The Scout Guide Phoenix Scottsdale followers nominated an impressive 28 local restaurants for the Favorite Dinner section, an indication of how many wonderful businesses we have in the valley. Please take your time to read this list and to let me know your feedback. It is possible you may not find your favorite in this list, but not all who were nominated chose to participate. There is always next time. And as we we look forward to the next year, I hope you find yourselves supporting our local businesses, whether it be dine in or take out, as they need your support now more than ever! xoM
In 2002, Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza introduced valley diners to the dishes of the interior of Mexico with her restaurant Barrio Cafe. Success was instantaneous and Chef Silvana has since been nominated for James Beard Best Chef of the Southwest many times over. For her next act, she opened Barrio Queen in 2011, featuring a unique take on tacos, burritos, tortas and other regional favorites. And while Chef Silvana is no longer involved in the Barrio Queen concept, her influence is pervasive. In addition to popular lunch and dinner items, there is a special menu with healthier dishes, such as grilled fish tacos, chile relleno with vegetables, and its exclusive Skinny Chola margarita. Indoor dining areas are bright and festive with a Dia de Los Muertos theme, and the outdoor patios are outfitted with torch heaters for cooler evenings. Good to know: if you are a tequila aficionado, Barrio Queen’s constantly updated tequila list includes over 400 different choices, the widest selection in the state.
31 S McClintock Dr, Tempe, AZ
21156 S Ellsworth Loop Rd, Queen Creek, AZ
21001 N Tatum Blvd Ste. 98, Phoenix, AZ
388 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ
7114 E Stetson Dr Suite 105, Scottsdale, AZ www.barrioqueen.com
Justin Beckett is the executive chef and co-owner of Beckett’s Table and its sister restaurant, Southern Rail. Founded in 2010, this local gem is born out of the inspiration to bring together family, friends and incredible food for dinner. Beckett partnered with his longtime friends, Scott and Katie Stephens, and his wife Michelle, to bring comfort food highlighting local produce in a neighborhood, familial setting. Not to be missed dishes include the Deviled Egg of the day, the Green Chili Pork Stew, the Osso Bucco confit, and Beckett’s Table Signature Fork Tender Short Ribs. There is also an inviting bar serving social hour daily from 5 to 6:30. Good to know: every Sunday at both Southern Rail and Beckett’s Table you can find 50% off Arizona wines.
3717 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.beckettstable.com
Buck & Rider
Buck & Rider is a steak and seafood concept from the group behind three other valley favorites, La Grande Orange Grocery, Chelsea’s Kitchen, and Ingo’s Tasty Food. Located on Camelback Rd. near 44th Street, Buck & Rider’s architecture and interior is inspired by a house located in a beach town on the coast of Australia. Whether seated near the roaring patio fireplace in the winter or belly up to the raw bar in the summer, diners will enjoy Buck & Rider’s crafted cocktails, raw bar items, hand-rolled sushi, farm fresh vegetables, and daily fish specials. Don’t miss the Dungeness Crab Wedge Salad, any one of the sushi rolls, and the Loup de Mer with a lemon caper beurre blanc…it is the only spot in PHX I have found that serves this dish. Good to know: seafood is flown in daily, and shrimp is wild-caught from the Sea of Cortez.
4225 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.buckandrider.com
Charm Thai Cuisine
Charm Thai Cuisine is located in Chandler on Arizona Avenue, just south of Boston Street. Many coffee lovers will recognize that Charm is next to Peixoto coffee. At Charm, you will find many of your favorite Thai dishes, like chicken satay, larb, tom yum soup, pad thai, and panang curry, and all are beautifully plated. I recommend saving room for their dessert of Purple Sticky Rice with Mango. Charm has a full bar, and an option for patio seating. Good to know: Monday thru Friday, Charm offers a daily lunch special for $8.95 that includes soup, spring roll, and main course with rice, but is dine-in only.
