If you are looking for a special place to take your client, your sweetheart, or your in-laws-to-be for an extravagant Sunday brunch in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, here are several options that are popular for just that purpose. Yes, I have tried them all, and you can't go wrong with one of these for a lovely brunch experience.
You don't have to wait until Sunday to enjoy one of the finest brunches in the Valley of the Sun.
That's because they offer it on Saturday, too. SumoMaya takes the best parts of brunch and combines à la carte, full service experience with an all-you-can-eat "bottomless brunch." The first round of small plates includes Mexican breads, an amazing oatmeal brulee, fruit, yogurt granola, and hummus.
Don't let the small plates description fool you; you might be totally satisfied after just this first round. But there's more. The second round offers choices that include eggs, guacamole (Ribeye Guacamole? Yes, please.) and sushi rolls. Time to leave? Not by a long shot. You haven't had your entree yet, and there are many choices, from egg dishes to specialty waffles, French toast and pancakes, Mexican entrees, and nigiri. Family style desserts follow.
Enjoy a variety of culinary delights, prepared in the open kitchen visible from most tables in the very Scottsdale / cool-vibe dining room. Carnivores and others can all be happy here.
All of the dishes are prepared to order, so you can have the best of all brunch worlds: freshly prepared and beautifully presented foods, served at your table, and suitable for sharing, along with your own entree choice. Brunch cocktails are also available as an add-on to the prix fixe brunch. Family-friendly, on the noisy side, make a reservation to enjoy brunch at SumoMaya.
Il Terrazzo (Scottsdale)
Il Terrazzo, with a focus on Italian/American cuisine, is one of the upscale dining choices at The Phoenician. The Sunday Italian Market Brunch does not disappoint. Survey both the Breakfast Table and the adjacent alcove before making your decisions. At the Breakfast Table the specialty breakfast breads, crepes and waffles accompanied by made-to-order omelets or Eggs Benedict might heartily suit your brunch desires, but the house-baked focaccia, salads and cheeses, freshly-carved meats, house-made pasta, hot entrees, and seafood selections set this buffet brunch aside from others.
The Phoenician's penchant for decadence is evident here, with small tastes of a variety of unique, freshly made savory treats arranged in a marketplace setting. Appealing to the eye as well as to the palate, the individual plates of two or three bites invite the guest to try many different Chef's offerings which vary from week to week. Find one that you particularly enjoy? Don't hesitate to take several small plates to your table. Have a special request? Ask. The staff here is very accommodating.
The dining room is arranged in sections minimizing noise, with nicely sized, comfortable tables and chairs that are suitably spaced.
There is a large, lovely outdoor seating area which is covered and overlooks gardens and the pools, with mountain views. They even have an employee, a hawk, to keep the grackles from annoying you while you enjoy your brunch! Don't worry—the hawk is accompanied by its human handler.
Nellie Cashman's (Scottsdale)
Nellie Cashman's is located within the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, noted as one of the finest resorts in the Phoenix area. It's modern and stylish with tables arranged in different rooms and with separators to minimize noise. Some tables have a view of the courtyard, with flowers in the garden, and some have a view of the lake and the golf course with mountains in the background. Patio dining is available.
Upon checking in for brunch you are presented with a sheet of paper outlining the hot specials of the day.
Fresh, house-made breads, muffins, and rolls complement the cold seafood, cheese, and salad offerings. An attractive selection of cakes, fruit and custard tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, brownies, and mousses are offered for dessert. This day's brunch seemed seafood-focused, but it might not be that way every week. On Sundays at Nellie Cashman's you can order from the regular menu if you prefer. That's a nice option for families where some people want a buffet and some don't.
elements (Paradise Valley)
elements (with a lower case "e"!) is the premier dining experience at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. The elegance at Sanctuary at Camelback is actually quite understated—no huge mirrored lobbies or grand entryways. Similarly, elements is a not-too-big dining room adjacent to jade bar, a smallish, popular bar with live music on Friday nights. Both elements and jade connect to the outdoor patio. The dining room decor is stylish and modern, but warm with comfortably spaced tables and booths. Affording a wonderful exterior view.
Anyone who regularly dines in the Valley of the Sun would recognize the name of Executive Chef Beau MacMillan, a regular on the Food Network television programs. Known for his preparation using local, organic ingredients where possible and creating his gourmet dishes with an Asian influence, the Sunday brunch buffet does not stray. Along with antipasti, fruit, cheese, salmon, chilled shrimp and crab legs, several salads and the omelet station, the buffet offers miso soup, edamame and steamed rice. Your server will deliver warm and delicious cinnamon rolls to your table, complimentary with your meal.
Don't expect breakfast potatoes, breakfast meats, or any hot entrees other than the made-to-order eggs/omelets and, of course, the soup, and rice. Brunch at elements includes a dessert buffet comprised of individual small items, including fruit tarts, cream puffs, and chocolate covered strawberries. On certain holidays, like Easter and Mother's Day, elements offers a more elaborate buffet brunch.
Lon's (Paradise Valley)
A visit to Lon's always invokes a strong sense of Southwest spirit. The Hermosa Inn is a luxury boutique hotel, off the beaten path, in upscale Paradise Valley. The restaurant was named for artist Lon Megargee, whose artworks incorporating cowboys and ranch life of the wild west grace its walls. The patio at Lon's is one of the loveliest places for al fresco dining. There is no hotel-ish feel to this restaurant at all. As a matter of fact, you'll come, enjoy and leave and might not even notice that there is a hotel here at all.
The brunch menu includes à la carte items as well as the Hacienda Brunch. Prices is very reasonable compared to other luxury resort brunches. The Chef at Lon's describes the food here as comfort cuisine with Arizona flavors created with European techniques. Don't even consider eating here without starting with the Fresh Baked Brioche "Monkey Bread." While this is not one of your deluxe all-you-can-eat buffet brunches (Lon's sometimes offers those on holidays), you can certainly have a special meal here for brunch. Just goes to show, gourmet food doesn't have to break the bank.
Wright's at the Biltmore is the signature dining experience at the renowned Arizona Biltmore in Central Phoenix. While it is a hotel restaurant, it has a unique style that is appealing and comfortable. This isn't the old, stuffy Arizona Biltmore. Light pours in through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and tables are arranged in smaller, multi-level sections to give a more intimate feel to the dining room. The servers are clad in black uniforms—no jeans or tee shirts here—and are experienced and professional.
The Sunday brunch is uniquely structured. Here there is a buffet and a selection of small plates of hot entrees. One small plate or six small plates or ten small plates. The buffet includes cold appetizers and hors d'oeuvres, fruits cheeses, artisan breads, sushi, shrimp, salads, and desserts. You'll be given today's menu which describes the small plates offered that day. You could do very well just opting for the cold buffet, but the small plates are delicious. The dessert choices are extensive and beautiful. What I loved about this Sunday brunch was the total absence of steam tables. No lukewarm meats or dry fish. The hot foods are served directly from the kitchen, and the cold foods, fruits, breads, and desserts are on the buffet.
Wrigley Mansion (Phoenix)
The dining room at Wrigley Mansion sits about 100 feet above street level, and, with its large glass windows, is acclaimed for the lovely views of the Valley of the Sun. Wrigley Mansion was built in 1932 by William Wrigley, Jr. of chewing gum fame, as a gift for his wife; it was an actual home, with 24 rooms. The objective of the mansion's restoration is to maintain that era of charm and sophistication, so to some, it might seem old or antique. Certainly, it appeals to people who have lived in the Valley for many years, people who appreciate a perspective from the past, or for those that enjoy a bit of unique history sitting in the middle of one of the largest cities in the country.
The first thing to mention about Sunday Brunch at Wrigley Mansion is that it can be a challenge just getting there. After you figure out how to get up the hill parking is an issue. You can self-park, and walk up the hill, or you can valet park for a fee. Keep in mind that the mansion wasn't originally built as a restaurant. Once you make it to the buffet area and dining room for brunch you will be treated to a gorgeous view, tablecloths, and immediate offers of mimosas.
Be aware that some diners prefer to sit in the large dining room early in the day to avoid the sun that shines into the smaller dining room on the southwest side. The downside of brunch in the main dining room is the noise. It is a much larger room than the southwest room, and, since all the rooms have hardwood flooring, it is noisiest where there are large groups. This isn't the most extravagant or luxurious brunch you will ever experience, but it was reasonably priced and included items that you might not find at other brunches.
When making your Sunday Brunch reservations, you can also arrange to take a guided tour of the Wrigley Mansion. There is an extra charge for the tour, but it would make an interesting addition to your occasion and provide the history and background to this unique property.