Sure, it may be called Arizona Spring Restaurant Week, but this nine-day sup-fest -- from Saturday, May 19, through Sunday, May 27 -- takes place when the Valley starts heating up and the restaurant business starts slowing down.
In Phoenix and beyond, about 90 eateries are offering three-course dinners at a priced-right rate of $30 or $40 per person (excluding drinks, tax, and tip) -- and most give the option of choosing a favorite dish from each course.
Where's a selection-overloaded diner to go? Depending on your angle, I've come up with three ways to enjoy the event. Plus, there's always the option to mix and match for a more individualized game plan. Whatever your strategy, make sure to take advantage of the dining deals. And for heaven's sake, make reservations -- the favorites fill up fast.
The following seven recommendations on each of the three lists (enough to get you through the event) are placed in alphabetical order. To see what each restaurant is serving up for Arizona Restaurant Week, go here.
1.) Top Chef Take a flavor journey with the most celebrated tastemakers in town.
Binkley's: French-informed, modern American fare from this year's James Beard Award finalist, chef Kevin Binkley.
Christopher's & Crush Lounge: Top-notch French cuisine from James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Gross.
Distrito: Celebrity chef Jose Garces puts a gourmet twist on classic Mexican cuisine.
Nobuo at Teeter House: James Beard Award-winning chef Nobuo Fukuda creates inventive Japanese-style small plates.
Posh: Chef Josh Hebert's one-of-a-kind, improvisational cuisine translated to a modern and seasonal menu.
Tarbell's: Award-winning contemporary American cuisine courtesy of chef and owner Mark Tarbell.
Vincent on Camelback: A mouthwatering mash-up of French haute cuisine influenced by Southwestern ingredients from James Beard Award winner Vincent Guerithault.
2.) Eat the World Pack your bags for a culinary tour of world eats.
Aiello's: Joe and Myrah Aiello's classy yet comfortable restaurant of East Coast Italian fare.
Cork: Inventive and beautifully presented contemporary American cuisine served in an upscale atmosphere.
Coup des Tartes: Intimate BYOB spot with a European edge and a nod to the French.
Donovan's Steak and Chophouse: A classic and world-class American steakhouse.
Fuego Bistro: Tiny, hidden bistro serving regional Latin fare with accents of southwestern, Arizona, Cuba, and Puerto Rico cuisines.
The Dhaba: Contemporary Indian restaurant specializing in the cuisine of the Punjab region of Northern India.
Tonto Bar & Grill: A Southwestern menu featuring all-natural meats and Arizona ingredients in a rustic atmosphere.
3.) A Few of My Favorites Some of my top picks for dining dreaminess.
Beckett's Table: Chef Justin Beckett brings fantastic, comforting fare to a friendly setting.
Citizen Public House: A stylish yet relaxed atmosphere meets offerings of classic American fare with a delicious twist from chef Bernie Kantak.
Cowboy Ciao: Inventive and skillfully prepared cuisine plus an extensive wine list.
House at Secret Garden: Stellar contemporary American cuisine in a 1929 Spanish-style mansion.
Noca: Top-notch contemporary American cuisine from chef Matt Taylor in a relaxed atmosphere.
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Petite Maison: Scrumptious French fare courtesy of chef James Porter at his cute, neighborhood eatery.
Quiessence Restaurant: Charming restaurant and wine bar at The Farm at South Mountain serving local and seasonally focused fare.
Also read: Does Arizona Really Need a Second Restaurant Week, by Nikki Buchanan.