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Last minute weekend picks- please help!

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Mr. Mika and I booked a last minute trip to Scottsdale this wknd and although we'd normally do tons of research on where to eat beforehand, we haven't had the time. We are staying at the Phoenecian, looking for great places to eat nearby and not looking for any high end type spots on this trip.

We arrive late on Friday night, so I'm guessing we may just eat at the hotel once we check in. On Sunday night we have reservations at The Mission. Sat night we had looked at Wildfish or Lon's. Any opinion on these? The other option would be to eat at The Mission Sat night and Cowboy Ciao Sun night but that would leave us with dinner reserv later than what we want both nights so I am thinking Cowboy Ciao for lunch one day.

Let me know any opinions on Wildfish or Lon's. I know Wildfish is a chain, which gives me a bit of pause, but the concierge was raving about it. We realize with our restrictions of wanting to stay near the hotel etc limit our choices, but just wanted to get some input. Also if there's any other nearby lunch spots we should consider. Thanks for your help!

Cowboy Ciao
7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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  1. LOVE T.Cooks next door at The Royal Palms!

    1. I go with T. Cook's, as well, but a recent visitor was not wow'ed. Have not done dinner there in about 9 mos., and the more recent excursion was for an event, so really does not count.

      I do not know Wildfish, but Lon's has been quite good over the last few years. Their menu has some local, or at least local-styled items, and they do them well.

      Only gripe that I have had recently is that they dropped their "balloon" glasses for big whites, or red Burgs. They still have some decent stemware, but I hate it, when a higher-end restaurant cuts back on stemware, especially as I had campaigned for better stemware there, about 13 years ago...

      Wife has dined at The Mission, and was not impressed by her lunch, but we both love Cowboy Ciao, though it can be a bit loud (for us). Still, the food, the service and the wine program have always impressed us. Have not done dinner at The Mission, so cannot comment.



      Cowboy Ciao
      7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      1. We usually stay at the Phoenician and have enjoyed J&G Steakhouse and like eating in the bar too(burger/beer special)...Jean George restaurant which is a good thing and perfect for Friday night arrival.
        T.Cooks at the Royal Palms is lovely and drinks with Dwight at the Piano bar is fab.
        Lon's for brunch/lunch or dinner.
        Love making a Carolina's run for some Mex..or the Teepee

        1. Lon's has a beautiful patio if you're from an area of the country where it's already too cold to sit outside. I love brunch/lunch there as well as it's reasonably priced and very tasty.

          1. wildfish is more of a happy hour scene type of place food is not amazing but not bad either - i would say it would be better for happy hour apps pre dinner drink

            fnb / cowboy ciao / cuocco pazzo are all good spots also citizen public house

            Cuocco just opened so resos there should be no problem and cph is more fun to sit at the bar there, they have a great cocktail menu

            all are in old town and close to the hotel

            I have had a lot of bad experiences with the food at j and g and mixed drinks being poor but the view is pretty amazing - you are paying a lot for that view though and you can do better and cheaper IMO

            also Mastero's City Hall is right there as well and T Cooks is always great

            1. Just wanted to give a quick report back after our weekend in Scottsdale.

              Lunch on Saturday was at Cowboy Ciao- we shared the chopped salad, had the open face steak sandwich and a burger. We were stuffed! but we loved the food so much we actually came back on Monday for lunch on our way to the airport. The service here was great and the food was delicious.

              Saturday night we changed our dinner to Cuoco Pazzo after reading some positive feedback on this site. After trying to ask our waiter for some opinions on their wines by the glass and even tasting a couple, they really need to revamp their wines by the glass and educate their staff. Once I found some wine, we started off with an appetizer that was clams and spicy italian sausage with broccoli rabe. This was pretty tasty but the broth wasn't developed enough with flavor, so it fell a little flat. Next we ordered the carne pizza and the tagliolini pasta with seafood. The pizza was prob my favorite of the night, but the pasta was good as well and could tell it was made in house. The sauce and flavoring again seemed like it needed a little more development. So overall we liked our meal there, but thought it needed a little bit more for the flavors to be really delicious and memorable.

              Dinner on Sunday night was at The Mission. One thing I didn't expect is how dark it was in there! I saw numerous tables who brought their own flashlights, which would have been helpful since we had a hard time reading the menu. We also waited at least 10 min with no waiter approaching us until we flagged someone down, and she turned out to be our waiter. After a not very promising start, we were pleasantly surprised. We started off with the tableside guac, which was very good and a much better option than their salsa, which although they bring a giant bowl was not very good. We then shared the seafood stew, the chicken tostadas and the steak tacos. We really liked everything but the steak tacos were our favorite, with the tostadas a close second. For dessert we had the pumpkin bread pudding which was very good as well, except it had some sort of dried red fruit on top which detracted from an otherwise great dessert.

              So overall it was a quick weekend visit, but we got to enjoy a couple of great meals. Next time we'll try some of the other places mentioned!

              Cowboy Ciao
              7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

              Cuoco Pazzo
              4175 N Goldwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

              1. Lots of amazing places a much further drive away like Kai's at Wild Horse Pass and fabulous restaurants in North Scottsdale or Cave Creek but around the area there are lots of amazing places as well.

                Every out of town guest I've ever taken to Lon's has been blown away... amazing hacienda ambiance & wonderful unique dishes. T Cooks is legendary but I've always found the food good but not great. Cowboy Ciao is an eclectic, foodie place, and a "can't miss" anytime I've been there.

                One of great steakhouses is Mastro’s City Hall, which was started by longtime Scottsdale mayor Herb Drinkwater’s family. Further up the street is a wonderful local steakhouse called Dominicks... great ambience, live music and great setting. Another fav is Christophers… wonderful local chef who is a fav for intimate special dinners. Don't forget about Eddie's House, run by local chef Eddie Matney who always combines food in very unique dishes & this is much more casual. Elements at the Sanctuary Resort is fabulous. Vincent’s is a local very high end place fav that uses French cuisine with Southwestern flair.

                For something really casual... Don & Charlie’s is just up the street & is a guy’s guy place with lots of sports memorabilia – a spring training favorite with decent food, great portions but mostly just a fun place to watch a ballgame & grab lunch. Wild Fish is noisy and a place to be seen for the young hip Scottsdale crowd.... good food but if you want great fish & a much more relaxing setting, I'd recommend Ocean Club about 10 miles north.

                If you want to drive further, let me know & I can suggest others but the above list will serve you well within 5 miles of where you are staying (with the exception of Kai's & Dominicks).

                Cowboy Ciao
                7133 East Stetson Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

                Don & Charlie's
                7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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