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Greater Phoenix Dining: Where To Eat?

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I'm ashamed of myself for forgetting the Roaring Fork. Quote from Howard Seftel, the restaurant reviewer at azcentral.com:

Imagine yourself sitting around a Western campfire, fed by a James Beard Award-winning chef. That's what it's like eating at Roaring Fork: tequila-grilled shrimp; green chile pork stew; buttermilk-battered fried chicken; duck breast cured with chile and sugar; and beef tenderloin with a whiskey "shellac." The Arizona peach cobbler, with a cornmeal crust, brings dinner to a sweet conclusion.

I personally adore their happy hour, where you can get *frito pie* and have a huckleberry margarita. Or three.

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I'm ashamed of myself for forgetting the Roaring Fork.

I concur about Roaring Fork, but it hardly fits iamthestretch's preference for "hole in the wall" ambiance. Not an inexpensive restaurant, by any stretch of the imagination, although good value for what you get. It is a wonderful restaurant. On my last trip to the area I devoured the melt-in-your-mouth short ribs. Happy hour is a treat, though it can get very crowded.

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Very true. The happy hour is exceptionally reasonably priced. (I think the "Big Ass Burger" is $5 and the huckleberry margs are $3?)

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Oh goodie - a new thread on Phoenix/Scottsdale. We'll be going there in early December to visit my brother and his family. We've only been there in the summer before - and I'm looking forward to not getting heat prostration (before you protest - I'm from Florida - and the summer trip exploring the innards of non-air conditioned Taliesan West just about did me in).

My brother lives in Cave Creek - and we'll be staying at the Four Seasons at Troon. Don't mind some driving (inevitable both in Florida and Arizona) - but we'd prefer not to log 100 miles round trip for dinner). Any recommendations in that general neck of the woods for a really nice place where we can take my brother and his family out to dinner?

And perhaps a recommendation or two for more casual dining near Kierland Commons or the Fashion Square Mall (where I will go shopping with my nieces and learn which retailing stocks will be winners/losers next year :wink: )? We had a couple of lunches at the mall last time we were there - southwestern food - can't remember the names of the places - and don't know if they're still there (we were there maybe 4-5 years ago) - but they were really good. I remember excellent tortilla soup.

And perhaps something near downtown Scottsdale (my brother works there) - for a decent lunch.

We had a great time eating there last trip - and would like to explore what's old and still good - and what's new. Robyn

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I live at Troon North, so I know the restaurants in the area pretty well. Or some of them -- quite of few of them are more expensive than I can afford. Also, I tend to go out to eat at mid-day, as I work at home and want to get out of the house every so often. That eliminates several places from my roundup that open at 5:30pm. But they're probably the ones you're most interested in for the "nice place" with your brother.

Your first option is to dine at Mosaic or Sassi, both of which are right near your hotel. I've been to neither but have heard good things about both. Sassi just got a mention in the "top 25 new restaurants" in Phoenix magazine. If I recall correctly, from the write-up, they're best at appetizers and desserts.

There are two neighborhoods nearby, each with a clot of restaurants. The first is at Pinnacle Peak and Pima. On the northeast corner is an expensive steak restaurant (Masters? something like that), a new but well-regarded restaurant in what used to be Oceana (I don't recall the exact nature of the place, but noted to myself that it sounds like it's worth trying), and an upscale Italian restaurant called Pane and Vino, or something like that. We went to the Italian restaurant for lunch once; very good, but pricey for what you get.

If you're going to do Italian, though, I'd head across the street to the southeast corner of PP/Pima. Nick's is simply excellent, with homemade pasta and sausage, casual but elegant surroundings, and... well, we go there for lunch every couple of weeks. I've never had a bad meal, and have had several great ones.

On the northwest corner is Michael's, another upscale restaurant. Again, I've never been, but I've been told that it's absolutely wonderful and that you pay for it. OTOH, right across the courtyard is a spot you don't want to miss: Ted's Cafe is a breakfast-and-lunch spot that might be worth a drive if you were staying somewhere else in town. Funky fun decor, with homemade everything. They have a different breakfast quiche every day, great gaspacho at lunch. The only downside is that service can be very slow, particularly on weekend mornings... but if you're on vacation you won't be itching to go off and do errands the way I usually am.

The other gaggle of restaurants is at Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak Road. Jalapeno's is a decent Mexican restaurant, fine for a local lunch, but I wouldn't tell you to go out of your way for it. Jade Palace is relatively new, your basic neighborhood Chinese restaurant, with good standard stuff; I'm really glad it's there, but it won't be much different from what you'll find at home. There's also a sushi restaurant in the same shopping center; oddly enough, I've never gone to it. (It replaced a juice bar that I used to _love_, and I haven't forgiven fate for taking it away. Isn't it silly how we can be about location loyalty?)

Around the corner, at Miller and Pinnacle Peak, is a great, _great_ Thai restaurant, Thai Pan. It's not fancy enough to qualify for the big dinner out with your brother... unless they didn't realize it was there (plenty of people don't) in which case they'll be grateful to you for the discovery. Very inexpensive, nice decor but in the formica-table theme, marvelous curries.

When I have people visit from out of town, I'll often take them to one of two restaurants in Cave Creek: the Horny Toad, for BBQ, and El Encanto, for Mexican food. El Encanto's food is good but not blow-you-away awesome; on the other hand, it has a beautiful little duck pond in the courtyard which makes the ambiance lovely. Neither of these are especially expensive.

If you drive just a *little* farther away, to Tatum and the 101 freeway (about 10 miles), you'll find a whole other gaggle of restaurants. For a special dinner, though, I'd probably go to Roy's, which is inside the Marriott hotel. I haven't been to THAT Roy's, but I've loved the couple of meals I've had at its sister restaurant, farther down into Scottsdale (at Indian Bend road). Definitely pacific rim fusion cuisine. Fancy without being stuffy. Great food.

Near Kierland Commons are several upscale chain restaurants, including PF Chang and The Cheesecake Factory. There's a good "special" Mexican restaurant on the south end, too -- you get to it by walking by the Sur La Table store (assuming that you're capable of *walking by*, which I am not) and past the wine bar. The fancy-looking fish restaurant got an "eh" review from Howard Seftel in the AZ republic so I haven't tried it.

That should be enough to get you started. :-)

My brother lives in Cave Creek - and we'll be staying at the Four Seasons at Troon.  Don't mind some driving (inevitable both in Florida and Arizona) - but we'd prefer not to log 100 miles round trip for dinner).  Any recommendations in that general neck of the woods for a really nice place where we can take my brother and his family out to dinner?

And perhaps a recommendation or two for more casual dining near Kierland Commons or the Fashion Square Mall (where I will go shopping with my nieces and learn which retailing stocks will be winners/losers next year  :wink: )?  We had a couple of lunches at the mall last time we were there - southwestern food - can't remember the names of the places - and don't know if they're still there (we were there maybe 4-5 years ago) - but they were really good.  I remember excellent tortilla soup.

And perhaps something near downtown Scottsdale (my brother works there) - for a decent lunch.

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I love love love barrio! Please say you will go there and order the table made guacamole and write down all the ingrediants for me. I forgot to do this and now I see pomegranates are coming around and I want to make it! Yes, they put pomegranate seeds in their guac!


Edited by little ms foodie (log)

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I love love love barrio . . . .Yes, the put pomegranate seeds in their guac!

The pomegranate seeds are a great touch, giving it interesting contrast in taste, crunch and color. Quite unexpected and much better than I woulod have thought.

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I don't have the Barrio recipe, but I have a guac recipe with pomegranate seeds that is similar:

- 1/3 cup chopped white onion

- 3-4 finely chopped Serrano chiles (seeds or no depending on your heat preference)

- 1/2 tsp coarse salt

- Pulp of 4 large ripe avocados

- 2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice

- 3/4 cup halved seedless grapes

- 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

First mash the onion, chiles, & salt together, then mash in the avocado. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Sometimes I've thrown in other fruit like pears or raspberries. It's very tasty and a nice twist on the traditional guac.

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Many thanks to all of you who took the time to respond to my query and help us have an extremely tasty time out in your beautiful, sunburned corner of the country. With a baby on the way in January, this was probably our last adult fling for, I guess, 20 years or so – and we tried to make the most of it. I won’t detail everything we ate (memory and modesty both forfend), but am happy to testify to the restaurants and dishes we particularly enjoyed.

