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NYC Chowhound needs help! 5 days in Scottsdale

Fellow Chowhounds!
I will be with my boyfriend and my mother in Scottsdale in late April (Thursday - Monday) staying at FireSky. I am open to anything, awesome cheap eats, mid range, and maybe one special high end meal. I am obsessed with food, and am really looking for some great places showcasing what AZ has to offer. I have been scouring this board and also got some outdated local recs, used Zagat (very little info) and Yelp. Here's what I have so far:

Phoenix:
La Grande Orange Pizzeria - heard wings are great too?
Pizzeria Bianco - I am from New York City and am VERY discerning of my pizza. Is this worth all the crazy wait times I've heard? the other alternative is to go straight from the airport and get there at 11AM on a Thursday as soon as they open.
Chelseas Kitchen - this menu looks interesting, thoughts? is it just straight comfort food, or done really well?
T.Cooks brunch buffet. any comments? vs Herb Box brunch?
Nobuo at Teeter House - seems a bit pricey for an izakaya

Scottsdale:
FnB - this place looks awesome
vs Citizen Public House - both worth visiting? different?
Greasewood Flats for the experience?
AZ 88 - thoughts? better burger places?
Herb Box for brunch or breakfast
Arcadia Farms - rated highly on Zagat
Cafe Monarch - very mixed reviews. is this place worth the hype? and would you go for brunch or dinner?
Sapporo - happy hour. I love japanese food, but if I shouldn't waste my time, please let me know. Happy Hour does sound fun though.
The Mission - is this nouveau?
Positano - is this more of a wine bar w/ snacks?

I tried to use Yelp as a source, but while browsing through restaurant I saw that Chipotle and Taco Bell were also really rated highly, so it made me wonder....

Also any fun places close to my hotel to go for a drink would be great. Not sure if there is anything walking distance so we don't have to drive....

Thanks for your help!

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  1. I would definitely do Roka Akor instead of Sapporo if you're looking for Japanese food. Their menu is fantastic, they have a great happy hour, and try their homemade shochu.

    1. I would add Lon's at the Hermosa to the mix for breakfast/brunch/lunch or dinner..fab
      Carolina's Mex near the airport..divey Mex goodness
      Persian Room gets lots of love from my friends..

      www.lons.com

      1. I was there in October. I'll give you my list and in order of how good it was.

        Chino Bandido. Featured on 3D it was amazing. One of the single best. http://chinobandido.com/

        Carolina's Mexican. Tied with CB. Order a “Red machaca burro, foot long, enchilada style. Don’t skimp on the brown sauce.” I ordered verbatim form another hound. Awesome. http://carolinasmex.com/

        The Grind. Upscale burger bar doing their meat in a coal oven. Terrific burger. My cousin's favourite. Great burgers of course but the mesquite grilled wings are no slouch either. http://www.thegrindaz.com/

        Matt's Big Breakfast. Also featured on 3D it's a tiny place that packs 'em in. I had just a fantastic 3 meat scramble (sausage, ham, tenderloin) The fresh jalapeno's made it. http://www.mattsbigbreakfast.com/

        The Tamale Store. The wild card here is they are take out only. However they microwave easily and if you have one in your room they can make for a nice snack. My cousin says they're the best tamales he's had. He's lived there for 25 years. http://www.thetamalestore.com/

        Enjoy your trip. Happy eating.

        DT

        1 Reply
        1. re: Davwud

          Just back from Scottsdale. The Grind was fun--good burgers,wings fries, onion wings and good beer. Upscale sportsbar feel. Also excellent and new is next door run by the same owner called The Chick Rotisserie which was a very nice casual meal in a great setting. You can't go wrong with The Roaring Fork which has a nice menu and lively setting. I don't know why it is not seen more on this board. Matts is great and The Breakfast Club doesn't disappoint. Los Sombreros was good not great but service top notch. Over Easy was just OK and a little bit of a letdown. Carolina's was worth the trip--went on the way to the stadium just about 5 minutes away not counting traffic.

        2. You shouldn't have crazy waits to get into Bianco now that they're open for lunch, and I would argue it's a must-go. Other must-go's include FnB and the Grind for a burger. Citizen and FnB are definitely different, Citizen, Chelsea's Kitchen, and Beckett's Table are all kind of the same food type-wise, but I'd probably rank Chelsea's 3rd in that mix.

          The Mission is nice, definitely not Arizona Mexican food (Carolina's for that), but it's really tasty. Another local taste you may want to try is Richardson's/Rokerij for New Mexican inspired food.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cactuschowdah

            this is all great info! I already replaced Sapporo with Roka Akor, and did add Carolina's to my list last night. Is The Grind better than AZ 88 for burgers?

            Any thoughts on Sunday Brunch? Herb Box vs buffet at T.Cook's vs Lon's at Hermosa vs somewhere else? Thanks!

            1. re: jungirl

              Without question the Grind is better than AZ88. I'm not a huge brunch fan, but I've had great regular meals at both T Cooks and Lon's. The scenery at Lon's if the patio is open is unbeatable.

