Swordfish burritos. Whole pig. Brunch tasting menus. An exciting wave of new restaurants adds punch to a food scene that has been heating up for a few years. Here’s where to eat your next great meal in Scottsdale.
Cavernous, sleek, and spiritually anchored by the olive tree in the dining room, this Scottsdale Quarter restaurant cooks dishes inspired by Mediterranean coasts. The menu is pretty much a greatest-hits list of favorites from Portugal to Israel: seafood pastas, lamb meatballs, peri peri chicken, and so on. The dishes from Spain go especially hard, like a luscious, crisp-skinned Iberico pork with frybread and a paella-of-the-day for two. For maximum enjoyment, start at the bar with red sangria.
Diners of North Scottsdale celebrated when standout local restaurant group LGO Hospitality opened Buck & Rider, a buttoned-up seafood restaurant where the kitchen flies in specialties for the raw bar daily. Getting seats at the bar, plush leather banquettes, or outdoor fire pits can be challenging. The kitchen dishes out impressive high-end specialties, from meaty crab cakes to seafood towers teeming with lobster, scallops, sashimi, and caviar. Steaks are dry aged and sushi options abound.
This super-chill seafood spot catches some of its own fish in the Pacific Ocean waters near San Diego, sourcing the rest through fishing connections. Chula serves fish raw, fried, and grilled. It’s all dock-side fresh, from generous Korean-inspired poke bowls to cioppino piled high with fried calamari and shellfish. Watch Chula’s Instagram for big, ambitious specials. The daily IYKYK order here, though, is harpoon-caught swordfish tucked into a burrito with fries. Yup, that swordfish is caught from Chula’s very own boat.
To Arizona food insiders, chef Cory Oppold has been a must-follow for his playful, high-end tasting menus. His latest venture is Course: 5- and 10-course dinners in an intimate space, meals that give you a tour of unique culinary imagination. Though some plates look like modern art, Oppold manages to keep his food fun and relatable. Focaccia comes with “grilled cheese butter.” A “peach Wellington” replaces the old-school beef original. Restaurants in this mold often miss, but Oppold doesn’t. On Sundays, try his brunch tasting menu.
Shhhhh. Not many people know yet, but you’ll find one of town’s great new restaurant patios at Pescada, a white-tablecloth Western European eatery by Scottsdale chef Sheila Bryson. Food is more formal and can lean creative, with seafood classics like fritto misto and inspired pastas like squid-ink pici leading the way. The cocktail program at Pescada punches above its weight. A nice selection of thoughtful, herbaceous gin-and-tonics sidekick a happy hour menu of snacks like a trio of house breads and bacalao croquettes. Enjoy them on the porch if you can.
Located in the heart of Old Town, the third inventive Italian restaurant by chef Gio Osso might be his most eccentric. Dishes move beyond tradition. His carbonara pasta uses grano arso, a specialty flour milled from burnt wheat. His sea bass sports foam with licorice hints. Raw fish (crudo) starters are a menu section worth exploring deeply. These plates are small but mighty, looping in fresh, out-of-the-box flavors. A family-style menu section boasts feasts like a giant Porterhouse, a whole rack of lamb, and an 8- to 10-pound suckling pig.
Confession: this eatery hasn’t opened yet. But the ambitious coastal Italian restaurant from LA will be coming to Scottsdale’s Fashion Square soon. What to expect? An elevated evolution of the Santa Monica original. An indoor-outdoor dining experience with, its announcement says, “the ambience of a jungle oasis, characterized by towering cacti, lush florals, natural travertine floors and bespoke furniture.” Wood-fired pizzas, fresh pastas, grilled meat and seafood, and family-style offerings will anchor the menu. There will be a wine selection with north of 1,200 labels. Keep your eyes on this high-flying opening.