Make this your prime destination if you're looking for a tall pint of beer and a great meal for cheap. Play it safe with a sweet bratwurst and root beer onions or go exotic with lamb, rabbit, and rattlesnake varieties. Other dishes include handmade pretzels and the Pig Mac pork-beef burger. 3622 N. Scottsdale Road, 480-947-4006, www.brathausaz.com
Iron Chef Jose Garces' Mexican cuisine is as attention-grabbing as his restaurant's interior, decked out with glitzy pink and gold sparkles. Pair the unforgettable huarache de hongos (forest mushroom masa flatbread) with a Cointreau-spiked Jefe margarita. Leave room for the El Fuerte for Two dessert. 4000 N. Drinkwater Blvd., 480-970-4444, www.jdvhotels.com
Don't think the desert sounds appetizing? Think again — and dine amid Rancho Pinot's Western décor, where classic European cooking techniques meet locally grown ingredients. The menu changes with the seasons and sometimes incorporates produce from customers' gardens. 6208 N. Scottsdale Road, 480-367-8030, www.ranchopinot.com
Anything you select, whether its soup l'oignon or braised joues de veau, is guaranteed to have clean, rich French flavors that sing. Expect a quiet meal as you and your dining companions savor each delectable bite. 7216 E. Shoeman Lane, 480-991-6887, www.petitemaisonaz.com
COOL GELATO ITALIANO
Gelato handcrafted by Italians using the recipes of one of Italy's top gelatieri? It doesn't get better than that. There are 20 rotating flavors to choose from, including lemon cookie, Rocher, Catalan custard, stracciatella, and tiramisu. We suggest mixing a few in an attempt to try them all. 7373 E. Scottsdale Mall, 480-941-3100, www.coolgelatoitaliano.com
THE HOUSE BRASSERIE
If everyone in your party is craving something different, head here. Chef Matt Carter's (The Mission, Zinc Bistro) latest venture already has earned high acclaim for its mishmash of global American flavors. While you enjoy lobster fried rice with egg and aji amarillo, your date can have duck confit with foie gras agnolotti. 6936 E. Main St., 480-634-1600, www.thehousebrasserie.com
Do yourself a favor: Skip the boring cafe fare and go here. Although Duc Liao's pastries are truly the star, the breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings, including duck breast sandwiches and roasted lamb shoulder, are just as special — and, yes, are made from scratch.
7620 E. Indian School Road, 480-947-0057, www.scratchpastries.com
If you've always wondered what Italians eat other than pasta with marinara sauce, here's your answer. The focaccia di recco — cheese-filled thin focaccia with honeycomb — is a perfect start. Follow it with pulpo con rafano — seared octopus tentacles with horseradish aioli, celery root, almonds, and salami — for a truly unique meal. 6136 N. Scottsdale Road, 480-659-1800, www.davantiscottsdale.com
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