Nikki's Five Picks for Arizona Restaurant Week (May 18-27)

Burrida -- Mediterranean seafood stew at Noca
Burrida -- Mediterranean seafood stew at Noca
Courtesy of Noca

Arizona Restaurant Week -- the Spring 2013 Edition -- begins Saturday, May 18 and ends Monday, May 27 (which is Memorial Day, when most of us will be grilling burgers and drinking beer at home . . . but never mind). By the end of this week, ARW officially will be upon us: a 10-day eating extravaganza of bargain-priced restaurant food and a last hurrah for local restaurants who already have begun to feel the slowdown that comes with our long, hot summers.

See also: -- Does Arizona Really Need a Second Restaurant Week? -- Grab Your Favorite Dining Buddy: Arizona Spring Restaurant Week Is Almost Here

I've studied Arizona Restaurant Week's website extensively and found five places I'd not only love to visit but also consider a legit bargain. See what you think.

P.S. This list is based on what can be found on the ARW website as of this writing, and frankly, the pickin's are slim, which doesn't diminish the five noteworthy selections here.

Wagyu bone marrow with crispy lamb bacon, red onion jam and aleppo pepper
Wagyu bone marrow with crispy lamb bacon, red onion jam and aleppo pepper
Courtesy of Atlas Bistro

Atlas Bistro

It's been far too long since I've paid a visit to Atlas, the charming BYO bistro tucked inside AZ Wine Co, in a no-frills strip mall in South Scottsdale. And now there's every reason to go. Not only does its restaurant week menu make me instantly hungry (and that's the gauge here, isn't it?), but I'm eager to learn more -- via mouth instead of word-of-mouth -- about its new executive chef Chris McKinley. His résumé includes stints at J&G Steakhouse, Addison in Del Mar (under William Bradley, who worked here at Mary Elaine's back in the day) and most recently at Noca and Sam Fox's NoRTH Fattoria (where McKinley worked under Chris Curtiss in both venues). I want every single first course offered -- especially the Wagyu bone marrow with crispy lamb bacon, red onion jam, and aleppo pepper. But really, I mean it when I say I want them all. Ditto for entrees, so I guess I'd better come with friends. And because customers can bring their own wine or buy something at AZ Wine Co. (which means no corkage fee), the $40 price for such an inventive meal will be super-reasonable when all is said and done.


Blistered Radishes, Fromage d'Affinois au Poivre, Cranberry Mostarda, Aged Saba

Grilled Artichoke Barigoule, Basil Pesto Aioli and charred Lemon

Apple Wood Smoked Fish with Cucumber Gribiche, Deconstructed Egg and Toast Points

Wagyu Bone Marrow, Crispy Lamb Bacon, Red Onion Jam, Aleppo Pepper


Heirloom Tomatoes, Wild Arugula, Baby Spinach, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Chop Caesar Salad, Charred Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic Croutons, Sardinian Dressing

Chilled Corn Soup, Avocado Succotash, Calabrian Chile Oil


Housemade Tagliatelle Pasta, Tenderbelly Pork Bolognese, Grana Padana

Maine Diver Scallops, Melted Leek Risotto, Local Vegetables, Citrus Gremolata

Braised Short Rib, Curried Yam Puree, Apple Slaw, Asian Five Spice


Desserts and Cheese are a la carte.

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