Old Town Scottsdale is a quirky and well-preserved glimpse of what the city once was. The district, which is also considered Downtown, offers boutique shopping featuring souvenirs, jewelry and art with a Southwestern flair. Art galleries on Main Street draw in tourists and locals alike. Old Town is also home to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. The district also has lots of bars, lounges, clubs and restaurants that fill the Old West themed streets.
Back in the day, a cowboy holding a skillet over a campfire with some sizzling bacon in it was considered a top chef. Today, Old Town’s award-winning culinary scene is diverse and infuses unique cooking styles and cuisines from around the world. One thing you won’t find in Old Town though are chain restaurants, something the city is very proud of. All of Old Town’s restaurants offer something unique. Read on for the next time you are visiting and need some inspiration or help deciding where to eat in Old Town Scottsdale.
Best Tableside Guac: The Mission
Renowned Chef Matt Carter is cooking up modern Latin cuisine at The Mission, blending influences from Spain, Mexico, Central America and South America. Expect house made tortillas, arepas and salsas, which are all made fresh daily while all the meat is prepared on a grill using pecan and mesquite wood that gives it a rich flavor. But it’s all about the guac here, so make sure that’s the first thing you order. The tableside guacamole is prepared right at your table to ensure it’s made just the way you like it. Options include jalapeño, red onion, fresh garlic, sea salt, lime, tomatoes, chipotle puree, cilantro, cojita and roasted pepitas (and of course, haas avocado).
Best Locally Sourced: FnB
Tucked inside the historic Craftsman Court, in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, FnB has received acclaim both locally and beyond since its opening in 2009. Chef and co-owner of the award-winning restaurant, Charleen Badman, is one of Arizona’s most celebrated chefs. A five-time James Beard nominee for Best Chef of the Southwest, she’s known as the “veggie whisperer” for her ability to bring out the very best flavors of locally grown vegetables, which are prominently featured on the menu. Her menu changes seasonally, and sometimes even weekly, depending on what’s currently available from local farmers.
Best Nachos: Diego Pops
The modern Mexican-inspired menu at Diego Pops includes tacos, salads, appetizers and sides. Although it isn’t the truest representation of Mexican cuisine, it’s open late night and has a really cool retro-chic design. Tacos are a la carte with the options to choose between flour, corn or a crispy tortilla. But don’t forget about the nachos. The appetizer is a standout on the menu and totally worth it—just plan on using a fork when eating them, to make things easier. The Brussels Sprout Nachos are served with street corn queso, queso Oaxaca, fresno chili, pickled onion, roasted garlic beet crema and a fried egg (and Brussels sprouts).
Best Pizza: Craft 64
Scottsdale’s premier venue for local craft beer, great wine and artisan wood-fired pizza is none other than Craft 64. They only use local organic ingredients and make their own mozzarella from scratch everyday. All produce for the pizzas come from local farmers and they have 36 tap handles featuring Arizona beer in addition to an extensive wine list. The pizzas are made in their 100% wood oven, which heats to over 900 degrees. Their signature pizza is the Margarita Pizza with Prosciutto, served with house made mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.
Best Comfort Food: Citizen Public House
Dedicated to craft food and beverage, Citizen Public House has an energetic bar located in the center of the dining room, making it a great place to enjoy cocktails with friends. Mixologists pour barrel-aged libations while the kitchen prides itself on serving new-American comfort food in the form of dishes derived from many different places but tweaked to make them their own. Bernies’s Mac ‘n Cheese is made with gorgonzola and emmental cheeses and is served with chilled tomato relish. For mains, try the Amaro Meatloaf, served with Yukon gold potatoes, roasted zucchini, veal demi-glace and a mushroom cream.
Best Italian: Marcellino Ristorante
Passionate about crafting his cuisine using fresh, vibrant seasonal ingredients to create signature flavors, Chef Marcellino also maintains the integrity of true Italian cuisine. Everything about Marcellino Ristorante is inspired by Italian life, including the cuisine, the European service, the music and the ambiance. Expect all your favorite traditional menu items on an elevated scale here. Pasta lovers, make sure to order the Strozzaprete ai Broccoli de Rape, a robust red and white pasta sautéed with savory Italian broccoli di rape in olive oil, white wine and garlic.
Best Burger: Hand Cut Chophouse
This neighborhood chophouse and burger restaurant focuses on responsibly sourced ingredients and handcrafted cocktails. The team behind Hand Cut Chophouse is also responsible for other popular Scottsdale restaurants including Farm & Craft and Riot House. Head here for the burgers though, as they are incredible. Try the BBQ Short Rib Burger made with grass fed beef, topped with a braised BBQ short rib and cheddar cheese, finished with jalapeño slaw. Or the California, served with avocado, Swiss, sprouts, pickled red onion and herb aioli, topped with crispy sweet potato strings.
Best Happy Hour: Hula’s Modern Tiki
Surrounded by an overwhelming “cowboy” feel, Hula’s Modern Tiki is more mid-century modern, which is just as much a part of Scottsdale heritage as is cowboys. The design stands out in Old Town Scottsdale, but then again, there aren’t many other tiki touches nearby. Happy hour is when the place is always packed. Monday-Friday, from 3:30 p.m.to 6:00 p.m. all Hula signature tropical cocktails and all appetizers are $6. Draft beer is $4 while some bottles will cost you a cool $3. If you can’t make happy hour, they have weekly drink specials for each day of the week. Go on Wednesday when happy hour lasts all night long.
Best Ice Cream: Sugar Bowl
For almost 50 years, this ice cream parlor has been making your favorite dishes with a touch of wholesomeness, pride and value. It’s become somewhat of an institution in Old Town Scottsdale and rightfully so. The menu at Sugar Bowl is beyond expansive, offering everything from ice cream bowls to creamy shakes and malts to refreshing floats and decadent sundaes. Try the Gosh-Awful-Gooey Banana Split, a fresh banana split lengthwise, Turkish coffee ice cream blanketed with caramel sauce, red raspberry sorbet smothered in marshmallow sauce with delicious whip and juicy Maraschino cherry atop. Or go for a classic Root Beer Float with vanilla ice cream.
Best Sweet Treats: Super Chunk
This family owned café, bakery and sweet shop specializes in small-batch, handcrafted sweets and treats, with a modernized twist. The husband and wife duo at Super Chunk create everything in-house, from scratch, using the best possible ingredients. Their signature selection of confections include chocolate bacon caramel corn, house made licorice (made with fennel, anise and green chartreuse), mesquite chocolate chip cookies and blue cheese and fig caramels, among other sweets.