Views/Celebration Dinner in Phoenix area
I have a friend who's been backpacking in South America for the last 7 months or so, and we're having a welcome home/bon voyage dinner for him. He's off to Germany after this with a fraulein he met during his travels. I want to have the dinner somewhere with beatiful views b/c she has never been to Arizona. I was thinking Sassi, but I'd like to hear recos on something a little more affordable.
I thought about the courtyard at Old Town Tortilla Factory, but I think the heat will get to us.
I think we are up for any type of food. ~TIA~
I love Elements at the Santuary on Camelback for the views. Arrive before sunset for drinks in the Jade Bar and move to dinner to watch the sunset. Ask for a window table! Beautiful views and great food.
There is not a good view from Old Town Tortilla Factory. The courtyard is nice (sans the cheap plastic furniture), but you can do much better, such as Lon's at the Hermosa.
Elements is beautiful and has some of the best views in the city.
Unfortunately, most of the great view places are pretty pricey (Mary Elaine's, Different Pointe of View, etc.) or the food isn't very good (Compass Room).
An alternative is to go to a great local place that doesn't have a view and is affordable and have cocktails at Elements or the Compass Room or Wrigley's Mansion before or after (just time it so you can get a great view of the sunset).
I agree with Elements for swank. But it's pretty formal. Go there for a drink and see how they take to it. If the mood of the group is jazzy, then stay to eat.
On the flip side, I've had good fun taking visitors to Greasewood Flats. It's just odd enough, familiar enough and casual enough to appeal to a wide range of people. But different enough to be a unique experience.
I've not reflected on this before, but maybe it best defines AZ - a mix and clash of old & new, stylish and casual. Fake (and real) biker, fake (and real) yuppie and real cowboy (plus some fakes... who knows?). Location-wise, it's a rusty ranch with bird crap covered tables, but to get there you drive through million dollar neighborhoods.
There's no view from the mountain top, but a nice view of funky Pinnacle peak (right ?). I'll give kudos to the owners for not selling. They could sell & plop a few mansions on the plot but haven't. You still have to arrive by dirt road and the parking lot is full of cacti should your guests want some desert pics.
The dining experience isn't very swank. In fact, it's pretty basic and almost a sport. Burgers are the main fare and you have to visit a certain shack to order. It can take a while to line up (if you don't go early) and can take a while to get your food (if you manage to hear your number called). Getting a drink requires a visit to another shack.
Think food court. There's little to no table service. And that's if you get a table. The best chance you have is to merge with others, which is part of the experience. You might be rubbing elbows with a Hells Angels Chapter. Or 72 people in town for an Ohio State game.
My advice at this point is to work as a team. One or two of you should scout where to sit. Others should secure food. A third party should be sent for bevs. Newbies will get distracted by the layout, animals, etc. Where else can you see peacocks and play horseshoes?
Assuming a place is found, one can soon be distracted by the music and scene. Early afternoons offer a singer who is watched and sung with. Later on, people get the dance fever.
And I think this is where visitors get into the groove. There are good dancers, but you need no know how to groove. Kids can spin. Swing dancers let loose. Cowboys twirl their girls. Bikers simply twirl. The Ohio State ladies are bumping and grinding. Everyone laughs and gets along.
It's not the best grub or the best bar, but it is what it is... unique to AZ. I used to backpack around the world as your friends are doing and this would be a place I'd like to experience in that spirit.
I completely agree with Seth Chadwick on Elements. My second would be the Wrigley Mansion (check their schedule as Summer is near) and finally Different Point of View. None is inexpensive, but all offer good to great food, good wine lists, good service and views, views and more views.