At some point, “family-friendly” became “kid-centered.” I’ll let scientists figure out that exact moment, but in the meantime, I’ll do my best to help swing the pendulum back toward the center of fun for the whole family. Scottsdale’s a pretty relaxed city, and most of its restaurants are family-friendly, offering kid menus, casual ambience and big patios where a little noise isn't a big deal. For a bit of Old West fun, I can’t recommend Buffalo Chip Saloon enough. It’s managed to balance family fun and the rugged grit of the West—without becoming a sanitized, inauthentic caricature catering to tourists. It’s pretty rare to find a spot where kids are watching a rodeo, couples are dancing to live music inside, and 20-somethings and grandparents are happily gathered around a bar together. The other restaurants below offer their own charm, and food kids and parents like to eat: cheese crisps at Old Town Tortilla Factory, pizza at Grimaldi’s, and ice cream the Sugar Bowl.
Buffalo Chip Saloon
The food isn’t fancy at the Buffalo Chip—grilled steaks and chicken, barbecue platters, baked beans—but this cowboy embodies radiates real Western charm, with live music, dancing and professional bull riding out back. Kids can even sign up for mutton busting (aka “sheep riding”). Oh, and it’s not uncommon to find a horse in the middle of the outdoor saloon.
Old Town Tortilla Factory
This 75-year-old adobe home is now one of Scottsdale’s favorite Southwestern restaurants. Request a table on the beautiful, large patio and take the kids inside before dinner to watch cooks preparing traditional, homemade tortillas, which come in two-dozen flavors and are served with herb butter. Try the tangy achiote ribs or red chile pork chop.
Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria
Grimaldi’s brings a Brooklyn tradition to Scottsdale with its unique coal-fired ovens and “secret” sauce. The simple menu offers salad starters, calzones and pizzas (kids will love the quarter-size slices of pepperoni). Be prepared to build up an appetite as casual, family-friendly spot can draw large crowds.
Think of Arcadia Tavern as a sports bar you can actually bring the kids to. Half the restaurant is dedicated to draft beers and with a couple of dozen big TVs, broadcasting a variety of games. The other half is a restaurant/playroom with video games and kid-sized tables. It’s a win-win for the family.