Holding the title of America’s Number Two Foodie City (according to Livability.com) isn’t an accolade to take lightly, especially with the sheer amount of dining spots around the country.
Scottsdale is blessed with a walkable footprint, giving locals and tourists alike a wealth of choice and cuisines. Phoenix too is a haven for culinary talent. Both cities draw from Native American and Mexican-inspired cuisines, however you’ll find just about every nationality of cooking represented in this part of the state.
On my recent Arizona trip, I dined in Phoenix (Arizona Biltmore, The Henry), Scottsdale (Bink’s, The Upton, Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse, Queen Creek Olive Mill), and sampled craft beers at recently-opened Beer Research Institute in Mesa. All restaurants are outlined below, with the exception of Queen Creek Olive Mill and Arizona Biltmore, mentioned in separate articles. This is part one of a two-part series.
The Henry is part of the Fox Restaurant Concepts group (we enjoyed dinner at Phoenix’s lively The Arrogant Butcher a couple of years back), and currently has 39 locations around Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, Kansas and Texas; their first restaurant, Wildflower, opened in 1998 in Tucson.
The spaces combine a mix-and-match aesthetic, marrying modern with old-school furnishings. We ordered several appetizers including grated cheese-topped Prairie Breeze cheddar popovers ($7), served alongside a portion of smoked ham butter.
The menu is filled with “gourmet comfort food”, my best description of their hearty, flavourful, uncomplicated dishes. The place was packed by 7:30 pm on a Thursday with a great mix of 70’s and 80’s music. The Henry makes a great roasted chicken ($19) served with two sides (I had the cauliflower polenta and mac ’n’ cheese).
We later shared a divine Italian creation called a chocolate hazelnut Budino ($7), a creamy custard with bourbon cherries and salted hazelnut brittle, garnished with mint sprigs.
The Henry is located at 4455 East Camelback Road in Phoenix.
On my final night in town, I walked over from my hotel in Old Town and arrived about 15 minutes later at The Upton. It has a charming indoor dining room with ultra-cool lighting fixtures as well as pretty little patios in front and back.
The menu isn’t huge, but offers shared plates, iron press sandwiches, salads, entrées, sides and desserts, under the direction of Executive Chef Chris Schlattman. I sunk my teeth into a bowl of chef Schlattman’s Devoured Food Festival award-winning Chinese Char Siu ribs ($9), prepared in a smoky sauce with peanuts and cilantro pesto.
Due to the heat, I chose light dishes: Wild green ($8) and Thai chicken ($12) salads to nibble on in between those gorgeous ribs. A mason jar-filled salad seemed to be popular with diners around me, meant to be shaken, 007 style, as the menu states. The Upton’s a fun spot with good eats. I’ll likely return here as it’s not in the thick of the restaurant scene, yet close enough to get to on foot, depending on your starting point of course.
This made it easy for me to enjoy a glass of Matchbook Wine Company’s The Arsonist Chardonnay ($12/glass) without having to worry about getting behind the wheel.
The Upton is located at 7216 East Shoeman Lane in Scottsdale.
Bink’s Scottsdale has an airy feel to it once you step in from the front patio. Muted tones with oversized framed vegetable prints grace the walls, while the menu’s focus is on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.
From the famous buckwheat drop biscuits with a scrumptious local honey, butter, and Madagascar vanilla topping to sand dabs (a flat white Pacific-caught fish that’s lightly grilled and served in brown butter and almonds), the plates are easy to share and are colourfully presented.
Our table shared several salads and side dishes. An extensive wine list, happy hour, and full bar complete the picture.
Bink’s Scottsdale is located at 6107 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Part two of this series continues next week. Stay tuned.
I was invited to dine at the above restaurants through Visit Phoenix and Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau as part of a press trip. Opinions, as always, are my own.