Phoenix & Scottsdale Restaurants: 6 Scrumptious Picks

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Having a regular schedule which brought me to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area annually for many years, I am not a newcomer to the Scottsdale Restaurants and Phoenix foodie scene. That said, a lot has changed over the last decade and more unique, smaller eateries have cropped up with organic, sustainable practices leading the way.

Phoenix & Scottsdale Restaurants: Top Picks

We had an opportunity to do some formal restaurant reviews and a whole lotta “tasting” and “dining” during a recent trip to Arizona when we stayed in the Scottsdale area for a little over a week. Bear in mind that if we had more time, we would have explored smaller and lesser known restaurants, cafes and bistros. Until we return for more food exploration, join us for some tasty treats.

Foodie Heaven at the Fat Ox - Scottsdale Restaurants

Simple & Elegant Plates at The Fat Ox

The Fat Ox

First up is the Fat Ox, a name which seemed to always bring a smile every time we brought it up with locals and not just because it’s a cool name. They actually knew it and had heard the positive reviews and kudos even if they hadn’t yet dined there.  So, what makes it so unique?

To call it an amazing Italian restaurant wouldn’t be quite accurate because you may go there thinking you’re going to get Lasagne and Pizza. They do actually have a Lasagne on the menu, but it’s a 25 layer one with charred rapini & whipped ricotta to boot.

The kitchen here is far more creative than that — crafting modern riffs on regional Italian classics is what they like to be known for….

Despite all the incredible choices that were a bit more unusual, we had to start with their Steamed Mussels simply because they’re one of Anthony’s favorite dishes, and impossible to say no to when they’re served with fennel.

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Steamed Mussels with Nduja, Fennel and Tomato Passata

Now, it gets a little more interesting. Imagine a pasta served with strawberries? Say what? Yup, they serve their Green Tortellini with Pickled strawberries, Pistachios, Saba and Bellwether Ricotta.

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In addition to pickled strawberry and pistachios, let’s not forget the touch of sea salt (sweet and salty meets pasta heaven)

Another pasta dish without the traditional tomato, bolognese or cream sauce is their Crab Ravioli, which they make with corn, leeks, peas and tomato jam. Heavenly right?

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The crab ravioli also includes pumpkin seeds and baby heirlooms

Or, how about this Rigatoni Lamb Verde? They char the Lamb, then add green tomatoes, zucchini, fennel pollen and pecorino. But, they don’t overdo it, so you’re not left feeling bloated when you finish the dish.

We also tried the Short Rib Alla Vaccinara, served with celery root, charred broccolini and raisins in a Barolo demi glaze sauce. And, did I mention the Duroc Pork Tomahawk with baby fennel, apple and balsamic glaze? They use three different types of fennel too. The pork is chargrilled using pecan wood, so the flavor really pops.

Other lighter dishes included their King Salmon and the Narragansett Dayboat Scallops with one of my favorites: trumpet mushrooms. They also offered a beautiful Grilled Swordfish with Artichokes (another of Anthony’s favorites), more fennel (gotta love it), olives and swiss chard.

And oh yeah, don’t forget to order a side of their dreamed cannellini beans which they serve in chicken stock. Two more unique call outs for sides, is their Roasted Brussel Sprouts with apple cider, cresenza fonduta and almonds and their Calabrian Roasted Cauliflower, which they make with hazelnuts, capers and parsley. (a little teaser for the latter: they fry it first in chili oil, then grill it so there’s a little smokiness to the taste – oh so yum!)

We did a bunch of wine pairings that evening, including one of our favorite Cabs from Napa, the 2014 Freemark ABbey. They also had a 2013 Veglio Barolo by the glass (and it’s rare to find Barolo by the glass). Their 2014 Amarone Della Valpolicella Gregoris was also a delicious choice for the Ribs.

Like lemon? We do too. We typically go for some dark chocolate concoction but not this time around. Beautifully plated creations is another talent of their culinary team. This scrumptious Meyer Lemon Tart is made with Italian meringue (naturally), pine nuts, marmalade and Basil. The white flakes? White chocolate of course.

Another time, we’d love to try their Panna Cotta (vanilla bean, coconut, cherry foam and charcoal mousse). Hopefully they leave that one on the menu!

Simple and yet creative, serious foodies won’t be disappointed. All pastas are made in house daily, mostly by hand, using the best Artisan flour they can get their paws on. The kitchen at Fat Ox also cooks over wood and charcoal in their custom hearth.

They love encouraging guests to try something outside their comfort zone (GO, GO, GO!!!) and we applaud them for that bold effort. We did step beyond what we’d typically order and loved every dish. The service was outstanding as well. Two thumbs up!

Details:

6316 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale AZ 85253

https:///www.ilovefatox.com

Mowry & Cotton @ the Phoenician

We had heard a lot of good things about Mowry & Cotton before checking in (yes, we stayed at the Phoenician for three nights as well, so we had to try their signature restaurant).

One thing to note by locals who come here to sip their cocktails in their modern and chic setting, they LOVE the decor and vibe. You can sit outside or inside (and outside is lovely during the cooler months as the ambiance is tres romantic!) and while we would have normally jumped at the outdoor opportunity, it was 107 degrees the day we dined there, so obviously we chose an indoor table.

When it’s that hot, crisp and clean cocktails are such a great way to go. For example, their Boss is made of Gruet, Creme de Fraise and strawberries and their Old Orchard is made with Arcadia Rosemary Vodka, Limoncello, Cucumber, Lemon, Gruet and Simple Syrup. They also offer the classics like Manhattans, Bourbons and lovely combos with Hendrick’s Gin (gin lovers will love their Sunlight & Shadow which includes cucumber, basil, yuzu, lemon bitters and tonic). Delicious, right?

OKAY, so we did a l’il wine tasting instead. Surprising was their tasty Sokol Blosser from Oregon, which is a lovely Rose of Pinot Noir (it paired so well with many of their dishes) and their Heritage Chardonnay from Washington state. I also tasted Heritage’s Cab as well since I’m a huge fan of Columbia Valley reds.

From their Hearth Oven, you can get their Buttermilk Buns, which they strongly encouraged us to try. We only said no because we’re watching our carb intake HOWEVER, they serve them with citrus sea salt butter and duck fat fig butter (wow, right?). Yeah, it was hard to pass up.

They’re also known for their flatbreads: grilled artichokes, wild mushrooms, chicken with fennel, and spicy salami with meyer lemon and goat cheese among other things. These are great options to share when you’re a table of more than two.

It’s not a complete meal for me without a salad despite how many creative appetizers are on the list. And so, we had to try their classic Chop Salad, which is made with avocado, corn, peppers, cotija cheese, black currants, mole and pheasant. I bet the last ingredient surprised you? It did for us as well, so much so that we had to order it. AND, we learned that the pheasant comes from Wisconsin.

Brined and grilled, it was so scrumptious with the sweetnesss from the mole sauce. Two thumbs up for this one!

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Mowry & Cotton’s Chop Salad

Other healthy options for veggie lovers is their Caramelized Cauliflower with citrus, calabrian chile and pinenuts (yum, right?), their Charred Brussels Sprouts with chicory kimchee, soy and binoto, and their Heirloom Tomato Salad made with Root Beer peaches, pecans and charred lemon.

Not to be missed is the presentation and taste of their Charred Tuna with pomegranate (so fresh), pineapple, avocado and crunchy shallots, which is charred in a Togarashi Japanese spice. The latter gave it just the right “kick!”

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Above and below: The Charred Tuna at Mowry & Cotton, one of our favorite Scottsdale restaurants

If you’re a seafood lover, you’ll also love their Grilled Shrimp with eggplant, citrus, black garlic and basil as well as their Roasted Salmon, which they serve with pistachios in an unusual blended salsa sauce (olive grapefruit). The salmon is seared and then roasted — it was so divine!!

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Above and below: Roasted Salmon

Beet lovers will appreciate their unique preparation!

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BBQ Beets with mustard greens, chickpeas and tossed in a smoked onion yoghurtYou’d be hard pressed to ever find meatballs on a menu and us not to order them. I think part of it is our mutual love for Italian food and growing up with homemade meatballs — it’s as if we’re on a mission to try them everywhere in the world. Oddly enough, even though I’m not as passionate about coleslaw, we seem to do the same thing wherever it’s offered — we think this is in part to us trying slaw on our six week cross country tour a few years ago and being wowed by how the South prepares it so differently.

No slaw was on the menu at Mowry & Cotton, but they did offer a Veal & Black Garlic Meatball starter. As long as you’re a meat eater, how could anyone say no? Here, they served it with Mozzarella, Tomato Jam, Arugula and Juahaca cheese (delish, right?) The app also comes with a side of toast.

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Veal meatballs (above and below)

If you’re a serious meat lover, they also have a reasonable variety of options, from their Charred Hanger Steak and Smoked Spare Ribs to a simple burger with spiced chips, the Cowgirl Ribeye and their Grilled Pheasant. Why all the pheasant?

We learn that the chef (Chef Tandy) used to hung with her father in Montana so has kept the passion and connection going from childhood. She uses a lot of fire, coal and smoke which adds to the flavors of the meats served here.

The eatery was originally started by two Arizona pioneers who had an idea for a communal-style presented. It should be no surprise that their social media hashtag is #ReadyRebellious. We love it!

For dessert, they offered a delicious Lemon Meringue with pomegranate (t’is the season), a Smores Pie, Doughnuts (yes, really!), bread pudding and the Apple Crumble. Although Anthony has much more of a sweet tooth than I do and typically has the main “dessert top picks vote” at the end of the trip, this one looked too good to pass up.

There was so much wow in this crumble: imagine apple, caramel and molasses souped up in perfect harmony?

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A MUST ORDER at Mowry & Cotton: the Apple Crumble

You obviously don’t have to stay at the Phoenician to dine at Mowry & Cotton. If you’re heading to Scottsdale, add it to your Scottsdale restaurants & foodie list.

Details:

Mowry & Cotton @ the Phoenician

600 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

https://www.mowryandcotton.com/ 

Talavera Restaurant

Part of the Four Seasons in Scottsdale, Talavera is a contemporary steakhouse with an ever so fun Spanish flare. So, while Paella is on the menu, so too is dry aged steak, jamon, Iberico, and seafood as well as all the tapas you’d ever want to eat.

We also had the most interesting waiter who photographs planets and stars at night after his shift. Service was top notch across the board btw as there were several others who made sure everything purred smoothly throughout the evening as well.

One of the prize things about Talavera is its ambiance — both indoors and outdoors. We dined outdoors at a corner table and it was both relaxing and romantic, the ambiance being our favorite of all the restaurants we dined at during our recent Arizona stay.

The menu is also incredible, with its choice of Crudo (one of my personal favorites), its Charcuterie options and fresh veggies and salads. They talked us into trying the Grilled Galician Octopus with potatoes (they cook it with corks for an additional flavor boost — yes, really!) It’s an unusual preparation but the combo just “worked.” It won over the Spiced Lamb meatballs, which is hard for us to pass up on any menu.

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Above and below, the Grilled Octopus

And, how’s this Spiced Tuna Crudo, which they serve with apricots, aperol and toasted hazelnuts. Wow, right? It’s also beautifully presented as well.

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The spiced tuna crudo at Talavera

While we’ve been eating more seafood lately, we are meat eaters and given the toasty hot temperatures when we were there, we didn’t go for one of their NY Strips or Ribeyes, but we wanted to try their Iberian Pork Shoulder, largely because of how it was cooked. Here, they serve it with a delicious sweet Cherry Mostarada and peaches, but it all comes together with the Celery Heart and greens — the combo is gorgeous and just melts in your mouth.

While one of the crisper whites may have been a better pairing, we got a bottle of Kistler because it’s one of my favorites and it all just “worked.” When the food really works, the wine pairing doesn’t need to be a perfect science. Your palette will decide!

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Above and below, the Pork Shoulder

Their seared scallops had us at hello, with its creamed corn, choizo, crispy tomatillo, chayote and cotija combo. There was so much wow in this dish.

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The heavenly preparation of the Seared Scallops at Talavera

There are other unique things you can do at Talavera as well, such as their Spanish Tasting menu for two which they offer over the summer.

In addition to plates, it includes a bottle of Sparkling Cava or Porron of Sangria for the table. Other fun offerings include their Patatas, Paella (think: clams, mussels, lobster, prawns, choirzon, chicken, pork belly and beyond) and a Whole Branzino, which we always enjoy. There are also plenty of veggie options if you’re not a meat eater.

They also have a small but well thought out list of cocktail options, as well as Sherry, Beer and Cider by the class. How’s this for an unusual mix? Their Pedro Ximenez includes Alvear, Figs, Toffee and Molasses! (you could even that order it as a dessert it’s so tempting)

At the end of the evening, as full as we were at the time, it was hard to pass up their Basque Cake and Chocoflan. Oh yeah and btw, they had French press coffee, which we love!! (and coffee lovers know that they don’t serve French press everywhere)

The Basque cake looks a bit like an Apple Tart, but it goes above and beyond, with its added Cashew-Roasted Apples, Cardamom Cream and Marcona Almonds. It was simply put: heavenly!

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Have that Apple Basque Cake with a 30 year old Port (Graham’s was on the menu)

Of all the Phoenix and Scottsdale restaurants we tried, the most beautiful dessert presentation has to go to Talavera’s Chocoflan, which they make with Cajeta Goat Milk Caramel and caramelized cocoa nibs. Simple but exquisite.

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The ever so exquisite Chocoflan at Talavera, one of the most delicious desserts on our exploration of Phoenix & Scottsdale

Would we return? You betcha! We loved the interior design and ambiance as much as the outdoor patio which is hard to beat. It’s a must for your Scottsdale restaurants bucket list!!

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We are huge fans of old world style decor, even in a modern place like Scottsdale with its new motifs and styles. Talavera blends both together in an interesting way.

It’s the kind of place you could have drinks and appetizers all night long. Two thumbs up!!

Details:

Four Seasons Hotel

10600 E. Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale, AZ 85262

http://talaverarestaurant.com/

The Gladly

The Gladly is one of Phoenix‘s newer restaurants, which is apparently a follow up concept by the owners of critically acclaimed Citizen Public House.

You see, locals know about this place and the renowned famous Chopped Salad by Chef Bernie. Interestingly enough, they serve the salad first on a plate with all the ingredients separated out and then mix it in front of you. The combo is exquisite and surprisingly so since it’s so simple.

The blend uses smoked salmon, freeze dried corn, arugula, Israeli couscous (an interesting and unexpected addition), Roma Tomatos with olive oil, salt & pepper and trail mix (yes, really — black currants, toasted pepitas and ground aged Asiago cheese).

The dressing is a combination of mayo, buttermilk, pecorino romano (our favorites), lemon, basil leaves, and minced garlic. We WILL make this at home!

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Above and below: Chef Bernie’s Famous Chopped Salad

In addition to a few of their raw oysters, we tried their Brown Butter Tuna from Donny’s RAW BAR! There’s so much wow in this simple but delicious dish, which includes lime vinaigrette and raisin relish for a sweetness you wouldn’t normally expect.

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Brown Butter Tuna at The Gladly

For mains, we kept it light given that the temperatures were above 100 degrees the entire week we were there. Perfect for a hot evening were their Pan Seared Scallops with sweet corn grits, Tender Belly bacon lardon, cola gastrique and sauteed snow pea greens.

We paired this gem with a Walt Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast although note that they had white wines by the glass from France, Germany, New Zealand, Italy, Arizona and the Santa Cruz Mountains, near our home base.

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The Gladly’s Pan Seared Scallops (above and below)

Anthony went for the salmon again since we can never seem to get it as perfectly as we’d like at home, despite cooking classes and secrets from well known chefs. Of course, the fact that it came with Brussels Sprouts didn’t hurt. It’s topped with a saffron beurre blanc and crispy capers – oh so yum!

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Salmon from the Faroe Islands at The Gladly

OKAY, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that we ordered the Burrata. People who dine with us often know that if Burrata is on the menu, we always slip in an order, usually under the radar so we can devour quietly. It’s our Italian connection again. Here, they serve it with Pistachio Romesco Verde, blistered tomatoes and ciabatta.

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Classic Burrata at its best!

If you want something a little feistier, then go for their Chilean Crab Cakes with roasted corn and avocado sauce, or their Sausage, Pretzel and Cheese with sage mustard. They also have a lovely Chicken Liver Pate with Pistachio, Pickled Onion and Capers, as well as a Smoked Mozzarella Fondue (perfect during winter months).

If you’re a red meat lover, they offer a Grilled Filet Mignon, Duck Meatloaf, and Coffee Rubbed Boneless Short ribs in a cherry BBQ sauce with parsnip puree. (Wow, right?) We were eyeing it and would have tried it had it not been so hot — next time!!