11 W Boston St #5, Chandler, AZ www.charmtc.com
Chauncey Social is Evening Entertainment Group’s newest restaurant concept and is located in North Scottsdale. Originally conceived as a hybrid of food and nightlife, the restaurant features 56 TV screens along with a 10-by-50 foot LED screen lighting up one wall, replete with a DJ booth at one end of the bar. I say originally conceived because I am unsure about the nightclub piece of the restaurant during COVID times, but plan on checking it out. Chauncey Social’s menu offers a wide variety of food from salmon bowls to prime rib sandwiches, plus shareable options like Shishito peppers and charcuterie platters. Good to know: the dessert menu is small but offers decadent options from Stock & Stable chef Joe Absolor, like the shareable $25 Funfetti Cake.
17767 N Scottsdale Rd suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ www.chaunceysocial.com
Chelsea’s is a long-time favorite of our family. They won us over with free kids’ meals during Happy Hour, and kept us returning for the Deviled Eggs, the Trout Dip, the Brussels Sprouts Salad and the Short Rib Tacos. Chelsea’s has a wood burning rotisserie and grill, a smoker and chili roaster that gets a lot of use during hatch chili season. It doesn’t hurt that Chelsea’s is centrally located to just about every school or sports function that we attend. The patio is attractive and overlooks a city canal bank popular with joggers and dog-walkers. Good to know: the patio is nearly as large as the indoor dining area, and features a wood-burning fireplace, and a bustling indoor-outdoor bar.
5040 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ www.chelseaskitchenaz.com
Set in a restored 1913 bungalow in the downtown Phoenix area, Cibo (pronounced “CHEE-boh”) has charmed diners for years with its comfortable interiors featuring hardwood floors, exposed brick, a stained-glass panel and a cozy fireplace. The menu features beautiful salads, antipasto, artisanal pizzas and house-made fresh pasta. Good to know: Cibo is very popular and has a devoted following…weekends are currently booking out two weeks in advance, so reservations are recommended. Dining is currently on the patios only.
603 N 5th Ave, Phoenix, AZ www.cibophoenix.com
Doughbird is from Fox Restaurants Concept and gets its name from the fact that they specialize in the delectable combination of rôtisserie chicken and pizza. The interior is airy and bright, with blue and white tiles and bistro chairs surrounding marble topped tables. Doughbird’s menu offers many shareable items like hummus, kale Caesar salads, pizzas and Shishito peppers. The slow-roasted chickens are offered with a side and a sauce, but I doubt you will want to share. Our favorite accompaniment is the simple sautéed broccoli, and we love to dip our “bird” in the umami sauce. Good to know: the family meal serves 4 for $32, and includes a whole roasted bird, with a Caesar salad, large side and a large sauce. You will find me waiting for my to go order at the wrap around bar while sipping on a margarita.
4385 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.eatdoughbird.com
Housed in the restored 1950’s First Federal Bank building on Central Ave. designed by Al Beadle, Upward Project’s Federal Pizza is a midcentury-meets-modern restaurant specializing in wood fired pizzas, sandwiches, house-made pastas, and salads. Look for popular pizzas like the Pineapple Express and the Manifesto, or try your luck with the Chef’s Whim to see what the back-of-the-house favors. Federal Pizza also has a carefully curated selection of wines, old school wine coolers and craft beer on tap and in bottles. Good to know: if you’re on the go, you can take advantage of the drive-thru and compliment your meal with growlers or 1/2 off bottles of wine and beer.
