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Jan 24, 2012 03:27 PM

California Foodie Visiting Scottsdale for Spring Training 2012

Hey fellow chowhounds!

I'm a big baseball fan and I love trying new foods, even doing my own food blog. I'm going to be in the Scottsdale area for my first spring training trip in March. I will be in town for 7 days and will be going to a game every day!

Still, I want to slip in a few choice eating adventures in between, especially at night. I've been reading this board for a few weeks to get some ideas so the following is a few of the places I'm thinking of checking out.

I want to get your feedback to my list, especially when it comes to these criteria:

1) Is this place worth a trip for someone from the San Francisco Bay Area?
2) Does this place require reservations and how far ahead should I make them? If I'm by myself, can I just walk in?
3) Is the attire at these places OK with jeans and a baseball cap, which I'm thinking will be my attire for the week (maybe even shorts depending how warm it gets)?

And just for some location information, I'm staying at the Wingate by Windham at North 87th Street in Scottsdale. I'm visiting by myself for the first part of my trip, and then later part a buddy is joining me. (For the time when I'm with my buddy, I'm looking for places that are easy walk-ins so we can make decisions depending on how we feel that day.)

I'm going to games by the Giants, A's, and Cubs, so that means spending the day at Scottsdale Stadium, Phoenix Public Stadium, and the Mesa stadium for the Cubs. Any suggestions for food around these stadiums will be great as I feel I may be going there early to park but then end up having to wait with nothing to do before the 1 p.m. game start.

And finally, here's my list of places I'm considering:

Binkley's (I actually already went ahead and made a reservations for 1 for this place. Can I go in jeans?)
The Breakfast Club
Chelsea's Kitchen
Citizen Public House
Liberty Market
The Herb Box
True Food Kitchen

I'm also planning to check out the Phoenix Public Market on Wednesday night. I also know that the Devour event is happening the weekend I'm there, but unfortunately I'm going to games during the days and the Devour event is only during the day.

Let me know if I'm missing anything!

Thanks in advance!


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  1. Jeans at Binkley's is fine.

    In general March is the busiest tourist month of the year in Phoenix because of the weather and spring training (over 1.5 million tickets sold to spring training games last year, many/most out-of-towners) so maybe make reservations ahead of time if you're SURE you want to try a particular place.

    I would add Barrio Cafe to my list if you like Mexican (see uhockey's report from last fall on Binkley's, Barrio Cafe etc).

    2 Replies
    1. re: willyum

      I was originally thinking of Barrio Cafe then I read some comments about how it might be losing its touch?

      Also, for clarification, I'm not a big fan of Mexican food. I'll eat it, but it doesn't really excite me. However, my buddy who will be joining me later does like Mexican food so we may go to a couple of places.

      1. re: singleguychef

        Skip Barrio Cafe, you will not be impressed and it is not very exciting.

    2. Jeans at Binkley's is fine, but probably not a baseball cap and tshirt.

      Around Scottsdale stadium there are tons of restaurants - search for Old Town Scottsdale and use that as a guide, the stadium is right in the thick of things.

      I like Chelsea's Kitchen but it's not really close to any of the places you mentioned and personally not something I would go out of the way for. True food is tasty if you want something really healthy but again nothing I would consider destination dining.

      I'd also look into The Mission, Posh (for high end in Old Town, they have countertop seating overlooking the open kitchen so perfect for a solo diner) and Los Sombreros.

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

      The Mission
      3815 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      7167 East Rancho Vista Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

      2 Replies
      1. re: PHXeater

        I thought about the Mission (but see my response to willyum above about Mexican food). I wondered if it might be that much different than the fancy Mexican we get in San Francisco's Mission district. Could I do walk in at the Mission if I decide to go with my friend, who does like Mexican food?

        1. re: singleguychef

          Depends on the day and where you're coming from- if you're coming in right after the game at Scottsdale Stadium, you may be battling lots of other like-minded fans, otherwise, if you go early in the week, and earlier in the night, walk in is fine. The food is really good there, but definitely not the Sonoran Mexican AZ is known for

      2. good list

        FnB you must make reservations - do so in advance

        I would make two changes:

        I prefer Daily Dose over Breakfast Club (about two blocks south of breakfast club on Scottsdale road) - Daily Dose also has HH deals from 4-8 every day - also have a long bar to sit at for a solo diner

        Chelsea's Kitchen is just ok to me (others may disagree) if you want to stick within their same family i like L Grande Orange pizza (if you like sourdough crust) and wings for a bit of a just walk right in if you feel like gourmet pizza wings type deal also they have beer / drinks you can grab out of the cooler and take over to your table (chimay etc) or for a place more similar to Chelsea's Kitchen i would take Cowboy Ciao over Chelsea's Kitchen and the price points are fairly similar - you would want to make reservations at chelsea's kitchen or CC also

        The Breakfast Club
        4400 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        Daily Dose
        4020 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ

        7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

        3 Replies
        1. re: Dapuma

          Thanks for the recs. Sounds like I should look into Daily Dose and drop Chelsea's Kitchen. I'll also shoot for reservations at FnB.

