Head down Scottsdale Road and you’ll be within reach of many restaurants that have put the Valley’s dining scene on the national map. And for good reason: Old Town Scottsdale is an epicenter of great eating. It boasts many big names, but those, of course, are only the beginning. Look beyond, and there are plenty of under-the-radar neighborhood gems to be found as well.
From eateries embodying the spirit of local and seasonal dining trends to spots revitalizing the fine-dining experience, here are the best restaurants in Scottsdale.
Hush Public House
14202 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
This small-but-mighty restaurant just south of Kierland Commons features one of the more freewheeling menus in town. Hush Public House takes aimless aim at the only end that matters: food brimming with flavor. Starters like grilled slab bacon, chicken liver mousse, and perfectly cooked peas with strawberries and ricotta salata shift seasonally and get rounded out by specials like beef heart carpaccio with grainy house-made mustard. Just about every plate at Hush seems to be a banger. Pastas are some of the best in the Valley, whether shaped in-house or sourced from Sonoran Pasta Company. Meat from chicken to steak to oxtail sings with flavor. Fish like swordfish are simply grilled with Castelvetrano olives and a soft-boiled egg. Here, even a humble cauliflower, treated with harissa and love, feels like a dish for desert royalty.
The smoked fish platter from Chula Seafood.
8015 East Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale
Poke peaks at Chula Seafood — a tiny, low-key hangout where every meal feels like an island treat. Poke rocks thanks to ultra-fresh fish and smart add-ins like smoked pineapple. The tuna melt peaks at Chula. This is thanks to green chiles, tuna confit, beautifully grilled Noble bread, and a boss side of chimichurri. Swordfish peaks at Chula. The Chula boat in San Diego catches the long-nosed fish with harpoons. Best of all, smoked fish peaks at Chula. If you order the ever-changing platter which includes staples like lox, trout, and swordfish belly pastrami, you’re not only going to get luscious sauces, not only going to get an array of pickles — you’re going to get one of the most vibrant trays of food in town.
Squid from Andreoli Italian Grocer.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Andreoli Italian Grocer
8880 East Via Linda, Scottsdale
You could eat in Giovanni Scorzo’s grocery-meets-restaurant 50 times and still have more to discover. Up front, a glass case displays a parade of glorious sweets, eye-catchers like cannoli, pistachio cake, torrone, and brown triangles of sfogliatelle. The pizza here is sneakily good. So is the bread, especially when part of a panini in the classically minimal Italian style of little more than meats or vegetables and cheese (or eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheese). Scorzo comes from the far Italian South, and his offerings, at the edges, reflect his origins. For one, he makes burrata from scratch. But the man can also nail northern Italian specialties, like risottos and cartoon slabs of bistecca Fiorentina. His best meals often lurk on a deep board of specials. Scorzo and his family, too, hand-roll some of the best fresh pasta in town.
A dish from Virtu Honest Craft.
Virtu Honest Craft
3701 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale
Since opening in 2013, Chef Gio Osso’s Virtu has wasted no time becoming a local and national dining destination. It popped up on Esquire‘s Best New Restaurants list just months after opening, and then snagged a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant some years back. The food is simple yet inspired and highly original, with the menu veering from its Italian origins into bright, imaginative places. Osso turns pristine ingredients such as Spanish octopus and locally grown produce into plates that feel truly elegant. Pastas here are easily one of the two or three best in Scottsdale. Cocktails are underrated, and the drink program boasts a nice amari selection. For brunch, count on delicate crepes, cast-iron frittatas, and Benedicts made with ingredients like duck confit and mortadella.
Offerings from Charleen Badman.
7125 East Fifth Avenue, #31, Scottsdale
Though “seasonal” and “local” have become culinary buzz words for many restaurants, Scottsdale’s FnB restaurant embodies the spirit of these movements. James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman turns simple, local produce into fare that’s at once comforting and novel. Drawing inspiration from international cuisine, she creates a menu that changes almost constantly but often includes dishes such as perfectly roasted locally raised chicken, Swiss chard falafel, and Badman’s well-loved braised leeks, topped with mozzarella, fried egg, and mustard bread crumbs. The service is always friendly, and the restaurant’s Arizona-focused wine list gives diners an opportunity to explore the state’s offerings. Don’t miss the bar adjacent to the restaurant.
