OutofTowner: Casual Dining in Scottsdale, AZ

It is time for the last post of the year and also one of rare OutofTowner reviews. Only this time, I am reviewing not one but a slew of restaurants I had a chance to visit this past week in Scottsdale, AZ. We spent a few days in the desert over Christmas and had a chance to dine at a few well reviewed restaurants. Instead of writing a post each, I wanted to summarize all of them in this one post with some text and a lot of pictures. Without further ado, here we go.

1. The Spa Cafe at the Boulders Resort in Carefree, AZ

We stayed at the Boulders Resort, a really unique desert luxury stay experience. We also had the opportunity to eat at one of the restaurants on the premises- The Spa Cafe. The Spa Cafe is unique in that it is part of the Spa building. The menu is tailored towards a health conscious foodie with a lot of vegetarian, vegan, organic and expensive palates. The food was good. We tried the pesto hummus with thin crispy snacks, a red beet salad and a noodle salad. We finished off with a vanilla bean custard that was just great. One note of advice- the Spa Cafe does not allow kids below 16. They made an exception for us because it was Christmas Day and most places were closed and the Cafe was not very busy.

2. Distrito, a Jose Garces restaurant in the Saguaro Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ

I have always wanted to go to a restaurant backed by a big name chef. This was one such opportunity. Jose Garces of Philadelphia, he of the Iron Chef fame has his signature restaurant Distrito in Philly. There is a second branch of the same restaurant inside the Saguaro hotel in Scottsdale, AZ. They were open for Christmas Day dinner and we were happy to go there. First off, the Saguaro is in itself worth a visit. The riot of colors that this hotel exhibits has to be seen to be believed. Amidst this colorful facade lies the Distrito. The Distrito is a well designed and cosy restaurant that feels at once warm and inviting. We tried out a bunch of things here all of which were very good. My wife had one small complaint – they were very conservative with the use of salt. Some dishes could have done with a tad more salt. While I did feel the lack of salt in some dishes, the flavors were intact and I had no complaints.

We tried  the guacamole with chopped jalapenos which was great for the breezy night that it was. For entree, we ordered rellenitos, corn soup and chile relleno. My rellenitos were great. The corn soup was very flavorful and the rellenos came for good praise from the wife but for the lack of adequate salt. We finished off with a delectable dessert, a Frutas con Crema with lime and coconut panna cottas and fruits. It was fabulous to say the least. Overall, a great dinner.

3. Breakfast at Bakery Cafe in El Pedregal, Scottsdale, AZ

We managed to make it to breakfast at one of the cafes within the boundaries of the Boulders property- the Bakery Cafe. The Bakery Cafe is located within a once renowned and now relatively desolate mall, the El Pedregal. We ordered a gingerbread latte, scrambled eggs for the little guy and an omelet for my wife. My wife remarked that this was the first properly salted dish she had experienced since we first came to Scottsdale. We walked away happy.

4. Lunch at Tommy V’s in Old Town Scottsdale, AZ

We were supposed to go to a vegan place, 24carrots in downtown Tempe for lunch on our last day in town. Our timing got all out of whack and we ended up randomly choosing a restaurant in downtown Scottsdale for lunch at 1:30 in the afternoon. That restaurant was Tommy V’s at the entrance of downtown Scottsdale. And what a stroke of serendipity that was. We were treated to an excellent late lunch with great food and wonderful service that I wanted to definitely highlight.

Our waiter was excellent in his recommendations and attention to us. We started off with some bread warm off the oven. It was soft and tasty. For entrees, we ordered a lentil soup and a pear salad for me, a eggplant torta for my wife and a ravioli for the little guy. Each of the dishes was fantastic in its own way. The little guy polished off his ravioli. I loved my warm soup and a nice salad and my wife definitely enjoyed her eggplant. The waiter offered a complementary cannoli for the little guy who was thrilled and walked away happy and telling me how much he liked the place. If you are in the neighborhood, consider this a recommended place from me. Loved everything about it.

Overall, Scottsdale offered us a great variety of food, each of which was interesting and tasty. There was so much more we wanted to sample but never got to. Hope to do it the next time.