You can even get a charred steak salad although if you’re a veggie lover, there are plenty of choices too as well. All of the Chef’s sides are meat free and their Ricotta Risotto is to die-for. There is also a Grilled Cheese and Burger if you have kids in tow.

We loved their wine menu however they also have local beer and house cocktails as well, like the Gladly Manhattan, the Moscow Mule, Spiced Daiquiri and others.

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Fresh apples anyone?

Below, these were plastered on the walls upon entry — a fun and creative twist! Their bar is also very stylish if you want to just come for cocktails and they offer over 200 whiskies to choose from if wine or beer isn’t your thing. We really loved the ambiance and the service was outstanding!

Details:

2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 106, Phoenix AZ 85016

https://www.thegladly.com 

Beckett’s Table

In all seriousness, we’ll start out by saying how surprised we were by Beckett’s Table, largely because we didn’t expect the foot to taste SO good in a restaurant with a bright red lit sign outside. Looks can be deceiving as serious foodies know who have discovered hole in the wall gems in the oddest of places around the world.

Beckett’s Table is hardly a hole in the wall — although the ambiance isn’t classic fine dining, the food is as long as you love bacon. We are bacon fans, so loved everything on the menu. And while you’re marveling at just how amazing the food is, you’ll also notice that the ambiance is fun.

Let’s start with a simple and light salad you’d not expect from a menu with so much bacon. There’s no bacon in this Watermelon & Feta gem, which the chef (Beckett of course) serves with frisee, basil, fennel and cucumber, lemonade granita. It is tossed with local micro-greens from a farmer 150 feet away (Mesa Micro Farm) — he “aces” micro-basil, cilantro and pea shoots.

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Beckett’s Watermelon & Feta (above and below)

Given that we made such a big deal out of the bacon “theme”, I don’t want veggie lovers to be afraid to taste Beckett’s creations. Although some of the dishes sound heavy (shrimp, sausage and super creamy local grits for example), his “touch” is light and incredibly balanced.

This isn’t one of those comfort food places where you’ll leave feeling full of carbs and gluten. You can absolutely order carefully, like their veggie chopped salad, their mixed greens or their roasted red pepper and tomato soup. OR, that watermelon & feta salad (above) which had us at hello.

There’s also the Crow’s Dairy Feta, which is made with confit tomatoes, artichoke tapenade, roasted garlic and charred zucchini. Beckett adds leek, lemon and paremasan on top as well as Noble toast. Noble toast? If you’re not from the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, it won’t mean much to you but apparently Noble Bakery has quite a reputation among locals.

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Crow’s Fairy Feta (above and below)

And then there’s this simple but oh so lovely deviled egg with roasted garlic, bacon and chimi churri (from local Hickman Farms). We love that he supports local farmers.

Beckett’s presentation of the pan seared sea scallops was so beautiful we didn’t want to dive in at first. The blend is also unusual: local chorizo, green beans, corn, charred leak, tomatoes and a little sea salt. Wow, right? It tastes as good as it looks, so much so that I wish he’d launch a restaurant in northern California.

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The creative work of Beckett — scallop lovers will be in heaven!

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The scallop presentation was so beautifully done (above and below)

The seared organic Scottish salmon was also divine. Together with organic local grains, chicos and dried berries, you’ll get summer squash, frisee and local faro. Oh yeah, and roasted leeks! Two thmbs up!

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It’s hard to go wrong with fresh organic salmon!

He also has a Tenderbelly Pork Chop on the menu, Atlantic Cod, Pork Osso Buco Confit (one of my favorites) and Short Ribs (we must order these next time around). Traveling with kids? There’s a scrumptious cheeseburger and Grilled Cheese with a red pepper tomato soup! Simple but oh so delish!

Bacon lovers, ready? A must order is their bacon cheddar biscuits with apple butter and this out-of-this-world side: Wood Oven Roasted Bacon Biscuit Stuffing.  OKAY, so it’s not light, but it’s I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E — enuf said!

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Like comfort food and/or bacon? This is a must try — their wood oven roasted bacon biscuit stuffing (OMG!!)

