Scottsdale boasts a thriving culinary scene of over 400 restaurants featuring everything from trendy gastropubs to rustic Western saloons. The Scottsdale restaurant scene is a melting pot of acclaimed chefs, innovative cuisine, and with over 300 sunny days every year, some of the best al fresco dining in the country. As home to a top-rated Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, the Scottsdale dining scene also enjoys a healthy population of raw young talent experimenting with bold flavors and culinary fusion.
See what this foodie paradise is all about for yourself with a meal at one of Scottsdale’s best restaurants. At the top of our list is Virtu, a tiny Mediterranean cafe tucked away in a B&B in downtown Scottsdale. The restaurant has been collecting accolades from chefs and food magazines across the country for its take on globally-influenced, homemade "honest craft" cuisine.
Another Scottsdale gem is FnB, where the kitchen uses farm-fresh ingredients and culinary creativity to put together pleasing small plate ensembles.
BLT Steak offers top-notch takes on the modern American steakhouse, while Lon's at the Hermosa is the perfect place to enjoy wholesome, Southwest-infused American cuisine on one of the loveliest outdoor patios in the city.
If you're looking for light Italian fare that's freshly prepared, including homemade pasta, book a table at EVO in Old Town Scottsdale.
As if the cozy, adobe-inspired interior isn't engaging enough, guests at BLT Steak are greeted by spectacular views of Camelback Mountain at this celebrated resort restaurant. A menu of innovative American cuisine features steaks and seafood, all impeccably prepared and served by a knowledgeable staff. Terrific options include a bone-in sirloin, broiled Maine lobster, and braised short ribs. The comfortable setting is also ideal for savoring a bottle from the extensive wine list that offers something for just about every preference. For dessert, don't miss the delightful crepe souffle. This is one of the best restaurants in town, the perfect marriage of food and atmosphere. (480-905-7979, 800-582-2169)
Lon's at the Hermosa
Lon's pays homage to Arizona's rustic Southwestern cowboy history in the most elegant of ways; the ambiance is strikingly different from what you would expect. The decor suggests cowboy, but the menu and staff dress it up and give the whole place an air of luxury. Menu highlights might include two-pepper roasted pork tenderloin or breast of duck with cranberry and jalapeno glaze. The unique Sunday brunch menu offers such things as braised beef short ribs with a sunnyside-up egg or strawberry- and mascarpone-stuffed brioche French toast. Additionally, many of the menu items feature fresh ingredients harvested on-site from the restaurant's garden. (602-955-7878)
Citizen Public House
Citizen Public House is what the English pub concept looks like in Scottsdale: thoroughly contemporary and upscale, yet still managing to retain the homey charm of a traditional public house. Nestled comfortably in Old Town Scottsdale, Citizen Public House has made a name for iself by serving craft beers, classic and contemporary cocktails as well as a full menu of award-winning gastropub cuisine. For cool nights, there is a cozy patio, a semi-private 12-seat dining alcove and lively public space. Mahogany accents, leather booths and a stainless steel-topped bar combine old and new design elements for a sleek, modern look. (480.398.4208)
The wood fired cooking and classic American cuisine of the Roaring Fork makes this a favorite gathering spot for the Scottsdale lunch crowd. Inspired by the history and essence of the Old West, the Roaring Fork seeks to recapture and celebrate the simplicity of open fire cooking and the bold flavors of wood-fired cuisine. Choose from lamb, beef, chicken, pork, and fresh fish entrees, all cooked to perfection using wood fire rotisserie, open flame grill, or classic wood oven roasting. An inviting atmosphere and impeccable service make this a perfect lunch spot for fans of rustic, boldly-flavored Western American cooking. (480-947-0795)
