4338 North Scottsdale Road
The Insta opportunities at Diego Pops are endless. Snap a selfie at the pink pineapple wall, another with the punk Frida Kahlo painting, definitely at the bright blue and white tiled patio bar, and pucker up in front of the neon “Como Mexico” sign. The modern Mexican menu is just as fun and funky, with camera-ready street corn coated in Flamin’ Hot Cheeto dust, Brussels sprouts nachos topped with a pop of millennial pink beet crema and an I’m-ready-for-my-closeup guava coconut cocktail served in a baby coconut.
40 North First Street
Let’s start with the exterior of Hanny’s, the downtown mid-century marvel housed in the former men’s department store by the same name. On the corner of Adams and First Street, the three-story stunner stands proud with rounded corners and original street-side display windows where diners now sip martinis instead of mannequins. It’s architecturally impressive, but it’s the inside touches that really wow, from the huge wraparound backlit bar where the registers once sat to the old dressing rooms-turned-unisex-bathrooms that look more like a neon house of mirrors. If the bathrooms weren’t trippy enough, check out the creepy doll display in the basement. If you dare.
7033 East Main Street, Scottsdale
Every angle at Růže Cake House strikes a pretty and polished pose. Cascading plants pop against the white-washed walls, copper-colored pendant lights, and metal chairs play off bleached wood tables, and the “Stop & taste the roses” neon sign will make you stop and smile. In fact, the whole bright and cheery place, brimming in natural light and a sunny disposition, with a whimsical menu of cotton candy-topped boba teas and magical macaroons in flavors like fruity pebbles will improve your mood. Order up a cookie butter dirty chai latte, made with local dairy and house-made syrup, and raise your pinkie in solidarity.
4925 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
A trip to The Canal Club should begin at the bar. The showy centerpiece, with its turquoise tile, hanging globe lights, rattan chairs, and bright neon sign is a sip of 1930s Havana with tropical-tasting cocktails to match. The vibrant eatery inside The Scott Resort also includes bright botanical wallpaper, plush golden banquettes, Bauhaus-inspired chandeliers, and lush greenery both inside and out. Order up ceviche, Cubanos, and churro donut holes while soaking in the vacation vibes.
909 North First Street
The first thing you’ll notice at Futuro is white. The exterior of the building, the interior walls, the geometric tiles fronting the bar, the exposed beamed ceiling, the minimalist seating — all white. Housed in a hyphenate hair salon-gallery that showcases a rotation of art from local artists, the minimalist design lets both the coffee drinks and pastries shine. Choose from a curated list of artisan teas and single-origin espresso drinks, with upscale additions like stone-ground cacao, goat milk caramel, and Maldon sea salt. Pair it with a sculptural churro by pastry chef Selene Hinojosa and drink in the white space.
3626 East Indian School Road
Hiding in plain sight in Arcadia is Century Grand, an immersive bar that houses three concepts under one roof. There’s a Prohibition-era cocktail bar modeled after an art deco train station with carts that carry throwback dishes like fried oysters Rockefeller and steak tartare. There’s Platform 18, a 90-minute train simulation that makes you feel like you’re inside a Presidential Pullman train car. And there’s Grey Hen Rx, an apothecary-like spirits shop with an 18-foot long Nile crocodile hanging from the rafters. And you thought you’d seen everything.
3000 East Ray Road, Gilbert
Barnone in Gilbert is a one-of-a-kind design and dining experience. Housed in a converted 1950s Quonset hut built with steel reclaimed from WWII planes, the 12,000-square-foot cathedral-like structure is as impressive from the outside as the inside. Renovated to include reclaimed wood paneling, glass walls, and subway tiles while keeping the hanger-like feel, half-dome space is a creative hub for local merchants and makers, including a letterpress, a brewery, a wood-fired pizza kitchen, and a vegan restaurant that uses produce grown just outside in the certified organic farm.
4130 North Seventh Avenue
Valentine is a restaurant that perfectly marries modern design with desert chic for a vibe that’s all its own. Fittingly found in the Melrose District in front of Modern Manor furniture store, the floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a terra cotta and turquoise triumph of upholstered chairs and clay-colored design accents that feels both open and intimate at the same time. The menu’s aesthetic matches, an all-day affair that spans cajeta lattes and squash sticky buns with rose caramel glaze to mezcal-spiked hatch chili margaritas and “elote” pasta with house-made tagliarini.
17797 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
If James Bond were a restaurant, The Americano would be it. Punctuated with slate gray walls, tasteful art, sleek leather banquette seating, and sculptural golden-hued light fixtures floating above, the whole place oozes panache and swagger. Helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef and Food Network star Scott Conant, The Americano's elevated, Italian-inspired menu follows suit with fine steaks, freshly made pasta, Italian crudo, and artisan cocktails. Even Bond himself would skip the martini for the popular “Versace on the Floor,” a cocktail made with chili-infused vodka, mesquite honey, and basil-olive oil foam.
6939 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
Café Monarch might be the most romantic restaurant in Arizona. A stunner both inside and out, from the fountain entrance and white-table-cloth tables on the patio to the chandeliered dining room graced with Corinthian columns and coved ceilings, it’s nothing short of spectacular. The equally impressive food is designed by chef and owner Gustavo Lewkowicz who offers a unique four-course prix-fixe fine dining menu with options like Wagyu New York striploin and duck breast with seared foie gras. Expect next-level food and service (every server is a Level 1 sommelier or above) in a dreamy ambiance.