          1. re: Dapuma

            I did end up going to Daily Dose once for breakfast before the Giants game at Scottsdale Stadium. Parked super early in the morning near the stadium and then walked to Daily Dose for breakfast and there was already a crowd gathered! Luckily, the wait was only 20 minutes (funny how when you're on vacation you don't care how long you wait, especially when the sun is shining outside!)

            I sat at the bar with a friend and ordered the crab breakfast. It was a crab cake that was nicely pan-fried on top of an omelette that I think was filled with spinach? I don't remember now but I thought the omelette was nicely done. Served with toast and fresh fruit. (My friend got the stuffed portabello that was sitting also on top of an omelette.) I can't say the food was mind-blowing, but it was filling. A lot of people came in for some morning antioxidant drink with alcohol that sounded fun, but I thought it was too early to drink. Seems like a happening place and a good standby for breakfast and lunch in the area.

            1. re: singleguychef

              they have some good brunch drinks, i like the dr hendricks myself

              they do a lot of stuff with their turkey sausage which is very good and local or housemade not sure, i usually get something with that in there i like the White - Out which is just an eggwhite omelet cheese and turkey sausage and their pancakes are good (honey wheat or gingerbread) IMO

          2. Agreed on subbing in Daily Dose. Also, I would get rid of Liberty Market- it's good, but a really far drive from where you are at- not worth the drive. I heartily second (third, fourth, fifth?) FnB, but you should make a reservation soon. Another great restaurant for dinner in Old Town is Cuoco Pazzo. Just do a search for it on the board here, and you'll see everyone raving about it.

            There's really not much worth mentioning around the Mesa stadium other than De La Cruz Bistro, which is pretty darn good if you already happen to be in that area.

            By Phoenix Muni, you can go either way, into the Arcadia area for Chelsea's or LGO as has been mentioned, or the other way into Tempe and check out House of Tricks. Mill Ave in Tempe has tons of casual bar-type places with halfway decent food so walk-in come as you are works just fine there. Before we leave the Arcadia suggestions as is though, I will make my usual plea that you visit The Grind- hands down the best burger I have ever had, also a pretty cool bar scene.

            14 Replies
            1. re: cactuschowdah

              +1 on Cuocco Pazzo as well

              and if your watching ball games and thristy for some great craft beers you will have a field day

              If you are at/near the biltmore and wanted burgers instead of True Food then Delux Burger is very good also has good beer selection - havent been to the Grind for a burger but that is down the street off camelback closer to scottsdale and also gets very good reviews on here i am sure you would be happy either way

              and if your drinking at daily dose i would recommend the Dr Hendricks :)

              1. re: Dapuma

                I feel like there's so many pizza places in San Francisco these days, also lots of burger spots. So unless these places are the best in the country, then I'm inclined to pass and try something different.

                1. re: singleguychef

                  Many feel that Pizzaria Bianco might be best on Earth, but it is in downtown Phoenix.

                  I'm sort of like you, as when I am in SF, I seldom think pizza, though have grabbed one at Wolfgang's, for lunch, from time to time.

                  Though not is Scottsdale, per se, NOCA is right near the "line." They remind me a bit of AME, Luce, the old Restaurant Bacar, and a bit of the old Michael Mina's (St Francis) thrown together, but in a more casual setting.

                  In Scottsdale (Old Town), I am a fan of Cowboy Ciao.

                  For Italian, Marcellino's (just across the street from Cowboy Ciao) has proved to be very good. There were some aspects of their original location, that I liked, but even with the expansion/move, they seem to be doing good things.

                  I have been less impressed with many Scottsdale restaurants, such as FnB, and others, but they DO get good reviews on the board. I feel that there are too many "cookie cutter" restaurants, that are rather a "concept," and that is usually not my thing.

                  We're in SF about 20 times per year, and usually have at least one night, where we get to pick our own restaurant. The next night, I dine alone, at the restaurant of my choice, but wife has a catered dinner at her meeting.

                  We love Farallon, AME, Luce, Restaurant Gary Danko, and a few more, but do try to add something new (usually on my solo night), each trip.

                  Most of all, travel safely and enjoy!