Best Dinners:

Convivo – Easily the best food I’ve ever eaten in a strip mall. (Or strip club, for that matter.) Not much on ambience, but between the classy, imaginative cooking, good service and great value, I wish this place was somewhere up my street back at home. Standouts were the lobster tamale, flatiron steak with Roquefort sauce and an exemplary brownie with just a hint of chili. Oh, and the pleasure of drinking a Colheita roughly as old as I am for all of $10. How come this gem is still cropping up in the best-kept-secret category?

Roaring Fork – A gut buster. Where do you guys put it all? But way too good to let any go to waste. The baked crab enchilada was an eye-opener and the beef short rib in Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce must have come from Paul Bunyan’s ox. Except it had the consistency of French butter. Sorry Babe…

Best Lunch:

Barrio Café – No debate. This place is fantastic. Everything said previously about the guacamole is true (POM wonderful!), and then some. Killer tacos – we tried the shrimp and the carne asada – and goat cheese churros that make you beg for mercy. “Why,” we beseeched the multiple paintings of La Virgen de Guadelupe. “Why can’t you send us just one cook like this?”

Best Wine List:

Cowboy Ciao – Massively comprehensive and quite insanely eclectic, this was as much fun to read as it was to order from. Hmm, shall we go with the Bulgarian merlot, the Bosnian Bordeaux blend or the Transylvanian cabernet? (Perhaps that last might be rather thick and salty?) You’ve also got to give major props to anyone who can assemble literally dozens of pages of wines both under $20 and over $200 on the same list. In between, very fair prices, I thought.

Best Breakfast:

Breakfast Club – Mmmm. Huevos con masa. Seriously addictive. They also serve a nice pot of South African rooibos tea, which brought back all sorts of memories in this old émigré.

Biggest Omission:

Pizzeria Bianco – I so wanted to go here, but it just never worked out. First we got caught in the backwash of [EXPLETIVE DELETED]’s motorcade on Wednesday night, when we were supposed to go downtown and try to get in. Then we got lazy and sun-struck and were always drinking beer and/or napping around sundown instead of heading off to get in line. Next time.

Others:

Pizza Picazzo (Sedona) – Caught this on a day trip. Decent ingredients, decent crust. 70th percentile pizza.

Los Sombreros – Way ahead of any Mexican we’ve got in DC, but not in the same class as Barrio Café.

Los Olivos -- Interesting building. Um, that's about it...

The Good Egg – Decent diner.

Malee’s – Eh. There’s worse Thai.

Room service at the Phoenician -- How much did you say that was again? Holy cash flow impairment, Batman!

Thanks again. Got back to DC this evening and, you guessed it, it was raining buckets. Oh well.

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Mosaic, from Chef Deborah Knight... very lovely food and atmosphere.

Acacia at the Four Seasons, right in the same neighborhood.

Cowboy Ciao is a fun place, and I second LON's at the hermosa.

Pizzaria Bianco is good, but I really prefer Pizzeria Picazzo.

Have you eaten at Mosaic? It's kind of pricey and I'd like to hear from one person who's dined there. I have eaten at Acacia. It was very expensive and I was not impressed (it wasn't terrible or anything like that - just underwhelming considering the size of the bill). But that was a few years ago and perhaps it's improved. Robyn

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I live at Troon North, so I know the restaurants in the area pretty well. Or some of them -- quite of few of them are more expensive than I can afford. Also, I tend to go out to eat at mid-day, as I work at home and want to get out of the house every so often. That eliminates several places from my roundup that open at 5:30pm. But they're probably the ones you're most interested in for the "nice place" with your brother.

Your first option is to dine at Mosaic or Sassi, both of which are right near your hotel. I've been to neither but have heard good things about both. Sassi just got a mention in the "top 25 new restaurants" in Phoenix magazine. If I recall correctly, from the write-up, they're best at appetizers and desserts.

There are two neighborhoods nearby, each with a clot of restaurants. The first is at Pinnacle Peak and Pima. On the northeast corner is an expensive steak restaurant (Masters? something like that), a new but well-regarded restaurant in what used to be Oceana (I don't recall the exact nature of the place, but noted to myself that it sounds like it's worth trying), and an upscale Italian restaurant called Pane and Vino, or something like that. We went to the Italian restaurant for lunch once; very good, but pricey for what you get.

If you're going to do Italian, though, I'd head across the street to the southeast corner of PP/Pima. Nick's is simply excellent, with homemade pasta and sausage, casual but elegant surroundings, and... well, we go there for lunch every couple of weeks. I've never had a bad meal, and have had several great ones.

On the northwest corner is Michael's, another upscale restaurant. Again, I've never been, but I've been told that it's absolutely wonderful and that you pay for it. OTOH, right across the courtyard is a spot you don't want to miss: Ted's Cafe is a breakfast-and-lunch spot that might be worth a drive if you were staying somewhere else in town. Funky fun decor, with homemade everything. They have a different breakfast quiche every day, great gaspacho at lunch. The only downside is that service can be very slow, particularly on weekend mornings... but if you're on vacation you won't be itching to go off and do errands the way I usually am.

The other gaggle of restaurants is at Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak Road. Jalapeno's is a decent Mexican restaurant, fine for a local lunch, but I wouldn't tell you to go out of your way for it. Jade Palace is relatively new, your basic neighborhood Chinese restaurant, with good standard stuff; I'm really glad it's there, but it won't be much different from what you'll find at home. There's also a sushi restaurant in the same shopping center; oddly enough, I've never gone to it. (It replaced a juice bar that I used to _love_, and I haven't forgiven fate for taking it away. Isn't it silly how we can be about location loyalty?)

Around the corner, at Miller and Pinnacle Peak, is a great, _great_ Thai restaurant, Thai Pan. It's not fancy enough to qualify for the big dinner out with your brother... unless they didn't realize it was there (plenty of people don't) in which case they'll be grateful to you for the discovery. Very inexpensive, nice decor but in the formica-table theme, marvelous curries.

When I have people visit from out of town, I'll often take them to one of two restaurants in Cave Creek: the Horny Toad, for BBQ, and El Encanto, for Mexican food. El Encanto's food is good but not blow-you-away awesome; on the other hand, it has a beautiful little duck pond in the courtyard which makes the ambiance lovely. Neither of these are especially expensive.

If you drive just a *little* farther away, to Tatum and the 101 freeway (about 10 miles), you'll find a whole other gaggle of restaurants. For a special dinner, though, I'd probably go to Roy's, which is inside the Marriott hotel. I haven't been to THAT Roy's, but I've loved the couple of meals I've had at its sister restaurant, farther down into Scottsdale (at Indian Bend road). Definitely pacific rim fusion cuisine. Fancy without being stuffy. Great food.

Near Kierland Commons are several upscale chain restaurants, including PF Chang and The Cheesecake Factory. There's a good "special" Mexican restaurant on the south end, too -- you get to it by walking by the Sur La Table store (assuming that you're capable of *walking by*, which I am not) and past the wine bar. The fancy-looking fish restaurant got an "eh" review from Howard Seftel in the AZ republic so I haven't tried it.

Thanks for the detailed recommendations. I've done more than a bit of reading tonight and have some impressions - and some questions.

First - Convivo just closed. Wasn't thinking of going there - just thought I'd mention it.

Mosaic seems *very* pricey (more expensive than any restaurant we ate at in New York other than Per Se). I'd need some convincing to try it. Sassi is a bit less expensive - but the reviews haven't been terrific. Weakness in main courses. That's a problem for me. The chef is from one of Mario Battali's restaurants - and I just paid a lot of money for disappointing main courses at Babbo a couple of weeks ago. I'm not inclined to make the same mistake twice.

Of all the high end restaurants I read about - Deseo seems the most interesting in general. But that's Nuevo Latino food. And I first encountered Doug Rodriguez' cooking when I lived in Miami (I've lived in Florida for over 30 years). So it's a little old hat for me.

Roaring Fork sounded the most interesting for something that's an "Arizona" experience. Something I won't find at home. Sounds like an excellent restaurant too. So I'm inclined to try it unless my brother doesn't like it for some reason. I assume it's a very crowded place. It's open on Sundays now - and that might be a better bet than trying to eat there Friday/Saturday.

