Scottsdale is a patio town, and it’s easy to understand why. Residents and visitors alike will tell you the Sonoran Desert’s sunny days, cool evenings and mountain views are the perfect complements to a great meal. Almost year-round, diners clamor for an outdoor table, crowding under outdoor heaters in the winter and patio misters in the summer. You won’t even think about staying inside in the spring and fall when the weather is simply perfection. Luckily, most Scottsdale-area restaurants easily meet the alfresco demand, offering flexible indoor-outdoor spaces and large patios. Of course, dining out—or outdoors, as it were—isn’t truly satisfying without really good food. These restaurants are long-time favorites and meet a diverse range of tastes: grilled steaks and seafood, fresh pastas and Mexican and Mediterranean favorites. El Encanto is the most family-friendly of the bunch, while the others lend themselves to a romantic dinner or special night out.
Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn
Once the home of cowboy artist Lon Megargee, this elegant yet cozy restaurant embodies the essence of old Arizona. Western flavors rule, with roasted, smoked and wood-grilled meats, complemented by heirloom vegetables and truffled goat cheese and macaroni. Tour the restaurant’s organic garden, and dine on the patio for beautiful views of the desert.
For one of the best views of Phoenix and Scottsdale, enjoy a dinner on the terrace of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Steakhouse. It’s enough to convince an out-of-towner to move to Arizona. The sleek restaurant’s steaks are sublime, but its tuna tartare, served with avocado, radishes and a ginger marinade, would be on the menu of my final meal.
It’s all about the patio at this causal, family-owned Cave Creek oasis. Outdoor tables line a pleasant lagoon and courtyard, where palm trees grow and colorful tiles create a charming atmosphere. The menu features delicious Mexican classics and some of the best seafood this side of the border, such as the fish tacos and sautéed shrimp.
House of Tricks
Tucked behind big, shady trees just south of Scottsdale, in the college town of Tempe, this 1920s cottage offers casual charm and sophisticated New American dishes with French, Asian and Southwestern flavors. Enjoy a glass of wine in the outdoor Garden Bar or opt for a cozy dinner on one of the multiple patios. You won’t be disappointed.
With a view like this, who needs to eat? Reserve a table on Prado’s patio at sunset to witness the red granite of Camelback Mountain, magically lit by the dipping desert sun. It’s Arizona at its finest. The Mediterranean menu of tapas, seafood and house-made pastas incorporates local ingredients, while the Spanish ambience is perfect for a weekend brunch or romantic dinner.