Scottsdale, AZ, has everything you could wish for in a great food town: over 600 restaurants, a first-class culinary academy (Le Cordon Bleu draws a steady stream of ambitious young chefs to town every year.) and a large tourist population hungry for the next big thing.
With a constantly evolving local food scene, it can be hard to know where to start. So here are three culinary stops on the Scottsdale foodie express guaranteed to please your palate.
A hearty breakfast of red chilaquiles with scrambled eggs at Barrio Queen in Scottsdale — Photo courtesy of Barrio Queen
Start with breakfast at Barrio Queen. Phoenix and Scottsdale area foodies were ecstatic at the news that local celebrity chef Silviana Esparza of Barrio Cafe fame was opening up new digs in Scottsdale. Barrio Queen, an eclectic, colorful cafe in an excellent downtown Scottsdale location, has lived up to its culinary expectations by delivering passionate, flavorful "Mexican soul food."
Exotic ingredients are married with traditional Mexican dishes with wondrous results. Stop by for breakfast (served until 3 p.m.) and sample the chilaquiles, a classic rustic Mexican breakfast dish composed of handmade, toasted corn tortillas that are smothered in your choice of red mole sauce or pork green chile and topped with longaniza sausage and two eggs.
The Stetson chopped salad at Cowboy Ciao is a house favorite — Photo courtesy of Cowboy Ciao
Next up on your foodie itinerary is Cowboy Ciao, a one-of-a-kind restaurant where the "border baroque" movie set ambiance sets the mood for culinary adventure. The menu - a gourmet marriage of modern American, Italian and Southwestern influences - dazzles with its sheer creativity.
Cowboy Ciao has been feeding downtown Scottsdale foodies since 1997, and the menu seems to grow bolder every season. Still, there are some house favorites that work their way onto the menu season after season. And this is the case with the Stetson chopped salad. Simple, fresh and beautiful, the Stetson is perhaps the best-loved salad in town.
Sushi Roku is one of Scottsdale's most popular sushi spots — Photo courtesy of Sushi Roku
Scottsdale's reputation for trendy nightlife and dining is on full display at Sushi Roku, one of the city's most popular sushi bars. Situated inside the ultra-hip W Scottsdale Hotel, this sushi hot spot, a spin-off of the original restaurant in Hollywood, features one roll that should be on every Scottsdale foodie's must-try list.
The Shima is the restaurant's Southwestern-inspired roll, with fresh shrimp wrapped in spicy tuna and served with cilantro and avocado. Even if the Shima doesn't turn out to be your favorite roll of the meal, its simplicity and elegance is flawless and delectable.
Other recommended foodie detours to take while you're in Scottsdale include Culinary Dropout - a hip gastropub with a revolving menu of irresistible small plates - and The Mission. This upscale fine dining restaurant takes Southwestern and Latin American fusion to a whole new level.