Under the Radar Eats in South Scottsdale
Just south of Old Town Scottsdale’s glitz and glitter, there’s a bounty of low-key restaurants where locals go to kick back and escape the crowds. If you’re looking for some no-nonsense food and drink on the down-low, here are five spots to check out in South Scottsdale.
Grab a booth or belly up to the U-shaped bar at Bitters Bar & Food, tucked away in SkySong, Arizona State University’s Scottsdale Innovation Center. Bitters’ menu is stacked with everything from short rib tacos and chopped kale salad with grilled chicken to brie- and bacon-laced macaroni and cheese. You’ll also find local beer and wines by the glass and signature cocktails, including the Bitter Co-Pilot, a beguiling mix of Hendrix Gin, Crème de Violette, lemon, elderflower and sage. If the weather’s nice, find a seat on the patio and play life-size Jenga, corn hole and other bar games while sipping your favorite beverage.
Ahoy mateys – if you’re looking for the freshest sustainable fish in the middle of the desert, Chula Seafood is the place to drop anchor. The shoebox-sized seafood market and casual restaurant serves a chef-curated menu of fresh seafood dishes that are based on availability and changes weekly. Look for Hawaiian-style poke, yellowfin tuna with bits of pineapple and macadamia nuts; and chef’s choice sashimi or house-smoked fish platters. If you go on Saturday, order the salmon bagel, a nifty sandwich served on an everything bagel (from local bakery Super Chunk) lined with house-smoked salmon, cream cheese, sliced cucumbers and red onions lit up with pickled jalapeños.
In Scottsdale, Mexican food shines, but especially outstanding at Los Sombreros, a cantina-style gem of a restaurant that specializes in Central Mexican cuisine. Duck into the cozy brick restaurant or snag a table on the leafy patio and enjoy a basket of free chips and smoky salsa while you survey the menu. Don’t-miss items include shredded smoked chicken soft tacos laced with tangy salsa verde and topped with crema; and the stacked tomato and Oaxaca cheese salad festooned with radishes, jalapeños and cilantro. If you’ve still got room for dessert, be sure to order the dreamy house-made flan. It’s hard to go wrong here.
Drop in to Pig & Pickle for lunch, dinner or late-night fare that’s “simple, humble and good.” The menu changes often, but you can count on lunch offerings like the B.L.T. made with pork belly, house-made aioli on a freshly baked roll or udon noodles layered with peanuts and fresh veggies. Dinner is a little more robust, with entrées including crispy-skin trout and chicken potpie with puff pastry. The South Scottsdale restaurant serves up a tidy list of craft cocktails, wines by the glass and bottle, a rotating selection of draft beers and a slew of bottled beers, heavy on the ales and pilsners.
If your idea of the perfect breakfast is something wickedly sweet and you’re not counting calories, The Local Donut’s got you covered. You’ll swoon over the wide variety of donuts, made fresh every morning. Options range from cake-style gems rolled in cinnamon-flecked crumbs to puffy donuts bursting with raspberry or lemon filling. The caramelized, crunchy apple fritters also are worth a taste. In addition, the shop features a full line of “fancy donuts,” topped with the likes of Fruity Pebbles, Oreo cookies, salted caramel, peach pie filling and S’Mores. On Saturday and Sunday, you can order croissant donuts stuffed with Nutella or vanilla. You’re welcome.