Scottsdale is known for being the West’s Most Western Town, for its art galleries and Arabian Horse Shows, and possibly something you may not have known, for being a very taste-full town, filled with acclaimed restaurants that will be an exciting part of your vacation experience. Offering a taste of this and a taste of that, visitors can expect to find authentic Mexican food, welcoming family friendly restaurants, and meals that they will remember forever. And because I Love Scottsdale does not want to leave their guests hanging, we have created this comprehensive guide to some of our favorite restaurants, the ones you will be excited to experience and sad to leave.

Scottsdale Vacation

Budget Friendly and Memorable

No matter how you look at it, vacations are expensive and although you can save some money by making use of the fully equipped kitchens in our vacation sanctuaries, more often than not you will want to explore the epicurean landscape of Scottsdale, dipping into the vacation budget every time you do. The good news is, however, there are some budget friendly options for dining in Scottsdale, options that won’t require any sacrifices when it comes to taste, and these wonderful establishments are listed below.

Randy’s Restaurant & Ice Cream, 7904 E Chaparral Road

In our own travels over the years, we have discovered that the best meals can often be found in the small dive restaurants—you know, the ones with the most crowded parking lots? Randy’s Restaurant & Ice Cream, open every day at 7 AM and closing at various hours, is one of those restaurants, offering hearty meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from the same location on Chaparral Road for over 40 years. Family owned, most meals run in the 10 to 13 dollar range, but be warned. Randy’s Restaurant does not take credit or debit cards, so don’t forget your cash!

Ice Cream

Julio’s Too, 7305 E Camelback Road

Counter-serve does not mean the food is of less quality and the Mexican dishes served at Julio’s Too never fail to please. Offering an authentic taste of Mexico, its menu is an expansive one filled with the classic dishes you know and maybe a few new ones you have never heard of and with their low prices, it is easy to afford to try something new. Open every day from 11 AM until 9 PM, we can promise that even the pickiest eaters in your traveling group will find something they love, even if it is just a basic quesadilla or taco.

Karsen’s Grill, 7246 E 1st Street #101

Your stay in Old Town Scottsdale may appear to be bougie, but places like Karsen’s Grill will help keep you humble. Open every day at 11 AM, and featuring a menu filled with pub grub favorites, if your spouse is a sports fan grumbling about missing the big game you can bring him here and watch all the games on multiple televisions that hang on the walls and over the bar. To paraphrase the theme song for one of our favorite shows in the 80s, people want to eat in places that feel like friends, and as you sip ice cold beer, devour thick and juicy burgers, and cheer on your favorite team, you will feel as comfortable as you do sitting in your recliner back home!

Stepping Up Your Eating Game

Cheap eats can be excellent eats, just as moderately priced meals are probably the ones you will experience the most. It is time to drop by some of our middle of the road Scottsdale restaurants, ones offering delicious foods that may entice you to come back time and time again. Family friendly as well, parents can rest easy knowing they won’t be judged if their children act up a little, as children are want to do.

Butter’s Pancakes & Café, 8300 Hayden Road f104

Starting out your day on the right foot is easy when you begin your morning with breakfast at Butter’s Pancakes & Café. Offering multiple locations throughout Scottsdale and Phoenix, today we are going to concentrate on the Hayden Road spot and its novella sized menu. As you can imagine, the pancakes at Butter’s are highly recommended, but they aren’t the only meal that has star power. Their skillets haunt our dreams in a good way, moderately priced and heaped high with eggs, potatoes, veggies, and whatever meat you crave (their New Mexico skillet is our fave, loaded with the spicy goodness of chorizo.) Every skillet also comes with a choice of pancakes or toast, so diners won’t have to leave wondering what all the fuss about their pancakes is all about.

Brat Haus, 3622 N Scottsdale Road

No, we aren’t calling your kiddos mean names, the brats we are talking about today are a German specialty, and the Brat Haus is destined to be one of your favorite Scottsdale finds. Offering a dog friendly patio offering ping pong tables, Jenga games, and cornhole games that will all help keep even the wiggliest of children happily occupied. Offering a revolving selection of beers on tap, communal tables that will encourage new friendships to be made, and those brats that we personally can’t get enough of, the Brat Haus is worthy of a closer look.

Grilled Bratwurst

Los Sombreros, 2534 N Scottsdale Road

Our last restaurant in the moderately priced segment is the brainchild of a local chef, one who closes down the restaurant every August to head south of the border to research new dishes to add to the menu. Famed for their mole and the duros de harina (puffed wheat “chips” that resemble wagon wheels), Los Sombreros is sure to be one of your favorite Mexican restaurants. Fun fact: The former chef of Los Sombreros is a local celeb chef who has moved on to open an upscale restaurant in Sedona, so if you happen to take a road trip during your Scottsdale adventures, be sure to check out what Elote Café has to offer.

