This time of year, downtown and central Scottsdale become the Valley's biggest tourist destinations, thanks in no small part to the high concentration of top-notch restaurants you'll find in these trendy neighborhoods.
With so many choices it's hard to pick the very best of the crop but right now our favorite places include spots owned by James Beard Award-nominated chefs, an old school-style eatery with impeccable flavor, and one of the area's best designed destinations. Okay, we'll admit it might not be the most affordable lineup of eateries -- but we promise they're all worth a little splurge.
See also: - 5 Best Restaurants in Downtown Phoenix Right Now - 5 Best Restaurants in Mesa Right Now - 5 Best Restaurants in Sunnyslope Right Now - 5 Best Restaurants in Tempe Right Now - 5 Best Restaurants in North Scottsdale Right Now - 5 Best Restaurants in South Phoenix Right Now
Virtu Honest Craft
Chef Gio Osso's relatively new Virtu Honest Craft just received a semifinalist nomination for the James Beard Foundation's Best New Restaurant: Southwest award. And it's easy to see why. The Italian-inspired cuisine you'll find at this tiny eatery highlights the bounty of seasonal ingredients in always-creative ways. Take the grilled octopus, which comes served with Calabrian chile butter, chickpeas, and fennel. The nearly perfect dish is likely to be the most tender octopus you've ever tasted -- and will pair quite well with one of mixologist Kailee Gielgens' refreshing and inventive cocktails.
Cornish Pasty Co.
The newest location of Cornish Pasty opened in Scottsdale last fall and, at least in our opinion, fills an important hole in an otherwise crowded dining and drinking scene. The beautifully designed restaurant and bar transformed two former homes into one dining space with a courtyard patio and open air bar. As with Cornish Pasty's Tempe and Mesa locations, you'll find an impressive selection of craft beer from local, national, and international breweries. The huge menu of modern and classic pasties makes this an ideal spot for an unpretentious meal and a beer.
When it comes to seasonal cuisine, there's no place in town that does it better than FnB. Chef Charleen Badman, who was recently named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Southwest award, has a way with vegetables that's made dishes like her braised leeks famous on a local and national level. The restaurant specializes in all sorts of rustic fare and showcases some of the best service you can get anywhere. And the fact that it pours only Arizona wine is yet another impressive feat.
Though it's a long way from the barrio, chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's restaurant does a good job of bringing the flavors of the neighborhood to Scottsdale. Barrio Queen is one of our favorite spots for tacos -- the restaurant offers a lengthy taco menu with options such as Carne Asada Chorizo Azul (marinated grilled flank steak topped with chorizo and blue cheese) and Nopalitos y Huevo (tender cactus, serrano pepper, onion and tomato sautee topped with queso fresco and a fried egg). The fact that it also makes one of the best skinny margaritas in town doesn't hurt either.
The Brooklyn Cafe
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Writer Josh Ozersky expressed in Esquire recently that "no one is actually cooking" anymore, that food is "composed," not cooked. But at The Brooklyn Cafe quite the opposite is true. Chef and owner David Antonelli prepares food the old school way, with classic techniques and skills that can only be perfected over time -- and lots of it. The food may not be the trendiest around town (think beef bourguignon, oysters Rockefeller, and veal blanquette) but will transport you back in time. If only for a meal.