In the Southwestern USA, you’d expect to find foods that include avocado, tortilla chips, street corn, and chorizo.
Would you be surprised to learn about foods with prickly pear or mesquite flavors? What about dishes with Brussel sprouts, pinto beans, and smoked salmon? Scottsdale, Arizona is the one destination where I’ve found foods that include all of these ingredients in surprisingly delicious ways.
I don’t write these food and drink posts often… but when I do, I always end up with a hankering to head back for a second helping, erm, I mean trip. If you’re planning a trip to Scottsdale, here’s what to eat in Scottsdale – and what to wash it down with!
Brussel Sprout Nachos
Where? Diego Pops
Okay, stick with me. I started with one of the most bold Scottsdale foods because if you can get on board with Brussel sprout nachos, everything else is going to seem tame.
Diego Pops is famous for this dish which is technically an appetizer. In addition to standard tortilla chips, these nachos are topped with street corn queso, queso Oaxaca, Fresno chili, pickled onion, roasted garlic beet crema, a fried egg, and Brussel sprouts. The first bite is funky, then your taste buds will realize that the combination of flavors is delicious.
Where? Citizen Public House
When is the last time your salad had its own Facebook page? Say hello (and give a like) to the Original Chopped Salad. You can find the Original Chopped Salad at several places around Scottsdale and Phoenix, but Citizen Public House is a good spot because it’s a stone’s throw from the place where the original Original Chopped Salad was born (a now-closed restaurant called Cowboy Ciao).
The Original Chopped Salad arrives as perfectly arranged rows of corn, couscous, smoked salmon, asiago, pepitas, tomatoes, arugula & currants. When it arrives, the server will douse it with buttermilk pesto and mix it up right at the table. It was one of the most interesting salad’s I’ve ever eaten, and I still dream about the way the flavors mix. Even if you’re not at Citizen Public House, order the Original Chopped Salad if you see it on the menu.
We all know elote is delicious, but you know what makes it even better? Chorizo aka the best sausage product in the world. At Grenada in the Embassy Suites in Scottsdale, chef Ken Arneson (who was on Chopped) does just that. In fact, he was so confident I would love this dish that the kitchen prepared it and sent it out before I even had a chance to order it.
Honestly, it takes elote to 11. I didn’t even think that was possible.
Bonus: Also pictured is the “Baja Holiday,” a margarita with Azunia Blanco tequila, lemon, lime, agave nectar, jalapeno, cilantro, and avocado. Avocado margaritas are always a good idea.
Where? Barrio Queen
Guacamole is guacamole, right? It’s avocado, salt, lime, maybe tomatoes and onions depending on your preference. However it is totally possible to kick guacamole up a couple notches: add interesting additional ingredients and make it right at the table.
The Barrio Guacamole is made table-side and, as you can see above, they top it with pomegranate seeds. This gives the guac an extra sweet/tart kick in every bite and I’ve never found another place that does it this way.
Sonoran Hot Dog
Where? Diego Pops
One last food item from Diego Pops, I promise! The Sonoran Hot Dog is actually available throughout Arizona, but I tried the one pictured at Diego Pops so that’s where I recommend you go to find it in Scottsdale.
A Sonoran Hot Dog is a bacon-wrapped hot dog smothered in salsa, pinto beans, Mexican crema, and avocado pico de gallo. It’s all kinds of southwestern flavors on a delicious dog, and it’s a great small entree.
FnB is known for their changing menu – and their 2019 James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southwest – but there’s one item that rumor has it you can always ask for: butterscotch pudding.
This crowd-pleaser dessert is sweet without crossing the line to cloying, and topped with fresh whipped cream and nutmeg. So when you go to FnB for a meal of their delicious other dishes, make sure you save room for dessert.
Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookie
Where? Super Chunk
You know all those scrubby tree-ish things out in the desert? A lot of them are mesquite, which is technically an invasive species introduced by missionaries way back in the day… So do your part to reduce invasive species: eat mesquite chocolate chip cookies!
The mesquite chocolate chip cookies have helped Super Chunk, the bakery, receive national attention. This has included mentions as the best cookie in Arizona and a spot on the Cooking Channel. If that many people love these cookies, even if it seems like a weird combo, just go with it. As you can see on this list, Scottsdale has some really interesting flavor combos and they’re all delicious!
Prickly Pear Macarons
Where? Růže Cake House
One of my recent flavor obsessions is cactus fruit or prickly pear. You can pretty much bet that if there’s prickly pear anything on the menu, I’ll be ordering it (especially if it comes in margarita form!). Another guarantee I can make is if it’s in macaroon form, and Růže is the place that can happen with their prickly pear macarons.
If you want to guarantee you’ll get these delicious treats, call Růže ahead of time to see if they have made any (or are planning to on the day you’ll visit). Otherwise, you can swing by the Růže storefront and you’ll undoubtedly find some other tasty sweet instead.
Where? The Mission
Lest you get confused by the Spanish and think that Aguacate is some exotic foreign thing… aguacate means avocado. So what you’re looking at (and what you should order) is an avocado margarita. The ways they use avocado at The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale are some of my favorite ways – table-side guacamole and margaritas included.
When you think of wine destinations, Arizona might not pop into mind – especially not Scottsdale. And, to be fair, the Arizona wine you can sip at the tasting rooms around Old Town Scottsdale aren’t grown on the hills around Scottsdale. Instead, the vines are located elsewhere in Arizona… but yes, they’re growing grapes in the desert, and they’re making some interesting wines as a result.
The two tasting rooms I stopped by, Carlson Creek Vineyard and Merkin Vineyards, have totally different vibes, so there’s a wine experience for everyone if you’re willing to try a few. (Even if you don’t find the right tasting room for your style, you’ll have had some delicious wines!)
Watermelon Lime Sno-Cone Margarita
Where? Diego Pops
This one’s for those of you with super sweet tooths… Sweet teeth? Whatever.
The Watermelon Lime Sno-cone Margarita at Diego Pops is worth sharing because it’s a towering pile of shave ice with tequila, watermelon, and lime syrup. It’s also perfect on a hot Arizona day if you want to drink something that’s suer to help you cool down.