Hidden Gem: Sapiens Paleo Kitchen Serves All the Prettiest Diet Food

French, gluten-free, BYOB.
French, gluten-free, BYOB. Lauren Cusimano
click to enlarge French, gluten-free, BYOB. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
French, gluten-free, BYOB.
Lauren Cusimano
Sapiens Paleo Kitchen is anything but mysterious; what it serves is right there in the name. Well, mostly: It’s French cuisine on a 100-percent paleo and gluten-free menu, from a completely gluten-free kitchen.

The restaurant is housed in a plaza near McDowell Mountain Regional Park, an incredibly scenic part of northeast Scottsdale.

click to enlarge The Paleo Meatloaf. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
The Paleo Meatloaf.
Lauren Cusimano
The single dining room is separated by a short hallway from the kitchen, where a gaggle of servers will chat and fold silverware before the night’s dinner rush. There’s one bright green wall, one sober navy wall, 10 tables, and fringes of fancy home décor purchases throughout. The soundtrack is all Italian restaurant — Sinatra, etc. And the small patio is breezy with soft bistro lights and strategically placed plants. It’s also BYOB.

On a palo verde bloom-popping Saturday afternoon, we swung in for a sampling of Sapiens starters and entrees.

The aforementioned menu is definitely built different. Food here caters to those with specific dietary restrictions, by choice or otherwise. There won’t be the annoying ordering process of special requests and substitutions here. The staff gets it.

We tried the roasted chicken, Sapiens Duck, Paleo Meatloaf, and Paleo Dip on this visit.

What you get: Well prepared meats, a shitload of vegetables (zucchini, carrots, Brussels sprouts, etc.), and some thin-but-fantastic sauces.

click to enlarge The Paleo Dip. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
The Paleo Dip.
Lauren Cusimano
Each dish was paired with a sauce, but pro tip: Put the sauce cups in the middle of the table to swap and share. They changed the flavor completely. The duck, paired with the three different sauces, was like three different bites of duck. Same for the meatloaf (which might have been miserable without it), and the chicken (actually not bad at all on its own).

The Paleo Dip — a stunningly hot pink (from beets?) spread, paired with little slices of bread — whiffed. The taste was weird, highly vegetal. Even the person who adores beets in our party couldn’t get behind it. We would instead recommend the Farmer’s Flatbread for a shareable starter.

click to enlarge Aurore de Beauduy-Yasinsky. - SAPIENS PALEO KITCHEN
Aurore de Beauduy-Yasinsky.
Sapiens Paleo Kitchen
Since its opening in 2019, Sapiens’ menu has been curated by Aurore de Beauduy-Yasinsky — a French-born Black chef and 1978 graduate of Le Cordon who was formerly of Vogue Bistro in Surprise. For more information on the chef’s culinary past, check out our 2013 interview.

For more information about her current restaurant, check out the Sapiens Paleo Kitchen website.
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Lauren Cusimano is Phoenix New Times' food and drink editor. She is a journalist and food waste writer based in Tempe. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Contact: Lauren Cusimano