For dessert, you can’t go wrong, whether you opt for the Bourbon Peace & Blueberry Cobbler with Gingersnap Crumble, his Chocolate Flourless Cake with Coffee Butterscotch Sauce or the Fit & Pecan Pie. So unusual was the Chocolate Dipped Bacon Smoked S’mores, so we had to try them. Think: marshmallows, caramel whipped peanut butter and graham cracker. Simple but such a fun option!

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Above and below, Beckett’s Chocolate Dipped Bacon Smoked S’mores (even the kids will love these!)

Below, their award-winning Fig & Pecan pie. The killer here is the cream cheese ice cream — the combination just melts in your mouth.

We already gave you an idea of its fun and creative ambiance, but did we tell you that there’s 39 pigs (at latest count) scattered throughout the restaurant. You’ll find them in paintings, on the top of wooden beams, on side tables, ceilings and even in the open kitchen.

Scottsdale restaurants Beckett's Table

Fun ambiance throughout the restaurant. And, pigs everywhere!

The last thing worth noting is Beckett himself who runs the restaurant with his wife who we didn’t have a chance to meet. Authentic and passionate about food (and the local farmers he works with), his enthusiasm rubs off on you.

Truth be told, we LOVE meeting passionate chefs. We LOVE learning from passionate chefs. And, we LOVE that passionate chefs put so much care and creativity into everything they touch. It always “makes” our evening when we meet a chef who is as excited about how we feel about his flavors as he is. You might think that it’s only the smallest of restaurants where we come across such chefs because larger establishments don’t have the resources or time to always come say hello. This isn’t always the case however.

Sure, there was Soerke Peters from Carmel’s Basil who we reviewed a couple of years ago but there was also Nick Mastrascusa from the Big Island’s Four Seasons, who wove in influences from his Uruguay and Italian heritage. He even had family recipes on the menu. And, our experience learning from Lake Tahoe chef Stephen Moise was incredibly memorable — he even followed up with a salmon preparation via email afterwards. When chefs go out of their way to teach and share, it can be transformative. 

And so, hats off to Beckett who did exactly that! Oh yeah, and he has about a dozen or so single malt scotches on the menu as well. Bravo!

Details:

3717 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018

https://www.beckettstable.com 

The Clever Koi

Another surprise during our Phoenix & Scottsdale Restaurants adventure was The Clever Koi. Cute name right? This Asian-inspired kitchen also has an interesting craft cocktail bar and the ambiance is a combination of retro, Asian and modern all wrapped into one. They’ve won a few fun awards too, such as Best Ramen Shop (Arizona), Best Happy Hour & Best Cocktail Bar in Central Phoenix.

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The kitchen at The Clever Koi

The tables and ambiance are casual (we were there during lunch) but we loved the vibe of the cocktail bar, so it would be great to return for dinner sometime.

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Fabulous sauces to try out at The Clever Koi

First off, although we are mostly wine drinkers, when there’s a fabulous cocktail, I’ll try it, especially if its not too sweet. Hats off to their Aviation concoction, which they make with Dry Gin, Creme de Violette, Marashino, Lemon and Amarena. (OMG — it was surprisingly good).  They also have an amazing Thai Basil Gimlet and a Bees Knees drink with dry gin, lemon and Lavender Honey.

Of course, they have beer (bottles, cans and draft), as well as Sake and wine, but their drinks are fun and unusual, so my recommendation would be to try something you’d normally never order.

The food is mostly Asian influenced — think steamed buns, dumplings and stir fried chow mein, pad thai and noodles from the wok. If you’re trying to avoid the carbs, there are plenty of salads, soups and veggie dishes as well.

We loved the simple chopped salad, which they make with Arugula, Romaine, Kiwi, Edamame, Heirloom Tomatoes, Carrots, Daikon, Crispy Shallots, Sesame & Parmesan — it is all tossed in a Burnt Orange Vinaigrette.

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Above & below, the ever so healthy chopped salad — the combination was impressive!

The dumplings were also a surprise. Imagine a little sweet, a little salty and Short Ribs together with pickled onions, celery leaf and Shiitake Dashi? They also include a little Porcini Oil. Wow, right?

