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Best Scottsdale Restaurants

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Scottsdale, even though it’s a mid-sized destination, is home to more than 600 restaurants. Not too long ago, if you asked foodies around the country about the cuisine in Scottsdale, they’d probably mumble some snide remark about rattlesnake and leather-textured steaks. But this trendy little spot has been quietly growing its restaurant scene, nurturing a generation of independent eateries and innovative chefs, and quietly awaiting its moment in the spotlight. Well, that time may as well be now. Scottsdale loves anything entrepreneurial, and nowhere is this more evident than in its restaurant scene. Competition is held mostly to a friendly level in Scottsdale; well-known chefs can oftentimes be seen indulging in a course or two on “enemy territory,” usually over a glass of wine with the owners and fellow chef. And because the city is home to a top-rated Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, Scottsdale has become a hotbed for young, talented chefs who sharpen their cooking chops at the larger resorts and then move on to their own independent ventures. How do we define the local cuisine? Well, that's hard to pin down. Some Scottsdale foodies will tell you it’s because Arizona is a young state and also a major melting pot of cultures. While the Mexican, Native American and Old West influences are obvious, it’s important to keep in mind that many people in Scottsdale are transplants from somewhere else, so the menu is vast. You'll find everything from sophisticated French and Spanish restaurants to casual burger joints and everything in between.

Talavera

Neighborhood: North Scottsdale Price: Expensive
At Talavera, it’s hard to tell what’s more inspiring—the food or the views of the Valley from the foothills of Pinnacle Peak Park in north Scottsdale. It’s headed by Chef Mel Mecinas, a 13-year veteran of the Four Seasons family who used to cater to celebrities at the Los Angeles property and got his start in the restaurant business as a teenager when he worked for his father at a family-style chain restaurant. Mecinas never had any “formal” training, instead sharpening his skills in the real world at age 19 when he took up a post with Joachim Splichal, the chef-owner of West Hollywood's Patina restaurant. Mecinas has claimed to be “wary of cookbooks” and instead prefers to take creative risks with his cuisine, which is evident at the resort’s signature restaurant. Try the Chilean sea bass with potato risotto or the lamb chop and cumin spaetzle. If you’re looking for a deal, opt for the three-course tasting menu for $46 per person, or $60 with wine pairings.

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deseo

Neighborhood: North Scottsdale Price: Expensive
With its innovative menu and its own artist-in-residence, Nelson Garcia-Miranda, deseo is a necessary stop on Scottsdale’s dining tour. Located in The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, deseo’s concept and menu was developed by a James Beard award-winning chef, Douglas Rodriguez, who’s been widely regarded as the inventor of nuevo Latino cuisine. To visit deseo without partaking in a course (or three) of ceviche is a downright gastronomical sin. When dining here we always make sure to order the popular Millionaire Tacos, made with lobster, ahi tuna and Japanese hamachi. Opt for a seat on “the rail,” the horseshoe of bar seats lining the open kitchen, for an inside look at what it takes to prepare your favorite dishes. Innovative cuisine isn’t the only work of art you’ll find at deseo, though; the in-residence artist paints portraits of stories depicting his life as a Cuban exile live in the restaurant. His vibrant pieces are a sharp contrast to the white walls of the restaurant. Garcia-Miranda’s works are available for purchase in the restaurant.

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Bourbon Steak

Neighborhood: North Scottsdale Price: Expensive
Bourbon Steak was one of the first restaurants to bring a big name to Scottsdale’s dining scene: Chef Michael Mina. Here, it’s all about all-natural cuts of meat. There’s something about prime beef short rib on a menu that always catches our attention, and Bourbon Steak does this dish exceptionally well with horseradish potato puree and Worcestershire jus. The Maine lobster pot pie is a standout, too. It's filled with truffled cream and fresh, seasonal vegetables. And, like any good steakhouse should, Bourbon Steak also features Japanese “A5” Wagyu beef with a garlic-soy dipping sauce that’ll have you scraping your plate. With all of this quality seafood and meat, we’re almost (ALMOST!) afraid to admit that our favorite part about the meal is the duck-fat French fries that are served with three different dipping sauces and come at the beginning of every meal, like a bread bowl. The space is impressive, too, at 11,000 square feet and seating for more than 281 guests. It’s designed by New York-based firm AvroKO using indigenous materials, like pine, cedar and local stones such as moss rock, Hualapai chocolate flagstone and chrysocolla, a unique copper-bearing ore native to Arizona.

