Cowboy Ciao is popular with the locals.

Food & Drink

Gourmet Dining in Scottsdale, Arizona

By Marla Cimini |

A luxurious and relaxing desert escape, Scottsdale, Ariz., is experiencing a revitalized, vibrant dining scene. New restaurants are emerging throughout the city, with talented chefs at the helm, all introducing innovative menus, exciting flavors and tantalizing creations.

Pork Carnita Sopes

Scottsdale has officially become a true gourmet destination, celebrating local and exotic cuisine at the city’s annual culinary festival in April. The events feature exclusive chef’s tasting dinners at upscale restaurants throughout the area, and the festival encourages foodies to be bold in exploring the city’s diverse culinary offerings.

However, foodies don’t need to attend the culinary festival to dine exceptionally well in Scottsdale. Those in the know participate in year-round culinary activities, such as the Arizona Food Tours— Taste of Old Town Scottsdale. This guided walking food (and history) tour opens minds and palettes by encouraging tourists and locals alike to sample great food and sip fine wine at a number of restaurants and specialty shops, while strolling along the streets of downtown. Each tour is different, and the tour operators work hard to customize several variations, featuring diverse eateries. Some of the stops may include a number of establishments, like The Mission, an Old Town spot serving modern Latin cuisine; Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, featuring signature New York-style brick oven pies; and Cowboy Ciao, one of the most unique restaurants in town, home of the “Pig n Pudding,” a creation of sweet corn polenta, chipotle pulled pork, cojita cheese and dried cranberries.

Cowboy Ciao is known for unique dishes.

In addition, the cool wine bar, aptly named, 5th and Wine, offers small plates as well as signature red and white vintages; and the swanky Kelly’s restaurant is another bistro that is currently attracting a lot of attention among the culinary set. Also, the tour stops at the distinctive Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars shop, offering visitors tastes of zesty homemade eclectic blends.

Of course, this culinary city features many noteworthy restaurants, and a few of the standouts include:

Proof (The Four Seasons Resort)

Proof at the Four Seasons.

Everything at the Four Seasons is always a delight, and the brand-new Proof Canteen is a true gem. A departure from the traditional ambiance of a standard Four Seasons restaurant, Proof offers exquisite and unique comfort food in a relaxing, lively atmosphere. Executive sous chef Jesse Hansen created an innovative, and unexpected, menu, with Americana choices that include an upscale twist on fried green tomatoes, deviled eggs, pretzel knots, shrimp po’boys, and chicken and waffles (with bacon and bourbon syrup).

This upbeat establishment also features a speakeasy bar with wine, along with small batch and craft distilled spirits from all the 50 states. A few refreshing cocktails include the Sonoran sling, the spiced lavender mule, and the thyme square. For those with a sweet tooth, the restaurant’s old-fashioned soda fountain serves up nostalgic milkshakes, malts, and spiked floats.

This casual eatery is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and conveniently located to this stunning resort’s spacious private casitas situated within the gorgeous desert landscape.

 

La Hacienda

The newly renovated Fairmont Scottsdale princess resort has a refreshing new take on authentic Mexican dining with La Hacienda, which combines classic Mexican cuisine with modern European flavors. Chef Richard Sandoval, a native of Mexico, incorporates fresh, local ingredients and tangy, delectable spices into his menu. The fresh tableside guacamole (made to order) is not to be missed. Entrees such as crab enchiladas; carnitas hacienda (slow braised pork shoulder); and verduras a parilla (marinade seasonal vegetables) feature classic and modern Mexican spices. La Hacienda’s southwestern décor and architecture are accented by modern urban touches and complement the menu offerings perfectly.

La Hacienda also has a special treat for the tequila connoisseur. The restaurant’s impressive Tequila bar (complete with — yes — a professional Tequila sommelier) offers more than 200 varieties of the spirit from 36 different labels, including blanco, joven, reposado, anejo, and extra anejo. Guests are encouraged to sample tastes from the various labels and learn about the complex and smooth flavors that are distilled from the blue agave plant. The restaurant also offers exclusive tastings and tequila dinners throughout the year.

Elements

Perched atop the picturesque Camelback Mountain, Elements restaurant is just a few miles from downtown, and offers distinctive award-winning American-Asian cuisine.

Iron Chef (and Food Network Star) Beau MacMillan is the executive chef, and has created a distinctive organic menu with a focus on sustainability. A few menu item standouts include: double bone pork chop (shishito peppers, garlic chips, and lime molasses glaze); quinoa and eggplant fritters; ahi tuna tower (with avocado, shoyo onions, and roasted peppers); and lobster pork dumplings.

Located in the deluxe five-star Sanctuary resort and spa, with lovely private and well-appointed casitas situated along the cascading mountain, Elements stylish patio is a magical place to enjoy the sunset while dining al fresco. A few steps away is the alluring Jade bar, an inviting outdoor cocktail lounge. With expert bartenders mixing crafted cocktails, Jade offers a relaxing respite for travelers and locals alike who appreciate house-made drinks with fresh juices. Some refreshing libations include: Grapefruit Basil, Blueberry Tarragon Sour, and Eastern Raspberry Sidecar.

Sushi Roku

Old Town Scottsdale is bustling nearly every night of the week. This neighborhood has the highest concentration of bars and restaurants in the area, and Sushi Roku, located on the lobby level of the posh W Hotel Scottsdale, is a swanky hotspot — offering a modern sushi experience with an authentic Japanese menu.

Sushi Roku serves up the highest quality sushi in high style. Flown in daily, the ingredients are fresh, and include all varieties of sushi and sashimi, including prime steaks, specialty appetizers, and an extensive selection of hot entrees. In addition, the restaurant features signature specialties like the Colorado lamb chops marinated in soy garlic and spicy jumbo pan-fried shrimp.

In addition to exceptional sushi, and creative sushi rolls, the menu features flavorful tuna sashimi carpaccio, octopus sashimi (Kyoto style), and other popular menu items, such as Chilean seabass with truffle miso glaze — and premium wagyu Japanese beef “Toban-yaki.” Of course, for the foodies who wish to experience the best of Sushi Roko, the restaurant offers a signature “Omakase” dinner with multi-courses of rolls, sashimi, and other hand-made delights. The restaurant’s full bar offers a large selection of hot and cold sakes (and sake flights), along with smooth Asian martinis.

And speaking of bars — if dining at the sushi bar is more your style, it is spacious and inviting — situated in the center of the airy restaurant. Guests can gaze at the professional chefs and their sushi-making magic, as all selections are freshly made to order.