Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to drinks, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we want to zero in on Scottsdale and Shea.
Yes, the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard is just that: an intersection. But! It’s utterly bustling with bars, restaurants, lunch counters, and dessert shops. And the north Scottsdale neighborhood has some impressive tenants, including Butterfield's Pancake House & Restaurant, Sweet Basil Market Café, Zak’s Chocolate, Handlebar J, and Ernie's Bar & Restaurant.
It’s a history lesson as much as it is a dining district, so let’s dive in.
Coffee Plantation7366 East Shea Boulevard, #101, Scottsdale
This Village at Shea coffee hangout promises many things — pastries, light lunch options, smoothies, and yes, coffee. The small coffee chain that is Coffee Plantation first opened in 1989 in Tempe (though that location has since shuttered), with the Scottsdale and Shea location following later. This Arizona original coffee shop is open at 6 a.m. on weekdays, and 6:30 a.m. on weekends.
Maverick Coffee10269 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Founded by Olympic-caliber athletes, Maverick Coffee is an interesting coffeehouse, to say the least. It’s a multi-roaster concept, offering coffee drinks galore plus food and a relaxed atmosphere. You’ve got your go-to espresso, cappuccino, latte, cold brew toddy, and French press, but then things get fun. There are piccolo, Chemex, V60, and AeroPress options, plus Kyoto cold brew and bulletproof coffee, tea, hot chocolate, protein shakes, and specialty drinks are also listed, and you’re free to level up with turmeric, lavender vanilla, and cinnamon.
d'Lite – Healthy On The Go7337 East Shea Boulevard, #101, Scottsdale
This healthy-eats spot offers more of a quick breakfast option. Try the AZ Burro with smoked turkey, egg white, and avocado, or go low carb with just that, the Low Carb Breakfast. The Breakfast Club is served on a toasted, sun-dried tomato bialy, and crammed with egg, bacon, turkey, tomato, and cream cheese. There are also plentiful options for coffee, tea, juices, and smoothies. And d'Lite – Healthy On The Go is called that for one convenient reason — the drive-thru window on the east side of the building.
Butterfield's Pancake House & Restaurant7388 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
This Scottsdale breakfast staple has an extensive menu, including pancakes, omelets, Belgian waffles, French toast, skillets, and Benedicts. The Popeye scrambler comes recommended, with bacon, onion, baby spinach, and jack cheese, as well as the fried egg sandwich. There’s usually a wait on the weekend, but it’s almost always worth it. And for early risers, Butterfield's Pancake House is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
New York Bagels 'N Bialys10320 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Since 1987, New York Bagels 'N Bialys has been serving some of the Valley's best real-deal New York bagels. How? First, they boil the dough before baking, which gives it a sturdy crust and doughy middle. Ah, perfection. The sandwiches are huge and delicious, and there's even a bar here, so you can wash down your bagel with something stronger than iced tea.
Guido's Chicago Meat & Deli10893 North Scottsdale Road, #121, Scottsdale
Around since 1983, this Italian grocery store also houses a small cafe for dine-in or takeout. Guido's Chicago Meat & Deli has a 3,000-square-foot dining room that seats about 50. Order anything from a loaf of Italian bread and fresh mozzarella to pasta fagioli soup, Guido’s own homemade Italian sausage sub, margarita pizza, and gnocchi pomodoro.
Pita Jungle7366 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
The Village at Shea Pita Jungle location is a special one because it’s close to the PJ headquarters — meaning it has become the test kitchen by default. Go-to orders include the cilantro jalapeno hummus, the broiled chicken salad, the chipotle black bean burger, and the glazed-chicken lavash pizza. PJ recently released a keto-friendly menu, and yes, wine, beer, cocktails, desserts, and hot sauces are available.
Sweet Basil Gourmetware & Cooking School & Market Café10749 North Scottsdale Road, #101, Scottsdale
It’s all in a name. Sweet Basil Gourmetware & Cooking School & Market Café is a jam-packed kitchen store, complete with jam, as well as a cooking school and small cafe. Sweet Basil Market Café offers a good mix of expected and imaginative dishes, including a salmon guacamole salad, a turkey and cranberry waffle hearts sandwich, and green chile macaroni. And if you’re looking for a midday sweet treat, Sweet Basil offers specialties like chocolate olive oil cake and semi-challenging options like the Brownie to Die For and the Ultimate Cupcake.
Happy’s Hamburgers10435 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
This is the classic American hamburger joint: think black-and-white checkered tile, red-vinyl seating, a ketchup and mustard squeeze bottle at every table. Happy’s Hamburgers serves handcrafted burgers with steamed buns, including its half-pound hamburgers like the Jalapeño Burger — carnitas with a fried egg, jalapeño, and pepper jack cheese. There are also salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, and frosty shakes.
