If your image of Scottsdale is all swimming pools and golf courses--well, you're not too far off the mark. But Scottsdale is also home to an ever-evolving scene of local restaurants, ranging from sandwich shops to grand resort dining rooms. For those of looking for a great meal that won't break the vacation budget, we present to you our top choices for Best Value restaurants in Scottsdale.
There's no need to sacrifice taste and quality at neighborhood restaurants such as Defalcos Italian Grocery, a venerable local favorite that has been dishing out hot, delicious gooey Italian pasta dishes and pressed sandwiches for decades. Come for the authentic antipasto, stay for the cannoli.
Next up, there is Tacos Jalisco, where the humble dining room belies the magic happening behind the kitchen doors. This is a great stop for take-out on those days when you're craving Mexican comfort food but only have a few bucks in your eating-out budget.
Finally, if you want a meal that is both wallet-friendly and healthy for you, head to YC's Mongolian Grill, where you can pick out fresh meats and veggies and watch expert chefs create masterful stir-fry dishes for a fraction of what you would pay at a sit-down restaurant.
There's nothing fancy about the small dining room at Tacos Jalisco in Scottsdale, but sometimes all you need is good food served up by expert cooks. This is the case at Tacos Jalisco, a tiny neighborhood restaurant located next to a laundromat that is dishing out tacos, burritos, tostadas, tortas and enchiladas that rival the best in town. Creamy beans, fluffy rice and a long menu of take-out classics make this a must-stop destination for those days when you're craving Mexican comfort food. Easy, fast and always flavorful, a great stopping point for a quick lunch, or order take-out for those long nights around the pool. Friendly service and fresh agua frescas (traditonal Mexican fruit coolers) offer further incentive for making a stop here. ((480) 941-9095)
AZ88 Bar & Restaurant
This elegantly hip restaurant is famous for its burgers, sandwiches, and "galettes," a crispy flat bread topped with cheese, olives, bacon, and onions. Although the fare is simple, the preparation is perfection. Expect to be impressed by fresh ingredients, plentiful sides, and hamburgers that feature over a half pound of choice ground sirloin grilled to order. Located conveniently in Old Town Scottsdale at the Civic Center Mall, AZ88 provides rich ambiance with views of fountains and green spaces. Cocktails are served until 1:30 in the morning, while late-night dining continues 12:30 am. Perfect place for a relaxing nightcap with friends. (480-994-5576)
Butters Pancakes & Cafe
"Egg-ceptional eggs," moist and fluffy omelettes, original skillets, scramblers, eggs benedict, fruits and grains, pancakes, French toast, and Belgian waffles are just some of the breakfast specialties you'll find at this bright Scottsdale cafe. Despite the name, don't expect a breakfast platter dripping in butter. The food here is prepared fresh with the most wholesome ingredients available. The orange juice is fresh-squeezed (no slushy concentrate here!), and the bright, impeccably spotless dining room makes this an ideal breakfast spot to get your day started right. For a one-of-a-kind breakfast specialty, try the eggs rojo or verde, two eggs topped with red or green New Mexico chile sauce and served with corn tortilla, black beans, jack cheese. ((480) 629-4333)
Pesto Prima Cafe & Coffee
Classically trained chef Nathan Liggett brings his philosophy of fresh homemade cuisine at a great price to South Scottsdale with the opening of Pesto Prima Cafe & Coffee. Discriminating coffee drinkers will appreciate the French pressed cups of coffee and large selection of locally roasted espressos and coffees. Breakfast is made from scratch in the kitchen, and the lunch menu boasts sandwiches made with house roasted turkey and chicken, flavored with a variety of special homemade sauces, aioli and pesto. For breakfast, sample the delightful Prima Breakfast Wrap, made with scrambled eggs, Colby Jack cheese, fried potatoes, tomato, red onion, baby spinach with basil pesto aioli on your choice of tortilla. On the lunch menu, staples like the Classic Chicken Sandwich--oven roasted, hand-carved chicken breast, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, aioli and red onion on French white bread--shine for their fine ingredients and simplicity. ((480) 994-3500)
