- Where to Go
- The Best of the Valley of the Sun
- Wild West Adventure
- Let Scottsdale Rock Your World
- Finding Water in the Sonoran Desert
- Spring Training
- Arizona Family Road Trip
- Phoenix Points of Pride
- Southwestern Culture and Heritage
- Nocturnal Scottsdale
- Exploring Phoenix’s Architecture
- Unexpected Arizona
- Desert Chic
- Chilly Drinks and Cool Eats in Scottsdale
If you make one culinary splurge in Scottsdale, make Cowboy Ciao (7133 E. Stetson Dr., 480/946-3111, www.cowboyciao.com, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. daily, 5:30–10 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 5:30–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $15–32) your stop. The Stetson Chop Salad is the stuff of culinary legend in the Valley, and the quote on the menu says it all: “I love that chopped salad so much that I put it on my screen saver.” The exotic mushroom pan fry and Berkshire pork ribeye are almost as good. In fact, it seems like chef Bernie Kantak has done everything he can think of to offer guests bold flavors and unpredictable combinations of fresh ingredients. And few restaurants can compete with Cowboy Ciao’s wine list. The restaurant is a 10-time Wine Spectator award winner.
Three of the Valley’s top culinary forces teamed up in 2009 to open FnB (7133 E. Stetson Dr., 480/425-9463, www.digestifscottsdale.com, 5–10 p.m. Wed.–Thurs., 5–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., $18–28). The unostentatious “gastropub”—helmed by heavy weights from Cowboy Ciao, Prado, and Rancho Pinot—features a seasonal, local menu with decidedly global influences, ranging from Mediterranean to Southwestern. Start with one of the fresh salads and sample from the hearty, roasted meats or fresh seafood, like the polenta-crusted shrimp with green goddess dressing. Wine lovers will not be disappointed by the extensive wine list, and you don’t have to have a sweet tooth to appreciate the innovative desserts.
The smooth jazz music and New American cuisine should clue you in to the experience at Estate House (7134 E. Stetson Dr., 480/970-4099, 5–10 p.m. daily, $29–45). Order a bottle of red and dine with Scottsdale’s well-heeled professionals indoors or on the rooftop patio, which is “well-misted” during the warmer months. The Shiraz molasses braised short ribs and sea bass with Catalan-style potatoes and sesame sugar snap peas are delicious. Upstairs at Estate House is a more casual option for cocktails and appetizers.
The slider craze has hit Arizona at Stax Burger Bistro (4400 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480/946-4222, 11 a.m.–midnight daily, $5–20), which serves up mini-hamburgers in a host of mix-and-match options. Select your meat(s)—beef, turkey, lamb, ostrich, buffalo, salmon, or veggie—and top it with your choice of bun, cheese, and condiments, including crispy bacon, fresh guacamole, and fancy aiolis. For the uninspired, there’s an extensive menu of recommendations, including pesto-infused ostrich and lamb with feta. Oh, don’t forget to order a few hearty sides, like the mac and jack, sweet potato fries, or tater tots.
Welcome to the new frontier of haute dining. Posh (7167 E. Rancho Vista Dr. Ste. 111, 480/663-7674, 5 a.m.–11 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., 5 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat., $45–75) pioneers into unchartered culinary territory with its seasonal, “improvised” cuisine. Translation: There is no menu. Instead, you fill out a sheet that lists tastes, preferences, allergies, number of courses, and requests for wine pairings. The restaurant’s chefs take over from there, preparing an innovative lineup of genre-breaking dishes, including popcorn soup with clarified butter and smoked paprika, kangaroo in bacon broth, halibut with Meyer lemon aioli, and pear-cabernet sorbet. Everyone in your party gets something different, which means an epic meal that’s as memorable as it is surprising. Try to grab a seat at the bar that overlooks the open kitchen, or simply have a plate or two, along with a swank cocktail, in the glass-walled lounge.
Salt Cellar (550 N. Hayden Rd., 480/947-1963, www.saltcellarrestaurant.com, 5–11 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 5 p.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat., $25–60) is the place to go for fresh seafood in the desert. Enter through the white-and-blue shack and descend the antique wooden staircase leading underground to the dining area. Lobster is the house specialty, complemented by a wide variety of sea creatures that include mussels, mahimahi, scallops, and monkfish—all flown in fresh from across the country. Take the plunge and try the baked lobster stuffed with scallops and crabmeat, or go with the basic and appreciate the waiters’ expert cracking abilities. This subterranean venue is the perfect place for a date, as it maintains a casual vibe with tasty cuisine.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition