Arizona’s weather, particularly from November through April, is ideal for patio time while sipping a glass of wine and gazing at the stars in the wide-open Arizona sky. And there are some pretty incredible meals to be had in the Grand Canyon State. I’ve had the privilege of dining around the world, yet some of my most unforgettable wow dining moments took place in Arizona. Here are a few of what I consider to be the best foodie resorts in Arizona.
Romantic Meals in Arizona
When I think romance in Phoenix, I immediately think of the luxurious Royal Palms Resort & Spa. This Italian-style villa in Phoenix celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018, so you get to blend modern conveniences and décor with lush grounds that have been nurtured for seven decades.
The resort’s signature restaurant, T. Cook’s, offers great meals, whether you choose to dine in the restaurant, on the patio, or Via Cappello. The resort’s Via Cappello dining options are quiet, candle-lit lover’s corners around the grounds. These signature spots are ideal for a customized romantic dinner. You can find out more about my stay this past summer here.
Another of my favorite resorts for a quiet romantic escape is Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia in Paradise Valley, which brings the essence of the Mediterranean to the Arizona desert. Camelback Mountain is a dramatic backdrop for the resort. It always takes me back to the romantic hills of Spain as you walk along the piazza, past arches and fountains.
Dinner at Prado is a culinary experience, bringing the flavors of Spain to your table. My favorite bite at Prado is Crab Timbale. I recommend eating on the patio during the fall, winter, and spring. You can watch the mountains and enjoy the night sky while sampling some pretty amazing dishes.
Another foodie favorite is The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in North Scottsdale. Westin Kierland blends Old West with New West and embraces Arizona’s history and heritage. Dreamweavers Canyon Courtyard is a great spot to sip drinks and have lunch during the day or roast s’mores by the fires in the evenings. The Scottish bagpiper—honoring the Scottish immigrants who built Arizona’s railroads—plays at sunset each evening. You can catch the haunting tunes from Dreamweavers Canyon Courtyard while sipping cocktails around the fire pits and watching the sun dip behind the McDowell Mountains. I’ve had some pretty amazing wow moments there over the years.
For foodie lovers, head to the resort’s main restaurant, deseo. Some of my favorite meals in Arizona have been at deseo. The Nuevo Latino cuisine includes some creative dishes. I suggest sitting at The Rail, watching the chefs prepare beautiful tasty treats. You must try the million dollar tacos and savor those cheese rolls. They are the most amazing little fluffy bites of goodness anywhere.
Food and Wine—or Spirit—Pairings
I’ve spent some great family escapes at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. With its six pools, cabanas, and white sand beach, this resort is fun for kids of all ages. The water is always the perfect temperature and you can book a luxurious private cabana for the day. My favorite cabanas are the ones at Well & Being spa surrounding the rooftop pool.
However, I really love the food at three of the resort’s restaurants and they rate a stay all their own. We recently experienced a tasting at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak there, and it was definitely a wow moment. We decided to let the chef pick our dishes and to have the sommelier select wines to accompany each. For me, this is my absolute favorite way to eat. I end up trying things I’d never have ordered on my own and my husband and I have frequently discovered unforgettable dishes this way.
We started the meal with a plate of oysters. I’m generally not a huge oyster fan and definitely not when they’re served raw. But, since this was the first course in our chef-driven menu, I decided to give it a try. And I loved them. I actually ate two. The white ponzu gives it just enough citrus to really compliment the sea and these tiny little oysters, with fresh wasabi, were packed with flavor.
The real draw at Bourbon Steak is, well…the steak. The restaurant features both US dry-aged beef along with Japanese and American Wagyu. I suggest trying the meats side-by-side as we did. They have a very unique flavor and while I prefer the Wagyu, my husband prefers the US dry-aged beef.
Everything was paired perfectly with the wines, and I treasure that experience. I also recommend trying Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar for some really unique flavors that blend Asia and Latin America, all paired with rums. My favorite there is the rainbow tropical roll with a cool but spicy mango papaya salsa. If you’re there for brunch, be sure to order the grilled avocado toast. It’s so amazing with a sunny side up egg on top.
Another favorite at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval. This restaurant has been a local favorite for 25 years and has recently reopened for its renaissance. I recommend a sampler of the fresh guacamole to start. After that, you can try the Short Rib Barbacoa or the Tampiqueña, delicious skirt steak with cactus pico and guacamole. Be sure to try a tequila flight or one of the margaritas here. Just ask the Tequila Goddess if you have any questions. She has all the tequila answers!
Mid-Century Modern Vibes in Phoenix
Phoenix was a big winter destination for The Who’s Who of Hollywood in the 1950s. You can experience some of that mid-century Modern vibe at two of my favorite hotels in Scottsdale—Hotel Valley Ho and Mountain Shadows.
Hotel Valley Ho is in the heart of Downtown Scottsdale and successfully combines hip with a touch of retro. The scene at OH Pool rocks all year long. If you book a cabana room, you can enjoy private chaise lounges just steps from the pool.
If you prefer your own private party, book one of the hotel’s luxury suites. These range in size and style, but each one has a private patio. Some are two-story suites and might offer such luxuries as full gourmet kitchens, where you can have the staff prepare a gourmet meal in the comfort of your suite. I have so adored staying at Hotel Valley Ho throughout the years and love the newest update to all of the rooms.
I love dining at Zuzu at Hotel Valley Ho. Meals feature creative twists on classic dishes, which you can enjoy in the space where Hollywood’s A-Listers have been eating since 1956. One of my all-time favorite dishes are the scallops in a lobster butter broth. Desserts are something to celebrate at ZuZu, where you can order a Show Stopper Shake. Flavors change monthly.
Breakfasts are equally as impressive at ZuZu, where I always make sure I get the cheesy grits. The Red Velvet Pancakes are pretty special. Oh, and order the Ho-J to drink – ice cream and orange juice just scream Arizona mornings. On the weekends, you can enjoy brunch, which includes creative Bellini and Bloody Mary bars.
One of the Valley’s newest resorts, Mountain Shadows, is a new favorite for several reasons. The original resort was built here in 1959. It completely reopened in 2017 with beautiful views of Camelback Mountain. I stayed in an Immerse guestroom and it was such a pleasure. I loved the big tub set in the window. What a place to relax after a long day exploring the area.
The mid-century vibes at Mountain Shadows are more subtle than what you’ll find at their sister property, Hotel Valley Ho, but definitely there. I adore the big open art spaces at Mountain Shadows. There is always some artist on display, and it gives you a feel of wandering through a fine art museum when you walk down the hallways near the lobby.
The gem for foodies at Mountain Shadows is Hearth ’61. This beautiful open kitchen, under the guidance of Chef Charles Wiley, uses organic ingredients and really delivers on flavors. I love the Niman Ranch tenderloin. It was one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. I also really enjoy the Moroccan spiced rack of lamb. The food is colorful, creative, and so flavorful.
You can dine in the restaurant or sit at the bar and enjoy cocktails and food. My favorite drinks are the creative takes on classic drinks. While sitting in the bar, I would suggest an order of the warm duck confit served with Noble bread crostini, an Arizona original.
Escape with a View
Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa not only offers great views but its restaurant, elements, is an experience to remember. Under the direction of Executive Chef Beau Macmillan, elements is a dining experience that gives you both a feel of luxury and family at the same time. Chef Beau loves to cook. He loves to make people feel good with his food. And you can feel it when you’re in the restaurant.
I know it may sound crazy, but the escargot at elements is one of my favorite dishes. Yes, snails. Served with a shoyu cream that is delightful. I suggest the Kurobuta pork chop for an entrée. The chops are topped with a 5-spice honey hoisin glaze that is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. I suggest going early for drinks at jade bar. This is one of the most scenic bars around and there is often live music. The drinks are classic. One of my best memories at jade bar is attending one of their Mixology 101 classes.
Located in the foothills of Pinnacle Peak north of Scottsdale, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North offers stellar views of the entire Valley, world-class golf, luxurious desert living, and gourmet dining.
While I enjoy the pool and the spa at Four Seasons, my favorite thing at the resort is to enjoy the breathtaking views—and the meals that accompany them. I love to sit on the patio at Onyx Bar, cocktail in hand, looking out over the Valley at sunset. The resort’s signature restaurant, Talavera, has my favorite patio in the Valley of the Sun.
The menu at Talavera recently changed, and Chef Samantha Sanz brings international flavors in every dish. I recommend trying her paella—it’s from an old family recipe.
For more casual dining, pop into Proof, where the upscale diner serves up great food in a fun setting. Desserts are old school at Proof, complete with a soda fountain.
Nothing says luxury in Phoenix better than The Phoenician. You’ll see marble from Carrera, Italy, and ceilings etched in 24-karat gold. One of my favorite experiences is having afternoon tea at The Phoenician. It’s an experience that is sure to bring smiles.
For a beautiful view of the city lights, head upstairs to J&G Steakhouse for dinner. The meals are complimented with handcrafted cocktails, fine wines, and beautiful views of Phoenix.
While it might not have the same great views as J&G Steakhouse, I also recommend Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician. This is another foodie delight and wouldn’t be complete without the buttermilk buns, created from Chef Tandy’s family recipe. Don’t forget to slather on the duck fat fig butter. You won’t regret it. Everything is tasty here and the Mowry chop salad is one of the best I’ve had anywhere with pheasant, black currant, and mole.
Another great restaurant with a view worth a visit is CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar at The Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain. Located at the foot of the Tortolita Mountains and surrounded by miles of walking and hiking trails, the hotel is about 30 minutes north of Tucson.
The views are truly memorable here and when the Native American flutist plays each evening at sunset, you will swear the weight of the world is a million miles away. I love the casual dining on Ignite’s terrace. You can get drinks and appetizers there – or a complete dinner. But, I recommend having dinner downstairs at CORE. You can either enjoy the comfortable dining room or dine out on the patio in nice weather. The steaks are delicious and they offer great seasonal salads and desserts.
Immerse Yourself in Arizona Culture
For a taste of Arizona’s Native American culture, I recommend Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass on the Gila River Indian Community near Chandler. I adore this resort and its quiet, peaceful atmosphere. The AAA Four Diamond resort is home to luxurious Aji Spa, Whirlwind Golf Club, Ko’Sin Restaurant, and the state’s only AAA Five-Diamond/Forbes Five Star restaurant, Kai.
You drive a few miles off I-10 to reach the resort, so you will find yourself surrounded by the Arizona desert. It’s an ideal spot for exploring the Native American culture. You can walk along nature paths that include signs explaining the flora and its importance to the Native Americans. You can also opt for a romantic ride on the river through the natural desert landscape, soak up the sun by the pool, or sip cocktails in the two-story lobby.
An unforgettable evening awaits at five-star Kai Restaurant. This unique award-winning restaurant features ingredients farmed from the Gila River Indian Community and exquisite flavors blending Old West with New West. While you’re there, be sure to keep a lookout for the wild horses. One of my best memories was watching the herd of wild horses run across the desert nearby, kicking up dust as the sun set behind them.
There are some pretty amazing luxury escapes offering great foodie experiences in Arizona. There are so many choices, and a winter getaway in the desert is perfect for getting that foodie fix with a touch of luxury. The hard part will be deciding which one of my favorite resorts, each with amazing flavors, you’ll choose. Be sure to share your experiences.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations, meals, tours and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.