Kitchen1810211 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Kitchen18 combines the best of both worlds: classic American fare and Chinese favorites. And, yes, kosher too. You can get beef sliders with chicken fried rice or chicken wings with beef lo-mein. But there's also homemade matza ball soup, chimichurri red snapper, and chicken schnitzel. Order everything with kosher confidence, as Kitchen18 is owned by the same Uvaydov family that runs LaBella and Cafe Chenar. Catering and Shabbas-style takeout (food to pickup before Shabbat) options are also available.
Fate Brewing Co.7337 East Shea Boulevard, #105, Scottsdale
This is the one that started it all. The Fate Tap + Barrel spot, also known as the north Scottsdale pub, was established by since-gone Steve McFate in 2012. And though it’s expanded to south Scottsdale and a new Tempe location, you can still order a pint of small-batch brews like Fate’s Fateful IPA, Buena Vista Blonde Ale, and the always-fun Fatality.
Modern Oysterbar Chophouse10050 North Scottsdale Road, #127, Scottsdale
The desert sun doesn’t usually bring about thoughts of freshly shucked oysters and seafood towers, but Modern Oysterbar Chophouse gives Arizonians a little taste of the sea. Crab legs, lobsters, and mussels are flown in from distributors in Chicago and Colorado. The happy hour menu offers a couple bucks off cocktails, wine, and beer, as well as quick bites like the fried oyster.
Handlebar J7116 East Becker Lane, Scottsdale
Opened in 1966, Handlebar J is the kind of over-decorated honky-tonk we just love to include, and not just because there’s a full menu of barbecue, steaks, and sliders. The restaurant offers the must-try baby back pork ribs, as well as its bunkhouse fare like the Cowboy Burger, Gwen’s Fried Chicken, the Sundown Chopped salad, and honey-butter biscuits for the table. There’s usually live music, dancing, and overall rowdiness around you, and we’re sure you’ll love every minute of it.
Ajo Al’s6990 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
This family-owned and -operated Mexican restaurant has been around since 1986, and hopefully is not going anywhere. One of four Valley locations, the Agua Caliente Plaza spot of Ajo Al's offers its classic folded quesadillas, arroz con pollo soup, chicken and steak fajitas, smoked-brisket tacos, and the spinach blanco enchiladas with that gluten-free white sauce. It’s a traditional place with a traditional menu and definitely known to make a mean margarita.
Cat’s Pajamas Bistro10323 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
The former Razz's Restaurant & Catering space at Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard is now Cat's Pajamas Bistro. The eatery promises a menu of French, Italian, American, and Latin cuisines while the full bar is already known for shaking up classic American cocktails. Menu items include sandwiches and burgers like the Rocky and Bullwinkle Burger, salads, soups, and desserts.
Unicorn Cupcake Boutique7227 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
No one’s looking to jump in the unicorn craze here, but a tagline like “Eat My Stardust” makes that hard. The Unicorn Cupcake Boutique is spotted by its deep turquoise paint job, and the little unicorn or cupcake icon on the building — depending on the front or back entrance. This locally owned shop has a cupcake lounge, offering small-batch cupcakes in flavors like salted caramel chocolate, cinnamon churro, and strawberry lemonade. Gluten-free and vegan options are available.
Zak’s Chocolate6990 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale
This craft chocolate factory makes its treat from 100 percent ethically sourced cocoa beans, which are roasted and made into house-brand chocolate used for plain bars, truffles, brownies, and more. And inside Zak’s Chocolate in the Agua Caliente Shopping Center, there’s an artisan chocolate shop. You can put together a custom box of Zak's chocolates, order a chocolate drink, or try a bar, brownie, or serving of chocolate ice cream onsite.
Ernie's Restaurant and Bar10443 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
This family-owned sports bar, karaoke spot, and old-school restaurant opened in 1973, and it doesn’t look like Ernie's Restaurant and Bar has been through much change. This is a good thing, as the spot holds an authentic vibe that can draw people in from off the street. It offers a Maryland seafood-style menu, but the real gem here is the enclosed patio. When the weather is nice, pull up a stool to the indoor-outdoor full bar and make a friend or two. There’s a pool table, jukebox, shuffleboard, flat screens, and Becky the bartender.
Dirty Dogg Saloon10409 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
Another neighborhood bar at Scottsdale and Shea, Dirty Dogg Saloon is the type of biker hangout with sexy waitresses and bartenders, dollar bills on the wall, and an at-times rowdy crowd. There are drinks, bands, contests, and daily specials like Whiskey Wednesday and Sunday Bloody Sunday.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on June 14, 2019. It was updated on February 25, 2021.