              Since you're an NYC'er and I'm heading there next week, can you give me any thoughts on restaurants that offer similar food to Breslin/Spotted Pig? Trying to get to a new place while I'm there. Thanks!

              1. re: cactuschowdah

                Mary Queen of Scots and Highlands are sister restaurants that have solid gastropub food, as well as a long scotch list. Mary has a really cute atmosphere, built in the old Allen and Delancey space.

                Are you looking for gastropub / comfort food?

                1. re: jungirl

                  Those both look awesome, but neither is open for lunch- sorry should have been more specific

          2. Just a few notes: I would skip Bianco, totally overhyped and not worth it. Don't come to the desert for pizza if from NYC. Citizen Public House is great and so is FnB. Skip Arcadia Farms, not a great spot and overrated. Put the Zagat's away for good. Cafe Monarch is not worth it either as thereare much better choices. I agree with skipping Sapporo and going right for Roka Akor, Shinbay, Hiro Sushi, or Sushi Roku. The Mission is excellent for brunch or dinner. It is Pan latin and one of my favorites. I would add Distrito for sure. AZ 88 and Greasewood are ok, not my favs. Herb Box is solid although a bit pricey.

            The Grind and Matt's are excellent. Postino and Over Easy and the Vig are solid too. I really like Chelsea's kitchen. For AZ weather and beauty Lon's is a solid choice for eating outside and gazing at Camelback, a truly great AZ experience. Have fun!

            7 Replies
            1. re: danieli10

              FWIW, my cousin very much wanted to take me to Over Easy but the only location he knew of wasn't open the day we went. Which also happened to be on the way to the airport so no time to recalibrate.

              DT

              1. re: danieli10

                Interesting. I was considering going to Bianco as soon as we landed, but maybe I will re-route to Carolina's for a more AZ experience. I've got a rez for CPH and FNB already, very excited for those!

                I also got a Saturday Brunch rez for Lon's and a Sunday one for T. Cook's. Do you feel one exceeds the other? T. Cook's buffet sounds good on paper... not sure if Is Lon's fancy? I was thinking maybe morning hike in Camelback, and then brunch-- or would we look odd in that dining room?

                I was recommended Greasewood's for the ambience, i know the food is just burgers. Does anyone second this rec? I heard it's on a cliff where you can look over at the sunset?

                1. re: jungirl

                  I'm almost positive Greasewood Flats is no longer in business. Lons is fancy, but they have a "cowboy/old west" theme, and is at a resort, so they're probably no strangers to under-dressed visitors. I would feel more comfortable there not in workout gear, personally.

                  1. re: cactuschowdah

                    Thanks for the tip! their website is still up, and there is a message on their voicemail though??? hmmmm. if it was still open, worth it?

                    1. re: jungirl

                      I see where I got confused-
                      http://www.azcentral.com/business/rea...

                      Not closed yet :-) I've never been, so I can't really tell you unfortunately. It is definitely a "wild west AZ" type of place, so even if the food is so-so, you're soaking up the unique vibe...

                  2. re: jungirl

                    T. Cook's has a great reputation for Sunday brunch. I also hear, and you can check it on Yelp, that the Wandering Horse at the Talking Stick (Casino Arizona) has an amazing Sunday Brunch for $28. Holidays it's more. But I have heard that the offerings are delicious and include upscale items such as Kobe beef and a variety of seafood. Maybe you can try it and then win money. I think they call this a WIN-WIN.

                  3. re: danieli10

                    danieli

                    Monarch Cafe has been on my list but not yet visited. It sounds quirky and creatrive and BYOB.

                    What did you not like?

                    AZ 88 is terrific on weekend nights after dark for ambiance, cosmos and garage door size window that swing up bringing in the night.. The food is decent bar food. Not special.

                    Roka Akor is pricey but the food is very well done.

                  4. I'm originally from NYC too. Rosie Mcaffrey's is a great Irish pub. You will have fun there and enjoy the food. I tried Chino Bandido and didn't think much of the food. It's all a hype because they were on the Food Channel with Guy's DDD. Also keep away from Guiseppe's on 28th? all on his show and it was a disappointment. For good italian food (not fancy, but good) try Bel Fiore's on Cave Creek Road south of Greenway--a very casual place. If you are going to take in steaks I would avoid Morton's. They already closed one here. I would do Capital Grille. and as you know steak houses are pricey. Sapporo is good. Avoid Chorro Lodge-overpriced and average food.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Scottsdalegirl

                      i think daniel10 nailed it (although i'm sad to hear arcadia farms isn't good anymore, it was 5+ years ago!). i would add that carolina's is not the best representation of az mexican food. it's been around forever so it has a loyal following and the tortillas are tough to beat BUT i'd suggest la condesa, barrio cafe or gallo blanco over carolina's all day long. also, greasewood flats is NOT on a cliff. it's almost entirely outdoors with picnic tables and dirt floor - very rustic "wild west".

                      1. re: hungryinaz

                        I'll have to remember to add those 3 others to my list. Carolina's was one of the top 2 meals I ate last year. AFA restaurants go.

                        DT

                    2. danieli10 is spot on. how'd your trip to az go? can you give us an update on where you dined and what you thought?