111 E. 5th Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

    1. I'm pretty sure the folks at FnB are closing for the month of August, so you're out of luck, which is a shame, since it's one of our treasures, in my opinion. A place that's kind of like FnB you may want to look into is St. Francis, although it's in uptown Phoenix, a bit far away from your hotel, but the food is excellent.

      If you're up in North Scottsdale, why not try Bourbon Steak, which is an excellent steakhouse. Other good eats in that area include Roka Akor, if you like Japanese. Agreed on Public House, that's a good new spot as well.

      I've never been, but if you like Italian, I've heard rave reviews on Marcellino's which is right across the street from Cowboy Ciao, and is supposed to have amazing Italian food.

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

      Marcellino
      7114 E Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      4 Replies
      1. re: cactuschowdah

        Thank you both for your replies. I'll take a look at Citizen Public House. We had such a wonderful meal at Cowboy Ciao last year that we thought we'd do it again this year. But, we rarely have great repeat meals. That is why I was curious about new spots you'd all recommend.

        -----
        Cowboy Ciao
        7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        Citizen Public House
        7111 E. 5th Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

          I would still recommend Cowboy Ciao it is still excellent (and still our fav), one of my fav new dishes on their menu is the asian style bbq short ribs - if you are sharing make sure whoever orders it doesnt minds sharing alot of it :)

          cph is also very good - the drinks there are terrific, only went there once for the summer yelp discount menu but everything was good - would certainly check it out again - i think they have their summer tasting menu through august it is linked through their website under special offers its around 30-35 / person for 3 courses

          As expected the food is similar at cowboy ciao and cph

          St Francis is a bit of a drive from north scottsdale but very good - if you are out toward central phoenix it is worth stopping in

          for Sushi in north scottsdale I like Sushi Broker's if you can make it there during their happy hour

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          Cowboy Ciao
          7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

          Sushi Brokers
          17025 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

          St Francis
          111 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85012

          1. re: Dapuma

            Anyone know who the current chef is at Cowboy Ciao?

            -----
            Cowboy Ciao
            7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            1. re: crsin

              Lester Gonzales. According to the CC Facebook page, he worked at CC under Bernie Kantak for 6 years.

              https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cowboy...

      2. I would eliminate Sassi from your mix and go for Binkley's or FnB as mentioned. Also I just visited Cien Agave and was highly dissapointed. If you want good taco's let me know.

        -----
        Binkley's
        6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

        Sassi
        10455 E Pinnacle Peak Pkwy, Scottsdale, AZ 85255

        FnB
        7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        21 Replies
        1. re: drewb123

          FnB is closed Aug 1 till Sep 7th for their summer break. Binkley's is currently closed for summer break and kitchen renovations; they reopen starting Aug 18th. I believe Cafe Bink, the casual restaurant, is open as normal.

          -----
          Binkley's
          6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

          Cafe Bink
          36889 N Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ 85331

          FnB
          7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

          1. re: scaheld

            I totally knew about FnB.. oops. I would maybe venture out of N Scottsdale and try Beckett's Table. On Wed nights he is doing "Grown Up's Table". It is $36 per person and includes 3 glasses of wine and 3 dishes. It is for only 16 people and it's served family style. You get to bring leftovers home as well. I havent been but I am attending In Aug. Hana if you like sushi. (BYOB) There is also Yasu in N Phoenix. Renegade Canteen is new and in N Scottsdale. They do a decent happy hour. Roberty Mcgrath who used to own Roaring Fork is the Chef there.

            -----
            Roaring Fork
            4800 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            FnB
            7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

            Renegade Canteen
            9343 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260

            Beckett's Table
            3717 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

            1. re: drewb123

              Thanks for the opinions and advice. Cowboy ciao stays.
              We tried Renegade Canteen last year since we had been huge fans of Roaring Fork and had a horrible experience. We're only in town for 4-5 days a year and don't like giving restaurants I had a bad experience at a second try.

              I will look into Beckett's Table. Sounds very interesting. I will also see about getting reservations at Cafe Bink or Binkleys.
              Drew... I'd like to hear your thoughts on good tacos.

              -----
              Binkley's
              6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

              Roaring Fork
              4800 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

              Cafe Bink
              36889 N Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree, AZ 85331

              Renegade Canteen
              9343 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260

              Beckett's Table
              3717 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

              1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                Good call on skipping Renegade, I have yet to have a good experience there and won't go back. And, I love Roarking Fork, both during and after Robert's days there.

                1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                  I don't know that you'll find too many great taco options near your hotel, but if you venture south to Restaurante Huauchinango, where you can find some good masa cake-based options (tlacoyos, sopes, huaraches) in a strip mall hole-in-the-wall setting.