5210 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ www.federalpizza.com
Fellow Osteria & Pizzeria
Should you find yourself looking for a spot in between Scottsdale and Tempe, Fellow Osteria on Scottsdale Rd. in ASU’s SkySong project is beautiful and the food is worth checking out for a local dinner. Brought to you by Nick Campisano and Joshua James of Born & Raised Hospitality (Clever Koi and Across The Pond), Fellow Osteria serves antipasto, house-made pastas, and pizzas. With the award-winning mixologist Joshua James (formerly bar manager at The Parlor) behind the craft cocktail menu, cocktails also take center stage. Order a Spritz-er, a take on Aperol Spritz with strawberry infused Aperol and cardamom syrup, and take a seat on the spacious and welcoming outdoor patio. Then, share a La Quercia Prosciutto pizza, with house-made ricotta, fig jam and olive oil, and a Fried Mortadella Sandwich with your friend or date. Good to know: for their dessert menu, Fellow has teamed up with Sweet Republic to offer ice cream flavors, another valley favorite that TSG Phoenix/Scottsdale followers nominated for Best Sweets/Desserts.
1455 N Scottsdale Rd Suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ www.fellowosteria.com
Forno 301 near the Encanto district in downtown Phoenix is consistently voted as one of the best pizzerias in the valley. It is no wonder when you find out that the owners, Roberto Dadone and Luca Dagliano, grew up in Sanremo, Italy, and have brought with them the fine art of Italian pizza making. Wine bottles decorate the walls and tables are composed of repurposed wood. Forno 301 does not limit itself to pizzas, offering a selection of salads, bruschetta and antipasto, with entrees that change daily. During the cooler months, patio seating on the sidewalk offers an alternative to the indoor dining. Good to know: many locals liken Forno 301 to an authentic Italian café with the “best tiramisu” in town.
1616 N Central Ave #104, Phoenix, AZ www.forno301.com
Grassroots Kitchen & Tap
Grassroots Kitchen & Tap was the first restaurant opened by Chef Christopher Collins of Common Ground Culinary, who went on to open The Macintosh, Twisted Grove Parlor & Bar, Sweet Provisions, Wally’s American Pub N Grill, and The Collins. Chef Collins was recruited out of Boston University’s Hospitality program by Hillstone restaurant group for their restaurant training program. I give you this bit of history because his training at Hillstone is evident in all of his concepts, from the high-quality service and consistent, tasty food. Everything is good and it just depends on what you are in the mood for, whether it is a Smoked Salmon and Orzo Salad, the Farm to Market Vegetable Platter, or Topher’s Braised Short Ribs. Good to know: Chef Collins’ most recent business venture is a full-service catering company, Arcadia Catering Company.
8120 N Hayden Rd E-100, Scottsdale, AZ www.grassrootsaz.com
Hush Public House
Hush Public House has only been open a couple of years, but has already garnered much attention in becoming one of the best restaurants in town. Chef Dom Ruggiero, left his long-standing stint at Chelsea’s Kitchen (see above) and joined forces with restaurateur Charles Barber, who oversaw the bar program at Zinc Bistro (see below). Now they serve valley diners their take on classic dishes like Pâté en Croute, Macaroni au Gratin, and Steak Frites, as well as some of their original specialties like Fried Cauliflower with house-made harissa, Wild Mushroom Ragout with poached Farmi duck egg, and the Chicago-style Italian Beef Sandwich with braised oxtail, smoked provolone, and giardiniera on brioche. Good to know: secure the hard-to-get reservation at Hush through Tock, which can also be found on their website. THE SCOUT GUIDE PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE WINNER.
14202 N Scottsdale Rd #165, Scottsdale, AZ www.hushpublichouse.com
Il Bosco Pizza
Il Bosco started in 2012 as a mobile pizza oven catering business and has since moved to its present location northwest of the intersection at Scottsdale and Shea. Founder, Bill Forrest, created a unique menu and ambience that exists today through the new owners, Jeff Carlberg and John Dorsey. Il Bosco serves wood-fired thin crust Artisan pizza in an open kitchen, topped with imported cheeses, house-made sauces and seasonal, local produce. They can accommodate dietary restrictions with their vegan cheeses and gluten free crusts, as well as soy and nut allergies. Start with the Roasted Seasonal Vegetables and Burrata, and follow that up with a Valentina Pizza, red sauce, pepperoni, cheese, Calabrian chili and a honey drizzle, something that has become one of my favorite combinations. Good to know: Il Bosco has a robust take out program, and ordering the $10 DIY pizza kits is fun for parties or for kids, and includes a 12” dough ball, red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, and cooking instructions. THE SCOUT GUIDE PHOENIX/SCOTTSDALE WINNER.
7120 E Becker Ln, Scottsdale, AZ www.ilboscopizza.com
Ladera Taverna y Cocina
Ladera Taverna y Cocina is a modern, hip North Central gem serving a refreshing take on Mexican cuisine. A part of Genuine Concepts (i.e. The Vig), Ladera is located in the Sunnyslope area of town. Their menu has a nice selection of platos fuertes, like Chile Relleno, Cochinita Pibil, and Baja Enchiladas with shrimp, lump crab and queso menonita (Menonite cheese, a fave of mine), plus a selection of tacos and burros. Sides include black beans, hominy rice (hominy is corn, so I am curious about this), and nopalitos. In the evenings and cooler temps, Ladera has a nice patio for sipping cocktails, such as the Pinche Paloma (I’ll let you google that word LOL). Good to know: parking can be tricky for those who have difficulty walking, but there is a dedicated Ladera parking lot a bit east of the restaurant.
8729 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ www.laderaphx.com
Nonna Urban Eatery
Chef Gian Franco Brugaletta left his long-time post at the Buddha Bar in Monte Carlo to open Nonna Urban Eatery in Old Town Scottsdale. He brings with him the simple, nutritious homemade food that his grandmother back in Italy used to make. Beef carpaccio, seared scallops, and Branzino are a few standouts. Pastas and sauces are made from scratch…I ordered the Turmeric Rigatoni with Mushrooms and it was delicious. Good to know: When I visited, the restaurant was closed except for take-out or reservations for dine in only. You can make a reservation on their website.
7240 E Main St, Scottsdale, AZ www.nonnascottsdale.com
Olive & Ivy
I think Olive & Ivy was the first of Fox Restaurant Concepts that I frequented, in part because of its stellar location on the Scottsdale waterfront, its beautiful green patio which is comfortable on a hot, summer day, and the private dining area where I joined many a ladies’ lunch. Inspired by the French Riviera, you will find shared plates like bruschetta, hummus and flatbreads, pastas, salads, fish and meat. Yes, you will want to drink rosé all day here, and lucky for us they have Domaine Ott, one of the best. Good to know: for $50, the Family Meal to go includes lasagna Bolognese, foccacia with pesto, heirloom tomato salad, and warm butterscotch cream cake.
7135 E Camelback Rd #195, Scottsdale, AZ www.oliveandiveyrestaurant.com
I first met Katherine and Jason Dwight when they had a booth at the Uptown Farmer’s Market. I was obsessed with their pickled cauliflower which they sold in large mason jars. As a butcher and baker duo, the Dwights source from local farms and ranchers to create a seasonal menu with organic ingredients and using nose to tail whole animal. A wood-burning oven takes a commanding position at their Central Avenue restaurant churning out dishes like a 120-day dry aged Sirloin steak, Green Chili Pork Pot Pie, and Cajun Chicken Confit. Fish lovers should try their Cioppino…it is a must! And a local dinner favorite is their charcuterie board accompanied by, you guessed it, my favorite pickled cauliflower. Good to know: on Sundays, they are only open from 10 am – 2 pm offering a “Farmer’s Market Flashback”, dine in or to go, churning dishes out of the portable wood-burning oven on the patio that they used to take to the Uptown Market.
