You know you’re in the Southwest when you see cilantro listed among the ingredients on the menu. Read on to find places to sample Cilantro in Scottsdale.
You know you’re in the Southwest when you see cilantro listed among the ingredients on the menu. This lacy green beauty is more than a defining flavor of Southwestern Cuisine—it’s also one of the most polarizing herbs on the planet. Recent studies have shown that we may be genetically predisposed to love or hate it.
If you’re a card-carrying cilantrophobe, not to worry—Scottsdale offers plenty of delicious, cilantro-free cuisine. But if you L-O-V-E this aromatic herb, here are a few of my ideas for enjoying cilantro’s unique flavor.
Chef and Co-Founder Rich Hinojosa of CRUjiente Tacos uses cilantro stems and leaves in his creations. The flavors are so layered and complex that I dare you to pick a favorite. The Mexican Chop salad has a vibrant cilantro vinaigrette, a brilliant offset for little squares of deep-fried cotija cheese. CRUjiente’s tacos go beyond simple tacos. I love the Texas Wagyu with its slightly spicy cilantro mojo—the perfect complement to the sweet soy-pickled shimeji mushrooms. It’s a wow dish.
I wasn’t sure how I would like the pork belly tacos, but the unexpected blend of cilantro with house kimchi blew my socks off. I was happily surprised to find a delicious cilantro cocktail at CRUjiente Tacos, the Arcadia Margarita, made with muddled jalapeño, cucumber, and cilantro. The restaurant’s co-founder Jason Morris created this delicious drink. It wasn’t overly spicy, but was refreshing and highlighted each ingredient, making it a perfect companion to my cilantro-centric dining experience.
The Mission, with locations in downtown and Kierland Commons, serves up tableside guacamole that showcases the vibrancy of cilantro. The green herb adds freshness to the guac. And no, it is not spicy.
Another way to feature cilantro is in a fresh green sauce or salsa verde. This traditional sauce usually includes tomatillos, similar to tart tomatoes, blended with peppers, onions, and cilantro, and served on savory dishes.
For a great example of salsa verde, head to Roaring Fork and order the Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder Carnitas. The house-made hot buttered flour tortillas make this dish extra special. Order the frozen margarita with a huckleberry swirl for a cool Southwestern pairing with a twist.
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This Green Herb is Good for You
Perhaps best of all, cilantro is high in antioxidants and is thought to reduce anxiety, protect against cardiovascular disease, help improve sleep, settle digestive upset, protect against colon cancer, reduce inflammation, and fight infection. Whew! These benefits alone might be reason enough to at least try to love this fabulous herb. If you want to taste this little herb, check out Wander with Wonder for more great restaurants in Scottsdale and elsewhere throughout Arizona.
Note: This article originally appeared in Scottsdale Visitors Guide.