Here are the best places to eat in Scottsdale.
Hush Public House14202 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
This small-but-mighty restaurant just south of Kierland Commons features one of the more freewheeling menus in town. Hush Public House takes aimless aim at the only end that matters: food brimming with flavor. Starters like grilled slab bacon, chicken liver mousse, and perfectly cooked peas with strawberries and ricotta salata shift seasonally and get rounded out by specials like beef heart carpaccio with grainy house-made mustard. Just about every plate at Hush seems to be a banger. Pastas are some of the best in the Valley, whether shaped in-house or sourced from Sonoran Pasta Company. Meat from chicken to steak to oxtail sings with flavor. Fish like swordfish are simply grilled with Castelvetrano olives and a soft-boiled egg. Here, even a humble cauliflower, treated with harissa and love, feels like a dish for desert royalty.
Chula Seafood8015 East Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale
Poke peaks at Chula Seafood — a tiny, low-key hangout where every meal feels like an island treat. Poke rocks thanks to ultra-fresh fish and smart add-ins like smoked pineapple. The tuna melt peaks at Chula. This is thanks to green chiles, tuna confit, beautifully grilled Noble bread, and a boss side of chimichurri. Swordfish peaks at Chula. The Chula boat in San Diego catches the long-nosed fish with harpoons. Best of all, smoked fish peaks at Chula. If you order the ever-changing platter which includes staples like lox, trout, and swordfish belly pastrami, you're not only going to get luscious sauces, not only going to get an array of pickles — you're going to get one of the most vibrant trays of food in town.
Andreoli Italian Grocer8880 East Via Linda, Scottsdale
You could eat in Giovanni Scorzo's grocery-meets-restaurant 50 times and still have more to discover. Up front, a glass case displays a parade of glorious sweets, eye-catchers like cannoli, pistachio cake, torrone, and brown triangles of sfogliatelle. The pizza at Andreoli Italian Grocer is sneakily good. So is the bread, especially when part of a panini in the classically minimal Italian style of little more than meats or vegetables and cheese (or eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheese). Scorzo comes from the far Italian South, and his offerings, at the edges, reflect his origins. For one, he makes burrata from scratch. But the man can also nail northern Italian specialties, like risottos and cartoon slabs of bistecca Fiorentina. His best meals often lurk on a deep board of specials. Scorzo and his family, too, hand-roll some of the best fresh pasta in town.
Virtu Honest Craft3701 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale
Since opening in 2013, Chef Gio Osso's Virtu has wasted no time becoming a local and national dining destination. It popped up on Esquire's Best New Restaurants list just months after opening, and then snagged a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant some years back. The food is simple yet inspired and highly original, with the menu veering from its Italian origins into bright, imaginative places. Osso turns pristine ingredients such as Spanish octopus and locally grown produce into plates that feel truly elegant. Pastas here are easily one of the two or three best in Scottsdale. Cocktails are underrated, and the drink program boasts a nice amari selection. For brunch, count on delicate crepes, cast-iron frittatas, and Benedicts made with ingredients like duck confit and mortadella.
FnB Restaurant7125 East Fifth Avenue, #31, Scottsdale
Though "seasonal" and "local" have become culinary buzz words for many restaurants, Scottsdale's FnB restaurant embodies the spirit of these movements. James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman turns simple, local produce into fare that's at once comforting and novel. Drawing inspiration from international cuisine, she creates a menu that changes almost constantly but often includes dishes such as perfectly roasted locally raised chicken, Swiss chard falafel, and Badman's well-loved braised leeks, topped with mozzarella, fried egg, and mustard bread crumbs. The service is always friendly, and the restaurant's Arizona-focused wine list gives diners an opportunity to explore the state's offerings. Don't miss the bar adjacent to the restaurant.
