Satisfied Frog (6245 E. Cave Creek Rd., 480-488-3317), established in the 1960s, anchors the
Town, which is filled with shops and a saloon. Brewed-on-the
premises Black Mountain Gold and Crazy Ed’s Cave Creek Chili
Beer go perfectly with the steaks and barbecued vittles. The
Horny Toad (6738 E. Cave Creek Rd.,480-488-9542) is
just a-yonder, resplendent in roadside rustic ranch house decor.
Reata Pass (27500 N. Alma School Pkwy, 480-585-7277), a
rambling restaurant that is said to have been a stage stop in
the 1880s, sits a few miles farther south in the city of
Western red meat round-up can be found at The Steak-House at Rawhide, a re-created 1880s town.
They herd folks in for a steak stampede,
feed ‘em, then move ‘em out. If you’ve not experienced
fried rattlesnake, now’s your chance. It really does taste
spots to stake out: Mining Camp Restaurant in Apache
Junction, Rockin’ R Ranch in Mesa, Rustler’s Rooste at the Pointe South Mountain Resort,
and Hole in the Wall
at the Pointe Hilton Squaw
PHOENIX’S REGIONAL CUISINE IS not just down-home cooking. If your
chops are smackin’ for grander goodies that stay with the
Southwestern style, you’ll want to tie up at Cartwright’s on
Saguaro Hill (6710 E. Cave Creek Rd., 480-488-803l) in Cave Creek. Proprietors John Malcolm
and chef Eric Flatt have assembled a striking Arizona
territorial decor that suits the gourmet steaks, game and
Select a steak,
have it cooked to your specifications, and then customize it
with roasted shallot demi-glace or béarnaise sauce. Add a
potato, polenta or rice and wild mushrooms, asparagus or green
beans with bacon.
Western etiquette means
offering many seafood options, too —
halibut, salmon, sea bass, sole, swordfish, ahi, scallops
and shrimp — prepared
to your taste. Cartwright’s has a handle on
Mediterranean, Southwestern, Asian, and French with lemon caper Chardonnay
A FORK IN IT
THE COMESTIBLES AT SCOTTSDALE’S Roaring Fork (7243
E. Camel back Rd., 480-947-0795) are extraordinary. Chef and
proprietor Robert McGrath —
the 2001 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Southwest —
puts on a spread of sensationally seasoned sustenance
that’ll knock your socks off (and likely your boots, too).
on the dining scene in 1998, McGrath’s American-Western
cuisine has galloped off with a passel of awards, and rightly
so. It’s not fancy food, just good food that’s —
to borrow a well-known phrase —
kicked up a notch. Key to McGrath’s signature dishes is
his skillful use of a chile or two tossed in to spice things up.
standouts include sugar and chile-cured duck breast with green
chile macaroni gratin, mustardcrusted trout with pole beans
and sweet potato fries, and a coffee-and molasses-shellacked
beef tenderloin paired with mashed potatoes.
STYLE, ITALIAN ACCENT
A STAR ON SCOTTSDALE’S DINING scene for five years now, Cowboy Ciao (7133 E. Stetson Dr.
, 480-946-3111) spikes Western dishes with an Italian
accent. Far from the usual, this restaurant is quirky in both
cuisine style and atmosphere. The gutsy grub we consider
outstanding includes the Stetson chopped salad, the mushroom
pan-fry (a menagerie of mushrooms in a slightly spunky ancho
chile cream sauce dusted with cotija cheese), and
porcini-crusted rib-eye steak with gorgonzola butter and
mashed sweet potatoes.
FROM THE NEIGHBORS
SIGNIFICANT TO ARIZONA’S WESTERN/Southwestern food heritage
are the flavor influences from our Mexican and New Mexican
Scottsdale’s Blue Agave Mexican
Cantina (4280 Drinkwater Blvd., 480-429-1123) features such traditional Mexican
tastes as burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and tacos, plus a few
contemporary Baja Mexican dishes with
flavor surprises. Dishes that inspire a gracias include
the open-face rellenos with Angus beef, the crab chimichanga
with a sweet and sour mango red pepper sauce, and the seared achiote
tuna with red chile wine sauce and green chile potatoes. Get
things started with grilled shrimp on a lettuce-topped tostada
with a spicy sauce.
Scottsdale Princess, 7575 E. Princess Dr., 480-585-4848)
is the only Four-Diamond/Four-Star
Mexican restaurant in
. The setting is a turn-of-the-century ranch house with low,
wood-beamed ceilings, fireplaces and Mexican folk art.