We've been to El Encanto on a previous trip and liked it. I remember the restaurant very well because we had a huge storm come up in the middle of dinner - and the entire annual rainfall of Phoenix fell that night :shock: . We may well return. I think we've been to the Horny Toad - but I can't remember it distinctly.

We have Roy's here - as well as the other chains. Even though I don't rule out chains - I'd like to try things I can't get at home. In fact - we've had 2 very good meals at the big mall in Scottsdale - and I think both restaurants (one southwestern - one Pacific rim) were chains.

We're planning to take a day trip to Sedona on Saturday. Have lunch. My brother suggested the Enchantment Hotel for the view. He hasn't been there in years - remembers the food as being mediocre - but thinks the view compensates for the food. Unless - of course - it's worse than mediocre now (or the view has changed :smile: ). Any other places there those of you here might suggest?

I guess we might even get to Sedona this trip. Last trip - my husband and I drove alone - through Jerome (the mountain roads). After 3 hours or so (not only were the roads pretty awful - they were under construction - and we have the lack of familiarity with mountain driving one can only get after living in a perfectly flat state for most of one's life) - we were still nowhere near Sedona - so we just turned around and went back to Scottsdale.

Thanks for reminding me about Sur La Table. I love that store! Robyn

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Convivo closed? Damn - it was on my list of places to try.

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I don't have personal knowledge - just read about it on another food website. Robyn

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Convivo just closed.  Wasn't thinking of going there - just thought I'd mention it.

Oh, bummer. I really liked that place and intended to go back.

Next time around, I may have a different list. We're buying a house at 56th Street and Thunderbird -- dangerously close to that Sur La Table -- so I expect to find a whole new batch of neighborhood joints.

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I'm stuck at the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale for meetings, and all of our meals are at the hotel. :angry:

I have no car (and little time to spare), but have car service to the airport Friday evening, so I'm thinking of bribing the driver with half a pizza to make a detour for takeout from Pizzeria Bianco - it seems pretty close to the airport. I'd have to call ahead and order the pizza so we don't have to wait too long for it.

Is this a really dumb idea?

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Pizzeria Bianco isn't on the way to the airport, especially if you're coming from the Hyatt Regency, and you'll have to backtrack a ways. Not to mention, Bianco is always busy, so call your order in, and have it ready for pickup. The more proper etiquette would be to tip your driver.

IML

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Hi,

I just wanted to thank everyone who has posted to this topic (and others about Phoenix dining in this forum). I just got back from a week in Phoenix and really had a wonderful time.

I had a lovely dinner at Barrio Cafe, another at Pizzeria Bianco and some great sandwiches from Pane Bianco. I cannot say enough about how wonderful these places are. Those of you who are locals are lucky that you can visit them frequently.

I would like to mention that Barrio Cafe is offering a special prix fixe holiday menu (my waiter said it would be available until after new year's). It is four courses for $40. The first course is a crab quesadilla, then choice of soup or salad, then a choice of a main from:

  • Filet mignon y Nopal
  • Lobster (sorry forgot the details of preparation)
  • Duck breast in Tamarindo sauce

Dessert is a Oaxacan chocolate cake

Wine pairings are an additional $20 and they have recommendations for wines from Mexico.

That menu would have been too much for me for a regular weeknight dinner, so I just had the Roasted Red Pepper soup (beautifully creamy with a deep, deep taste of the peppers) that is one of the choices on the holiday menu and also the Duck with Tamarindo, since those are two of my favorite foods/flavors.

This is my idea of a perfect restaurant, loved the food, the decor, the local artists work on the walls, the music, the service was friendly and very attentive. Each aspect reflected the unique personality of the place.

Along the same lines: Pizzeria Bianco. I was worried about the lines and such that I had read about, but I arrived just at 5pm and took a seat at the bar and was eating pizza at about 5:20. I love that fact that the menu only offers 5 pizzas, 2 salads and 2 appetizers. The wine list is also short and focused. It seems like the philosophy is to only offer a few things that they know to be exceptional.

The room is very small (< 40 seats) and the huge wood-fired oven seems to take up about one-quarter of it.