The recently reincarnated ShinBay in Old Town.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
3720 North Scottsdale Road, #201, Scottsdale
What’s the most thrilling place for sushi in town? The recently reincarnated ShinBay in Old Town, and it might not even be close. Omakase is the only option, so you’ll have to trust chef Shinji Kurita with your palate and wallet, and this nonstop circus of pristine fish is worth the expense. From the start, your meal will take on a steady dreamlike rhythm, with the chef and his assistant brushing soy, slicing nigiri, and blowtorching fish with the touch of a jeweler fastening a diamond. The nigiri is spectacular, no pieces more so than the eel and shad, though what you eat on a nightly basis will change. On any given night, get into the deep, rare selection of Japanese beer. What you find there will, like this whole intimate experience, amaze you.
Alex Stratta partnered with Genuine Concepts to bring us Stratta Kitchen’s fast-casual concept to Scottsdale.
8260 North Hayden Road, Suite A102, Scottsdale
Fast-casual food can be pretty sleepy, but in the hands of James Beard Award winner Alex Stratta, the fledging genre reaches a new height. What sets his spot apart are thought and rigor. Sauces are not only well-executed but interesting: a tart, creamy elderberry vinaigrette, apricot-twanged tahini. The plant-driven plates, which take up most of the menu, combine ingredients coaxed to their full flavors and textures: earthy-sweet purple potatoes, beefy mushrooms. Skewers are small but mighty, both grilled halloumi (saline, squishy) and steak (browned, tender) on the mark. The menu brims with intrigue, from eclectic bowls to tacos like miso-swordfish all the way to the desert. For a closer, panna cotta comes loaded with sweet berry flavor. If you’re looking for a regular lunch spot, something quick, or a plant-and-fungi-based meal, Stratta delivers.
Goma ramen at Hot Noodles Cold Sake.
Hot Noodles Cold Sake
15689 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale
Josh Hebert started making ramen at Posh, his now-defunct improvisational temple to fine dining. The ramen he bowls at his tiny north Scottsdale noodle shop has an incredible umami depth, paling just about every other ramen bowl in the Valley. Hebert of Hot Noodles Cold Sake is a white dude, sure. But he has cooked in Tokyo, and here we’re judging purely on flavor. His are nuanced and soulful. His are traditional, spurning some of the crazier ramen trends and sticking to the classics, like miso and shoyu. A bowl where he innovates is sisig ramen, the piping hot heap of noodles crowned with sizzling pig face.
The duo of Chula Seafood hiramasa at Atlas Bistro.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Atlas Bistro (temporarily closed)
2515 North Scottsdale Road, #18, Scottsdale
After your initial taste, maybe an amuse of chilled melon soup, a question will likely flicker across your mind when your first proper course of Atlas Bistro’s prix-fixe menu is laid before you: Should I eat it? This is how beautiful and fiercely original Chef Cory Oppold’s food looks, abstractions of rectangular duck confit, sauce dollops, veal cheek symmetrical between veal loins, and negative space on artisan plates. And the answer to your question should be a resounding hell yes. Eat it. Eat the next courses. Order dessert, ideally the beignets and cheeses from the excellent selection. Atlas Bistro is well into its teenage years, but plates like poached pear with house-made ricotta and halibut with house-made udon noodles have fresh, up-to-the-minute relevancy. There might not be a more intimate restaurant in town. (For now, check out Simmer Down.)
The dining room at Rancho Pinot.
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
6208 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
At Rancho Pinot, Chrysa Robertson cooks food anchored in our seasons. The food is simple but not simplistic. From the start, you’re aware that you’re in the hands of a capable chef. But this chef isn’t going to whisper a few seasonal flavors to your palate. Nope, her flavors are going to call to you in eye-widening tones through a harsh desert landscape, and they’re going to call with whiskey on their breath. Grilled quail with polenta at Rancho Pinot is a stupefying plate of finesse and power. Ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers have a heavy fry and colorful crowning of a light tomato salad, bright with Arizona sunshine. Robertson flies at her own altitude, making this restaurant a Valley essential.
Cafe Monarch brings the romance.
6939 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
Imagine not flying to France, but still dining European-villa-style with a customized menu and privacy. There is a reason why Cafe Monarch was voted by Travelocity as the third best restaurant in the U.S. for fine dining and the second most romantic restaurant in the country. Couples will receive special attention from the staff and the farm-to-table ingredients ensure the highest quality in cuisine. This true gem is a place to linger with your love and let the romance take center stage. (And the owners have recently opened a second spot, Reserve.)
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on March 18, 2015. It was last updated on November 25, 2020.
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