To ensure authenticity, executive chef Reed Groban and others
take occasional tasting tours through the villages of
. The tours have inspired baked Gulf shrimp with bacon and
Jack cheese, pan-seared mahi mahi with a saffron cake and
charred tomatillo chutney, and the signature spit-roasted
suckling pig marinated in bitter orange and tamarind. Be sure
to conclude with chocolate crepes and mangoes.
WHILE MANY OF THE MEXICAN EATERIES IN THE Valley feature the
mild Sonoran style, diners seeking more arriba! on their
plates should seek out one of the Valley’s New Mexican chow
Scottsdale’s Carlsbad Tavern (3313 N. Hayden Rd., 480-970-8164)
offers a plethora of chile-charged
starters, salads and burgers. The apricot and habanero
chile-glazed pork tenderloin with fried leeks could actually
make your tongue do the cha-cha.
in-the-know know this is the place for the New Mexican specialty
carne adovada (slow-roasted pork simmered in red chile sauce and
served with cheese and a tortilla). At lunch, latch onto the
Roswell Reuben, which is packed with pastrami, seasoned red
cabbage, spicy Thousand Island dressing and jalapeno Jack cheese
on sourdough. Only the truly serious flame-hunters should
attempt the habenero chile burger served with fries, salad and a
glass of milk to smother the burn.
Richardson’s (1582 E. Bethany Home Rd., 602-265-5886),
a smallish bar ‘n grill in central
Phoenix, has been around so long it’s an institution. The celebrated
spot is always packed; plan on a wait with a signature margarita
in hand. Once you’re able to sit yourself down, settle into
the New Mexico
chicken, the black bean gumbo, or carne adovado. The red chile
prime New York strip is, indeed, a prime choice.
Before going to
Phoenix’s Los Dos Molinos (8646 S. Central Ave., 602-243-9113),
be forewarned, this establishment is for
true “chile heads.” Victoria Chavez’s New Mexican-style
food is some seriously fiery fare and it has a most loyal
following. Within the white adobe Los Dos house, which is decked
out with strings of chile pepper lights, kachinas and folk
art, diners happily pack away the house specialty, adovada ribs.
These pork ribs are so tender that the meat practically falls
from the bone with so much as a hungry glance. Beans and
terrific homemade tortillas accompany. Tamales and chiles
rellenos are zippy standards here, and plenty of Mexican beers
are available to douse the flames. If your taste buds are still
smoldering, pop a few sopapillas (fried dough puffs) drizzled
with honey and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
THE SOUTHWESTERN FOOD STYLE, WITH ITS distinctive flavors and
bright colors, was derived from the blending of Western, Mexican
and Spanish cookery. A couple of decades ago, a handful of
talented local chefs began to harmonize successfully classic
cooking techniques with our region’s ingredients. Rustic in
Arizona’s Southwestern cuisine today is more refined in its layering
of flavors, texture nuances and presentation. And, surprisingly,
the dishes now have Asian twists too. Chefs are no longer
restricting ingredients to exclusively indigenous products.
One of the original champions of chiles in the Valley is
English-born Farn Boggie, executive chef at north
Scottsdale’s Coyote Grill (7077 E. Bell Rd., 480-922-8424).
Chef Farn is nuts about chiles. A decade
ago, only 10 or so chiles were available. Today, he has dozens
of chiles on hand and, in a picturesque setting of copper and
stone accents, Farn’s fare seems served up from a heated
heaven. Firecracker shrimp rolled in crushed red pepper with a
honey lemon dip, habanero sea scallops with pepperjack sauce,
citrus-crusted catfish with orange chipotle sauce, and spicy
chicken mole with prosciutto, basil and peppered cheese top the
Scottsdale’s Tequila Grill (4363 N. 75th St., 480-941-1800):
Look for tall columns spouting flames.
Inside, diners find a handsome interior decorated with glass
blocks, massive wooden beams, and a floor-to-ceiling
metal-and-glass agave cactus that displays the bar’s
impressive tequila collection. The
Southwestern sustenance here includes Linguine en Fuego (tiger
shrimp and Dungeness crab with portobellos, bell peppers and
sugar snap peas in a jalapeno cream sauce), Phoenix Tournedos
(grilled tenderloins on corn-crusted potato cakes topped with
blanched spinach, Dungeness crab, scallion hollandaise and
mushroom guajillo sauce, and Sonoran shrimp with ancho chiles
and fresh lime juice, served on wilted spinach with feta cheese.
We recommend chasing these festive flavors with a shot of the
watermelon-, honeydew- and cantaloupe-infused tequila.