This is the second of four posts covering the Dine Like a Local contest hosted by The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale. This year you may notice that I am posting the winners on a quarterly basis and have focused each post on a specific area of the Valley. Below are the winners of the best restaurants in Arcadia, Biltmore & Paradise Valley. If you missed my first post on Central, Uptown and Downtown Phoenix, you can find it here.
In each category, the winners are listed first, followed by one of my choices from the nominated restaurants as indicated by the stars**. My hope is for you to try some of these spots, and as always, please drop me a line to tell me what you think! If your favorite is not on this list, be sure to nominate and vote in the fall of 2022! In the meantime, eat and drink well locally! xoM
COFFEE, TEA, & SWEETS:
Essence Bakery Café
Eugenia Theodosopoulos is an Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame and Pastry Chef Extraordinaire who, along with her French husband Gilles, have operated Essence Bakery Café since 2007. Essence sells outstanding croissants, baguettes, and other baked goods (pick up a palmier!), plus they serve breakfast and lunch during the hours of 6:30 am and 2 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Don’t forget to pre-order her award-winning macarons for gifts or just a special treat for yourself.
3830 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.essencebakery.com
** Chestnut Fine Foods & Provisions
Originally opened in 2012 by Kirsten Steele at the northwest corner of 44th St. and Camelback, Chestnut Fine Foods & Provisions has since moved into The Vintage Arcadia at 4418 E Osborn. Breakfast and lunch are served from 8 am to 4 pm daily, and a Bar Menu is available from 4 to 9 pm Thursday to Saturday. Get there early for the Blueberry Pop-Tarts and wash them down with one of their fresh-squeezed juices or coffee concoctions, like the Lavender Honey Latte.
4418 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.chestnutaz.com
BRUNCH & LUNCH:
La Grande Orange
La Grande Orange (LGO for short) is a classic among Arcadia restaurants. LGO describes itself as a “curated general store”, offering a little bit of everything, from dine-in or to-go breakfast, coffee, lunch, and dinner, plus wine, dried goods, pastries, and clever gifts. Everything on the menu is great, from the salads—the kale quinoa is a weekly staple for me—to the best pimiento cheese in town, rotisserie chicken, sushi, and pizza (which you can only get after 4 pm). Bob Lynn opened LGO with help from the creative geniuses of Craig and Kris DeMarco and named it for the citrus groves that once graced this part of town.
4410 N 40th St, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.lagrandeorangegrocery.com
** Postino WineCafe (Arcadia)
Speaking of Craig and Kris DeMarco, they opened the first Postino WineCafe in the old Arcadia post office next to LGO. After having returned from a vacation to Italy in the late 90’s, they realized Phoenix needed a place where you could get a good, affordable glass of wine and a bite to eat. The Postino Arcadia WineCafe was born, and now there are 17 across the country with plans for more. Brent Karlicek is the beverage director who ingeniously creates a seasonal wine-based cocktail menu to pair with their tasty dishes like their famous bruschetta, panini sandwiches and savory salads.
3939 E Campbell Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.postinowinecafe.com
DINNER & DATE NIGHT:
Glai Baan, whose name translates to “far from home”, is a family-run restaurant serving the food of northeastern Thailand–specifically the Isan region–in a charming ivy-clad building on Osborn Road. On Glai Baan’s menu you will find a selection of small plates, like Thai Papaya Salad and Yum Woon Sen, Soups like the spicy Tom Yum Moo, and classic street favorites, like Pad Thai and Mackerel Fried Rice. If you care to wash all the tasty food down with more than just a Singha beer, Glai Baan offers a robust cocktail menu such as daiquiris, Old Fashioned(s), and martinis.
2333 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016 www.glaibaanaz.com
James Fox and Eric Stone opened this chef-driven restaurant in 2019 to immediate success and accolades. Located near the Arcadia neighborhood at 56th Street and Indian School, Vecina–Spanish for “neighbor–has a loyal following that flock to the restaurant for their seasonal menu of Latin inspired dishes. Favorites include the Japanese Fried Chicken with aji amarillo, Elote, and Pork Belly Tacos. Vecina also serves an inspired cocktail menu with happy hour from 4-6 Tuesday thru Saturday.
3433 N 56th St, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.vecinaphx.com
NEW & NOTEWORTHY:
Renata’s Hearth is the signature restaurant of the recently renovated Arizona Biltmore Hotel overseen by Chef Jesus Figueroa Ortega, a veteran of Monarch Café and Tarbell’s. The Latin-inspired food and drink menu focuses, as the name would suggest, on smoke and fire, with offerings such as a “burnt” Paloma, Charred Octopus, and Smoked Wagyu. Be sure to take a walk around the grounds of the Taliesin West designed Biltmore to see more of the stunning $70 million dollar improvements.
