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Spring Training Eats: North Scottsdale

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Peanuts and Cracker Jacks?

Uh, sorry, but even the most hardcore baseball fan will eventually get fed up with all the ballpark junk food and start looking for a real meal.

Where to go for some good grub if you're heading to (or from) a Cactus League game? Hop in the car and let this critic show you around. Last week, I had a handful of recommendations for Downtown Scottsdale. Today, we're heading north, in the neighborhood of the new Salt River Field.

Nearby Talking Stick Resort is the lazy dude's option, packed with dining options from casual (Wandering Horse Buffet) to upscale (Ocean Trail). Show up and take your pick, unless you're in the mood for fine dining at Orange Sky, the signature restaurant here, with panoramic views from the 15th floor -- in that case, call ahead for a reservation (480-850-8606).

Not far from there, upscale dinner options abound, from contemporary Mexican at new Taberna Mexicana, to premium steaks at Ruth's Chris, to Italian at Cove Trattoria. And James Beard Award-winning chef Robert McGrath serves up his distinctive Southwestern fare at new-ish Renegade Canteen.

There's plenty of Japanese cuisine, too. Roka Akor has a chic atmosphere to match exquisite grilled dishes, sashimi, and shochu cocktails, while Sapporo is a favorite of celeb baseball players like Diamondbacks pitcher Micah Owings and former MLB center fielder Ken Griffey, Jr.

On the casual side, Zipps has a comfortable sports bar vibe and decent burgers, and Andreoli Italian Grocer does rustic Italian sandwiches, salads, and sides that are destination-worthy. Butterfield's does a great all-day breakfast with excellent pancakes, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and perfect hash browns.

Got a sweet tooth? Hit up Sweet Republic for artisanal ice cream that's attracted the likes of Food + Wine magazine and The Food Network's Alton Brown.

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