Tag Archives: Arizona Restaurant Week

Strategies for Arizona Restaurant Week 2010

Put on your eatin’ pants. It looks like 114 Phoenix restaurants and 43 Tucson restaurants are participating in Arizona Restaurant Week, September 18-26.

The participating restaurants have put together three or four-course prix fixe menus, some with extras thrown in, priced at $29 or $39, excluding tax, tip and beverages (unless noted otherwise). If you’re headed to Tucson, eight of the 43 restaurants are offering $19++ menus.

Given that Restaurant Week is dinner-only, you have nine dining opportunities. How will you spend them?

We’ve scanned through the Phoenix list and have come up with a few strategies:

(click on the restaurant name to look at the Arizona Restaurant Week menu)

History Buffs

Photo © ericeatsout.com

Let’s say you’re in the mood for a side of Arizona history thrown in with your meal. You’ll want to check out Durant’s, the venerable old-school, clubby restaurant that opened in 1950. Even older than Durant’s, Stockyards (opened in 1947) is “Arizona’s Original Steakhouse.” Or you might try Avanti if classic Italian sounds more your style. Opened in 1974, Avanti is still owned by the two original partners from Sorrento, Italy. Even though El Chorro Lodge is sporting new owners and a $$$$ makeover, El Chorro grandly takes its place in Arizona history — it first opened as a lodge and dining room in 1937. And yes, the older-than-old-school relish tray and famous sticky buns are part of their prix fixe menu. (All $29++)

Fun & Funky

You think old-school is old news and you want high energy! Fun! Buzz, baby! Head to Cowboy Ciao, because even with wacky menu names like “pig & puddin,” the chow is seriously delicious. Eye-candy hangout Culinary Dropout is another option, and the slackers are even throwing in a wine cooler. Or try tapas new comer Iruña (from a been-around chef) for a little Spanish olé flavor in a hip setting — at least the menu isn’t the predictable steak/chicken/veg. (All $29++)

Stealth Health

Photo © FRC

Restaurant Week can wreck havoc on your good diet intentions, but it won’t if you hit up these restaurants. Calistro California Bistro ($29++) even has some gluten-free options as does True Food Kitchen ($29++), and TFK is tossing in a hummus starter, too. Ko’sin ($29++) at Wild Horse Pass has the local veggies down pat, and we’re even putting Roka Akor ($39++) in this stealth health group because they’ve got butterfish tataki and grilled salmon on the menu.

Chef Groupie

It’s no secret we have rock-star chefs in this valley, and three of the hottest chefs are serving up foodie dream menus for restaurant week: Josh Hebert at Posh Restaurant (the ORIGINAL improvisational chef; $39++); inked Chris Curtiss at noca Restaurant ($29++), and Aaron Chamberlin at St. Francis ($29++). We’re including the original *hot* chef — Mark Tarbell — on this list, too. (If you don’t remember when Tarbell was the hottest chef in town, perhaps you should stick to the Fun & Funky category.)  Tarbell’s ($29++) simple menu only includes one choice for each course, but his butterscotch tart with caramelized pancetta might be worth the trip alone.

Final Thoughts

We would have recommended FnB, Renegade Canteen or Christopher’s Crush, but all three are conspicuously absent this year. Maybe that’s a statement in and of itself.

Also, if you’re hoping to snag a glass of wine included with the price of the meal, you might want to consider 5th & Wine ($29++) or recent “Best Comfort Food” winner Cafe ZuZu ($29++), but, oddly, Cheuvront’s Wine Bar doesn’t include vino. Really? Go figure. In all, 27 of the 114 Phoenix restaurants are throwing in a glass of vino with the deal.

Lastly, if you’re seeking value above and beyond the great deals all of these restaurants are putting forth, you might want to consider one of the resort restaurants on the list, like Bourbon Steak (Fairmont Scottsdale), BLT Steak (Camelback Inn), Deseo (Westin Kierland), Lon’s (Hermosa Inn), Prado (Intercontinental Montelucia) or Talevera (Four Seasons). It’s near impossible to eat at these resorts for less than $40 on a regular night with just two courses. (All $39++ with the exception of Deseo, $29++)

Regardless of your ultimate strategy, you’ll want to make a reservation as the ones we’ve listed are likely to fill up fast.

