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Jun 7, 2012 02:20 PM

Restaurants near Sanctuary at Camelback

Husband and I are taking a spur of the moment weekend trip to the Sanctuary for some spa and relaxation time. Yes, it will be hot but we're from N.O. So we won't be bothered much. We will have a car but wil probably not venture too far from the resort except for maybe one night if we are inspired by a great dining option. I'm not at all familiar with dining in AZ.
Any suggestions for 2-3 dinners? We get lots of good French and northern Italian at home so probably something else . I think we're in the mood for light and flavorful-lots of veggies,ceviche, or similar etc. after the spa time.

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  1. There are a lot of good choices not far from Sanctuary. You can drive easily enough or car service/cab no problem. For post-spa, try Shinbay for ridiculous sushi. This is more of a Masa or omakase style, but you will not be disappointed. For another excellent spot, you can try Roka Akor, which is robata grill (makes great veggies) and super sushi. They have a great lounge for happy hour, this is a favorite CH spot.

    For gastro-pub, with super local food and best craft cocktails, gotta try Citizen Public House or CPH as commonly known. You will not be disappointed. I will leave it to the rest of the board to help you out, but you cannot go wrong with any of these recs.

    If you truly do not want to go anywhere, I have heard good updates on Elements at Sanctuary, and I have had some good meals there, just not for a while. The Jade Bar is a great place to get craft cocktails and some good munchies. Have fun....

    1. At the Sanctuary, is elements (note lower-case e), and it has revitalized. Once, it was great, with a wonderful view, but went downhill. Lately, however, they have reinvented themselves, and we have hosted three meals there. The new space is nice, and the menu and kitchen-work are very good, to great. Going for a 4th time this Saturday night.

      For French, I would recommend Vincent's on Camelback, which is just down the road from you. Personally, I liked it better, before Chef Vincent re-invented it. There are a few "carry-over" dishes, but they have gone more "bistro," and I am not the ultimate fan. I liked his take on Classic French and Southwest cuisine, plus the wine list now has a major hole in it. Once, it was one of the best wine lists in the valley, but they decided to drop the "middle," and focus on the intro-level wines (the "usual suspects"), and then the left-over very high-end wines, from the cellar. I miss those middle-level wines, which were great, and often a real value. Now, I struggle with the wine list. This sort of "hole" is common on many NOLA wine lists, from Galatoire's to Antoine's to Arnaud's, where one goes from Kendall-Jackson to DRC's, that cost US $600 to 10,000 per bottle. Little, or nothing, in between.

      Have not dined there, but sort of "across the road," many like BLT, which is a steakhouse at the Camelback Inn. Now, I am less of a "steakhouse person," and have not dined there, but many love it. I just felt that Phoenix did not need another high-end steakhouse (I am talking "expense account" steakhouse, as we already had maybe 3 dozen, and would have championed a chef-driven restaurant, that was NOT a steakhouse).

      For a different experience, I recommend two, totally different restaurants, not too far away:

      T. Cook's at The Royal Palms Resort (sedate, and elegant). I am thinking Stella! here, but with a Med trend, and a SW flair vs Deep South.
      Cowboy Chaio in Downtown, Old Town Scottsdale, and a different story - a bit too loud, but with great wines, and very interesting cuisine. Gosh, trying to come up with a NOLA metaphor is hard - maybe a louder Bayona, with a killer wine list?

      Though I now live in Phoenix, I grew up in the shadow of NOLA, and married a wonderful lady for there. We are back 1 - 3 times per year, but often have family events, so never get to dine at all of the new spots in town, or even hit all of our "favorites."

      Wish that I could help more,


      1. FnB does veggies very well and if they have lamb on the menu it is goign to be pretty amazing in whatever fashion the chef decides to make it in - they specialize in AZ wine and beer so you can get some unique stuff, reservations are a must it is quite small

        I would have to discourage you going to Vincent's - search my name and Vincent's and you will see the horror we went through there - i would not wish that on anyone (sorry Bill)

        +1 to everything Danieli10 said

        The Muddle Bar at Deseo in the Kierland resort has good ceviche and a good happy hour (mojitos), however it might be easier to stay at elements and jade bar and equally as good

        10 Replies
        1. re: Dapuma

          -1 on Vincent's. No reason to waste a meal here. I respect Bill H, but I will not go back to Vincent's.

          1. re: danieli10

            Interesting, as we would not go back to FnB on a bet. One of the worst meals and dining experiences in the last 15 years in Phoenix.

            To each, their own.


