The Sonoran desert may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of an eclectic culinary scene, but Scottsdale is an urban oasis situated amongst a picture-perfect desert and an abundance of fresh produce, making it a foodie’s paradise. The city has recently gained recognition as a thriving restaurant mecca, so here are just a few places to put on your radar the next time you hit the desert.
Executive Chef Sheff (yes, that’s his real name) curated a unique menu that is a nod to the art-themed resort, with colorful shared plates like whole trout sitting on a layer of bright orange pecan romesco and delicious handcrafted cocktails, each culinary creation is inspired by the surrounding Sonoran desert. Whether you’re sitting at the glass-enclosed Kitchen Table or the main dining room, every seat in the house has an action-packed view of the chefs behind the kitchen or the mixologists shaking up a fancy cocktail at the bar.
Photo courtesy of Experience Scottsdale
Tucked away inside the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale, this upscale steakhouse boasts a vibrant Southwest decor with a surf and turf menu inspired by what’s in season. Signature dishes like the bacon wrapped buffalo tenderloin are not to be missed but the pappardelle with wild mushroom ragout also leaves something to be desired for vegans. If you’re feeling extra ravenous, try the six-course tasting menu and leave it to the chef to surprise you with each dish that can easily be confused for a work of art. Of course, with Chef Whipple’s innovative dessert menu, there’s always room for a little something sweet like the “Fig Newton” or Caramel Apple.
If you’re craving pizza that will whisk you away to Italy with just one bite, then look no further than Craft64, where everything is made from scratch (including the dough!). The menu pays homage to Scottsdale’s local producers and farmers with only 46 ingredients in the kitchen, most of which include organic produce, and their specialty wood-fired pizzas, made using an imported Italian oven. While they offer traditional pizzas like margarita or pepperoni, you’ll want to opt for one of their more creative pies like Fico, topped with three types of cheeses, truffle oil and fig sauce. Drooling yet? With 36 craft beers on tap, including six of their own brewed at a nearby brewery, Craft64 is not only rumored to be the second oldest house in Scottsdale, but it’s also the perfect place to indulge guilt-free, with food made from the highest quality ingredients.
We’d be remiss not to include James Beard Foundation nominee, Chef Charleen Badman, and her critically acclaimed farm-to-table eatery in the heart of downtown. The seasonal menu puts the spotlight on the bountiful produce available in Scottsdale with elevated vegetable dishes and an award-winning wine program to complement each plate. Who would have ever thought turnips could be packed with so much flavor your taste buds would be begging for more? No dish will disappoint at FnB and it might just be the only time you’ll find yourself asking for a second serving of collard greens.
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This casual restaurant might be located in a strip mall, but don't let that stop you from a meat feast. If you've got a particularly large appetite and you want to try a variety of cuts, the beef combo is a good place to start. Succulent slices of meat are cooked to perfection right at your table and served with the traditional Korean BBQ fixings, in addition to your choice of a kimchi or soy bean stew. Wash it all down with a glass of soju — a traditional Korean alcoholic beverage — and then wait for the food coma to kick in.
Martini lovers, rejoice. Not only does AZ88 have an extensive cocktail menu, but they also boast a laundry list of martini drinks and other libations to quench your thirst. Indulge in an order of their waffle fries served with spicy chili ketchup (because, why not?) and then work your way to one of their meaty sandwiches like the Burger Las Brisas piled high with your favorite Mexican-inspired toppings like avocado and jalapeno, or the AZ88 Chicken Sandwich grilled in buffalo sauce for a kick and smothered in a blue cheese dressing.
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When you’re fighting a sweet tooth, stop everything you’re doing and head straight to Super Chunk Sweets & Treats to treat yourself to a Brookie (basically, a brownie and cookie having a baby), or a Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookie, i.e. what National Geographic has called the “Best Chocolate Chip Worth Traveling For.” And if that’s enough, maybe the 3-inch John & Yoko honey cake soaked with cinnamon tres leches and layered with mascarpone whipped cream and honeycomb candy will convince you. This adorable bakery is full of sugary bites so there’s a cure for every type of sweet tooth emergency.
Leila is an LA lifestyle and travel writer who spends about 95% of her time writing about food, thinking about food, cooking food or eating. You can follow her food and travel adventures around LA on Instagram and Twitter @LeilasList.