Surprising Scottsdale

Food, art and music flourish in Scottsdale this fall.

For an unexpected foodie twist, be sure to add Scottsdale, Arizona, to your plans this fall. Recently named the No. 2 Foodie City, 2014 by livability.com, The West’s Most Western Town (as it is sometimes known) topped the list thanks to its established farmer’s markets, its bounty of restaurants that use locally grown ingredients and its plethora of critically acclaimed chefs and restaurants that have won James Beard Foundation Awards. While Scottsdale’s restaurant scene is finally getting its due desserts, the city has long been a foodie mecca—thanks to its treasure trove of 600-plus restaurants.

A beloved dining spot that opened in 1937, El Chorro is nestled between Camelback and Mummy mountains—featuring innovative cuisine with a focus on organic and locally grown ingredients.

 

AZ88, Scottsdale, Arizona

Enjoy a tasty meal with friends at AZ88.
Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

Another restaurant that has stood the test of time is AZ88. Opened in 1988, this contemporary restaurant and bar is renowned for its tasty cocktails, quirky modern art and delicious burgers, salads and sandwiches. Grab a seat on the outdoor patio, overlooking Scottsdale Civic Center Mall’s fountain and greenery in the heart of downtown, and enjoy the people watching.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa, T. Cook's

Royal Palms Resort and Spa is home to the heralded T. Cook’s.
Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

Meanwhile, T. Cook’s at Royal Palms Resort and Spa (open for nearly two decades) has received local and national acclaim for its fresh, seasonal, local and ingredient-driven cooking. Also of note, T. Cook’s is offering an exclusive dining experience called #PM31 at Table 31 (one of the most sought-after tables at the restaurant). Here, you’ll find an improvisational multi-course meal designed for a limited number of diners every Wednesday.

A newcomer to the Scottsdale dining scene is Fox Restaurant Concept’s latest installment, The Henry. Billed as “The Greatest Neighborhood Restaurant,” The Henry is the place to go for almost any occasion, whether you’re grabbing coffee with friends or an after-work cocktail on the scenic patio. The menu features everything from chopped salads and delicious steaks to succulent fish and homemade sodas.

Even newer, Fogon Mexican Eatery (which just opened in August), blends Old World traditions and flavors with a quaint and charming folk ambience (check out the hand-painted Talavera tile murals). This dining experience will find you enjoying authentic dishes created over a custom grill station at your table, all paired with signature tequilas and margaritas.

And, for a contemporary twist on the classic tiki restaurants of the 1950s and 60s, be sure to stop by Hula’s Modern Tiki. Polynesian paradise comes to life with the Bali Hai BBQ Ribs (served with a mango barbecue sauce, sweet potato fries and slaw), paired with a signature Hula’s Mai Tai.

For a little taste of celebrity cooking, try out Bravo’s Top Chef: Masters star Herb Wilson’s new venture: Sumo Maya Mexican Asian Kitchen. This fusion restaurant, which just opened in June, offers an unexpected blend of tapas-style small plates and dim sum. You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled from Latin American to Asia, thanks to dishes such as Korean Beef Tacos, Pad Thai Al Pastor and Arroz Con Pato.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

On the art front, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is dedicating all 18,500 square feet to a new exhibition, dubbed Covert Operations: Investigating the Unknowns. On view through Jan. 11, this museum-curated exhibition features the work of 13 international artists—all addressing the expansion of federal power and infringement of constitutional rights in the wake of 9/11. Subject matter ranges from terrorist profiling to human trafficking with themes such as secrecy, disclosure, violence, power, subterfuge and surveillance. Even more intriguing, the artists gathered unreported information (using resources such as the Freedom of Information Act) to compile their works.

Musical Instrument Museum, Scottsdale, Arizona

The Musical Instrument Museum is a must-visit spot in Scottsdale.
Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

And on the music front, Scottsdale is celebrating harmony with a two-day outdoor music festival at the Musical Instrument Museum. Be sure to catch MIMFest on Oct. 18-19, which will feature musical acts, dancers, street performers and festive food trucks—all with the common goal of celebrating musical traditions from all over the world. While you’re at it, plan a pit stop inside the museum to get a glimpse of the 5,000-plus instruments on display (including John Lennon’s Steinway piano).

 

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