Festival season continues this weekend with the fourth annual Arizona Taco Festival but if you're looking for something a little more celebrity-driven, may we suggest catching some of the region's best chefs as they tour the Valley on Saturday? And if you're planning on heading to Tempe at all, we've got a handful of dining suggestions worth your consideration.
Lunch and Learn Friday, October 18
This Friday, the 12th season of Sanctuary on Camleback Mountain's Lunch and Learn series kicks off with a four-course dinner event and several special guests. At 6 p.m. diners can join local chefs Mark Tarbell and Lee Hillson for the evening, as well as The Food Network's Andrew Schecter, who created the hit show Restaurant: Impossible. In addition to the wine paired dinner attendees will be invited to check out the new Jade Bar, to enjoy live musical performances from Dillon Dixon, Billy Austin, and Matthew Randall. The event costs $125 per person and reservations can be made by calling 480-948-2100.
Arizona Taco Festival Saturday, October 19
This weekend, taco lovers will invade Scottsdale's Salt River Fields. The annual Arizona Taco Festival will bring together more than 50 taco teams to compete in various categories for $10,000 in prize money. They're prepared to dish out 100,000 tacos this year. Attendees will be able to taste tacos of all varieties for $2 each, and this year in addition to chicken, pork, beef and seafood varieties, vegetable tacos will be available. There will also be plenty of other activities to look forward to including a tequila expo on Saturday and Lucha Libre wrestling as well as the "Ay Chihuahua! Beauty Pageant," on Sunday. General admission costs $12 per day and tickets can be purchased online.
James Beard Foundation's Taste America Tour Saturday, October 19
If you aren't going to the Foundation's Best Chefs: Southwest dinner on Friday night, you can still get in on the Taste America Tour action this weekend. On Saturday at 11:30 a.m., you can catch James Beard Foundation award winner Suzanne Goin giving a cooking demonstration at 11:30 a.m. at Sur La Table in Scottsdale. Later in the day, Arizona's own chef Robert McGrath, from Check, Please! Arizona, will also give a demonstration at 2 p.m. Throughout the day, you can pop in to see cookbook signings, tastings and a hands-on class at 6:30 p.m. Cooking demonstrations are ticketed events. Free tickets can be picked up in-store. Call 480-292-9426 for more information.
Brunch at Searsucker Sunday, October 20
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Searsucker in Scottsdale's new Chef de Cuisine Aarti Sanghavi arrives in the Valley after working as sous chef at the restaurant's San Diego location and as one of her first projects has amped up the brunch menu. Offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Searsucker's new brunch features dishes such as Bourbon Brown Butter Toast with blackberries, bourbon maple syrup and cream cheese ($9), Green Eggs and Ham, consisting of a healthy cut of pork belly over a nestled egg inside a homemade brioche bun ($14) and bottomless Mimosas for just $15. Kids menus are also available and live music from acoustic Arizona artists promise a relaxing weekend morning.
Dine at one of Tempe's Best Restaurants
Whether you're looking for something sweet, savory or really super hot, Tempe has a great restaurant to suit your needs. Our food critic has listed the best restaurants in this hip, college 'hood which include the original location of Essence Bakery and Café and the classic date-night standby, House of Tricks. For a dining adventure of the ethnic persuasion you'll have your choice between the spicy Sichuan peppercorns of Mui's Cuisine and the home-style, body flavors of Farah Khalid's Curry Corner. And no Tempe list would be complete without mentioning Crepe Bar, the French-inspired eatery where coffee, crepes and creativity collide.