Pane Bianco is just as impressive, offering only 3 regular sandwiches and a daily special. The special on Friday was Bacon, Montasio cheese and Escarole on the wood fired foccacia, so simple but also perfect. I picked this up on the way to the airport and really enjoyed having it while waiting for my flight, instead of the alternative (airport food).

Somewhere upthread another poster asked about the affordability of these places. Pizzeria Bianco offers pizzas from $10 - $13, the salads and appetizers are less and wines by the glass in the $5 - $10 range, so fine meal can be had for a reasonable amount of money. The sandwiches at Pane Bianco are $8, but they are very generous portions.

Thanks once again to those who recommended these places.

Regards and happy holidays,

Pam

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Pam, I'm glad you liked them! I have some friends coming in town next week, and I'm looking forward to an excuse to get back to Barrio Cafe. I need to try Pizzeria Bianco... I can't believe I haven't been there yet.

On another note, has anyone else tried Frank & Lupe's in Old Town Scottsdale? I always figured it was just touristy, but we went there this week for lunch, sat in the outdoor cantina and had some wonderful orange roughy fish tacos and the green chile chicken soup. Delicious and inexpensive.

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We've been in the Phoenix area for 4 days - and are heading home tomorrow. We've had some really good eating - and I'll report on it. But first things first. For those of you who are used to relatively compact metro areas - the Phoenix area isn't. And - at times - the traffic is as bad as any as I've seen in LA. So plan your eating based on where you're staying - or where you'll be at any point in time.

That said - we stayed at the Four Seasons in the north Scottsdale area. It's a great property (our second stay here) - and it's relatively close to where my brother lives in Cave Creek (relatively close in this case being about 12 miles away). The first night we were here - we dined at Binkley's in Cave Creek. It was the most surprising and best meal of our trip. If anyone had told me 5 years ago that there would be a restaurant in Cave Creek that served an amuse bouche - I would have laughed at him. But now there's Binkley's. Although it only opened earlier this year - it's not exactly undiscovered - and has received great local reviews. And they're entirely justified.

There's both an a la carte menu (which changes almost every night) - and several tasting menu variations - which consist of various numbers of courses from the a la carte menu. I had the 4 course tasting menu for $45 (there's also 5 for $50 and 6 for $60). My cold appetizer was slow roasted baby beets with blue cheese cheesecake, arugula and red onion chips. Hot appetizer was bacon wrapped quail with butternut squash puree, crispy mustard greens and maple gastric. Main was a choice of fish or meat - and I had the venison loin - rare - with parsnips, blackberries and and acorn squash. Last was the cheese course. Had a choice of 6! - and I had the pecorino romano, epoisses, cabrales and point reyes blue with appropriate sides like fruit and bread. I'm not much of a wine drinker - but enjoyed champagne throughout the meal.

Everything (food and service) was excellent. This isn't only a great restaurant for Cave Creek - or Phoenix. I'd put it head to head against restaurants in much more food oriented cities like New York. Probably 2-3 stars on the NYT scale. And the people are nice to boot. The airline lost my luggage on the way here - so I didn't have appropriate clothes to wear. Called before dinner - and the restaurant said - not to worry - and made me feel entirely at home.

Only warning is once you get out of dense near downtown Phoenix traffic - and into this part of town - it is relatively empty desert and very dark. Encountering large critters like deer and javelinas on the road is common. We took a cab there - and my brother drove us back to the hotel. I recommend similar driving arrangements if you plan to do more than a touch of drinking and/or don't like driving in the wide open spaces one frequently encounters in the southwest. Will write more in a few days once we get home and unpack (my luggage did arrive here - although after I did). Robyn

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We had 2 lunches worth mentioning during our trip. First was lunch at Zinc in Kierland Commons during my Friday shopping trip. Zinc is a typical French bistro type of place. Attractive decor. Same menu at lunch as at dinner (which makes lunch a little pricey - and dinner relatively cheap). About $15 for main course meals.

