10 Top Picks for Arizona Restaurant Week, Fall 2014

With so many restaurants participating in this fall's edition of Arizona Restaurant Week -- which runs from Friday, September 19, to Sunday, September 28 -- it can be hard to tell where your dining dollars will be best spent. Thankfully, we're here to dish out some suggestions. Some of the restaurants on our list are top Arizona dining destinations where your dollar will go farther during the event than at any other time of year, while others are newcomers to the local dining scene.

At any of the 10, you'll want to make your reservations soon -- many will be booked up entirely by the time the week hits.

See also: 5 Best New Metro Phoenix Restaurants of 2014 -- So Far

Rancho Pinot Three courses, $44

Though Rancho Pinot has been around for decades, this is the first time the restaurant has participated in Arizona Restaurant Week. That means this is the first time you can head to the iconic Arizona dining spot for a taste of chef Chrysa Robertson's rustic, comfort food at a discounted price. For Restaurant Week, Rancho Pinot will offer three courses with three options per course. We recommend the well-loved ricotta gnocchi to start, followed by the famous Nonni's Sunday Chicken as an entrée.

Posh Four courses, $44

Chef Josh Hebert told us once that he never does fewer than four courses, which is why your $44 stretches extra far at this Scottsdale restaurant Posh. During Restaurant Week, you'll get four courses of improvisational cuisine (as in, he makes up each dish based on his diners' likes and dislikes), but if you want more, you can also upgrade to the five-, six-, or seven-course options, all of which will be discounted as well. Either way, rest assured the chef and his team are going to treat you to a one-of-a-kind meal catered specifically toward your personal preferences.

Crudo Four courses with a cocktail, $44

Though Crudo always offers four courses for $45 (as well as a three-course option for $35), during Restaurant Week the restaurant also is giving diners a cocktail for their $44. Technically, then, the Restaurant Week menu is a slightly better deal, but it also comes with restricted choices -- for a first-time diner, we figure it's still a great deal. There are several favorites on the menu such as albacore crudo with buttermilk, black garlic, chive, and saba; ricotta with walnut pesto, and honey; and squid ink risotto. Just be sure to save room for chef Cullen Campbell's bread pudding, which is always a memorable way to end your gastronomical journey.

Binkley's Three courses with multiple amuse-bouche between courses, $44

Binkley's Restaurant in Cave Creek is always a contender when it comes to making our Restaurant Week dining reservations. Normally, the four-course tasting menu option starts at $74, so a $44 meal is pretty much a steal. On the other hand, the Restaurant Week menu is quite limited, with just one option for each of the three courses -- though fans of three-time James Beard Award semifinalist should have no qualms about trusting each to be worth every penny. Plus, you can look forward to a few fun small bites in between each course.

The Clever Koi Three courses plus wine or beer, $33

If you haven't had a chance to go check out The Clever Koi in Central Phoenix, now is as good a time as any. The restaurant is offering three courses and a beer or glass of wine for just $33, which probably works out to be just a slight discount from what you'd normally pay. Since the Restaurant Week menu includes all items off the regular menu, it's a great opportunity to dine your way around for a set price. Just be sure to order the roasted peach fritters with five spice and vanilla cream cheese to end your meal.

Petite Maison Three courses, $33

Chef James Porter must have been out of his mind when he priced Petite Maison's Restaurant Week menu because you could easily spend more than $50 on three courses from the restaurant's regular selections. Then again, Porter has written a special menu for the event -- which isn't to say it sounds any less luxurious than the regular offerings. The "my Montréal Lobster 'poutine'" is of particular interest considering the chef just returned from a trip to the Great White North.

Gertrude's Three courses and a beverage, $33

When you remind yourself that the new chef at Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden is Matt Taylor, $33 for three courses and a drink seems like a no-brainer. Since taking over earlier this year, the chef has been able to install his own menu of refined Southern-inspired cuisine at the restaurant with the goal of making it one of the state's iconic dining spots. We'd happily dig into the smoked pork gumbo with horseradish potato salad and crawfish or the black pepper spaghetti with Calabrian chili, lemon, garlic, and bottarga.

SumoMaya Three courses and dessert, $44

Now under the direction of chef Matt Zbed, SumoMaya is one of our favorite new restaurants of the year so far. The restaurant blends the flavors of Mexican and Asian cuisines without making of mess of either's culinary traditions. Off the Restaurant Week menu, we suggest dishes such as the Pacifico-marinated carne asada, Adobo Mahi Mahi served Veracruz style, and the Rollo Chingon. The roll combines adobo grilled shrimp, guacamole, cilantro, jalapeño, red lotus root chips, and balsamic strawberry glaze for sushi like you've never had before.

The Revival Three courses, $33

Thirty-three dollars seems like a small price to pay to try out some new creations from the mind of chef Kelly Fletcher. Since opening his own restaurant, The Revival, earlier this year (for years he served as executive chef at House of Tricks in Tempe) the chef has had some trouble hitting his stride, but we think it's about time to give his restaurant another try. The Restaurant Week menu features several dishes that play to the chef's Asian-inspired sensibilities, making us think he may have finally found his groove.

T.Cook's Three courses, $44

For many longtime Valley residents, T. Cook's at the Royal Palms has always been a once-a-year dining destination. Chef Paul McCabe wants to change that. He and the Royal Palms team have been trying to show Valley diners that this restaurant is a place for so much more than Mother's Day brunch and Restaurnat Week is the perfect chance to experience that for yourself. The special Restaurant Week menu includes a handful of choices from the regular menu including English pea risotto and a strawberry rhubarb crisp. McCabe's thoughtful and well-balanced cuisine is sure to delight.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria