Though small in comparison to its neighbor in the west, Scottsdale’s food offerings are anything but.

Scottsdale has over 800 restaurants citywide, and most of them are locally owned, according to Alleson Dunaway, the destination services manager for Experience Scottsdale. On top of that, most of the ingredients at these hotspots are sourced in town.

“People want to eat locally. They don’t just want to experience a destination they want to experience the local food. We actually have a lot in our backyard,” she said. “We have ranches here where we can source meats, local bakeries doing all the bread, local produce from farmers markets … that’s really one thing people don’t understand. Even though it’s so hot here we have really good growing conditions because farmers can regulate the water here.”

For groups meeting in Scottsdale, we’ve narrowed down the list from 800 restaurants to six—all event capable and starring unique, local ingredients to give attendees a real taste of the town.

1. Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine

Foraging for indigenous foods to use in its dishes is at the heart of Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine.

“Chef Brett Vibber leads the foraging efforts, harvesting ingredients like cactus fruit for a balsamic vinaigrette, watercress for his Venison Meatballs, and mushrooms for his Foraged Truffle Butter,” Dunaway said.

The commitment to local ingredients doesn’t end there. The restaurant also sources microgreens from Mountain Sky Farms in North Scottsdale, cheese from Crow’s Dairy in nearby Buckeye and shrimp from Desert Sweet Shrimp in Gila Bend. The restaurant even has its own citrus orchard onsite, producing lemons, oranges, grapefruits and limes.

Private dining spaces are plentiful at Cartwright’s Modern Cuisine, with the largest space—the Ranch Room—available to accommodate up to 80 people.

2. Barrio Queen

Given Arizona’s proximity to the Mexico border, it should come as no surprise to groups in the Scottsdale area that Mexican cuisine is some of its best.

Barrio Queen Patio Dining, Credit: Barrio Queen
Barrio Queen Patio Dining, Credit: Barrio Queen

For those on the hunt for authentic Mexican street tacos and other traditional family recipe-type dishes, Barrio Queen self-promotes as the best place for “Mexico City soul food.”

“Our Mexican food is fabulous [in Scottsdale] and Barrio Queen makes some of the best,” Dunaway said. “They even have a cactus taco.”

The cactus taco is just one of the 20-plus varieties of mix-and-match street tacos.

Other menu highlights include the award-winning Cochinita Pibil, succulent slow-roasted pork seasoned with sour orange and achiote; and Coctel de Elóte, sweet grilled corn topped with butter, cotija cheese, cilantro and lime.

Barrio Queen also offers one of the state’s most expansive tequila menus, boasting more than 200 labels. The restaurant space is ideal for smaller groups looking for a post-event dining spot.

For larger events, full catering services are available.

3. El Chorro

Built in 1934 as a girls’ school, El Chorro’s unmatched location—nestled between the Camelback and Mummy mountains—make it one of the most impressive group dining venues in the Valley.

El Chorro Patio View of Camelback Mountain, Credit: El Chorro
El Chorro Patio View of Camelback Mountain, Credit: El Chorro

Dunaway says one of the most popular meeting spaces within the restaurant is the old classroom bar, which still retains some of its original 1934 furnishings like the copper-topped fireplace.

El Chorro can accommodate larger groups of up to 500 people on its event lawn, too, a 5,800-square-foot manicured lawn with a full stage.

French-trained Executive Chef Christophe Mihy uses locally sourced ingredients to serve classic Southwestern dinner fare, from fried chicken to filet mignon at El Chorro.

The house brown sugar–glazed sticky buns make the restaurant famous, though, as seen on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Every order of an entree includes a basket of the sweet and sticky treats that get served before your meal arrives.

4. The Mission

The Mission has two locations in Scottsdale—one in Old Town and one in the outdoor shopping destination Kierland Commons—and blends cuisine influenced by Spain, Mexico, Central America and South America into its menu items.

The restaurant is perhaps best-known for its tableside guacamole, made with 12 ingredients. Dunaway calls it her “favorite guacamole in the world.”

The Mission's Famous 12-Ingredient Tableside Guacamole, Credit: Halie Sutton for Experience Scottsdale
The Mission's Famous 12-Ingredient Tableside Guacamole, Credit: Halie Sutton for Experience Scottsdale

Additionally, tortillas and salsas are all made onsite, and meats are prepared “a la plancha,” or on a grill using pecan and mesquite wood.

Private parties at both locations can be requested for up to 65 people.

The Mission has designated onsite event coordinators at both locations to accommodate specific requests and menu customization.

