The Best Restaurants in Scottsdale

Often lumped into the same breath as Phoenix, Scottsdale is a rapidly expanding destination all its own, beloved for its mid-century cool and its exceptional food.

February 11, 2020
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FnB

Since 2009, Chef Charleen Badman has tirelessly cooked to show off Arizona’s farming and agricultural communities at FnB. In 2019, her efforts were rewarded with a Best Chef Southwest Award from The James Beard Foundation. Meanwhile, co-owner (and Los Milics wine creator) Pavle Milic works the floor to make FnB feel as homey and welcoming as possible. Pro tip: Don’t go here with friends who don’t like sharing, because anything that hits the table is fair game. Badman is a vegetable whisperer and will have you wondering how you ever ate squash without pumpkin seeds, mustard and feta, or why you don’t grill broccoli and serve it with pistachios and meyer lemon aioli more often.

Go to: FnB

Fat Ox

The food and vibes feel sexy, modern and fun at Fat Ox, a new(ish) restaurant from Chef Matt Carter, Brian Raab and Mark Drinkwater — names behind places like Zinc Bistro, The Mission and The House Brasserie. An order of Casoncelli from the pasta section should be mandatory. These small, buttery, sage-y pillows of squash-filled pasta are topped with pomegranate seeds and amaretti cookie dust. They’re heaven. Another must: tableside Caesar salad. Yet another must: the 25-layer lasagna. YOLO, baby.

SumoMaya

Mexican and Asian don’t seem like culinary soulmates, but SumoMaya fuses the two into one, serving an amazing tapas-style menu that’s customizable for any occasion, from romantic tables for two to office-wide tables for 20. Whether you go guac and sushi, or a miso Chilean sea bass with American wagyu carne asada, SumoMaya is one of the most-inventive dining destinations in Scottsdale.

Toca Madera

Los Angeles’ Madera Group has opened three Phoenix/Scottsdale outposts of their fast-casual Tocaya Organica in rapid succession. Amidst this, they also opened a Scottsdale version of their sceney and upscale Toca Madera. Here, a nightclub vibe sets the stage for re-imagined Mexican fare. For the full tour, do the omakase menu, selecting Jalisco, Oaxaca or Baja as your theme. Ask to sit “in” the patio — a retractable roof is just one of Toca’s many architectural marvels.

Andreoli Italian Grocer

If you’re searching for a place like that gem you found while touring Italy, look no further than Andreoli Italian Grocer in Scottsdale. Grilled calamari, carpaccio and the best porchetta outside of Rome are on the main menu, while daily specials often feature pastas and fish (You should hope they have branzino when you visit.). The dining room doubles as a market for all manner of Italian groceries.

Go to: Andreoli Italian Grocer

Maple & Ash

Although this isn't your grandfather's steakhouse, he'd have the time of his life at Maple & Ash, a Chicago-based concept by superstar chef Danny Grant. Newly opened at the Scottsdale Waterfront, this high-energy, no-holds-barred steak party greets every dinner guest with a sample shaken cocktail and suggestion you should take: Order the fire-roasted seafood tower because your leftovers become a second course with pasta and butter, mixed right at your table. Ballers, opt for the I DON’T GIVE A F*@K tasting menu.

Citizen Public House

Start with bacon fat popcorn at Citizen Public House. Then get the locally made Noble Bread service with jalapeno jam and black-garlic butter. If you haven’t already, try The Original Chopped Salad (a salad so famous, it has its own Facebook page). Then it’s on to entrées like the Press Coffee-rubbed short ribs or pan-seared scallops with sweet corn grits.

Go to: Citizen Public House

Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar

Only Chef Richard Sandoval, “the father of Modern Mexican cuisine,” could execute a menu this diverse. From sushi and ceviche to wok dishes and char-grilled meats, Toro at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess mixes South American and Chinese-Peruvian influences for flavor combos that transcend logic and taste supreme. Rum-based tiki cocktails and panoramic views of the TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course are on the menu, too.

Postino

Postino is a welcoming wine bar with an all-day happy hour and a customizable bruschetta board menu. The idea that launched in an old Arcadia post office in 2001 has now expanded to 10 locations (including 4 in Texas and Colorado), including an especially excellent one at Scottsdale Road and Highland, in an old Valley National Bank branch. The mid-century modern space pays homage to the original architect, Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Frank Henry, while you pay homage to a $5 glass of bubbles and smoked-salmon bruschetta.

Twisted Grove Parlor + Bar

Twisted Grove is a casual neighborhood restaurant that just so happens to be helmed by a top local chef. Chef Christopher Collins (Grassroots, Wally’s, The Macintosh) does American fare right with stone-oven flatbreads, upscale sandwiches, salads and a kids’ menu that features mac and cheese so good, it always ends up a “shared plate” for the adults.