                  For actual tacos, Phoenix has more options. Some of my current favorites (from east to west) are Sonora Mesquite Grill (sublime barbacoa), Gallo Blanco Cafe (very good pibil and carne asada), and Tacos Atoyac (outstanding fish tacos).

                  Gallo Blanco and Tortas Paquime are good spots for tortas.

                  For Sonoran style burros, you might want to check out the north Phoenix location of Carolina's on Cactus, which is relatively close to the hotel, compared to the other places I've mentioned here. Or if you're up for more of a drive and some local flavor, you can hit the south Phoenix location on Mohave.

                  Of all the places mentioned in this post, Gallo Blanco is the only one that stands out as a dinner and drinks, night on the town kind of spot--the others range from downright gritty to tidy-but-humble.

                  -----
                  Carolina's Mexican North
                  2126 E Cactus Rd Ste 100, Phoenix, AZ 85022

                  Carolina's Mexican Food Restaurant
                  1202 E Mohave St, Phoenix, AZ 85034

                  Restaurante Huauchinango
                  7620 E Mckellips Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

                  Tortas Paquime
                  2541 E McDowell Rd Ste 100, Phoenix, AZ 85008

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

                  Sonora Mesquite Grill
                  4613 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                  Tacos Atoyac
                  1830 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85015

                  Sonora Mesquite Grill
                  4613 E Thomas Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

                  1. re: hohokam

                    Thank you, hohokam! Carolina's was on our list last year. We will have to try it out this year for sure.

                    danieli10... Roaring Fork might be going back on our list, thanks to your comments.

                    I checked out Beckett's Table. Looks super yummy! And Adults Night Out looks like a super deal.

                    I checked out

                    -----
                    Roaring Fork
                    4800 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                    Beckett's Table
                    3717 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                    1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                      Some thoughts from an ex-Chicagoan:

                      At the risk of being a wet blanket, Beckett's Table is... fine... but I'm not sure what makes it compelling as an out-of-town dinner. His own description of the food is stuff you make at home, just made better, and it's really not an exaggeration.

                      Good recs from hohokam, though while I'm ordinarily a champion of hole-in-the-wall taquerias, I'd actually steer a Chicagoan towards Gallo Blanco, simply because it has its own style. Unless you don't routinely hit hole-in-the-wall taquerias back home, in which case why the heck not? :-) Sonora Mesquite, for example, is great, but you don't need to come halfway across the country for great barbacoa. Carolina's, on the other hand, is definitely Mex of a flavor that you're less likely to come by back home. I heartily second that one. If you want to do some more Mexican, I'd focus more on the Sonoran and the Tex-Mex, and others can better steer you there (I'm still working my way through the landmarks). I think you'll find that other regional Mexican is much better represented back home than it is here.

                      I'll add Andreoli to the list, both for being close-ish to where you're staying and completely fabulous. I realize the ridiculousness of a Chicagoan having to move to Phoenix to find a casual trattoria-style place he was happy with, but it's the truth. Walk up to the counter and order off the white board. Be prepared for a long wait and sometimes inattentive service. Totally authentic, in other words.

                      Pizzeria Bianco is an obvious answer, but the emergence of places like Coalfire and Great Lake back home make this one a lot less urgent than it used to be. Still, it really is that good. Across the way is Nobuo at Teeter House, which is a great pick. You're not exactly hurting for Japanese, of course, but Nobuo's brand of EastWest is both skillful and unique. See if you're in town for one of his monthly tastings. That would be a great one to hit.

                      I echo the sentiment that it's a shame FnB will be closed. I'm an enthusiastic supporter of NOCA, but they're right in the middle of a chef transition and while I'm confident it would still be a great meal, that's one you might want to push off a year if this is an annual thing. I think somebody might have already mentioned Quiessence, but if not, consider that one as well. Again, it's a unique place and usually very good. Absolutely gorgeous and fabulously romantic too, if you sit outside, though I imagine the weather will probably preclude that this time of year.

                      One other kind of random thing to throw out there... though I understand a couple of places have surfaced since I skipped town four years ago, there wasn't much in the way of Peruvian in Chicago, but we have a really good place here. Contigo Peru, down in Mesa, is a great spot, if very humble and spartan. Atmosphere is not the thing here. It's especially compelling on the weekends when you can usually get aji de gallina. They make a very good lomo saltado (if that's your thing... some people are just underwhelmed by it no matter how well it's made). Other favorites of mine are the anticuchos when they have them on the weekends, the causa, pescado Contigo Peru, and the ceviche de pescado. That's something you might have a harder time finding back home.

                      Dig your avatar, BTW...