5. Old Town Tortilla Factory

Housed in a 75-year-old adobe home, Old Town Tortilla Factory does, in fact, make its own tortillas and serves them with Southwestern- and Sonoran-inspired cuisine.

Old Town Tortilla Factory, Credit: Debby Wolvos for Experience Scottsdale
Old Town Tortilla Factory, Credit: Debby Wolvos for Experience Scottsdale

The restaurant can accommodate group events from 20 to 300.

A popular option is to dine on the 1,400-square-foot patio, which is shaded by 100-year-old pecan trees and decorated with twinkle lights and a fire-topped fountain patio.

Groups can sit in the patio year-round—it’s climate-controlled, misted in the summer and heated in the winter. For tequila aficionados, the adjacent gazebo bar features more than 120 premium tequilas for sampling.

Additionally, planners organizing an event in the Scottsdale area can contact Old Town Tortilla Factory to cater for seated dinners or hors d'oeuvres.

6. LON’s at Hermosa Inn

The AAA Four Diamond Restaurant LON’s is nestled inside a popular boutique hotel, The Hermosa Inn, which is often used by meetings and events groups for corporate retreats. Groups eating here will be treated to globally inspired Arizona cuisine sourced by local ingredients.

LON's Super Food Salad at Hermosa Inn, Credit: Debby Wolvos Photography
LON's Super Food Salad at Hermosa Inn, Credit: Debby Wolvos Photography

“Farm-to-table is more than a catchphrase for LON’s Executive Chef Jeremy Pacheco,” Dunaway explained. “His family’s Arizona roots date back nine generations, and Pacheco’s memories of growing up on the family farm have inspired his menu at LON’s at The Hermosa Inn.”

Indigenous ingredients are an integral part of every dish on LON’s menu, whether groups dine there for brunch or dinner. The “Local Omelette,” for example, is a breakfast blend of spinach, tomatoes and goat cheese from local purveyors of produce and artisan products.

Planners can request private dining space indoors for to up to 70.

For larger groups, the patio can accommodate 100.

3 Notable Outdoor Meeting Spaces in the Phoenix-Scottsdale Area

(1) Canyon on Third, Phoenix Convention Center

The Phoenix Convention Center rebranded its 80,000-square-foot outdoor meeting space as “Canyon on Third” this summer. The move follows an increase in interest in using the space, following its hosting of Super Bowl and college playoff event activations.

“It can host types of events that attendees usually go off property for—receptions, some type of opening or closing party,” said Jerry Harper, deputy director at Phoenix Convention Center.

The space is right outside of the main meeting and exhibition spaces at the convention center, making it easy for attendees to flow in and out.

Canyon on Third, Credit: Phoenix Convention Center
Canyon on Third, Credit: Phoenix Convention Center

Harper noted that the open-air space is a blank slate—some past planners have used it for exhibition space, while others have brought it rock climbing walls and performers. The canyon-inspired architecture of the convention center reflects in the outdoor space as well.

“The colors of the stone reflect the same type of hues you’d get from Grand Canyon,” he added.

“The stacked floor plan design rising up east and west side of the street gives the space a canyon-feel with colors to match.”

(2) The Scottsdale Plaza Resort

This resort is a staple for Scottsdale meetings and offers scenic views—the property is framed by Camelback and Mummy Mountains, and the Spanish-style architecture and plentiful gardens add to the ambience.

Planners have plenty of outdoor spaces onsite to choose from, including:

  • The Plaza Lawn, which was renovated in 2018 and features increased privacy, stone pillars and wrought iron and wood gates;
  • Cypress Court, which offers views of Mummy Mountain and is complete with Portofino lights, fire pits pine trees and pear cacti for up to 1,200 people;
  • Terraza, the 800-capacity onsite pavilion that provides an elevated stage, twinkle lights and an outdoor patio;
  • and Camelback Vista, featuring views of Camelback Mountain from its patios.

(3) Gertrude’s

This November 2019, Gertrude’s idyllic patio will reopen after renovations.

The Phoenix restaurant—nestled in the heart of the 140-acre Desert Botanical Garden—already is considered to have one of the best patios in town, which is surrounded by gardens and can be reserved for private events up to 100.

[Related Content: Aventri's Top Meeting and Event Venues in the U.S. for 2019]

The restaurant, which specializes in local cuisine with an aim to support and celebrate Arizona’s growers and producers, often uses herbs grown on the patio in its dishes.

Attendees can dine al fresco on dishes like smoked salmon salad, elote fritters and the house Gertie burger.

Scottsdale and Phoenix CVB Contact Information

Experience Scottsdale

Visit Phoenix