2400 E Missouri Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85016 www.renatashearth.com
** Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion
Just up the hill from the Arizona Biltmore lies Wrigley Mansion with a commanding view of the Phoenix valley. And if views and an unforgettable meal are on your itinerary, then Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion should fit the bill. James Beard award-winning Chef Christopher Gross’ latest culinary achievement is extraordinary in every way. The eight-course chef’s tasting menu offers surprises at every turn showcasing Chef Gross’ genius and creativity. The reservation is prepaid and costs $275 person (in the off season you can enjoy a menu of “Christopher’s Classics” for $125), with the option to add wine pairings.
2501 E Telawa Trail, Phoenix, AZ 85016 www.wrigleymansion.com/christophers/
Chef Kevin Binkley, a James Beard Award finalist many times over, runs his namesake Binkley’s Restaurant alongside his wife, Amy in a charming cottage on Osborn Road. I feel Chef Binkley is constantly tweaking the multi-course dinner not only with seasonal produce (some of which comes from their own garden), but also in the presentation. On my latest visit this spring I felt as if there was inspiration perhaps from the couple’s travels, and the meal flowed more like a Single Thread dinner with several artfully decorated small bites per course. The atmosphere is welcoming and intimate, as guests are seated in a main dining room that feels like an extension of Chef Binkley’s home and kitchen (or if you are lucky in a private room…see photo below). Reservations are required and your credit card is charged at the time of the reservation.
2320 E Osborn Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016 www.binkleysrestaurant.com
Iron Chef winner Mark Tarbell opened his namesake restaurant in 1994 on the corner of 32nd Street and Camelback, and it has been the place to be seen ever since. The food, cocktails, and wine are outstanding, with Mark’s taste being some of the finest in town. Mark calls his kind of food “new-American” as he doesn’t want to be put in a box or labeled, and is therefore free to experiment with new dishes and flavors drawing heavily from local farms and purveyors. Old favorites are “The Meatball” with Spaghetti and the Steak Frites. Mark also operates The Tavern next door to Tarbell’s, serving small international plates and the attached The Wine Store.
3213 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.tarbells.com
** Steak 44
Steak 44 is an upscale American steakhouse located at 5101 N. 44th Street in Phoenix in the former Cork & Cleaver space opened by brothers Jeffrey and Michael Mastro, their father Dennis, and Scott Troilo. Ever since opening, Steak 44 has been an instant hit, offering guests a timeless and upscale dining experience. Split the Fried Deviled Eggs, the Dungeness Crab Cocktail, or the Steak Knife BLT Wedge salad for starters. Steaks take center stage, and Steak 44 offers prime steaks in small, medium, and large cuts, plus you can order a selection of seafood and other meat such as lamb, pork, veal, and chicken. Steak 44 is open for dinner daily. Fun fact: The Mastro family saved the cleavers from the Cork & Cleaver days and artfully displayed them along one wall.
5101 N 44th St, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.steak44.com
Jason Asher and Rich Furnari are the masterminds behind Century Grand and the three bars located within the building, Platform 18, Grey Hen Rx, and UnderTow. Reservations are highly encouraged and secure a 90-minute spot for an immersive cocktail experience in the interior of a Presidential Pullman train (Platform 18), a 19th century New Orleans apothecary (Grey Hen Rx), or the hull of a clipper ship sailing the Pacific Ocean (UnderTow). The innovative cocktails are served by some of the best bartenders in town. Any one of these three journeys is not to be missed.
3626 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018 www.centurygrandphx.com
** The Jade Bar
The Jade Bar is located on the north side of Camelback Mountain at the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, a Gurney’s Resort and Spa – also home to some of the top Paradise Valley restaurants. The bar has one of the loveliest secluded patios in the city, offering guests unmatched views, especially at sunset. The extensive drink menu features hand-crafted cocktails created from fresh herbs, juices, and vegetables by the famous Bar Chef Christiaan Rollich, formerly beverage director of Suzanne Goin’s Lucques in LA. His most popular cocktail is The Mekong, gin and lemongrass with coconut, carrot, kaffir lime, ginger and citrus and is tasty as it is beautiful.
5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253 www.gurneysresorts.com
I hope you enjoyed this list of the winning restaurants in Arcadia, Biltmore & Paradise Valley, Arizona. If you are looking for more, check out my About Town archive for some of my favorite restaurants, cafes, and bars in the valley.