Apricot Glazed Chicken from Liberty Market
Heather Hoch
Apricot Glazed Chicken from Liberty Market
It's a good thing that breakfast service at Liberty Market starts bright and early, at 7 a.m., because our cravings usually kick in as soon as we roll out of bed. What's waiting for us at Liberty Market? To eat, there are scrambled egg dishes, granola, fresh pastries, and don't-miss griddled bread pudding with espresso syrup (for a sugary boost). And for a tasty eye opener, try one of the expertly made coffee creations (try the potent cortadito, a "Cuban micro-latte") from Liberty's E-61 bar. Some days we dread getting up, but a visit to Liberty always puts a smile on our face.
Crackers & Co. Cafe
There's a lot of seating at Crackers & Co., and the folks here seem to fill it with ease. That's just a sign of how good this spot really is. Strong coffee with abundant refills, perfectly cooked omelets, egg skillets heaped with savory ingredients and generous gobs of cheese, and all kinds of guilty-pleasure treats — scones, giant cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, crepes, blintzes, and French toast — are just a few of the a.m. options that set Crackers apart from the competition. We could eat breakfast for any meal of the day if it were always as good as this.
Orange Table
Jamie Peachey
How do the night owls of downtown Scotts­dale manage to drag themselves out of bed and recoup the day after bar hopping, wee-hours eating, and dancing like there's no tomorrow? Their secret has to be a hidden-away Civic Center eatery called Orange Table, where the made-from-scratch breakfast could revive even the most hungover (or terribly hungry) customer with killer coffee drinks like the Mexican chocolate latte, lavish buttermilk pancakes, and savory stuff like fat omelets and "white flannel hash" — a.k.a. corned beef that's worth a "Best Of" unto itself. There's often a wait to get a table here, but we can't imagine starting our day any other way.
Crudo
Crudo
There's a first time for everything — even fine dining in a hair salon. Seriously, the Steven Paul Salon in Old Town Scottsdale is the unlikely venue for the creative efforts of chefs Brandon Crouser and Cullen Campbell, but we're not complaining. In fact, we think it's a laudable effort. By day, they offer a salad bar and open-face sandwiches to the pampered clients of the beauty mecca. By night, they cook exquisite, multi-course meals for in-the-know folks who appreciate polenta with figs and fegato grasso (a.k.a. foie gras), yellowtail stew, and a variety of raw seafood dishes that inspired the restaurant's name, including albacore with truffle, apples, and black garlic. It's as memorable as it is surprising.
The Roosevelt Tavern
So far, we haven't been feeling the so-called "gastropubs" that have shown up on the scene this year — they all seem like a trickle-down trend, inspired by something that blew up in other major cities (but not here) years ago. But you know what? The Roosevelt has been pretty much a gastropub all along, even though owner Matt Pool would never call it that. Technically, this place is a bar that serves food, not a straight-up restaurant. (You'll see what we mean if you attempt to dine here on a night when it's packed shoulder-to-shoulder and there's nowhere to sit.) But it's darn good if you do get to dig in. Gourmet hot dogs, an amazing hot pretzel with two kinds of mustard, homemade dips with chips, and wonderful tomato soup with a crispy grilled cheese — these all go well with the badass beers on the menu, but to be honest, we come here to eat even when drinking's not on the agenda.
Atlas Bistro
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Honestly, the fact that you can bring your own wine (or buy some at the adjoining wine shop) is not the biggest reason to check out Atlas. We'd still love this place even if we were teetotalers, because chefs Joshua Riesner and Keenan Bosworth are cooking up some very impressive contemporary American cuisine here. The menu changes all the time, putting organic farmer Bob McClendon's heirloom vegetables to good use with exquisite ingredients such as Sonoma veal sweetbreads, buffalo, pheasant, and Australian lamb. Housemade charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, and scrumptious seasonal desserts prove that these guys put care into the smallest details. And if you do have a bottle of wine that you've been saving for just the right time, dinner at Atlas is all the special occasion you'll need.
Atlas Bistro
Jackie Mercandetti Photo
Honestly, the fact that you can bring your own wine (or buy some at the adjoining wine shop) is not the biggest reason to check out Atlas. We'd still love this place even if we were teetotalers, because chefs Joshua Riesner and Keenan Bosworth are cooking up some very impressive contemporary American cuisine here. The menu changes all the time, putting organic farmer Bob McClendon's heirloom vegetables to good use with exquisite ingredients such as Sonoma veal sweetbreads, buffalo, pheasant, and Australian lamb. Housemade charcuterie, artisanal cheeses, and scrumptious seasonal desserts prove that these guys put care into the smallest details. And if you do have a bottle of wine that you've been saving for just the right time, dinner at Atlas is all the special occasion you'll need.
Le Chalet
Is it the bubbling bowl of molten cheese delivered to the table with soft hunks of bread, perfect for sparking conversation and a little dinnertime fun? Could it be your waiter flipping booze bottles behind the bar when he's not regaling you with drool-worthy food descriptions? Or is it perhaps the old-school performance art of a cook dousing hunks of beef with whiskey and flambé-ing them tableside as meaty juices drip onto a platter of rice? It's probably all of the above that makes Le Chalet a hell of a fun place to dine. And did we mention that they have TV screens showing someone in your kitchen making your crepe? Yep, that adds to the experience, too.
Posh Improvisational Cuisine
Sit at the long, gleaming counter at Posh, check your likes and dislikes on the unorthodox menu of ingredients, and settle in for a leisurely meal that's custom-made just for you. It sounds a heck of a lot like an omakase meal at a sushi bar, but this is something else — contemporary American cuisine with French influences (brûléed foie gras torchon) as well as Asian touches (raw bluefin tuna served three ways). Of course, it comes as no surprise to find out that chef-owner Joshua Hebert has worked in Japan and has brought back an appreciation for the way sushi chefs personalize the dining experience for each customer. Hang out at Posh's counter and you won't just see Hebert at work. You'll also get to meet the man behind the food.
Postino Wine Cafe
What's the secret to success for this always-hoppin' winebar (which cloned itself last year, yet still has its mojo)? Somehow, the folks at Postino have found the sweet spot of style, service, and accessible food, whether you're talking a lively weekend brunch with friends, after-work vino and a bite, or a cozy, candlelit meal with a date. The selection of salads, bruschetta, cheeses, and sandwiches is simple but perfectly suited to go with one of the wines from the eclectic rotating menu; you can also buy by the bottle and take a little bit of the fun vibe home with you. Cheers to the good life at Postino.

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