Restaurant News

5 of the Best Fall Menus for Arizona Restaurant Week

The show-stopping seafood paella from Talavera
The show-stopping seafood paella from Talavera Jackie Mercandetti
Whether you care deeply, don’t give a shit, or are the rare person who falls in between, fall's Arizona Restaurant Week begins with the closing of summer. And that means right about now. From September 20 to 29, more than 150 restaurants throughout the Valley will be offering special three-course menus. These menus will be a distilled, heavily reduced version of the restaurants' standard styles and offerings. Prices will vary from place to place. So will the food. By now, you most likely know the drill.

If you’re looking to get into some food specials this restaurant week, consider these five places. Or see the website for a complete lineup up of the 2019 Fall Arizona Restaurant Week restaurants and deals.

Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Manana

5816 North 16th Street, Cave Creek
In addition to a standard restaurant week menu, this deeply Southwest restaurant in Cave Creek has built out vegan and gluten-free specialty menus. Honestly, chef Kurtis Purdy’s vegan menu looks very promising. One of the opening options at Tonto Bar & Grill is a yellow tomato and mango gazpacho with roasted pepita. For round two, the highlight looks to be fideo in smoky tomato broth with fennel, roasted corn, and chayote — though a taco with huitlacoche and roasted green chile makes for a thorny choice. To end, it’s a brownie or a house-made sorbet, and Tonto has been known to scoop a prickly pear flavor.

click to enlarge Wagyu beef tartare from Jeremy Pacheco of LON's at the Hermosa (served at a festival). - AMANDA MASON
Wagyu beef tartare from Jeremy Pacheco of LON's at the Hermosa (served at a festival).
Amanda Mason

LON’s at the Hermosa

5532 North Palo Cristi Road

Enjoy one of the most inspired representations of Arizona food on one of the Valley’s headiest patios at LON’s at the Hermosa. Chef Jeremy Pacheco’s $44 restaurant week menu looks like a banger from start to key lime pie, offering the kind of choices that make choosing hard. To open, should you go heirloom tomato salad with pickled watermelon rind or agnolotti with charred corn and braised pork cheek? Second, do you roll with branzino with smoked mussels or Duroc pork two ways (grilled loin and confit belly)? The best play might be to order whatever your companions don’t, and then split everything.

Nobuo at Teeter House

622 East Adams Street

Somehow, Nobuo at Teeter House is one of the most sung and unsung restaurants in Phoenix. Among chefs and people really into eating, Nobuo Fukuda's food is always a rare treat, the kind of imaginative and well-executed meal that stays with you. The beauty of this Tokyo-born, James Beard Award winner’s menu is that he keeps you in the dark — not a bad thing considering his skill with omakase. You start with unnamed Japanese antipasto. You move on to a three-component bento box, none of the trio named but the side of rice and salad. And then you proceed to a daily dessert. Getting into the palm of Fukuda’s hands for a mere $44 is a sweet deal.

click to enlarge The chopped salad and wedge are always top of mind at Kantak restaurants. - THE GLADLY
The chopped salad and wedge are always top of mind at Kantak restaurants.
The Gladly

The Gladly

2201 East Camelback Road

Another steal is $33 for three courses  from The Gladly executive chef Bernie Kantak and sous chef Donald Hawk. If you want restaurant week options within a single menu, The Gladly has you covered. There are four openers to choose from and five mains, not to mention the 200-plus whiskeys on the shelf. The chopped salad and wedge are always top of mind at Kantak restaurants, but it might be hard to look past the opening seafood chowder, which united salmon, rockfish, scallops, and bacon. Second courses wander over land and sea, anchored by a duck meatloaf. To close, options narrow to one: cheesecake with coconut crunch.

click to enlarge The show-stopping seafood paella from Talavera - JACKIE MERCANDETTI
The show-stopping seafood paella from Talavera
Jackie Mercandetti

Talavera Restaurant at Four Seasons Scottsdale

10600 East Crescent Moon Drive, Scottsdale

Here is a restaurant week menu to justify the questionable existence of restaurant week. For $44 at a high-end Spanish steakhouse where some of the entrees on the ordinary menu soar well above the $50 mark, you can eat three courses on a resplendent patio cooked by one of the Valley’s great young chefs, Samantha Sanz. Openers at Talavera feature the likes of beets and pickled delicata squash or tortilla española, the starters punctuated with touches of Spain (jamón) and Arizona (local citrus). For the main, there is barramundi with green harissa and a braised mole pork shank, but I don’t know how you could go anything but paella. Sanz has deployed her new green paella on the restaurant week menu.
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Chris Malloy, former food editor and current food critic at Phoenix New Times, has written for various local and national outlets. He has scrubbed pots in a restaurant kitchen, earned graduate credit for a class about cheese, harvested garlic in Le Marche, and rolled pastas like cappellacci stuffed with chicken liver. He writes reviews but also narrative stories on the food world's margins.
Contact: Chris Malloy