Just a warning: this is a very picture heavy post and if you’re hungry, you might want to fly to Scottsdale immediately! ;)
A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to Scottsdale, AZ as apart of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ blogger press trip sponsored by the Scottsdale CVB! The premise of this trip was that there would be five bloggers (Katarina, Kirsten, Nicole, and Matt) who blogged about various different topics (travel, style/fashion, lifestyle, adventure, etc) and we would all get our own itineraries and go experience Scottsdale that pertains to our ‘path.’ Since I’m a food + travel blogger, I got to experience Scottsdale’s culinary scene. To be really honest with you, when I first heard that I was going to be going on a culinary tour of Scottsdale, I kind of scoffed and thought, ‘Really? Culinary tour of Scottsdale? This will be interesting!’
Let’s just say that after four hot days in Scottsdale, Scottsdale’s culinary scene has blown me away. I went in with low expectations, partly because I haven’t ever really heard of Scottsdale’s culinary scene – it’s not something you hear people rave about everyday like someone would about NYC or Chicago. I left with the upmost respect and awe of Scottsdale’s culinary scene. I absolutely would go back and try more places – I just didn’t have the time to do it all! Mostly all the restaurants there are local and they use fresh, local ingredients. When I say that most the restaurants are local, I mean that you don’t really see chain restaurants like Applebee’s or Outback Steakhouse (unless you’re seeking them out) – these are all one of a kind restaurants that are local to Scottsdale and the chefs are all über talented, have amazing life stories, and all live in the area. I felt that every meal I had, I knew exactly where the ingredients were coming from and where they were sourced. I seriously just love local and one of a kind places. It really gives you an idea of the culture and down home feel of a city. Now, Scottsdale isn’t “known” for their culinary scene but mark my words – they’re up and coming and they will blow you away. Yes, they’re known for their beautiful landscapes, spas, and shopping (after all, it is known as the “Beverly Hills of the Southwest”), but please make it a point, if you’re in Scottsdale, to go to one of the places below. I didn’t have a bad meal the entire time I was in Scottsdale and I guarantee you’ll leave with a way different outlook on food.
7125 East 5th Avenue, Suite 31
Scottsdale, Arizona 85251
FnB is a local favorite. It’s in a cozy and intimate setting and their entire menu is farm-focused and their wine list features all AZ wines. Owner and executive chef Charlene Badman and her co-owner, Pavle Milic, are the kind of people that you expect to run a place like this. All the ingredients are beyond fresh, farm-to-table, and the hospitality is so refreshing. Pavle is so personable, friendly, and approachable. His breadth of knowledge about wine pairings and the dishes really makes you confident with your dish selection. His laid back demeanor makes you feel like you’re apart of the family. He treats every customer with respect and patience. Charlene’s talent and creativity brings a welcomed change of scenery to your average restaurant entree. Every time a dish was brought out to us, I literally was like, “oh my gosh!!!” The most eclectic flavors and the most beautiful presentation! This isn’t a pretentious restaurant – although, you may think that from the photos of the food! It was seriously one of the most memorable places I ate while in Scottsdale.
Carrot keftedes with tzatziki sauce (kind of like a carrot cake)
Lamb manti with yoghurt, urfa butter, pine nuts and cilantro
Shishito peppers with crema, cotija, lime, garlic chips, and chiltepin. I went to Scottsdale not knowing what shishito peppers were (very very popular here) and I left with a craving for shishito peppers. They’re super sweet and flavorful and they’re in season now so if you’re there, get your paws on some!!
House-pulled mozzarella, squash, savory, zucchini chips, and balsamic
This is an exclusive red wine made and bottled by Pavle himself. He pulled out a reserved bottle just for us (as it is sold out everywhere) and I typically don’t like red wines but this one was fabulous. He made and dedicated this wine to his daughter, Hannah!
Pasta with green beans, potatoes, ramp pesto, and pecorino
Roasted spaghetti squash with camparis and harissa
Roast chicken leg adobo with coconut milk, rice, and carrots
Creekstone Farms ribeye with corn, peaches, almonds, and basil salsa verde
King salmon with AZ wheat berries and salbitxada
Charlene Badman doing her thing in the kitchen!
Barrio Queen Tequileria and Restaurant
7114 E. Stetson Drive, Suite 105
Scottsdale, Arizona 85251
Barrio Queen is owned by executive chef, Chef Silvana. She sat down with us and gave us a background of how she got started and my key take-aways from her conversation with us was: 1. she left her hometown in southern California and lived and traveled all over Mexico for two years where she experienced the cuisine and culture and got a lot of inspiration from there (and her mom’s cooking back home), and 2. “With love, you can change anything.” Chef Silvana is so well-rounded and homey. Talking to her and listening to her story was very awe-inspiring.
I’ve never had horchata before and this was probably one of the best places to have it. It was SO freaking good and refreshing. I could’ve guzzled the entire goblet.
Table-side guacamole bar!
They usually either put pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries in their guacamole.
This burrito was huge! If you thought Chipotle’s burritos were big…
You can mix and match three tacos for $10 (I think it was $10). This one was the cochinita pibil (pork marinated sour orange and achiote paste, topped with pickles sour orange onions and pico de gallo)
Carne asada chorizo azul – if you’ve never had tacos topped with blue cheese, oh my goodness. It’s amazing!
Al pastor (Chile and spice marinated pork topped with diced onion, cilantro, fresh pineapple, and red salsa)
Tres leches cake
7353 Scottsdale Mall
Scottsdale, Arizona 85251
Loved this bar! It’s a very cool lounge area. They change their decor almost monthly or bi-monthly with local art. It’s a very modern and sleek place to go for a drink (really really awesome drinks) and apps!
Cartel Coffee Lab
7124 E 5th Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
If you’re a coffee snob like me, Cartel Coffee Lab is where you want to go. They even serve craft brews and wine there.
7120 E. 6th Ave., Sweet 19 (ha!)
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Super Chunk is a small-batch, hand-crafted sweets & treats boutique shop that has treats with a modern and unique twist. The executive pastry chef of Cowboy Ciao, Country Velador and her husband, Sergio opened this shop about seven months ago. Her claim to fame is her unique caramel corn! The flavors are awesome and I wish I had enough space in my carryon to bring it all home. I ended up buying (and eating half the bag on the plane) the chocolate bacon caramel corn. Their other flavors: Junk Food, Brown Butter Fleur de Sel, and Cioccolato Pretzel Roma.
Duck fat toffee. Just wow.
The store and decor revolved around this wallpaper that you see here. Once they got the wallpaper up, everything else fell into place.
The stickers on the popcorn bags also tell a cute little story about the name of the popcorn. As you can see, junk food has a couch and television ;)
9160 E Shea Blvd
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Loved this little ice cream shop! They use all-natural and locally sourced dairy for their ice creams! Everything here is made from scratch. I will say, though, that I wish the cookies for the ice cream sandwiches were soft cookies instead of hard, crunchy cookies. Made the ice cream sandwiches super hard to eat. The first bite, the ice cream all got squeezed out of the other side!
ZuZu at the Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E. Main Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
This was the restaurant/cafe inside the Hotel Valley Ho, a hotel we stayed at while in Scottsdale. More on that later this week – spectacular hotel and really good food!
Double-fried fries – enough said
This scallop and corn grits dish was phenomenal. I scraped every last bit of it from my plate and I wanted a second helping!
Jade Bar and Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
5700 East McDonald Drive
Paradise Valley, Arizona 85253
Jade Bar is a new addition to Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa. It recently got renovated and expanded and they’re known for their mixologists who really know how to make killer cocktails. You can tell them what liquors you like and don’t like and what flavors, ingredients, and they’ll whip you up something super tasty! They even have mixology classes! Jade Bar is SO pretty because they have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the mountains and you can catch the most gorgeous sunsets there. The appetizers there are great to pair with the cocktail in your hand.
Shishito peppers again! See? They’re really popular in Scottsdale :)
Braised short rib and truffle mac ‘n cheese
After Jade Bar, we hopped over to Elements where executive chef Beau MacMillan works his magic in the kitchen! You might recognize the name Beau MacMillan from Food Network’s Iron Chef competition where he beat out Bobby Flay! He smokes his own meat and they use all organic produce, sunstainable seafood, and hormone-free meats.
Citizen Public House
Craftsman Court & 5th Ave
Old Town Scottsdale
Sounds like a pretentious place but Citizen Public House is a far cry from that! It’s actually a really laid back atmosphere with great pub-style food that’s kicked up a few notches. It’s stylish and sleek and perfect for any weeknight happy hour or weekend dinner party with friends.
Bacon fat popcorn
Piggy and waffle
Kilt lifter fondue – haha, love the name but loved this even more. They put beer into this fondue and I think it’s a three-cheese fondue. I know it’s definitely got some gruyere in it. So stinkin’ good.
This famous chopped salad called “The Original Chopped Salad” has its own Facebook page. Really!
After we got our appetizers, Owen, the general manager took us upstairs to the exclusive speakeasy (R+D) that is only opened Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and it works just like the old fashioned speakeasies. You go to this secluded door, call a number (well, I guess you can’t really make a phone call like that back in the day, haha), and if there is room, the bouncer will come downstairs and get you and bring you up. The line is usually crazy long and for good reason – their drinks are handcrafted by some of the greatest mixologists in Scottsdale and they use fire, sugar, and candy in a lot of their drinks. The lounge area was designed to seat only 28 so as you can see, on a busy night, it can get pretttty busy.
This is one of the equipment that is used for their whiskey. It’s like a science lab!
This was super cool. This is one of their salt barrel-aged whiskey casks. They put it underground for many years and the flavor is so smooth and doesn’t have a crazy spicy bite like most whiskeys do.
This scallop and corn grit dish was very similar to the one we had at ZuZu and my goodness, it was fabulous.
A neat cocktail with rock candy
Loaded fudge brownie with toasted marshmallow ice cream (!!)
PB&B pudding jar
Choco-chile bread pudding