My husband Steve and I have long been fans of what I refer fondly to as "Bistro Therapy" -- i.e. we love to find new places to dine out together that are charming, quiet, aesthetically-attractive, serve tasty healthy real/organic food, and that also offer attentive service. (Oh I know; we have high standards and we want it all!) "Bistro Therapy" melts our stresses away, and then we don't have to cook and clean up either which is even better to this 24/7 home cook!
We've always kept a set monthly dining out budget since the beginning of our long marriage, and we've used it up various ways over the years as our lifestyle has evolved. Most of the time we dine out about once a week for lunch, and we usually alternate smaller charming affordable places with larger more expensive and luxe resorts etc. in order to stay within our overall monthly dining out budget.
Our dining out time together is also our main "entertainment" expense, in addition to our travels, and is sometimes part of a day trip where we just enjoy driving together and taking in the scenery along the way.
I usually research the dining options online, run them by Steve, and once we agree we would like to try a new place, he Google maps the location and gets us there, saying good-naturedly that he likes "driving Miss Daisy." (Fine by me; I'm happy to be a rider and not a driver!)
I also keep a typed printed list of all the places we've already been in my wallet so if we are out and about and want to find a good place fast, we can easily refer to our list and avoid the "where should we go" question.
Below are the very varied restaurants we have enjoyed since moving to the Greater Phoenix area in July, 2018. We are by no means professional restaurant critics nor certified food experts, so the comments below are simply our personal opinions. I will be updating this list as we continue to dine our way around The Valley of the Sun so please check back for our latest. (Also, we much prefer quieter venues, so for us personally, if a place has loud music we don't usually go back. But that might not bother you, of course.)
1. Arrivederci Italian Bistro, Scottsdale. LOVED! Charmingly elegant; has a location in Ahwatukee too. Owner’s daughter was so sweet and waited on us and brought us a complimentary dessert for our 38th anniversary. An impeccable and romantic anniversary celebration!
2. Kitchen West at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. On-site restaurant overlooking beautiful golf course. FAB salmon appetizer board. Excellent service. Romantic.
3. Alessia’s Ristorante Italiano, Mesa. Great Italian food and charming romantic little place for dinner. Quiet conversation. Nice outdoor patio. Very nice Euro-ish ambiance and we'll be back!
4. Board & Batten French, Mesa. Gorgeous outdoor patio and restaurant and FAB food. Chicken Chasseur was great as was goat cheese appetizer. Sweet waitress. Beautifully designed/decorated upscale restaurant next to owners’ wedding venue. We'll be back!
5. Mango’s Mexican Café, downtown Mesa. Great homemade taco shells. Inexpensive. A local "mom and pop style" little restaurant. Not fancy, but good local food.
6. The Harp Pub in Village Square at Dana Park, Chandler. Since my husband is half Irish, we like to try an Irish pub now and then just for fun. Excellent sausage and potatoes. Huge portions. Loud music. Nice waiter. Cute and large for an Irish Pub, with fun quotes painted on the walls.
7. The Patio at Las Sendas Country Club, Mesa. Beautiful valley view far into the distance and the food is always good. No GF, but salmon on salad very good. Great sweet waitresses. Beautiful cactus view entrance winds into property. Just great! Sunsets are spectacular from the patio!
8. Sunnyside Breakfast Lounge, Mesa. Good GF pancakes. Omelet great. Noisy inside but patio might be quieter. HUGE portions. Fun murals painted on walls.
9. The Gilbert House, Gilbert. Owner is from a South Dakota dairy farm and she brought her heritage to her café in AZ. Since we both grew up in South Dakota we thought we'd try this out. Excellent food and large portions. Nice patio outdoors. Sweet waitress. Great coffee. Cottage-style small town charm in the sprawling desert and we shall go back!
10. Arrivederci, Ahwatukee. Very nice/charming. Good food. Euro portions. Met a regular there who comes every Friday night and was very friendly and chatty and introduced us to the servers. Great waiter.
11. Romeo’s Euro Café, Gilbert. Cute/charming Euro café where we had dessert and coffee. Very nice waiter from Michigan said “welcome” and told us about special wine nights. Great place to try after their dinner theater nearby.
12. The Player's Grill & Patio at Red Mountain Ranch Country Club, Mesa. Grill overlooks beautiful golf course. Good food, nice waiter. Very nice lunch experience.
13. San Tan Brewing Company, Chandler downtown. Appetizers. LOUD inside; ate on patio. Good food and service. We were "playing tourist" in downtown Chandler and famished which is why we stopped here as we are not usually brewery type diners, but it was fun to sit on the patio outside.
14. Bavarian Point German Restaurant, Mesa. Since we are both of German descent this was one to try and it was good. Big portions. Nice waitress too. Old-school dated decor is retro but charming too.
15. Saguaro Lake Restaurant, overlooking Lake Saguaro in the beautiful Tonto National Forest. Gorgeous patio view of the lake, mountains, cactus, boats and our food was good. The drive through the Tonto National Forest is beautiful, especially in spring when the hills were so green, so driving to here to eat is worth it to me for that alone. (Along with the nice lake view once you get there!)
16. Vincitorios, Tempe. Excellent food and service. Charming and really fun celebratory choice for my 60th birthday dinner with my dear husband Steve.
17. Frank & Alberts @ The Phoenix Arizona Biltmore. Sunny patio. Good food and service. Beautiful grounds. Wonderful outdoor lunch. Employee saw us looking at the historical photos and offered to take us up to the history room to see even more pix. What an amazing room and special history treat!