And remember to be a good diner, too. Don’t ask for substitutions (you can do it, just this once) and tip well.

So, put some elastic in your eatin’ pants and let the feasting begin.

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Filed under News & Nibbles, Restaurant Journal

Strategies for Arizona Restaurant Week

ARW09-LogoI just wrote about a few tips for saving money when dining out. Now here’s another huge tip, but it’s only good for a week and only if you happen to be in Arizona:

Indulge in Arizona Restaurant 2009 Week, starting Saturday, September 19  through next Saturday, September 26.

Every participating restaurant is offering a three-course dinner menu for $29 — excluding beverages, tax & tip.

With 114 Phoenix area restaurants participating (plus 33 in Tucson), a little strategic planning is in order to make the most of the week.

Here are a few strategies to get your game on.

Click on the restaurant name to see the menu choices, and special ad-ons the restaurants are offering either as gratis or for additional fees.

bistro-24--lambThe Adventurer:

You’re the type that loves to try new restaurants so naturally you’ll want to scope out the newest places in town. Try Acua, the restaurant that took over the Canal space at the Scottsdale Waterfront (so new the paint might still be wet) and Asian-flavored Nine-05 (from Zinc Bistro & The Mission folks) and the contemporary Avalon.

The Romantic:

Woo is the name of the game for you. You want to treat your special someone to something intimate, charming and memorable. You’ll want to try Coup des Tartes (bonus points for BYOB), House of Tricks, and Sassi. Both Coup des Tartes (Phoenix) and House of Tricks (Tempe) are cozy restaurants in quaint cottage houses. Sassi (far North Scottsdale) is a palatial “Italian villa” with incredible views from the patio.

The Loyalist:

CheuvrontsYou like sticking to the tried and true. No need to gamble on the unknown, especially when it comes to hard earned dollars. Besides, your favorite restaurants will appreciate your support during restaurant week. I can’t tell you which ones are your favorites, but I’m pretty sure that with 114 restaurants on the list, several are your old standbys. I’d be surprised if Tarbell’s, or Cowboy Ciao or Aiello’s wasn’t on someone’s list.

The Old World Traveler:

Your palate hasn’t met a cuisine it didn’t like, but you’re smitten with the charms of the classic cuisines of the world. You’re going to put Los Sombreros (Scottsdale) on your list because they know how to plate up real, central Mexico, Mexican food. And for a taste of France, hit Metro Brasserie (OK, so they’re more modern French Bistro but their classic frisee au lardons is 2nd only to Christopher’s and unfortunately, Christopher’s isn’t on the AZRW list). Want Italian? Try the elegant Ristorante Tuscany (J.W. Marriott, Desert Ridge, Phoenix). Spanish? Prado is a must, at the Montelucia Intercontinental resort.

The Foodie:Coup-Des-Tartes-chilean-sea

You like avant garde, cutting edge ingredients and techniques. You salivate just contemplating the thought of a freshly shaved truffle, a drop of 100 year-old balsamic, or a pool of demi-glace spiked with Belle de Brillet. Of course noca is on your list, probably at the top. When I compiled this list, noca’s menu hadn’t been posted, but you know and I know that it doesn’t matter. Whatever they do, they will do it well and with plenty of “wow” factor. Bourbon Steak ought to be high on your list, too. Even though it’s part of a super-star chef empire, the local man behind the stove is cooking up a storm with local ingredients.

Bottom Line…

No matter which approach you take, Arizona Restaurant Week offers something worth trying.

It’s especially a great opportunity to hit restaurants that sit on the high end of the dining dollar scale, like Roka Akor, Sushi Roku, and Deseo.

One last tip: regardless of which restaurants you ultimately choose, you might want to make reservations. I’m certain that many of these will sell out. Arizona Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to discover new favorites. And give some much-appreciated love to some old flames. Let the dining begin…

Photo credits (courtesy of Arizona Restaurant Week 2009):
Top right: Bistro 24
Middle left: Cheuvront
Bottom right: Coup des Tartes


Filed under News & Nibbles, Restaurant Journal