You can enjoy a great meal wherever you are in the Valley, but as locals know, if you want an extraordinary dining experience, you head to Scottsdale. The city’s restaurants dominate the Valley’s culinary scene, so much so that FnB and Talavera rank among the best restaurants in the Phoenix metropolitan area. It’s really not much of a surprise, considering Scottsdale boasts many of the Valley’s top resorts as well as the acclaimed Scottsdale Culinary Institute.
Scottsdale dining runs the gamut from white-table-cloth affairs to picnic-table-and-paper-napkin casual, but whatever you’re in the mood for, these 15 restaurants won’t disappoint.
Best Overall: Citizen Public House
Some restaurants wow with their perfectly-prepared dishes; others have an enviable bar or wine program. Citizen Public House has both. Sip some of the Valley’s best cocktails at the bar, like the Sazerac, prepared with a flamed absinthe rinse, or the barrel-aged Instant Gratification—cognac, scotch, orange-infused brandy, amaro, and mole bitters—served on the rocks. The restaurant has an exceptional wine list and beers on draft, too.
Diners will be just as impressed as they sample the Fair Trade Coffee Short Ribs, Blanco’s World Famous Fried Chicken or Amaro Meatloaf served with smashed potatoes.
Best Fresh Seafood: Chula Seafood
Landlocked Arizona has never been known for its seafood, but that’s changed since this California-based fishery opened its first out-of-state restaurant in Scottsdale. Like the original market and restaurant in San Diego, the Scottsdale location sells sustainable, never-frozen fish by the pound or in dishes ranging from poke to clam chowder. If you love tuna, don’t miss the Confit Tuna Sandwich made with house giardiniera, avocado, and paprika-ginger aioli.
Chula Seafood also serves sashimi, a smoked fish platter, and daily specials like Wednesday’s Green Chile Tuna Melt featuring albacore, Hatch chiles, and Oaxaca cheese.
Best Mediterranean: Virtù Honest Craft
Nominated for “Best New Restaurant” in the United States by the James Beard Foundation when it opened in 2013, Virtù Honest Craft specializes in Mediterranean dishes based on Chef Gio Osso’s family recipes. When it’s on the menu, try the bucatini, topped with a goose egg, or the Anatra, smoked duck with a radicchio salad.
If you’re dining with someone special, though, you may want to consider the Bistecca Tagliata, a 40-ounce tomahawk ribeye for two. Enjoy it at a white-draped table under strung lights on the brick patio.
Best Ambiance: The Mission
Step inside this uber-popular restaurant in Old Town, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a centuries’ old monastery. Candlelight flickers throughout, ornate chandeliers hang overhead, and mirrors on the wall make the space feel cavernous in the dim lighting. Outside, a fire in the brick fireplace gives a cozy feel to the patio.
The food is the real star here, though. Sauces, salsas, and tortillas are made fresh daily, and entrées like the bone-in ribeye are grilled over pecan and mesquite. For lighter fare, you can’t go wrong with the street tacos or, at lunch, Kobe Dog wrapped in bacon.
Best Street Tacos: Diego Pops
Housed in a former Mexican pottery store, this playful eatery reinvents South-of-the-border favorites. Take the Brussel Sprout Nachos, for example: crispy chips topped with street corn queso, roasted garlic beet crema, brussels sprouts, and a fried egg. Or, the Grilled Street Corn slathered in cotija cheese and liberally sprinkled with Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust.
While more traditional, the tacos explode with flavor (and can also be made into bowls). Favorites include the al pastor, beef machaca, and grilled adobo chicken tacos. Wash them down with an agua fresca, margarita, or Paloma.
Best Casual: Craft 64
The Valley has plenty of wood-fired pizza places and even more casual dining options, but Craft 64 sets itself apart by using high-quality, local ingredients. Flour for the pizza dough comes from Hayden Mills, produce from McClendon’s Select Organic Farm and other local farmers, and the olive oil from Queen Creek Olive Mill. Not to mention, the mozzarella is made fresh in-house.
Go simple with a Margherita pizza to appreciate the difference between Craft 64’s artisanal pies and others you’ll find in the Valley. Beer lovers can pair their meal with a locally-crafted pint or one of Craft 64’s own recipes, brewed in conjunction with SunUp Brewery.
Best Italian: Marcellino Ristorante
Italian-born chef Marcellino Verzino turns out handmade pasta, hearty meat dishes like filet mignon, and fresh fish at this celebrated Italian restaurant. Classics are on the menu as well. For something different, opt for the Fegato all’Uva, calf’s liver sautéed with grapes in a cognac flambé, or the Scaloppine al Gorgonzola, veal slices topped with a creamy gorgonzola sauce.
The ambiance is just as important as the food. Inside, soft jazz plays on every night but Thursday when there’s live music, and on the piazza-like patio, diners sit under olive trees. Watch for the twice-monthly wine dinners, cooking classes, and other special events.