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Thanks Bill for your recommendations. It sounds like you tend to dine in the high-end spots when you visit San Francisco. I'm actually more of the opposite. When I travel, I don't like to get fussy and dress up for dinner, so I do look for more sophisticated dining but in a casual, fun atmosphere. Which is why I think FnB appeals to me. I'm on the border for Cowboy Ciao because I've heard mixed reviews,although I may just go for what sounds like a funky decor!

                    1. re: singleguychef

                      I'm a part-time Bay Arean (living in Berkeland borderlands), so I think I have a handle the kind of place you're describing.

                      Noca, FnB, Citizen Public House, and any of Bianco's places would top my list of places to get good food in a non-stuffy atmosphere. Of that bunch, Noca is probably the most formal/polished in terms of service--more or less on par with a place like Zuni Cafe in that regard. This is not to say that the folks at the other places are slouches, or that you'll feel outclassed at Noca.

                      As you point out, good pizza (and good Italian food more generally) is easy to find in SF, so a stop at Pizzeria Bianco, Pane Bianco, or Italian Restaurant (Bianco's latest venture) maybe doesn't need to be your highest priority.

                      Pizzeria Bianco
                      623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

                      Pane Bianco
                      4404 N Central Ave Ste A, Phoenix, AZ 85012

                      3118 E. Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

                      7133 E Stetson Dr, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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

                      1. re: hohokam

                        FnB and CPH are on my must list. I have to look into Noca, thanks!

                      2. re: singleguychef

                        I think that you did hit that nail, squarely on its little head.

                        While we do dine "down-scale" on the road, most dinners are at the upper-end of things. Makes no difference, whether we're in San Francisco, Hawaii, New Orleans, or other location. Dinner is usually a more formal experience, at least for us.

                        That is one reason that I seldom post to threads on some other boards, that I frequent, because the OP is looking for more "neighborhood," etc., and with few exceptions, that is know what I know.

                        Most of all, travel safely, and enjoy greatly!


                        1. re: singleguychef

                          When you have rock star status like only roll one way..
                          ; )

                          1. re: singleguychef

                            You are correct. For us, "fine dining," is what we gravitate to, regardless of where we travel. Now, that does not mean that we eschew "local favs.," though they are usually down the list a bit.

                            Since we are usually traveling on business, a jacket is part of the luggage, regardless of where we end up, so attire is never much of a consideration.

                            Most of all, ENJOY!


                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                            took some friends to Cowboy Ciao for the first time tonight and had a very average meal there

                            their proteins were a bit over for their steak and pork dishes, the stetson chopped salad tasted a bit off and had less flavor and the korean bbq rib was not quite as flavorful as normal

                            First time i would have said if it was my first time there i wouldnt go back

                            Maybe they are having some kitchen issues since there have been some mixed reviews on it lately - not sure normally they are A+ to us all the time

                            after today i would say go with fnb / cph over CC if you were debating between the three

                        2. re: Dapuma

                          Late Breaking News: Cuocco Pazzo and Chef Peter DeRuvo have parted ways.

                          1. re: hohokam

                            Major bummer. I'm hoping the quality stays the same, but if it slips, I have real doubts if they can make it. I better get over there soon before the cooks forget what Chef wanted them to do :-)

                      3. I wouldn't bother with True Food.

                        Think about Quiessence.

                        And you should really consider Kai, which is rather unique to Arizona.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          >> you should really consider Kai, which is rather unique to Arizona.

                          Kai is a great foodie choice but 1) it's a long drive from most of these other (northern) places and 2) they have a bit more rigid dress code than baseball cap and jeans. For sure they likely won't let you in wearing shorts.

                          Here's a clip from their web site re: dress code:

                          "Kai maintains a smart business casual dress code. It prohibits hats, T-shirts and shorts for both ladies and gentlemen, including open-toed sandals for men. Dress hats for ladies are acceptable. Denim is not preferred."

                          1. re: willyum

                            Yep, looked into going to Kai and while I thought it would be fun to learn more about Native American cuisine, I didn't want to make the long drive. And since I already decided to go to Binkley's, I didn't feel like overloading a spring training trip with too many fancy dinners.

                            1. re: willyum

                              Those observations are correct. Kai is not a "casual" place, so dress would be a major consideration. Also, their proximity is not really good, though they are worth the drive.

                              As we live in North Phoenix, unless we are staying down there, and playing golf, we always book a limo, for the trip down (we love our wine, and do not ever plan on driving), but it is rather "down South," at least for us. For unique, fine-dining, it is not to be missed, but one needs to account for the miles, and be ready for "fine dining."

                              Good call,