If you’re like me, you want to eat healthy most of the time, but aren’t afraid to splurge every once in awhile–especially at restaurants. You’ll find a nice balance of both. This is a work in progress, so be sure to check back regularly for updates. Later on, I’ll keep this post housed under the Recipes section of my website so you can find it. Don’t know me? Learn about my food street cred.
The mealtimes included (breakfast, lunch, dinner) are not necessarily all-inclusive, but rather the times of day that I have dined at each establishment.
The Best Restaurants in Phoenix Metropolitan Area (My Favorites)
R n R (breakfast, lunch, brunch)
What I order: The bloody Mary is killer (I ordered the virgin since I was driving), Hangover Fries (minus the bacon, since I already ate the nice big bacon strip in the bloody Mary
Highlights: Fun, loud (maybe too loud-does that sound old? yes) music, you’ll want to dance in your seat amongst the 20-30-somethings
Notes: Bar, indoor dining, patio; two levels; sit upstairs for less deafening music, wear sunglasses and look cool; be prepared to wait a long time on Sundays; not for the timid
Petit Maison (dinner)
What I order: steamed mussels, souffle, gougeres
Highlights: headed by Chef James Porter, quaint and cozy, perfect for getting your French food fix, French bistro cuisine
Notes: bar, dining room and patio, my post about Petit Maison
Local foods and wine, nice dinner. Disclosure: I know the co-owner.
Incredible down-to-earth lunch and dinner. Disclosure: I know the co-owner. She gave me free granola once. It was the bomb.
Mabel’s on Main (late night fun)
Speakeasy-type lounge. Private room available.
Sushi Roku (dinner, in the W Scottsdale hotel)
True Food (lunch, dinner)
What I order: sea bass, bison burger with half kale salad, half sweet potato hash; kid’s pizza; sangria; vegetable crudite for a large group, hummus
Highlights: I love this place and visit regularly. By Fox Restaurant Concepts (always a winner) and Dr. Andrew Weil, comfy patio dining, herb garden, caters to many dietary preferences including gluten free, endless healthy options, very friendly service
Notes: bar and dining room, located in Scottsdale Quarter and Biltmore Fashion Park
Stingray Sushi (dinner)
What I order: edamame, salmon sashimi, yellowtail sashimi, signature rolls
Highlights: amazingly fresh sashimi, some unique offerings
Notes: bar, dining room, patio; located in the Scottsdale Quarter and in Downtown Scottsdale; service quality is hit or miss at the Scottsdale Quarter
Barrio Cafe (dinner)
Incredibly authentic Mexican cuisine. Live music. Sit at the bar and eat guacamole with pomegranate seeds while you wait. No shredded lettuce and tomato garnishes here. Disclosure: I am friends with one of its investors.
Bink’s Midtown (dinner)
What I order: I was there for a private event so I didn’t see the menu and they brought us plate upon plate of deliciousness. Amazing standouts: pork belly (the largest cross-section I have ever seen) with kale and apricots, Bolognese sauce over garlic bread pudding (now this is how I always would like to enjoy this sauce), spaghetti squash with raisins, roasted cauliflower with curry sauce, cashews and currants, duck breast.
Highlights: by the same chef and owner of the acclaimed Binkley’s Restaurant
Notes: bar, dining room, private room; Disclosure: I am professionally acquainted with the co-owner.
Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend (dinner)
What I order: “Bacon and Eggs” (think Croque Madame, but with sturgeon bacon and chive creme fraiche), Sweet Corn Hush Puppies, Blue Crab Salad, Grilled Loup de Mer with Sunchokes (cooked to perfection), Donuts
Highlights: another Fox Restaurant concept gone right
Notes: they do not take reservations, be prepared to wait 45 minutes or more for a table, counter service available, you can go next door to Culinary Dropout or The Yard for a drink while waiting, great waiter service
Joe’s Farm Grill (breakfast and lunch)
I love their burger with the egg on top, hand-spun milkshakes, and vegetable and pesto egg scramble. Guy Fieri featured this restaurant on his Food Network show. Sit outside under one of the gigantic trees and watch the kiddies run around.
Citywide, multiple locations:
Paradise Bakery & Cafe (breakfast and lunch)
What I order: Half sandwich (Chicken Walnut, Tuna, Tomato Mozzarella) with soup (Roasted Tomato) or salad (Blueberry Cranberry, Caesar); unsweetened passionfruit tea; cookies
Highlights: Homemade and fresh, kid-friendly; free cookie with your entree
Notes: Counter service, very casual
The Best Restaurants in San Diego (my favorites)
What I order: salmon and hamachi sashimi, miso black cod
Highlights: really fresh seafood, trendy and fun atmosphere, unpretentious service staff, they were even kid-friendly
What I order: miso black cod, you can’t really go wrong with your menu selections here
Highlights: really fresh seafood, trendy and semi-casual atmosphere, unpretentious service staff
The Best Restaurants in New York City (my favorites)
Upper East Side:
Rouge Tomate (dinner)
What I order: chef’s tasting menu with wine pairing
Highlights: simply amazing in every way, sustainable seafood, sleek decor, knowledgable and detail-oriented waitstaff, knowledgable sommeliers
Notes: If you’re a lightweight like me, share the wine pairing with a friend, I wish there was a Rouge Tomate in Scottsdale!