Special Occasions Deserve Special Occasion Meals

Not every vacation is a family vacation, and if you are in Scottsdale celebrating a special occasion with friends or your favorite traveling companion, you deserve a special occasion restaurant to celebrate at. These restaurants, while pricier than the others listed on this page, will give visitors a dining experience that is both memorable and delicious.

Café Monarch, 6939 E 1st Avenue

The Scottsdale vibe is often a laidback one, but the elegant décor of the Café Monarch will bring travelers a sense of European style, even as the food served is 100% American. Reservations are required at this classy restaurant located in the heart of Scottsdale, and because of its popularity, we encourage our guests to make their reservations well in advance. Named by Trip Advisor as one of the Top 3 Fine Dining Restaurants in the Nation, Old Town Scottsdale shines just a bit brighter, simply because of the existence of this special restaurant. The four-course dinner menu gives guests their choice of two or more options from each course, and if you really want to up the special value, choose the eight-course tasting menu for your last selection.

Dominick’s Steakhouse, 15169 N Scottsdale Road

Offering a rooftop patio with pool (no swimming, please, this pool is just for admiring), Dominick’s Steakhouse opens every day at 4 PM and provides a well-rounded menu of steak, chicken, and seafood. And although we do adore their 45-day dry aged bone-in ribeye and their truffled and salted crispy fries, we do recommend you save room for dessert. Their triple chocolate bombs, red velvet bread pudding, and s’mores in a jar may very well be the secret to world peace and their dessert wines and cordials offer the perfect finish to a perfect meal.

Steak

Sel, 7044 E Main Street

Closed on Sundays and Mondays, Sel offers elegant American meals served on white tablecloths and a well-trained staff that walks the fine line between attentive and stalky with ease. Their chef’s tasting menu is five courses long and can include wine pairings at an additional cost, and unlike most restaurants, they even offer a vegetarian chef’s tasting menu that is as tasty and elegant as their traditional tasting menu.

A Category of Its Own

Although we have mentioned a few of our local Mexican restaurants, we think this food deserves its own category, and if you are interested in experiencing an authentic taste of the southwest, a visit to these restaurants is a must-do.

Los Olivos Mexican Patio, 7328 E 2nd Street

The oldest Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale, Los Olivos Mexican Patio has been a tradition since opening day in 1947, and we at I Love Scottsdale always say, “there must be a good reason if they have stayed in business that long.” The reason, of course, is their spicy and flavorful Mexican food that is also reasonably priced, plus a menu that is longer than most books. Don’t ask us to choose our favorites, that would be like forcing us to choose between our kids, but we do suggest that you order guacamole before dinner and lose all hope at being able to save room for dessert; order flan to go and your stomach will be very happy for you.

Tacos

Mochilero Kitchen, 14850 N Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard #117

Next, we venture from the oldest Mexican restaurant to the newest—our latest obsession, Mochilero Kitchen. Offering a new twist on traditional flavors, this is where you will find guacamole served with plantain chips, roasted mushroom tacos that are hearty and flavorful, and Sonoran hot dogs that will change the way you eat a dog forever. It hasn’t been open for long, but with each visit we make to Mochilero, we are falling deeper and deeper in love and we envision that this will become a Scottsdale hot spot, one that sticks around for a long, long, time.

Taco Madera, 4736 N Goldwater Boulevard

Taco Madera provides a modern update to the classic Mexican dishes we hold near and dear to our hearts. Located inside our luxurious Scottsdale Fashion Square mall and offering a menu filled with foods designed for all eaters, including a large vegetarian selection, they also offer a weekend brunch that is very unexpected. Featuring truffle quesadillas, sashimi Mexicana, and tres leches French toast so sweet and delicious, we wouldn’t be surprised if you asked the chef for his recipe! If you do manage to save room for dessert, we can’t recommend their Dama de los muertos dessert highly enough, and once you taste this peanut butter mousse made with milk chocolate, cocoa nibs, raspberry coulis, and fresh raspberries, you may find yourself wanting to come back just for dessert at a later time.

Bacanora Phoenix, 1301 Grand Avenue #1 in Phoenix

This last restaurant, although located in Phoenix, deserves special mention in this segment dedicated to our favorite Mexican restaurants. Bacanora is an informal restaurant serving Sonoran favorites that are filled with flavor and a unique elegance not often found in Mexican food. Its chefs were named semifinalists in the prestigious James Beard Foundation and is so popular, reservations need to be made a month in advance; reservations open the first of every month for times in the following month. The menu is short and sweet, and as we have eaten our way through it multiple times, we can assure you that there is never a sour note in the foods that come out of Bacanora’s kitchen.

The Kitchens in Our I Love Scottsdale Sanctuaries

No, our kitchens are not restaurants, and yes, you will need to cook your own meals, but luxury appliances, stone countertops, and custom cabinetry all work together to bring the joy back to your cooking experiences. I Love Scottsdale understands that all the details are the most important and as you relax, play, and explore the amenities in our vacation escapes, the only negative part will be knowing that you have to leave in too short of a time! Reserve your favorite escape today.

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