4700 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ www.persepshenarizona.com
Stefano Fabbri, a native of Emilia Romagna, Italy, opened the first Pomo Pizzeria in the (now defunct) Borgata in 2010 with the intent of delivering an authentic Italian restaurant experience without having to leave the state of Arizona. Serving from-scratch Italian fare using imported Italian and locally-sourced, organic ingredients, Pomo Pizzeria currently has 4 valley locations. The focus of the menu is (you guessed it) pizza, made with Neapolitan flour, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto San Daniele, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Italian olive oil, and are baked in ovens imported from Naples. If you are a purist, start with the Pizza Margherita, then try one of the house-made pastas, like the Gramigna Boscaiola, in a creamy sausage sauce with cremini mushrooms and Parmigiano. Good to know: Pomo can make any pizza or pasta gluten free or vegan.
2502 E Camelback Rd STE A&B, Phoenix, AZ
705 N 1st St UNIT 120, Phoenix, AZ
366 N Gilbert Rd #106, Gilbert, AZ
8977 N Scottsdale Rd #504, Scottsdale, AZ www.pomopizzeria.com
Southern Rail on Camelback Rd. near Central Ave has a spacious dining area with cozy booths and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The focus of the menu is oh so southern and comforting. To start off, there is Fried Okra, Creamy Grits and Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese on focaccia. You can veer towards the veggies with the Seasonal Vegetable Enchiladas, or go all in for the Signature Fried Chicken, the Gumbo Ya-Ya, or the Smoked St. Louis Style Pork Ribs. Save room for Red Velvet Cake and Bread Pudding, and wash it all down with a Creole Lemonade, a mixture of rum, vodka, tequila and Pimm’s. Good to know: if you order the SR Fried Chicken on National Fried Chicken Day (July 6) you will get a free glass of wine as part of its “Birds and Bubbles” campaign.
300 W Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.southernrailaz.com
Sushi Brokers Scottsdale
Sushi Brokers has three valley locations in Phoenix (Arcadia), Gilbert, and North Scottsdale, the original location. Sushi Brokers’ menu consists of 20 original sushi rolls, many with memorable names, like Hot Lips, Damn Good, the Surfer and the Del Sol. A nice selection of wines, beer, and sake are offered for the perfect pairing, and there is a robust happy hour menu. Sushi Brokers is also proud of their wide variety of whiskey and vodka. If sushi is just not your thing, there are options like Grilled Mahi Mahi, Yakisoba, and Teriyaki Chicken. Good to know: Sushi Brokers also claims they have the best burger in town, and encourage you to try the beef slider for starters.
17025 N Scottsdale Rd #190, Scottsdale, AZ www.sushibrokers.com
Sushi Roku, a subsidiary of Innovative Dining Group, can be described as a contemporary California sushi concept with Latin and European influences. The original co-founder/owner, Michael Cardenas, is a former general manager at Matsuhisa, the fabulous Nobu restaurant in Aspen. Sushi Roku opened its first location in Santa Monica, and now includes locations in Pasadena, Newport Beach, Las Vegas and our Scottsdale location. You will continue to find outstanding sushi and the famous dishes reminiscent of Nobu, like the Hamachi Serrano and the Baked Cod in Miso. Plus, Sushi Roku’s new executive chef, David Miles, plans to expand their menu of farm-fresh vegetarian and vegan dishes, such as the innovative Vegan Omakase (see my post here), or chef’s choice menu. Good to know: the Hot Family pack to go that feeds 4 for $98, and includes Miso Soup, Edamame, Garlic Green Beans, Popcorn Shrimp, Gyoza, Japanese Fried Chicken, Vegetable Fried Rice, and Chicken Fried Rice. Also offered to go are the Bento Boxes and the Sushi Family Pack.
7277 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ www.sushiroku.com
The Clever Koi
Born and Raised Hospitality’s Nick Campisano and Joshua James created Clever Koi as an Asian-inspired kitchen & craft cocktail bar with locations in Central Phoenix and the (newly reopened) historic downtown Gilbert. I tried their famous ramen dishes, voted by USA Today as the best in Arizona. They have a nice variety from Pork to Lemon Pepper Chicken to the Cashew Vegan. Don’t miss the daily happy hour offered at the stylish craft cocktail bar featuring an eclectic beer, wine & sake list, which includes the Arizona Junmai Ginzo from Holbrook, AZ. We certainly didn’t miss out of the cocktails, ordering a couple of Piña Coladas and some fried calamari before tucking in to the warm, brothy ramen.
