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48 Hours in Scottsdale

AZ Does It - Scottsdale amps up its foodie focus

One of the major advantages Scottsdale has over other resort towns is that it’s an actual living, breathing part of a cosmopolitan city. That means there’s no need to make do with what passes for resort dining at other getaways (we’re
talking to you, Palm Springs and Wailea). So between tee times, spa treatments and hiking Camelback Mountain, you can take an up-to-date survey of what’s new and exciting in American cuisine and work on your tan. Try doing that in Chicago this winter.

Friday

On the way in from Sky Harbor Airport make a quick pit stop at Kaleidoscope Juice for a cold-pressed antidote to whatever was swimming in the stale air on your flight down. Then hook around Camelback and check into Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain. The resort is that rare bastion of truth in advertising—not only is it perched on the side of Camelback Mountain, it is also a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of town. So why not chill out and stay put on night one? Iron Chef alum Beau MacMillan’s Elements is a classic of relaxed fine dining, so grab a quick drink at the bar (it has a great view) and hike the 20 steps for a starter of octopus à la plancha with pickled mustard root, followed up with some Mexican wild shrimp with cheddar corn grits and chorizo chili broth.

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Stop by Kaleidoscope Juice for some wholesome libations.

Saturday

Head to untamed (or at least less developed) North Scottsdale to work off last night’s dinner. Pinnacle Peak is a 3-1/2-mile roundtrip, but with a 1,300-foot elevation you’re never at a Grouse Grind level of exertion. Best of all, a short walk from the base is the new spot Proof, tucked into the Four Seasons. Who can say you don’t deserve some eggs with brisket, white cheddar and Yukon gold potatoes?

Head back to the waterfront in downtown Scottsdale and check out Barrio Queen Tequileria, a spin-off of popular Phoenix eatery Barrio Café. Expect Mexican cuisine of the type that never makes it north of the 49th parallel, like cochinita pibil tacos filled with spiced pork for half the cost of a grilled cheese at a Canadian food truck.

Dinner sees you hitting a note you don’t expect in these parts—history. Chef Matt Carter has created a subtle and deft take on Franco-American classics in Old Town at The House Brasserie—in a circa-1939 house that claims to be the second-oldest residence in Scottsdale.

Edge Bar at Sanctuary is tops for a mezcal with a view.

Sunday

Hopefully you slept well, because breakfast is at a spot that defies any rational description. Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market Barbeque and Grill is a gas station with chandeliers and a premium car wash that sells Silver Oak cabernet. And, while so doing, serves fare like pulled pork breakfast tacos for $6. The car washes are good too.

On the basis that you have to find something to do between meals, head to the Royal Palms and force yourself to skip the just reopened T. Cooks restaurant and sneak into the spa for a citrus ritual—an exfoliation and massage that channels the state’s past as an orange-producing powerhouse.

In most cities, you’d be trying to squeeze in one last meal before hitting the airport, but Phoenix has you covered: they invited the area’s best chefs to open outposts of their restaurants at the airport. Run past the Wendy’s to the mini version of La Grande Orange Grocery—Scottsdale’s reigning king of casual cool for the past decade—and pick up a commuter sandwich with salmon for the same $8 it costs at their Arcadia location. The eat it on the plane while planning your next trip.WL

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