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The casoncelli with butternut squash, amaretti, Parmesan and pomegranate ($15) at Fat Ox in Scottsdale


10 Most Exciting New Restaurants

By Riki Altman-Yee, Lad Makinde, Teresa K. Traverse, David Tyda and Lauren Swanson

Photo by Ayo Skeete of MMPR Marketing


The city’s booming culinary scene is hallmarked by inspiring new restaurant openings, impressive chefs, dishes to die for, experiences to savor and a spectrum of food and drink trends that take dining out into a whole new and exciting realm.

Barrio Café Gran Reserva
Securing a seat at this 30-seater might prove to be challenging, but the effort pays off as soon as a spoonful of chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s zesty posole verde hits the palate, followed by a cool sip of Bosscal mezcal with Grand Marnier. The five-course tasting menu is a must-do, at least once, especially since it only costs $42 and comes with colorful explanations (those are complimentary). 1301 W. Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602.252.2777

Fat Ox
Remember Quilted Bear and Davanti Enoteca? If so, erase the memory. If not, there are plenty of reasons to appreciate the striking new concept that took over the spot, now offering incredible modern Italian meals in a superchic glass-enclosed environment with an outdoor patio boasting its own bar and olive tree. Those who start with the tableside Caesar and partake in the housemade pastas—especially the casoncelli with butternut squash ($15)—and sizable steaks, will understand why chef Matthew Carter (of The Mission and The House Brasserie) will make this place a star. 6316 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480.307.6900

Diners might be partial to chef Chris Neff’s elevated comfort-food classics, like country fried Mary’s chicken with potato gnocchi ($29) or one of the Allen Brothers steaks, finished with butter and housemade hickory smoked salt. But locals will insist the seafood selection is what makes Lincoln special. Not many places in the Valley offer black cod, Arctic char, diver scallops, tuna and shellfish on the regular. JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa, 5402 E. Lincoln Drive, Scottsdale, 480.905.7979

Mora Italian
Once we learned celebrity chef Scott Conant teamed up with the CEO/owner of Pomo Restaurant Group, Stefano Fabbri, to create a modern osteria in the modish Seventh Street corridor, we wanted in. Granted, the wait took longer than expected, but now that the dream of Neapolitan pizza, Conant’s signature polenta and freshly made extruded pasta has officially come to fruition, locals and tourists are in Seventh Heaven. Entrees from $19. 5651 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602.354.7088

Few places are as alluring as Sel, especially with its glam interiors and alfresco patio facing all the Scottsdale Art Walk action. Yet once the first course arrives, be it anything from crispy cauliflower polenta to braised Niman Ranch pork belly, all the focus moves from the environs to each artfully prepared bite. Chef and co-owner Branden Levine ensures the entire four-course prix fixe meal ($60 to $70 per person, plus $50 for wine pairings) teases, then satiates, like nothing else in town. We have said it before and we will say it again: This gem is definitely more than the sum of its parts. 7044 E. Main St., Scottsdale, 480.949.6296

STABLE LIFE Stock & Stable in Uptown Phoenix blends old with new in a modern-industrial atmosphere.

Sonata’s Restaurant
Though the restaurant’s namesake and owner, Sonata Molocajeviene Tuft, was born in Lithuania, she and her co-owners, along with Executive Chef Josh Bracher, created a menu that represents dishes inspired by at least nine European countries. Now we can eat modern takes on pickled herring ($12), chicken Kiev ($17) and oxtail stew ($18) without having to hide a passport or learn a foreign language, all in a Scottsdale-chic atmosphere. 10050 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 127, Scottsdale, 480.477.1390

Stock & Stable
This gastropub seated firmly in the chic Seventh Street Dining District not only has the market cornered on cool, but it also offers a mind-blowing salumi board ($25) and an entirely craveworthy menu, with everything from sloppy Joe tostadas ($12) to double-cut pork chops with apple gastrique ($18). Insiders know the end of the meal signals the start of the night: Stairs at the back of the eatery lead to Honor Amongst Thieves, a wildly popular speakeasy component serving martinis, tonics and cocktails “stolen” from the classics. 5538 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602.313.1001

Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen
Executive Chef Adam Sheff pulls from a multitude of local sources to create breakfast dishes like blue corn pancakes with orange-poppy curd and rye whiskey syrup ($16), and dirty hash browns with green chili pork, queso and housemade hot sauce ($14), along with his rotating selection of homemade jerky bar snacks, some made with honey from an on-site apiary. The biggest selling point, however, is that breakfast is served until 2pm. Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, 6114 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480.368.1234

James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco already had quite a following with his Pizzeria Bianco concept; then he took a brave step away from the pizza oven to open a tiny trattoria—literally one step away. His fan base swelled, as crowds giddily consumed dishes like spaghetti alla chitarra with cherry tomato passata, shaved elephant garlic and pecorino ($19), and his braised pork shank, occasionally offered with slow-roasted peaches and chicos corn ($30). 4743 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 602.296.7761

Zen Culinary
Handcrafted sushi, smoked-tea sea bass ($36) and curry dishes (from $14) are just the start of Zen’s menu, designed to represent both land and sea. Boasting 300 seats and Asian-inspired interiors, the restaurant and lounge offer two patios, perfectly suited for the enjoyment of late-night cocktails. We recommend the Protagonist ($12), a mix of Japanese whisky, Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco, banana liqueur and toasted sesame tincture—followed by an Uber. 15544 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480.296.0030  

See More of Our 50 Finest Restaurants here:
5 Over-The-Top Dining Experiences
5 Best Wine Lists
5 Pizza Meccas
3 Place to See and Be Seen
5 Chefs of the Moment
3 Most Creative Desserts
5 Best Brunches
4 Trends Defining Scottsdale
5 Top Mixologists and Their Signature Drinks