Best Breakfast: Hash Kitchen
Known for its Bloody Mary bar with more than 60 toppings, Hash Kitchen is the place to go for creative breakfasts. Try the Hangover Short Rib Hash featuring jalapeno cornbread and potato hash, poached eggs, onion rings, and demi hollandaise sauce. Or, satisfy your morning sweet tooth with an order of Lucky Charms French Toast, topped with dehydrated marshmallows and gold dust.
The restaurant prides itself on its fun atmosphere. Disco balls hang overhead, and DJs spin party tunes. Want to get a head start on the day? Hash Kitchen’s original Gainey Village location in Scottsdale now serves brunch from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Best Fine Dining: Sel
A favorite with foodies, Sel checks all the fine dining boxes: white table cloths, a prix-fixe menu, and gourmet fare like wagyu beef, foie gras, and Petrossian Imperial Ossera Caviar. While the seasonal offerings change regularly, expect to find French-influenced dishes like filet mignon with Bordelaise sauce on the menu and sophisticated entrées like a rack of lamb with Moroccan spice and a pickled cherry gel.
Vegetarian and gluten-free selections are available for each course of the tasting menu.
Best Special Occasion: The House Brasserie
Scottsdale boasts many restaurants worthy of a special occasion, but if you’re looking for one that will really make an impression without being pretentious, look no further than The House Brasserie. Sit outside in front of a fireplace on the tree-shaded brick patio or at a bare wooden table in the restaurant’s Victorian-inspired interior.
Mains range from wild-caught salmon with miso succotash to the House Carolina BBQ Platter featuring pulled pork, brisket, and an assortment of sauces and sides. Small plates and sides round out the offerings. For dessert, try the key lime pie.
Best Barbecue: Starlite BBQ
Starlite BBQ isn’t Texas barbecue or North Carolina barbecue, or even Kansas City barbecue; Starlite plays by its own rules. The 12-hour smoked brisket is finished on the grill, the baby backs are partially braised, and the meatloaf gets a hefty dose of smoke before it’s served. And, while some barbecue purists may scoff, the results will convert just about everyone else.
Whet your appetite with fried green tomatoes, then dig into the Mesquite Grilled Beef Ribs with your choice of the house or mole espresso barbecue sauce. Accompany both with a craft whiskey cocktail.
Best for Healthy Eating: Farm & Craft
You don’t have to be health-conscious to fall in love with Farm & Craft, but if you are trying to making better dining choices, this is the place to go. Breakfast options include steel-cut oats and egg dishes while, later in the day, the restaurant serves salads, flatbreads, bowls, and sandwiches. In the evening, you can order salmon, lasagna, or a flat iron steak.
Farm & Craft presses fresh juice blends, mixes smoothies, and crafts Kombucha cocktails, too. Seasonal menus feature anti-inflammatory, increased probiotics, high anti-oxidants, and reduced stress menu options.
Best French: Francine
Located in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square, Francine celebrates the cuisine restauranteur Laurent Halasz dined on as a boy in the south of France. Look for southern French classics like moules frites (mussels and French fries) and bouillabaisse on the menu alongside pizzas, filet mignon, rack of lamb, and pasta. There’s even a section devoted to carpaccio and tartare.
Want to impress your dinner date? Francine offers a 32-ounce ribeye with Bearnaise sauce or a salt-crusted whole branzino for two. Lunch and brunch menus are also available.
Best Modern Steakhouse: The Americano
Despite its name, The Americano isn’t your typical American steakhouse. Contemporary artwork fills the glitzy restaurant, and housemade pasta shares the menu with fresh, Mediterranean seafood. But, if you’re craving red meat in Scottsdale, The Americano won’t disappoint.
Seasoned with olive oil and spices, the mesquite- and pecan-fueled grill puts the perfect crust on flatiron, filet, and ribeye steaks from Niman Ranch Farms. Sides like Italian Fries with roasted garlic aioli and red wine by the glass complement the beef. You can also order an Instagrammable cocktail, like the Versace on the Floor, made from chili-infused vodka.
Best for Families: Kasai Japanese Steakhouse
The high-energy teppanyaki-style dining at this Japanese steakhouse is guaranteed to keep even the fidgetiest young diners mesmerized as skilled chefs prepare fried rice, seasonal vegetables, and a choice of proteins before their eyes. Popular meats include shrimp and chicken, but adventurous families can also sample calamari, lobster, and filet mignon. (Soy-glazed tofu is also available at the 14 hoodless teppanyaki tables.)
Families that don’t want to be close to the flames and action can watch the show from a distance while dining on sushi and Asian favorites like Pad Thai. Dining with a picky eater? Kasai’s kids' menu offers chicken strips, sliders, and mac ‘n’ cheese.