I don't know much about the place - but it must be popular and well regarded. We started lunch at 11:30 on Friday (we were still somewhat on Eastern time). It was starting to fill up then - and by the time we left (about 12:30) it was slammed. We spoke with the manager - and he said they do about 400 covers a night. I had a chicken leg coq au vin - the leg and the thigh - over a yummy risotto with chanterelles. And they threw in (if I remember correctly) a rosemary/thyme sausage. Luckily it was a relatively large dish - because my husband - who had virtuously ordered the fish special (also good) - kept looking at the sausage the way a dog would beg at a dinner table - until I gave him half :smile: . Nice bread to sop up the sauce. Definitely recommended.

We also had the Sunday champagne brunch at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona on Sunday with my brother and his wife. We all agreed that it was a typical (although somewhat better than average) overpriced Sunday brunch (at $35). But it was a pleasant way to start an afternoon of gallery hopping and looking at rocks. Nice surroundings - no rushing - good service. And the view of the red rocks from the restaurant has to be worth at least $10 :smile: (like they say - the view alone is worth the trip) . It's not really a "food destination" - more a pleasant interlude in a day of sightseeing. Robyn

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We'll be spending a couple of nights in Scottsdale in March. We're staying near Scottsdale Stadium (to catch a ballgame or two). Lunch will probably be hot dogs and Anchor Steam at the park. But I could use some recommendations for nearby nice restaurants, so I can pay my wife back for agreeing to sit through baseball games with me instead of shopping at the art galleries.

We'll have a car, but closer to South Scottsdale is better.

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Just got back from trip to Scottsdale. Here's where we ate:

Cowboy Ciao: once for late night and once for lunch. Excellent both times. Tasted the buffalo carpaccio (good), Ahi antipasto (v. good), smoked duck & brie sandwich (excellent-duck itself was phenomenal) and mushroom pan-fry (excellent also). Very nice atmosphere. Would definitely go back.

Roaring Fork: dinner. Had tortilla soup (excellent), short ribs (good), and chocolate malted milk shake (good). Would go back but would choose Cowboy Ciao over RF.

Sea Saw: dinner. We ate too many things to mention all that was good in the meal. The biggest highlights were the yellowtail with avocado & grapefruit in a great sauce, the cod and the lamb as well as a superb dessert that included a phenomenal goat cheese cheesecake. Everything was excellent. This is a must have meal IF you have an adventurous side. It's not so much that the dishes were exotic. Rather, the entire experience was (for the lack of a better word) transforming. However (!), if you're with solely meat-and-potatoes folks (or non-fish eaters), do not waste your time. One complaint: it's a phenomenally long wine list and we had a server who knew nothing about it to guide us.

Arcadia Farms: lunch. Other than being practically the only man in the restaurant, it was very good and a nice atmosphere. Had a great mushroom, spinach, goat cheese tart. Definitely would go back.

In summary, I'd go back to all of these restaurants again. I'd say RF for major carnivores, Cowboy Ciao for a great all around meal, Sea Saw for adventure and Arcadia Farms for a ladies' lunch, uh, oops I meant light lunch.

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Oh yay, I just was at Cowboy Ciao on Saturday - had the Puerco Lento, a big pork shank coated in cumin & epazote, slow roasted and served in a creamy potato-chipotle-cherry business. Fabulous. Also noted that they have a really good selection of wine flights that are very reasonably priced. Nice value.

stevea, all of the restaurants that dscott reviewed above are in old town Scottsdale, so I think they should work for you too.

Heh, I go to Arcadia Farms for lunch sometimes too - it's particularly appropriate for those who've just spent the day at Neiman Marcus and the spa and need some where to "lunch". Lotta upscale blue hair.

New place I tried was Coyacoan (totally spelled that wrong) Steak House, which is right down the street from Los Dos Molinos. A nice alternative if the wait at Los Dos is running 2+ hours. More upscale Mexican, focusing more on steaks & side dishes than the more common Sonoran-type enchiladas/burros/tamales. No dish really overwhelmed me, but everything was tasty and they had a selection of salsas that was out of this world. Live guitar music as well.

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Heh, I go to Arcadia Farms for lunch sometimes too - it's particularly appropriate for those who've just spent the day at Neiman Marcus and the spa and need some where to "lunch".  Lotta upscale blue hair.

LOL :laugh:

Hope to be back in early spring to try some new places.

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