Merkin Vineyards

Arizona winemaking (yes, it's a thing) has made great strides over the last few years. Even Maynard James Keenan of Tool is a player on the AZ grape-growing stage, with his Merkin Vineyards and Caduceus Cellars. Keenan and crew recently opened a tasting room and restaurant in the heart of Old Town with a menu of wine-friendly food like cheese and charcuterie, salads and dishes that showcase local meat, veggie and bread purveyors.

Pizzeria Virtù

Certified Pizzaiolo Gio Osso fuses the best of the Southwest and Naples, Italy, at Pizzeria Virtù in Old Town Scottsdale, where he prepares Neapolitan pies using Arizona- and California-sourced produce for combos like the chestnut-honey-topped Milano with pancetta, and the chile- and n'duja-spiced Calabrese. The Italian cocktails and small plates continue the feeling of escaping to the boot.

T. Cook’s

Lee Hillson is back! The chef most endeared to the hearts of T.Cook’s longtime devotees left in 2012, but he recently returned home to the Mediterranean grounds of The Royal Palms Resort & Spa. Taco Tuesdays in the bar, classic entrées like his pasta carbonara with house-cured pancetta, and his affable British sarcastic sense of humor are all back where they should be once again at T. Cook’s. FYI — the iconic pesto and focaccia bread service never left.

Hearth ’61

Order anything that comes out of the stone oven at Hearth ’61, a modern resort restaurant at Moutain Shadows, led by Executive Chef Charles Wiley, a Valley icon. The pleasant kiss of smoke imparted into items cooked in the hearth punches up everything from locally grown vegetables and flatbreads to the daily roast feature – Friday’s branzino and Sunday’s pot roast are among the best. Stroll the resort’s art gallery before or after your meal.

ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho

Visually, ZuZu is a modern take on the classic, all-American 1950s hotel restaurant. And then you sit down to eat. Oxtail pappardelle with foie gras, forbidden rice with BBQ eel and pork belly, chorizo-stuffed and bacon-wrapped dates, and seared diver scallops with lobster butter — these are not the mainstays of yesteryear, daddy-o. They’re the culinary creations of talented chef Russell LaCasce, who balances out the bold menu with crowd pleasers like Kennebec chips with French onion dip.

Go to: Zuzu in the Hotel Valley Ho

Zinc Bistro

Little has changed about Zinc Bistro in its two decades, and for good reason. At this authentic French bistro, co-owners Matt Carter and Terry Ellisor (both of The Mission and Fat Ox), strike all the right notes. Sit on the wrap-around patio and imagine Kierland Commons is Boulevard Saint-Germain (it takes couple glasses of Champagne for this to work), or head through the restaurant to the secluded garden patio. Then dig into Carter’s classic escargot bourguignon, chateaubriand for two, soul-satisfying bouillabaisse or a traditional onion soup with bubbling Gruyere. Snag a seat at the raw bar and you’ll be singing oui, oui, oui all the way home.

Go to: Zinc Bistro

The Mission

There are two locations of The Mission — the original in Old Town and a massive homage to tacos and tequila at Kierland Commons. Known just as much for its weekend party atmosphere as its knockout menu of Latin American fare from Chef Matt Carter (Fat Ox, Zinc Bistro), The Mission is well worth a visit for its green chile duck confit, chicken thigh and ham hock tostadas, and the build-your-own pork-shoulder tacos for two. Tableside guacamole is a must.

Go to: The Mission

Virtù Honest Craft

Chef Gio Osso had an immediate hit when he opened Virtu in a then-unknown boutique hotel called the Bespoke Inn in 2013. Now, he’s practically a household name, as a James Beard Award nominee and frequent local, on-air cooking-segment chef. Start with sharable small bites, then move into a pasta course before digging into entrées like seared scallops, smoked duck or vermouth-braised short ribs.

Go to: Virtù Honest Craft

Shinbay

Only Chef Shinji Kurita can get away with operating a Japanese restaurant that does not have a menu. It’s omakase-only at Shinbay, meaning you’re in Kurita’s skilled hands during your entire multi-course visit. The unforgettable experience will set you back $185 per person before drinks, but you’ll leave willing to pay twice that next time.

Hush Public House

From the moment it opened in early 2019, there was nothing secret about the Hush Public House. As the first collaboration between two industry veterans, Chef Dom Ruggiero and Charles Barber, Hush was an immediate hit for dishes like the Italian Beef — an entrée of braised oxtail with smoked Provolone, all under a Chicago-style giardiniera and above a “wet” brioche. Look for any item featuring Sonoran Pasta Co.: Chef Ruggiero takes these locally made noodles to delicious new heights.

Cafe Monarch

The old adage you get what you pay for rings true on the highest of ends at Café Monarch, a palatial temple of decadence, and an invitation to live your best life through food and wine. Dinner for two can equal a month’s rent, but you’ll start saving up for the next visit faster than you can say "Hudson Valley foie gras." Do the four-course tasting menu with wine pairings and opt for an add-on like the three-ounce striploin of Japanese A5 wagyu because, hey, it’s only money.

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