60 W Vaughn Ave #101, Gilbert, AZ www.thecleverkoi.com
The Collins Small Batch Kitchen
The Collins is the most recent restaurant by Chef Christopher Collins of Common Ground Culinary, and is located at the northwest corner of 32nd Street and Camelback Road. Chef Collins has envisioned this restaurant to be a research and development kitchen for Common Ground with a daily menu of favorites, along with a weekly rotating menu. Food can be described as classic American fare with a bistro influence, and include a classic French onion soup, Prime Rib, Chula Seafood Ahi Tuna, a selection of wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, steaks and chops. Good to know: their charred Brussels Sprouts with candied bacon, low and slow garlic and balsamic redux is creatively served spilling out of a mason jar, and is really some of the best in town.
3160 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ www.thecollinsaz.com
The Greene House
Another restaurant within the Fox Restaurant Concepts group, The Greene House features simple, elegant fare with a seasonal bent ranging from seafood, house pastas, and rotating salads, alongside a California-focused wine list and craft cocktails. The ambiance is that of a cottage by the sea…think Carmel. Located in the Kierland Commons, the space is airy and with Craftsman-style furnishing and lighting, plus a patio. The Tuna Tartare Tacos are one of the more popular dishes, along with the Braised Short Rib, Roasted Sea Bass, and Spinach Pappardelle. Good to know: Happy Hour is from 3 – 6 pm Monday thru Friday and features 20% off alcohol and a variety of appetizers like tortilla soup, hummus, mussels and baked brie.
15024 N Scottsdale Rd #100, Scottsdale, AZ www.thegreenehouseaz.com
The Market by Jennifer’s
Owner Jennifer Russo Fitzgerald attended the California Culinary Academy and started her own catering company, moving her operation to Gaslight Square on Indian School and 36th Street in 2013. Shortly thereafter, The Market’s by Jennifer’s Restaurant and Bar was opened, serving a menu of locally sourced and organic ingredients. Stand outs include Crab Cakes, Salmon Wellington, and Duck Confit. Good to know: every Wednesday enjoy half of burgers and beer, and keep an eye open on their website for monthly wine pairing dinners.
3603 E Indian School Rd, Ste a, Phoenix, AZ www.themarketbyjennifers.com
Another local dinner spot near the Encanto neighborhood of downtown Phoenix, Wild Thaiger serves authentic Thai flavors in the heart of Arizona. Family owned and operated, Wild Thaiger serves fresh, made to order meals by chef Olashawn Hasadinratana-Weaver, such as his signature Coconut Asian Pork, Beef Panang, Classic Pad Thai, Pineapple Curry Chicken, Mahi Mahi, and Beef Mangone. Save room for desserts like their decadent triple layer chocolate cake, blueberry kaffir lime and mango cheesecakes, mango with sticky rice, and house-made coconut ice cream with crushed peanuts. Good to know: if you ask for your dish Thai hot, Wild Thaiger really means it!
2631 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ www.wildthaiger.com
Since 2002, Zinc Bistro has been serving French bistro classics in Kierland Commons to valley diners under the leadership of Arizona native, Chef Matt Carter. Think everything you love about French food: oysters, onion soup, moules marinières, croque monsieur, flat iron steak, diver scallops, chocolate soufflé, and beignets. In addition, there are a couple of American-ized favorites, like the “Zinc” Burger with blue cheese, the macaroni au gratin, and the shaved grilled chicken Caesar. Good to know: the garden patio is stunning, as is the 25-foot zinc bar for which the bistro is named.
15034 N Scottsdale Rd #140, Scottsdale, AZ www.zincbistro.com