Scottsdale, known as a winter playground for snowbirds across North America, remains refreshing even in the heat of summer. The “dry heat” makes a real difference as 100+ F can’t and shouldn’t deter visitors to the Kierland section of town, where a cool mist drifts down to prevent heat prostration. You’ll also find many of the best restaurants in Scottsdale in this section of town.
Whether you’re coming from the golf course, the shopping center, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, regular vacation, life as usual, or medical care at the Mayo Clinic (we from “Mother Mayo” in MN affectionately call it “Baby Mayo”), there are many dining options across town.
Since I’m celiac, and my daughter celiac and pescatarian, all these restaurants have options for these diets, but also for more liberal diets.
Scottsdale provides several parking garages, conveniently located so there’s plenty of room for your car in a shaded spot and easy access to all the shopping and restaurants.
Visiting other destinations in Arizona? Check out our other delicious guides:
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The 5 Best Scottsdale AZ Restaurants
7615 E Pinnacle Peak Rd // (480) 515-6254
Recommended by a great day spa, we happened on Soul Café when we were both tired and hungry. Turns out, that’s the perfect time to go, especially if it happens to be Happy Hour.
We were able to try almost everything on the menu without eating ourselves into a food coma, although we flirted with it. Our server, Sean, was very amused as we ordered more and more and more.
Their promise of Modern Arizona Cuisine with “eclectic dishes influenced by the flavors and cultures of Arizona” is fulfilled with every bite. Choosing carefully, and confirming the tortillas are corn based allowed us to keep within our dietary restrictions.
This visit was the first time I’d experienced toasted tortillas to accompany my fish tacos. I was pleasantly surprised by the difference it makes.
The fish tacos are cod, with chipotle cream, cabbage, queso fresco, and mango salsa. Two tacos were the perfect portion size with half of the surf and turf.
The surf and turf was a three-ounce beef tenderloin (well done, thank you!), and grilled asparagus (you can have it sauteed if you prefer) that I enjoyed, and a jalapeno bacon-wrapped shrimp that my daughter loved. She told me the mild jalapeno cheese sauce wasn’t even needed.
She had that one shrimp in addition to her eight coconut shrimp served with a pineapple jam and tamarind reduction. She took most of them home because she got full and warmed them up in the oven later. Still delicious.
Her final selection from the entrees was the steamed clams. A full bowl of clams with white wine, butter-garlic sauce; she considered taking the remainder of the sauce home after she’d finished the clams. The bread was sourdough so left behind.
For those that can enjoy pastries, I highly recommend trying their pies. Cherry, Blueberry, Rhubarb, Peach, and Key Lime, their pies are perfect to share, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream accompanying it. If you don’t have enough room, take one (or three!) home to enjoy later.
For a great variety of the foods of the southwest, Soul Cafe is a great place to eat in Scottsdale.
15024 N Scottsdale Rd #100 // (480) 889-9494
Sometimes on vacation you end up returning to the same area over and over again. That happened to us with Kierland Commons. And there are still more places left to eat.
We just barely beat the lunch rush in the door so had our orders in but needed something to tide us over with as long as it takes for the meal to be served.
We chose the sesame chicken potstickers, thinking they’d be kabob style. They were more like Thai dumplings, served with scallions and radish to add the crunchy texture and young ginger broth.
As usual, we had questions and asked the server for recommendations.
For me, the choice was between the grilled Mahi tacos with pico de gallo, salsa verde, and avocado or the Atlantic Salmon with fingerling potatoes and beets. The server was quick to answer. “Atlantic salmon,” he answered with confidence. Decision made.
For my daughter, the sweet potato ravioli with glazed short rib and charred squash or a charred item the server preferred but described so heavily blackened that she went with the sweet potato ravioli.
As we waited, the server asked if we’d like anything else. My daughter loves thin truffle fries and calamari. Their truffle fries were thick, “double the size of McDonald’s,” so she ordered the calamari.
They also have herb hummus, chicken tortilla soup, warm brie, smoked salmon and tuna tartare tacos, and many salads.
I’m glad they were worth the wait. The sweet potato ravioli was surprisingly sweet and balanced nicely by the braised rib. Served with charred brussel sprouts, it’s quite a substantial plate, more than expected.
The Atlantic Salmon was tasty and the beets initially difficult to identify. Pink cubes, they resembled raw salmon. It took a minute with my daughter’s palate to figure out that they’re beets. It adds to the crunchy texture. The grilled fingerling potatoes were delicious and the horseradish vinaigrette complimented the meal nicely.
Great seafood choices and a loaded menu make this a must-try Scottsdale restaurant.
15034 N Scottsdale Rd #160 // (480) 590-7263
Those of you that follow me know that I am a firm believer in dessert first. So, I’m providing a bonus for you around our visit to Frost: A Gelato Shoppe.
The owners were hot in Rome one summer, discovered gelato, and became determined to find a similar flavor in the United States. When they failed in their quest, they sought a new goal; to create it themselves. They enrolled in Gelato University (yup, it’s a thing) and found an importer to source their ingredients.
The store is in the center section of the shopping area, so not easily visible from the street.
Inside, it’s streamlined, sleek, and spotlessly clean. It’s like you’ve walked into an Italian fairyland with every flavor you could want.
They also have the most unique “spaghetti and meatballs” display, originally made with gelato. The artistry impresses me almost as much as having my very own mini gelato cone tree.
My choices are classic, black cherry and lemon, side by side. My daughter chose hazelnut and chocolate.
We could go back every week and maybe then would have tried all the flavors by Christmas.
Oh, and they provide a chart for you so you can see how many calories you’re saving by eating gelato instead of ice cream. Don’t worry. They’ll make more. Be sure to try this taste of Italy while choosing the best restaurants in Scottsdale.
15191 N Scottsdale Rd #100, Scottsdale // (480) 265-4500
Their promise is “crave-able food that boosts your mood.” And they like to present their “take” on summertime favorites, like an “avocado Key lime pie” or the ability to boost summertime vibes one sip at a time with one of their smoothies or craft cocktails. All this attitude points directly to a fun place to eat in Scottsdale.
We do love edamame (my daughter got me hooked) so I tried the edamame dumplings. If you like white truffle oil, you’ll love these. The edamame was al dente and perfectly seasoned with the Asian herbs. You can increase the order from five to six to even out the portions for a party of two.
In addition to water, I ordered the very refreshing pink lemonade while my daughter chose a tea.
The salads and bowls are often a good choice depending on your dining plans for the rest of the day. My daughter likes the teriyaki quinoa bowl which comes with broccoli, rainbow carrots (we never see them as frequently anywhere else as we do in Scottsdale), bok choy, green bean, snap pea, mushroom, brown rice, avocado, and toasted sesame. Here, the server tells us their quinoa is mixed with brown rice, so you can’t choose just one.
I’d be tempted by their Margherita pizza. Ladies at a nearby table shared one and it looked delicious. There wasn’t a slice left.
Their burgers and sandwiches offer a more substantial meal. Each is served with your choice of kale salad or sweet potato hash; the server also tells us we could substitute a gluten-free bun or pita to hold the grass-fed burger or grilled chicken avocado wrap. They also have a turkey burger and a vegan double cheeseburger.
But I went with the entrée – the grilled, sustainable salmon. The chef was kind enough to accommodate my “well done” preference for the salmon so it tasted exactly right with the summer squash, carrots, farro, cilantro, and a bit of pumpkin. The seed pesto offered a refreshing final taste.
My daughter tried the poke bowl. Wild caught tuna, lightly seared, brown rice and quinoa, pickled jicama which remained crunchy, snap pea, pickled shitake, and sesame seed seasoning. She couldn’t finish the brown rice and quinoa but made a good go of it.
While we were totally tempted by the flourless chocolate cake served with vanilla ice cream, we just couldn’t do it. Maybe next time. And for sure, there will be the next time. This is definitely a repeater when you are looking for the best places to eat in Scottsdale.
15505 N Hayden Rd // (480) 355-0740
A great place to dine in or take away, the bread here is made fresh daily. It’s easy to stick to your diet requirements both with the options available, gluten-free bread on request, and the calorie count listed next to each choice. And you can purchase a lovely gift basket for anyone you need to take something home to.
With delicious bread comes delicious sandwiches. You can choose from the options of French country sourdough, ciabatta, rosemary focaccia round, baguette, seeded baguette, rustic rye, hazelnut 12 grain, asiago cheese, whole wheat, country white and honey wheat, sweet bread, chunky cinnamon, soft rolls, orange rolls, and a French Country soup bun that can be used for soup or salad.
Their menu covers the entire day. Breakfast options include ham, sausage, egg and cheese croissant, or a kids combo including pancakes, sliced bananas, caramel syrup, milk, or juice. Or try the adult-style chunky cinnamon French toast, sourdough pancakes, omelets, or cinnamon spice pecan pancakes. Yum!
Lunch is glorious, from soups and salads to your choice of sandwiches. Famous for their club, turkey bacon avocado on focaccia, chicken, cheese and ham on ciabatta, French dip on baguette, tuna on hazelnut 12 grain or a hot panini, I went with my favorite French dip.
Served with au jus, the roast beef was perfectly seasoned, with no additional salt needed. I prefer it without Swiss cheese, but it is available. The chips are fresh, crisp, and just the right amount of salty.
Dinner can be as simple as adding the salad or soup, or a pastry for dessert. They usually even have a promotion, “Buy Five Pastries, Get One Free.” They’re now providing family meals, a large box of sandwiches with brownies (or the pastry of choice) and chips, and a large tray of drinks, however many you need. It makes for a lovely picnic.
Some of my other favorites include the turkey cranberry croissant (the hand-pulled turkey is melt in your mouth delicious), the chicken salad croissant (the water chestnuts and pecans add just the right amount of crunch), and the chicken raspberry nut salad (with or without the feta cheese).
Kids are thrilled with their own personal menu: ham and cheese, grilled cheese, peanut butter, and jam, or a cup of green salad. Ok, they may not be so thrilled with the small salad, but most children I’ve seen will munch on it without complaint. Each of the kids’ meals includes applesauce or chips and a choice of drink between soda, milk, or apple juice. And each one comes with a child-size sugar cookie. That gives them energy for more shopping or activity with you for the day.
Their pastries are fresh and delicious. As I watch others enjoy them, the aroma wafts our way. Cinnamon rolls, especially filled croissants, a slice of cheesecake, pie, bread pudding, or a 6” cake, perfect to be shared by 2.
Since there’s always a bit of a wait as the meal is made to order, I usually order a fresh lemonade or iced tea to accompany my meal and start with a smoothie to sip as I shop and set up our table with napkins and utensils you’ll find on a central station. I like the Razzleberry and the Blueberry No. 5 best. I look forward to reading about your favorites in the comments. Whenever your hunger hits, there is a meal waiting for you at this best-of Scottsdale restaurant.
So there you have it; five of the best places to eat in Scottsdale, AZ. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially on birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She divides her time between Ireland and the U.S. You can find her on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.