18. All American Sports Grille, Fountain Hills. Views the big fountain; excellent view and big menu. We are not usually sports-grill type diners, but the view of the fountain can't be beat from the patio so it's fun to sit outside and quieter than the sports-bar area inside.
19. Nando’s Mexican Cafe, Mesa. Huge portions and good food. Nice outdoor patio that I thought could be cleaner. Loud music.
20. Flourish @ Copperwynd Resort, Fountain Hills. Good Happy Hour hamburger. Good salads. FAB views and elegant upscale decor. The view of the valley is magnificent from the restaurant inside and the adjacent outdoor grounds are lovely and overlook a beautiful terraced pool area.
21. The Wrigley Mansion, Biltmore Area, Phoenix. Historic property and beautiful view from front outdoor patio where we had our Christmas lunch celebration which was lovely. Nice terraces on the back side where we sat outside. An amazingly gorgeous historic property with old photos on the walls and updated property with modern charm.
22. Arrivederci Italian Bistro, Fountain Hills. Charming decor and location and good food so will go back. My GF pasta dish was really good.
23. Flower Child, Arcadia. Fab food, good service. Vegan dish was wonderful! I love Flower Child's "retro hip" charm.
24. Flower Child, Scottsdale. Cute patio, good service. Great food. Nice location. Great takeout alternative to fast food (that we don't eat unless we are traveling and desperate.) Servers are always helpful and friendly there.
25. Kneaders, Mesa. A better alternative to fast food. Salads and soup that are GF. Cute restaurant decor inside with “gift shop” home décor items as you wait in line. Nice outdoor patio.
26. Gertrude's at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix. FAB food in nice outdoor setting with beautiful cactus and desert flora. Vegan and GF available. Service was attentive and excellent. Would definitely go back!
27. Brio Tuscan Grille, San Tan Village, Gilbert. Very big and loud(er) music; two nice outdoor patios on street. Food and service were good. Lovely interior décor.
28. Cantina Loredo Gourmet Mexican in San Tan Village, Gilbert. Good food but very small portions. Excellent service. VERY LOUD music.
29. Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn, Scottsdale. Wonderful salads. Nice waiter. Patio and property are beautiful in history and design concept, but personally I thought the grounds and umbrellas over the food tables needed some TLC and cleanup. Maybe it was just the timing when we were there as this is a highly rated restaurant in the area when you read reviews online.
30. La Madeleine French Bistro, San Tan Village, Gilbert. Loved! Cute setting, quieter, FAB food for reasonable price. Clean. Will go back!
31. Scottsdale Plaza Resort, Scottsdale. Garden Court was closed so we ate near the pool from the bar menu at JD's and the food and service was excellent with large portions. Will go back to try Garden Court soon for the elegant ambiance of the dining room.
32. The Boulders Resort, Carefree, AZ. Loved! View of course/pond was amazing and the food/salad was super good, and our server was helpful and attentive too. We sat on the patio overlooking the beautiful fountain/pond.
33. Terras at Civana Resort, Carefree, AZ. Loved! Had great fish tacos in the bar area while lounging on the living-room style sofa with an ice-cold OJ/milk/crushed ice drink I requested. The restaurant is all new modern décor and absolutely gorgeous, as is the property/pool area etc. Peaceful place seems great for a wellness retreat.
34. Rita’s Kitchen at Camelback Inn Resort, Scottsdale, AZ. We had lunch on the back patio by the fountains and flowers, with the mountains in the distance. Beautiful! Desert flora and fauna/cactus absolutely amazing, with many cactus being very old. Food was great as was service. Very nice concierge gal was fun to chat with in the lobby. Really fun huge B&W pictures of the history of the property through the years. Amazing small two-pew chapel. Go back and stay there overnight for a romantic getaway as it’s really a magical property and ambiance!
35. Durant's, Phoenix. An old-timey restaurant "fixture" in Phoenix for about 65 years, we really enjoyed our lunch there, and the waiter did his very best to cater to our veggies-only wishes, with my hubby having a large salad and me a stir-fry that were both tasty. Great "retro" vibe and really fun place.
36. The Ledge at Gold Canyon Golf Resort, Gold Canyon, AZ. A beautiful view from the Ledge patio where we sat overlooking the expansive greenery of the golf course and grounds. Lovely salads. Really enjoyed this day-drive "out in the country" to Apache Junction.
37. Olive & Ivy, Scottsdale, AZ Waterfront. We had lunch here recently and sat on the patio overlooking the waterfront, in the heat, with the misters! The breakfast potatoes are fab! Our service was good, and the view of the waterfront from the patio is really beautiful. Our personal opinion is that the patio itself though was very in need of cleaning though, especially for such a nice restaurant. Perhaps it's because it's summer and not snowbird season so we were the only ones sitting outside until another group came. The inside of the restaurant was full of people.
38. The Canal Club at The Scott Resort, Scottsdale. What a charmingly cozy step-back-in time sort of restaurant. We sat in the area by the pool outside and it was really lovely, as was our food. I chose a grain dish that was excellent and my husband liked his salad too. The hotel lobby and room with historic black and white photos and vintage car outside are really fun too! This place reminds me of old Palm Springs, CA venues we have enjoyed on past travels. Highly recommend. Be sure to take a walk around the grounds around the pools too -- really pretty and I imagine gorgeous at night.
39. Picazzos, Paradise Valley, AZ. What a charming little neighborhood-style bistro-ish restaurant with vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free pizza, pasta, and more. We loved it! Our service was great and our food was so amazingly tasty! We had pizza and shared a nice salad and enjoyed both. Recommend! We are going to try their other locations as well.