10 Best Restaurants in Scottsdale for Romantic Dining

By Patricia Escarcega, Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tucson Local Expert

If it's romance you're seeking, Scottsdale's food and drink scene rarely disappoints. 

Some of the best sunset dining views in Scottsdale can be found at elements, the restaurant at Scottsdale's posh Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain Spa Resort. Food Network veteran and Executive Chef Beau MacMillan creates dishes crafted from local organic produce, sustainable seafood, and hormone-free meats for a fun, Asian-inspired menu. The restaurant affords stunning mountain and city sunset views, so be sure to time your romantic evening meal just right.

Deseo, Spanish for "desire," has romance written right in its name. The restaurant's bold colors and even bolder flavors - ceviche bar, anyone? - make this a fun, hip date night destination. 

Downtown Scottsdale is full of romantic Italian restaurants. When you're in the mood for late-night romance coupled with Italian food, head to Old Town Scottsdale for dinner at EVO. Franco's Italian Caffe is another reliable mainstay for romance in Old Town. Looking for a romantic yet also lively outdoor patio? Check out Marcellino Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

10. Franco's Italian Caffe
Photo courtesy of Franco's Italian Caffe

Native Florentine and longtime Valley restaurateur Franco Fazzuoli brings fresh, upscale Italian flavors to Scottsdale at Franco's Italian Caffe. The restaurant, located in downtown Scottsdale, offers Florentine Italian dishes like Filet Mignon All'Arrabiata, Bistecca Fiorentina and Spaghetti Salsa Cruda. There are also specialty salads, including a lovely Beet Arugula salad that comes with goat cheese. But before you get to the secondi courses, start with one of the restaurant's trademark bruschetta, including a popular tuna bruschetta. Other small plate appetizers include prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella. The restaurant offers a comprehensive wine list, as well. Gluten-free options are available with pasta dishes.

9. Sel
Photo courtesy of Sel

Sel is a small fine dining outpost situated amid the art galleries and shops of Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale. Chef Branden Levine, who has appeared on Food Network cooking competitions, offers a four-course prix fixe menu of contemporary American cuisine (diners can also order dishes a la carte). The restaurant is small and chic, and the menu is constantly in flux. But no matter what is on the menu du jour, expect to find skillful fine dining renditions of roasted kabocha squash panisse, roasted Romanesco soup, filet mignon and upscale seafood dishes. The restaurant also has a strong cocktail and dessert menu.

8. Lon's at the Hermosa

Lon's pays homage to Arizona's rustic Southwestern cowboy history in a surprisingly elegant way - 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, everything on the menu is organic, humanely raised, and from ecologically sound sources.

7. Marcellino Ristorante
Photo courtesy of Marcellino Ristorante

Hand-crafted Italian cuisine is the star of the show at Marcellino's Ristorante in Scottsdale, where Chef Marcellino creates classic Italian dishes with a fresh and modern twist. Some of the stand-outs on the hand-crafted pasta menu include the Gnocchi Sorrentina, a hand rolled potato pasta in a tomato sauce tossed with fresh mozzarella. Don't skip your antipasti though, because you'll want to sample the caprese made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted pepper and homegrown basil. Try the Insalata di Pera, made with pear slices served on fresh watercress with shaved pecorino and a made-from-scratch lemon dressing. This Old Town gem is ideal for date night or special occasion.

6. Talavera
Photo courtesy of Talavera Restaurant

As you'd expect in a sumptuous resort setting, Talavera delivers exquisite cuisine, well-considered wine pairings, and a truly spectacular view. While the menu is partially comprised of upscale New American fare, juicy, well-prepared steaks, game, and seafood also find a welcome place. A variety of beef options includes domestic and foreign selections, including grass-fed Southwestern beef and Australian Wagyu. Look for venison, duck, and buffalo as well. The menu sources many ingredients from local farms, including fresh heirloom tomatoes, locally-crafted olive oil, and Arizona ranch-raised meats. Great sunset views of Pinnacle Peak draw many diners to enjoy their meal on the restaurant's stunning outdoor patio.

5. elements
Photo courtesy of Sanctuary On Camelback

Asian-inspired place settings and touches of black and white provide a clean, minimal backdrop for elements' glorious mountain views, the restaurant's true centerpiece. While the dinner menu has an Eastern bent, breakfast options are decidedly classic. Go light with Irish oatmeal or a smoothie, or consider an omelet ranchero, eggs with turkey sausage, or pineapple rum pancakes with almond butter and toasted coconut. Feeling really decadent? The filet of steak version of eggs benedict boasts foie gras and truffled hollandaise sauce! Brunch adds in salads, burgers, and pastas. For an unforgettable dining experience, call ahead and reserve a spot at the chef's table, including the private chef's table, XII, where you can enjoy the kitchen activity from a front-row seat.

4. Deseo
Photo courtesy of Kierland Resort

Bold, bright colors and an attractive open kitchen make Deseo an appealing prospect. Secure a much-coveted seat at the ceviche bar, where you can watch the preparation of your dish and scope out the kitchen. Seafood dominates the menu; sample shrimp marinated in roasted tomato and avocado, juicy lobster tails, or for something different, Colombian corn cakes with a quail egg. Your server can recommend a South American wine to accompany your meal, or try a fresh, minty mojito for extra kick. For a truly special night out, call ahead and reserve the "Epicurean Experience," a three-course dinner where diners get to interact with their chef.

3. EVO
Photo courtesy of EVO

EVO is a vintage-inspired Italian restaurant and bar 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.

2. Cafe Monarch
Photo courtesy of Cafe Monarch

How about a late morning breakfast in a sun-drenched patio, which gracefully transforms into a candlelit oasis in the evenings? Sound too good to be true? Fortunately, Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale is a very real place. Experience a very romantic dining ambiance in this romantic restaurant, which is located in Old Town Scottsdale. For dinner, you'll want to reserve your spot for the four-course prix fixe menu, which changes reguarly. The food is seasonal, chef-inspired high-end fare that leans toward classic fine dining (filet mignon and foie gras are mainstays). Café Monarch also has a comfortable 12-seat bar to enjoy a drink before dinner.

1. Virtu
Photo courtesy of Virtu

Tucked away in the Bespoke Inn in Old Town Scottsdale, Virtu Honest Craft 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 on Esquire Magazine's annual Best New Restaurants in America list. The menu incorporates Mediterranean flavors with southwestern sensibilities. Try the grilled octopus, a house staple, 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.