ShinBay3720 North Scottsdale Road, #201, ScottsdaleWhat's the most thrilling place for sushi in town? The recently reincarnated ShinBay in Old Town, and it might not even be close. Omakase is the only option, so you'll have to trust chef Shinji Kurita with your palate and wallet, and this nonstop circus of pristine fish is worth the expense. From the start, your meal will take on a steady dreamlike rhythm, with the chef and his assistant brushing soy, slicing nigiri, and blowtorching fish with the touch of a jeweler fastening a diamond. The nigiri is spectacular, no pieces more so than the eel and shad, though what you eat on a nightly basis will change. On any given night, get into the deep, rare selection of Japanese beer. What you find there will, like this whole intimate experience, amaze you.
Citizen Public House7111 East 5th Avenue, Scottsdale
Chef-owner Bernie Kantak's white-tablecloth haven of inspired American has whimsy and range. The meatloaf is flavored with amaro, the filet mignon with togarashi, the short ribs with cherry barbecue sauce. At Citizen Public House, you can order one of the most famous chopped salads around (The Original Chopped Salad). You can also chow down on a flawless burger that throws it back to Kantak's bygone hamburger stand in The Churchill. So many of the dishes on this menu go their own way and leave a mark. The pork belly pastrami with spaetzle? Just one of many starters, and just one example of what Kantak can do. Don't miss the erudite cocktails, especially a selection of barrel-aged creations that go a few steps beyond the classics.
Mercado Y Carniceria Cuernavaca2931 North 68th Street, Scottsdale
This humble bodega in South Scottsdale is easily one of the most exciting places to eat Mexican food in this northeastern neck of the Valley. Here, you can stock up on groceries like hot sauce, fresh flour tortillas, and all manner of naked and marinated beef, pork, and chicken products ready for your home grill. The tiny shop's far corner is home to a kitchen with a deep menu. A mesquite-grilled chicken brings value and flavor. You can make it a meal with beans, tortillas, and a deliriously creamy rust-orange salsa that packs whole intact seeds and an absolute wallop of heat. The Santana family also serves burritos, huaraches, sopes, gorditas, tortas, tacos, and numerous plate-style meals.
Atlas Bistro2515 North Scottsdale Road, #18, ScottsdaleAfter your initial taste, maybe an amuse of chilled melon soup, a question will likely flicker across your mind when your first proper course of Atlas Bistro's prix-fixe menu is laid before you: Should I eat it? This is how beautiful and fiercely original Chef Cory Oppold's food looks, abstractions of rectangular duck confit, sauce dollops, veal cheek symmetrical between veal loins, and negative space on artisan plates. And the answer to your question should be a resounding hell yes. Eat it. Eat the next courses. Order dessert, ideally the beignets and cheeses from the excellent selection. Atlas Bistro is well into its teenage years, but plates like poached pear with house-made ricotta and halibut with house-made udon noodles have fresh, up-to-the-minute relevancy. There might not be a more intimate restaurant in town. (For now, check out Simmer Down.)
Sel Restaurant7044 East Main Street, Scottsdale
At this more formal five-year-old restaurant, chef Braden Levine keeps food elevated and deeply creative, often blending eastern and western traditions. Sure, some of the prices will make your eyes pop, like white truffle mac and cheese north of $60 and caviar prices that look like daily temperature readings. Sel pulls plenty from an older set of European eating (the foie gras, the steak au poivre) but tends to make these offerings new. Many dishes, though, are straight-up inventive: uni carbonara, lamb dumplings with Persian pickles, or a barbecued octopus flavored with tamarid. Levine uses techniques and flavors from Korea to India to Italy to Mexico. For the best taste of it all on a special occasion, pull the trigger on the tasting menu.
Cafe Monarch6939 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
Imagine not flying to France, but still dining European-villa-style with a customized menu and privacy. There is a reason why Cafe Monarch was voted by Travelocity as the third best restaurant in the U.S. for fine dining and the second most romantic restaurant in the country. Couples will receive special attention from the staff and the farm-to-table ingredients ensure the highest quality in cuisine. This true gem is a place to linger with your love and let the romance take center stage. (And the owners have recently opened a second spot, Reserve.)
Editor's note: This story was originally published on March 18, 2015. It was last updated on May 15, 2021.