                      -----
                      Pizzeria Bianco
                      623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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

                      FnB
                      7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                      Nobuo at Teeter House
                      622 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                      Beckett's Table
                      3717 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                      1. re: Dmnkly

                        Wow, Dmnkly! Thank you so very much for the many suggestions. I will take the time and look at each of them one carefully.

                        We have stayed away from Pizzeria Bianco because I couldn't imagine waiting in the scorching summer sun. But with the new hours, we may give it a try this time.

                        thanks, btw... amelie is my favorite movie.

                        -----
                        Pizzeria Bianco
                        623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                        1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                          The new hours really, really help. If you show up for lunch at 11:00, you'll probably walk right in. We arrived at 11:30 and waited about half an hour. The only downside is that they don't do the antipasti at lunch. And it sounds like lunch has taken some of the pressure off dinner service as well. Though if you show up at 7:00 on a Saturday, I'm sure you can still expect to wait for three hours :-)

                  2. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                    Check out Binkley's Summer schedule. Do not recall the times of closure, but there could be a conflict.

                    I also recommend Kai, which is quit a trek from N. Scottsdale, but well worth it - if they are open at that time. Last year, they closed on my birthday, July 31, and were shut down for about the first two weeks of August. Even on "closing night," they were excellent, and never missed a beat.

                    Not sure why you come to Phoenix in August, as it is not one of our "better months, "but please accept this as a heart-felt "thank you," for doing so!!!! Of course, I would normally have said "why come here in June?" but we had the most spectacular June in a century.

                    Thanks for coming, and enjoy,

                    Hunt

                    -----
                    Binkley's
                    6920 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      "I also recommend Kai, which is quit a trek from N. Scottsdale, but well worth it..."

                      The only reason I didn't mention Kai is that it's outside of the OP's stated price range, but if you're up for a drive and a splurge, Gelato, it's a really good fine dining experience heavily based on native ingredients. Seconded.

                      1. re: Dmnkly

                        Also, per their website (and Chef O'Dowd's Twitter feed), Kai will be closed all month and through the first week of September:

                        "As has been our tradition since Kai's inception, the restaurant will be dark beginning on Sunday, July 31st and will reopen for service on Thursday, September 8th."

                        1. re: hohokam

                          That was about like last year, hence the caveat. Between you and me, going down to any casino, without Kai would not be a plan of mine.

                          Thanks,

                          Hunt

                        2. re: Dmnkly

                          Good point. I read right past that, and saw Four Seasons, and went from there. My bad.

                          Hunt

                          -----
                          Four Seasons
                          , Gilbert, AZ 85233

                        3. re: Bill Hunt

                          Bill... You're funny. We love AZ, specifically PHX and Scottsdale, in August. It's prefect for spending days by the pool under a mister doing nothing. 4-5 day trip feels like a 2 week vacation! Staying at the Four Seasons inexpensively is another plus.

                        4. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                          FWIW, I've found that Renegade has improved exponentially since they opened. I'll agree that, when they first opened, things were pretty hit-or-miss, but I find it to be consistently very good now. The menu changes fairly often, and some of the dishes I've had have been excellent. The kitchen and FOH staff have definitely found their groove. I prefer to sit in the bar area (especially during happy hour) where you have access to the regular dinner menu + the bar menu, which has some great, more "casual" dishes (love their lobster tacos).

                          That said, as an out-of-towner I still wouldn't recommend it as one of your dinners when you have so few nights here.

                          In the same vein, I would skip Roaring Fork.

                          1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                            There are alot of good mexican places here in Phoenix. There is Tues Night Tacos for $2 at The Royal Palms Resort. I have been meaning to check out but have not yet..I like Los Taquitos (family run) in Phoenix and a MUST is Tacos Atoyac. It is new but absoutely one of my new fave goto places for amazing tacos and cheap eats.

                            -----
                            Los Taquitos
                            4747 E Elliot Rd Ste 17, Phoenix, AZ 85044

                            Tacos Atoyac
                            1830 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85015

                            1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                              Los Dos Molinos is another option for mexican food that is pretty spicy. Dick's Hideaway is a great gem here in Phoenix offering New Mexican cuisine. Their sister restuarant is Rokeriji. I think all three are Arizona destination places to visit for good eats.

                              1. re: drewb123

                                We love spicy! I've made note of your suggestions, Drew.

                                1. re: drewb123

                                  tried to hit up the los dos in downtown phx yesterday they are closed til mid aug so fyi not sure if they all are but might not be possible while yo are here - dick's / rok is a great spicy option that i think is amazing for breakfast / brunch and worth a destination trip

                              2. re: drewb123

                                I have to disagree about Hana as a destination for Japanese food. I went there tonight, and was disappointed. I got two appetizers (a baked clam dish, and fried baby mackerel with shredded daikon), which were OK, and an assortment of sushi (scallops, halibut, striped bass, red snapper, tamago, and unagi). The fish was just not that great... again, OK, but nothing memorable, and not really justifying the price I paid. Also, although I liked the daikon on the mackerel appetizer, I didn't appreciate it as a garnish on the sushi... it just tasted wrong. Although the service was friendly, it was rushed (NB: I did arrive about 30 min before closing, which I would NOT recommend doing!). For the money I paid, I just didn't feel like the quality was there, and that was disappointing, because I really wanted to like this place.

                          2. I would not make a trip for Beckett's. I live nearby and try the place every couple of months hoping for it to get better, but it just barely makes the grade each time. I;d go to Eddie's House or Citizen over Beckett's in the Scottsdale area, much more consistent.

                            -----
                            Eddie's House
                            7042 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kmarg

                              After looking at the menu a gazzilion times, I've booked Citizen Public House for Wednesday evening. It looks different enough from many Chicago spots to make it worth our while.

                              -----
                              Citizen Public House
                              7111 E. 5th Avenue, Suite E, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                            2. I really love Olive and Ivy. Just had dinner there 2 nights ago.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: tattud_gurl

                                Nice to hear. Since they opened, it seems to be love, or hate on this board, but the "love" reviews are starting to outweigh the "hates."

                                Thanks,

                                Hunt

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  got to rule on the side of hate (not really hate but not recommend) on the olive and ivy but they pour a strong drink so the bar area is great...food is about what you would expect from a fox retaurant upon several trips there

                                  1. re: Dapuma

                                    Upon opening, several trusted CH's dined there. All were underwhelmed.

                                    Wife has done two lunches there, and had the same impression.

                                    I have never dined there, so cannot comment.

                                    Thanks,

                                    Hunt

                                    PS - not sure that I have ever really enjoyed any Fox Concept Restaurant, but could have, and just not known the affiliation. All that I knew about were, well underwhelming, at least to me.

                                    [Edit] No wait. I believe that Green House is a Fox Concept Restaurant, and I greatly enjoyed that.

                              2. We got back last week from our 6 days in AZ. It was so unbearably hot during our stay that we had to push dinner reservations to a later time than we normally eat... simply to try and avoid some of it. Overall, even with temps over 110, we had an amazing time!

                                Here is where we ate...
                                When we got off the plane,we had Brunch at The Mission It was wonderful, though a little pricey. The pork was so amazing, we considered going back for dinner one night even though we both hate repeating. That evening, still full from brunch, we went out for ice cream to Sweet Republic. Wow! Best ice cream we've had. We had the White roses and fresh strawberry flavors. Together, they reminded us of this pastry we had in Paris.

                                The next night we went to Cowboy Ciao. What can we say? It was good... but since it was a repeat from the previous year, we were a bit bored.

                                On Tuesday evening, we decided to go to Beckett's Table. This was our best meal in AZ this year. From the biscuits to the green chili pork to the mac and cheese... everything was fabulous! And dessert was not only delicious but memorable too. We tried the pecan pie and the chocolate bacon smores! My husband is still talking about the chocolate covered bacon.

                                Wednesday evening, we canceled our res at Citizen and decided to trek out to Pizzaria Bianco. We walked in and got a table right away. If I had waited for a table, I would've been very unhappy with the meal. But considering we got a table right away, I found the pizza's to be decent enough. Worth $16? No. Actually, now that we've tried it, we aren't quite sure what all the hype is about.

                                On Thursday, my husband wanted more green chili pork so we found ourselves at St. Francis. We had the pork and the Moroccan meatballs. We arrived right at the end of Happy Hour and were given HH menus. However, when our server finally came around, he said, as he took the HH menu off our table, "HH is over, sorry". We understood but it left us with a bad taste in our mouth, none the less. We found the food we tried to be tasty. And if you can get past the cool people sit down stairs, and the uncool upstairs, it's worth a visit. Oh, the bread was good too. I was tempted to grab a baguette for the trip home the next day.

                                -----
                                Cowboy Ciao
                                7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                                Beckett's Table
                                3717 E. Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                                  glad to hear that you had a good trip

                                  just went to becketts table for the first time and thought it was really good, and well priced - still trying to make it to the Mission, your post may make that happen a bit sooner :)

                                  1. re: Dapuma

                                    I wish we were local to Becketts Table and The Mission. We have had multiple conversations reminiscing about our meals there. I hope you enjoy The MIssion!

                                  2. re: Gelato_in_Roma

                                    Nice reviews. Just went to Bianco's the other night since about a year hiatus. It was okay..antipasto too pricey ($15) for what it was. Pizza was good but I see your view on the hype.

                                    1. re: drewb123

                                      I was afraid my thoughts were a bit harsh. Glad to see someone agrees with my criticism.