D'Lite Healthy on the go
The antidote to an unhealthy fast-food, grab-and-go breakfast has arrived in Scottsdale, and the results are delicious. Or should we say "D'lish." This kitchen and coffeehouse dishes out organic, wholesome, yet always tasty, breakfast items such as sandwiches, bagels, pastries, burritos, and frittatas.Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and protein-packed dishes are labeled for your convenience. A wide assortment of specialty coffee drinks, smoothies, and teas are also available. Skip the unsatisfying fast food drive-thru, and try D'lish, which offers fast, friendly drive-thru service for busy morning work commuters. This is also a great coffeehouse destination. All coffee is free trade, locally roasted and brewed fresh. (480.247.8537)
If cozy breakfast spots are your thing, plan a stop at the Alo Cafe in Scottsdale. The cafe, which is tucked away in an old house in Charles Miller Square in Old Town Scottsdale, is a take on the classic Eurostyle breakfast and lunch cafe. The cafe features menu items from across the globe, with a focus on the cuisine of Estonia, but you'll also find dishes inspired by Argentina, South Africa, and Spain, as well as classic American breakfast favorites. Highlights from breakfast menu include the French Toast, a breakfast sandwich on an Old Heidelberg Roll, and the Tortilla Espanola, a classic Spanish pancake made from eggs and potatoes.This hidden gem is also a good place to enjoy a good cup of joe. The cafe serves high quality local Cartel Coffee, and there a number of refreshing chai drinks too. ((602) 688-4339)
Foosia is a fast-casual Asian restaurant in Scottsdale that marries fresh ingredients with the exotic yet familiar spices and flavors of Asia. The Foosia experience is full of sweet and tangy smells, tastes and flavors, infusing authentic Asian street fare into fast-casual American dining. Each meal is hand-crafted for fresh, aromatic meals that are both delicious and healthy. Start with a rice or noodle bowl, then top it with your choice of proteins, veggies, sauces and toppings. The combinations and flavors are endless. In the mood for Korean BBQ sauce? It's here. How about a lime-infused thai bowl? Be sure to ask for the Muay Thai sauce. The menu at Foosia is fun, quirky and full of healthy ingredients. ((480) 389-1520)
The Cider Mill Gourmet Market and Sandwich Shop
This quaint family-run store and restaurant is gaining a well-deserved reputation for its menu of fresh, artisanal sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, homemade soups, sides and desserts. Whole sandwiches are served with your choice of chips or substitute pasta salad, potato salad or spiked cottage cheese. Try the uniquely delicious Brit's Brie and Pickle sandwich, wedges of brie cheese, crisp dill pickles served on a buttered baguette. Simple, delicious, and unforgettable. The Cider Mill Dip is another sandwich of note, a hot roast beef sandwich featuring creamy horseradish and melted provolone on crispy milano bread, with a side of au jus for dipping. (480.994.1366)
YC's Mongolian Grill
Fresh and tasty is the operating culinary philosophy at YC's Mongolian Grill, where diners are invited to create their own stir fry creations. Simply choose from the assortment of enticingly fresh ingredients and step back and watch as one of the grill's experienced stir fry chefs cooks up your creation. Guests are invited to come up with their own combinations of meats, vegetables, noodles and sauces for a one-of-a-kind stir fry. Sauces range from bold and flavorful to tangy, spicy and sweet. This is a popular lunch spot for diners seeking a healthy and budget-friendly alternative to greasy diners and fast food options. ((480) 948-8011)
Defalcos Italian Grocery
If you're looking for an original, family-owned Italian deli, Defalco's Italian Grocery is the real thing. This local treasure is located just south of downtown Scottsdale, on the border between Tempe and Scottsdale. The menu features traditional pasta dishes and hot sandwiches. You'll see a lot of loyal customers coming in before dinner to carry out one of the take-home dishes, or shopping for high quality Italian products such as hand-made ravioli and imported olive oil. Enjoy the outdoor patio with a plate of eggplant parm, chicken cutlet, or lasagna. The dessert menu includes traditional Italian classics like cannoli and tiramisu. (480-990-8660)
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.