          2. re: Dapuma

            Thanks for all of the helpful replies. We ate at CPH last night and had a great meal and a great experience. I couldn't pass up the pork belly-even though it's far from my "light" schedule this weekend. Very tasty and the chef send a side of greens to mix it up a bit. You guys may get tired of hearing about it but it was great for a newbie. Husband was in a fish mood and was very happy with the special. Overall, a great experience and very different from anything at home. Our service was excellent and the waiter gave us a strong push after dinner to the affiliated cocktail speakeasy called Citizen R & D. They make artisan cocktails and, although, we usually drink wine, we loved it. The personal service and attention to detail made it feel like a dining experience. Nothing quite like stepping out of your comfort zone and hitting a home run!
            Thinking about Cowboy Ciao for tonight. Bill hit the nail on the head when he mentioned Bayona-one of my favorites.
            Merci beaucoup for the many the tips and ideas. You have a great board here.

            1. re: GTCmom

              IMO the Pork Belly "pastrami" is the best thing on the menu

              Citizen R + D is a fun place to experience - the tableside presentations are very unique - glad you had a good time there

              cowboy ciao is very good as well and if you are wine drinkers they have a ridiculous wine list so you should be all set

            2. re: Dapuma

              I'm not sure what all the hype is over FnB. My wife and I dined there about a year ago and were extremely disappointed. I don't have time to write a detailed review, but there was absolutely nothing memorable in a positive way about our meal. The local ingredients and the dishes they are used in all sounded wonderful, but turned out to be awful. A good example was the Beet and Goat Cheese salad. I love Beets and the portion was generously large, but what arrived was a large plate of squishy beets in a big wet mess. We also tried the lamb; the meat was tough. The chicken on my wife's dish was dry and tasteless and overwhelmed by the large bed of uninspiring veggies underneath.

              On a positive note I commend FnB for the selection of AZ wines which we very much enjoyed.

              1. re: davep

                strange i have had the lamb there 3-4 times and every time was excellent - hard for me to order lamb anywhere else because i compare it to FnB - if you have another place that does lamb very well let me know - only other place around here i have had excellent lamb was at rokerji / richardsons as a special one night

                i have not had a salad there before or tried many of the vegetable dishes other than the leeks, which was good but not mind blowing or anything

                their butterscotch pudding there is very good - had another dessert that was some strange cake which wasnt very good but that one off dessert is the only thing i have had that is excellent

                The only AZ wine and beer's isnt nearly as important to me, the only thing i have been slightly disappointed about (which isnt a big gripe because az wines / beers is there thing) is that they dont have more wine's and some belgium ales / beers to go with their food

                That being said I am a cocktail person first then beer and wine second

                To each their own :)

                1. re: Dapuma


                  My experience mirrored Hunt’s. His conclusion mirrored mine.

                  The food was mediocre at best. The owner was slick and yet either oblivious to, or disinterested in, the simple request of this guest.

                  If this was the” ultimate dining experience in Scottsdale” Scottsdale chefs would have a long, long way to go before we, in good conscious, could recommend any restaurant to visitors of this site.

                2. re: davep

                  We feel the same way.

                  Dined there once, and as "walk-ins." The server was very good, but that was all. The FOH (one of the owners) was a horrible joke, and when confronted by my wife, upon our departure, stated, "well, that's the way it is. We are famous, so people line up to dine with us." The implication was "you are not important to us," so maybe that is how they see it? OK, but not us, or anyone, who asks for a rec.

                  Out of six dishes, only one had any taste, or inspiration. Bad count there.

                  Maybe I am just missing something there. One dish, out of six, a local-centric wine list, and a hard-working server - that does not translate to me, on a restaurant, that we would ever wish to dine at, again. Once was more than enough.

                  I realize that I have just skewered a "sacred cow" here, as it is so very often cited as being the ultimate dining experience in Scottsdale, but to us, it is a perfect case of "The Emperor's New Clothes." Nothing to see here folks, move along.


                  Will say that the AZ-centric wine list was interesting, but nothing to get excited about.

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Everyone has their opinions and I don't consider FnB a "sacred cow". I've always been treated phenomenally by Pavle (one of the owners) and find it always a great experience as I enjoy the open kitchen concept and all az wine list. I do not find FnB the greatest thing since sliced bread however.

                    I think of FnB as a great place to go with the SO on weekends for a dinner that won't break the bank but will make me feel like I had more of an "experience" and not just food thrown at me.

                    1. re: PHXeater


                      However, beyond our individual server, things could not have been much worse, though it is a beloved restaurant here (the CH Phoenix Board). Until we run completely out of options, we will never be back.