With a plumb location in the downtown Scottsdale corridor, Scottsdale Stadium is just steps away from many of the city's best restaurants, cafes, gastropubs, and bars. In fact, one of the best restaurants in town - The Mission - is just a couple blocks from the stadium. This elegant restaurant specializes in Mexican, Spanish, and Latin American fusion. For starters, try the crispy cola pork, which is as irresistible and complex as it sounds. If you're looking for a good place to grab breakfast before heading to Scottsdale Stadium, grab a table at the hip Orange Table. It's home to Southwestern-inspired plates like the jalapeno pecan flapjacks and hatch green chile omelettes. For a late-night meal or drink, head to RnR Restaurant & Bar. This stylish gastropub has shareable plates of American comfort food classics (grilled cheese, anyone?), as well as a huge selection of beer and wine. The patio also offers some of the best people-watching in downtown. If you're just looking for a place to catch a quick bite near the stadium, Tacos Jalisco is an unassuming Mexican cafe with a busy take-out window. Speedy counter service and authentic, irresistible Mexican dishes have made this a favorite spot for locals in the know.
10 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 itself 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)
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)
8 Tacos Jalisco
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)
7 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 classic like cannoli and tiramisu. (480-990-8660)
6 Pig & Pickle
Pig & Pickle is a comfort food haven in Scottsdale with a menu full of comfort food classic. Don't expect run-of-the-mill comfort food, though. The menu has been carefully crafted for unexpected flavor profiles and infused with gourmet sensibility. There is also a good drink menu full of hand crafted cocktails. The bread is baked fresh daily and dishes are prepared using local ingredients whenever possible. The restaurant makes it own house aioli and grows its own herbs, too. No wonder the house motto is "simple, humble, good." Pig & Pickle is also a good choice if you're craving delicious late night eats around Scottsdale. ((480) 990-1407)
5 Carlsbad Tavern
Carlsbad Tavern & Restaurant in Scottsdale embraces New Mexico-style Mexican food and culture, making for one of the most colorful, fun lunch and dinner spots in Scottsdale. Authentic New Mexican grub uses fresh New Mexico chiles in a variety of creative and delectable meals, such as the luscious Crab Stuffed Poblanos, two poblano chiles stuffed with crab, peppers, onions, and cilantro served with smoked cascabell and yellow bell cream sauce with sides of rice and black beans. Or try the inimitable Machaca & Tomatillo Chimichanga, slow cooked machaca beef with roasted tomatillo sauce and pepper jack cheese wrapped in a deep-fried tortilla. (480-970-8164)
4 El Molino Mexican Cafe
This venerable local cafe dishes up down-home, no-frills Mexican food that has drawn a loyal local following over the years. Classic Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes such as tacos, burros, enchiladas and quesadillas are consistently good and served with the fresh, housemade salsa. If you're ready to throw caution (or calorie concerns) to the wind, try one of the chimichangas, perfectly crisp on the inside and stuffed with meats and spices on the inside. Want to take the flavors of El Molino home with you? The restaurant also sells market and deli items, including fresh masa, chorizo, tortillas and salsa, so you can bring the flavors of the Southwest to your kitchen table. ((480) 946-4494)
3 RnR Restaurant & Bar
Located in two-story, modernist-industrial building in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, this stylish gastropub is a popular destination for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night eats. There are 30-plus TVs so you can catch the game, or sit on the patio and enjoy some of the best people-watching in Old Town. The chefs at RnR have crafted a fun, innovative menu full of sharable small plates and modern takes on American comfort food. There is also a long menu of specialty cocktails, imported and domestic beers on tap, imported Italian coffee and a wine cellar filled with more than 1,8000 bottles. ((480) 945-3353)
2 Orange Table
This hip Scottsdale coffeehouse, bar, and griddle has become a destination point for breakfast-goers seeking some of the tastiest and most unique breakfast specialties in the Valley. Along with the usual suspects of buttermilk pancakes and Eggs Benedict, you'll find fun and flavorful specialties such as Jalapeno Pecan Pancakes, a stack of flapjacks stuffed with jalapenos and pecans, topped with jalapenos and pecans, and then drizzled with--you got it--jalapeno pecan pan syrup. The results are a scrumptious breakfast specialty with a tasty zing. Other breakfast specialties include hash and flannels, omelettes and scrambles, pancakes and French toast, and several egg dishes. (480.424.6819)
1 The Mission
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)
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.