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FnB

Neighborhood: Downtown Scottsdale Price: Moderate
The best part about FnB is that the restaurant is truly all about the food. Nothing complicated or snooty about it, meals here are composed of fresh, locally sourced ingredients (for the most part) that are whipped up by Chef Charleen Badman, most recently known for her work at Rancho Pinot in Phoenix. Front-of-the-house master and owner Pavle Milic is recognized just as much for his welcoming smile as he is for his knowledge of all things food and wine. FnB has gained statewide—and national—recognition for its support of Arizona wines, with an all-local list. Menu items are tweaked regularly, as Badman is often inspired by fresh ingredients she sources from nearby farms. You'll find things like corn on the cob with balsamic, Parmigiano cheese and mint, and wild king salmon with basmati rice and tomatillos and lime. The gastropub is designed to be a cozy and casual neighborhood joint where the open kitchen is the main focal point. It’s a small (and popular) place, so we recommend making reservations at least a day in advance.

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Stingray Sushi

Neighborhood: Downtown Scottsdale Price: Moderate
This downtown Scottsdale sushi joint has traditional rolls and sashimi that you’ll find at similar restaurants, but you’ll also find a collection of unique rolls with some Latin—yes, Latin—influence, like the Cabo Blanco roll that’s topped with pico de gallo salsa. The décor here is pleasing. Dark wood accents are juxtaposed by bright red walls, and sleek chairs and booths line the perimeter of the space. A selection from the “assorted sushi plates” option is the best bet if you’re dining with a group. At lunch time, opt for a seat at the sushi bar for free miso soup and salad with your meal.

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Malee's on Main

Neighborhood: Downtown Scottsdale Price: Moderate
With no experience in the restaurant business or Thai food, Deidre Pain opened Malee’s Thai Bistro in 1987, and it’s been a staple of the Scottsdale dining scene ever since. Meals like traditional pad Thai and more unique dishes, such as the hippy noodles (flat egg noodles with broccoli and tofu, in black soy sauce), are prepared to your preferred level of spice.

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Frank & Lupe's

Neighborhood: Downtown Scottsdale Price: Budget
Frank & Lupe’s has been around for more than 25 years and offers a menu of New Mexican cuisine, a regional way of cooking that centers around the New Mexican chile with influences from Native American, Mexican and American cultures. Our favorite is the carne adobada, a burrito packed with spicy pork and red sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, drizzle the red sauce over the top and add a dab of sour cream to even out the heat. On a nice day, park yourself on the back patio for a margarita. The colored umbrellas, Mexican tile and bright flowers will make you feel like you’re dining al fresco in a small Mexican village.

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Pita Jungle

Neighborhood: Central Scottsdale Price: Budget
Pita Jungle was started in 1994 after the owners gave up their careers in engineering and broadcasting to start this restaurant. Pita Jungle was built on the premise of offering fresh and healthy food that actually tastes good—and it does. Don’t pass up the grilled chicken-topped hummus appetizer or the shawarma pita with grilled chicken, mixed greens, tomatoes, onions and pickles in a delicious garlic sauce. Every hipster in the Greater Phoenix area seems to live at Pita Jungle because of its Seattle coffee-joint atmosphere, but you’ll also see businesspeople on their lunch break or happy hour, as well as moms and dads with their kids. The Mediterranean-inspired menu also includes vegan-friendly options, and you’ll find an allergen chart on their website with menu options for diners with allergies. 

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Big Daddy’s BBQ

Neighborhood: Central Scottsdale Price: Budget
Mention the word “Mastro’s” anywhere in the Scottsdale area and you’ll hear all about too-good-to-be-true lobster mashed potatoes and fresh cuts of steak. The original creators behind the Mastro’s Steakhouse empire have since opened Big Daddy’s BBQ in early 2010 to a ravenous fan base that had been waiting for quality barbecue in the city. With its casual, picnic-style design and vast menu, Big Daddy’s BBQ offers plenty of barbecue options like pulled-pork sandwiches, tri-tip and baby back ribs. There are traditional sides like mac-n-cheese and potato salad, but we found ourselves fawning over the fried okra. The atmosphere of Big Daddy’s BBQ is especially charming. Picnic tables and their bright red umbrellas, white-washed patio-style doors, and a candy counter featuring all of your old school favorites will make you feel like you’re at a family cookout.

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Chloe's Corner

Neighborhood: North Scottsdale Price: Moderate
Chloe’s Corner at Kierland Commons, with its cheerful diner vibe, order-and-sit counter and grab-and-go options, is the kind of place you’d expect to find in a New York neighborhood. In the morning, locals love Chloe’s for its 50-cent coffee and variety of breakfast fare, like the chorizo and egg burrito, and oatmeal with fresh fruit. At lunchtime it’s abuzz with business and leisure types who crowd the cafe for handmade sandwiches and salads. (We love the tuna melt on cranberry walnut bread). You’ll also find a selection of craft beers, wine, snack items, old-school candy and handmade goods like brownies and cookies.

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