Located at FireSky Resort and Spa in the heart of Scottsdale, Taggia brings fresh coastal Italian cuisine to the Sonoran desert. Seafood doesn't get any fresher than this (flown in daily) and seasonal salads feature organic and locally sourced ingredients. Gourmet pizzas come out soft, chewy and bubbling with the fresh made sauce from the restaurant's wood-fired ovens. The ambiance is exceptional. You can dine under the resort's soaring green palms in the comfortable outdoor patio, or in the sleek, inviting dining room. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is a great choice for a date night or special night with friends. ((480) 424-6095)
If ever there was a place to enjoy a sophisticated dinner amid the flicker of candlelight, The Mission in Scottsdale is it. This casual upscale restaurant specializes in "modern Latin cuisine" skillfully prepared by Chef Matt Carter using a traditional "plancha" style grill. Kick your meal off with the Crispy Cola Pork, pork belly infused with cola, lime, chiltepin, peanut, pickled red onion and gem lettuce. Try the Pork Shoulder tacos, which features a house pineapple glaze, cilantro, red onions and ten hand made corn tortillas. Another stand-out is the Chorizo Porchetta, pork shoulder, chorizo, rosemary, cotija, white bean puree and sweet garlic crema. Dishes are infused with the traditional essence of pecan and mesquite wood and feature a creative fusion of Spanish and Latin American flavors. (480-636-5005)
How about a late morning breakfast in a sun-drenched patio, with monarch butterflies fluttering at a respectful distance? Sound too good to be true? Fortunately, Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale is a very real place. Experience a truly unique dining ambiance in this cozy cafe, featuring one of the most unique brunches in town. The menu is small--choose from either a Sweet or Savory option--but the dishes are hand-crafted, fresh and seasonal, and utterly delightful. Frittatas, French toast, and other classic breakfast specialties receive special treatment here from owner, chef, server and all-around culinary maven, Chris, who will make you feel at home at this Scottsdale foodie destination. Lunch and four-course dinners are now being served as well. ((480) 970-7682)
Sophisticated yet down-home, FnB is the latest darling of the Scottsdale culinary scene. The menu, which changes frequently, is based on seasonal ingredients sourced from local vendors and farms. The farm-fresh ingredients are carefully selected to create unexpected and delightful pairings. On any given visit, you'll find succulent combos such as leeks and grilled broccoli, brussels sprouts with meyer lemon, chile, and mint, or roasted beets with yoghurt, oil cured olives, cilantro and pinenuts. Expect the unexpected at FnB, where the artful plates are served with locally crafted beer and native Arizona wine. FnB's new location also features a small wine shop and a bodega market. (480-425-9463)
EVO is a vintage-inspired Italian restaurant and bar committed to delivering timeless Italian cuisine and high quality drinks in a sleek, inviting setting. On the food side of the menu, EVO dishes out fresh appetizers and small plates, delicious specialty pizzas, house made pasta dishes, fish and meat dishes, and luscious desserts. EVO also has an extensive drink menu where you'll find handcrafted cocktails, draft beers, draft spirits, bottled beer, beer on tap, bubbles and wine by the glass. For a refreshing summery drink, make sure to try the Grapefruit Basil cocktail, made with three olives citrus vodka, fresh basil, grapefruit and lime. ((480) 265-9814)
Tucked away in the Bespoke Inn in Old Town Scottsdale, Virtu is a charming cafe with a world-class menu. After only a few months in operation, the small eatery made a big splash by appearing in Esquire Magazine's annual Best New Restaurants in America list. The menu incorporates Mediterranean flavors with Southwestern zest. Try the grilled octopus, which is cooked tender and served with fennel, arugula, lemon chick peas, and calabrese chile butter. Don't miss the hand-crafted cocktail menu. A seat in the tiny dining room here is in high demand, so make sure to make reservations to secure your place at the Virtu table. (480.946.3477)
About Patricia Escarcega
Patricia Escarcega has lived in the Arizona desert since she was a teenager. She works as a writer and editor in Phoenix with her four dogs and two cats.
She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and is working on a novel about growing up in the 1990s.
Read more about Patricia Escarcega here.