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Short Rib Dumplings at The Clever Koi

Anthony had to try the House Pad Thai — more flavorful than most, so even though its a classic and epic dish, we think it’s worth a call out. That said, we’d encourage you to try something a little more unusual off their menu like the Chicken & Waffle Steamed Bun, the Black Bean Pancakes (great for vegetarians) or the Calamari Fries with mint, furikake and Yuzu Aioli.

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Above and below, Pad Thai at The Clever Koi

Also worth mentioning is the Pork Shoulder Ssam — it is made with Perilla, Bib Lettuce,e Green Papya, Fuji Apple, Kimchi, Nam Prik and house pickles! The pork was so tender and delicious — it was my favorite dish of the day!

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Above and below, the Pork Shoulder Ssam

While we opted for no dessert that day, they have choices. There’s also a Happy Hour every day from 11 am to 6 pm and there are two locations: downtown Phoenix and downtown Gilbert.

Details:

4236 N. Central Ave #100, Phoenix, AZ 85012

384 N. Gilbert Road, Suite 101, Gilbert, AZ 85234

https://www.thecleverkoi.com

Pomelo

This modern and hip eatery has a great outdoor space (they have a heated firepit area for cooler months although we certainly didn’t need them in September) and a fun bar inside for drinks anytime of year. It’s apparently located on the site of one of Arizona‘s first citrus farms and the pomelo and cocktail citrus trees still grow on the property.

The manager loved telling the story of his early days at Pomelo when the owner quizzed him and others on their knowledge of pomelos. The passion for for pomelos is contageous we soon learned.

With Anthony’s love for Brussels Sprouts, we had to order them especially when we learned that they were made with Applewood bacon, Parmesan and Balsamic Gastrique. And, just look at the beautiful presentation!

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Blistered Brussels Sprouts at Pomelo’s

Also delicious was the Smoked Salmon Carpaccio, which they prepare with Avocado, Herb Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Pickled Onions and Capers. Simpler and lighter of course is their Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail or their Mexican Street Corn with feta cheese and spicy aioli.

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The beautifully presented Smoked Salmon Carpaccio

We are huge fans of salads here and it’s hard not to order beets if it’s on the menu, whether in a salad or other creative starter. The yellow beets they used just melted in your mouth — add to it avocado, pecans and herb goat cheese and it was a perfect accompaniment to any of their entree specialties.

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The Roasted Beet Salad at Pomelo’s

We were thrilled by the fresh fish options on the menu. A heavier option is their Shrimp Fettuccine in Garlic Cream, but they also had a Pan Roasted Alaskan Cod with veggies and minted sweet pea puree, and a Pan-Roasted Salmon with Arugula Cream Sauce, butternut squash, new potatoes and broccoli. Both tasted healthy and fresh!

Pomelo’s is also known for their wood-fired pizzas, which we didn’t try. There are a few yummy sausage creations as well as a few great options for vegetarians — think garlic, roasted red peppers, pesto, broccoli, zucchini and mushroom!!

If you’re a cocktail drinker, they have a lovely bar inside (fun ambiance) and there’s also draft beers as well as plenty of wine by the glass. They have specials during the week as well (Pizza & Wine nights, Tacos & Margarita nights and Burger & Beer nights). Although I like my Margaritas the classic way, I plan to order their Prickly Pear Margarita next time we visit (it sounded too good not to try)

We went with Rombauer Chardonnay from Carneros and Bread & Butter Pinot Noir from Napa as pairings for the evening. We also couldn’t pass up dessert since they insisted. How can you say no to a Chocolate Fudge Cake no matter how full you are?

Anthony said YES PLEASE to their New York Style Cheesecake with caramel and fruit (and blueberries of course). On the lighter side, they offer Gelato and Mango sorbet.

Scottsdale restaurants cheesecake at Pomelo's

Above and below, the cheesecake was heavenly!

Cheesecake at Pomelo's - Scottsdale restaurants

Below, the outside of Pomelo’s at night. The glittered lights (in all white) added to the ambiance which we loved, both inside and out!

Details:

7100 N. 12th Street, Phoenix, AZ

https://www.pomelophx.com   

Be sure to also check out the Visit Phoenix Restaurants suggestions as well as an earlier piece on Phoenix Restaurants picks. You can also visit our general Phoenix page as well as our Arizona page for more temptations.

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Disclosure note: We were hosted by restaurants and had support of Scottsdale Tourism but rest assured, all opinions expressed are entirely our own.

Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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