The perfect ingredients for a romantic restaurant: great food, a good wine selection and, of course, the quintessential candle-light ambience. Scottsdale easily delivers in all three categories—though, thanks to the picturesque Sonoran Desert, it has a distinct advantage when it comes to a romantic setting. Few locales can match the panoramic mountain views and intensely colored sunsets of Arizona, and luckily many of Scottsdale’s chefs and sommeliers are up to the challenge of creating the perfect date-night experience. The following restaurants are among my favorites spots in Scottsdale, and three of them are at the area’s best resorts, which make them a great destination for a romantic desert getaway. The only tough part is deciding which one (or two) to try. One last tip: When making a reservation, be sure to let the host know it’s for a special evening. You’ll be treated to a great table and few surprises.
The sunset views of Camelback and Mummy mountains are worth the reservation alone. From its perch atop Paradise Valley, Elements is the perfect date-night spot. Iron Chef winner Beau McMillan serves innovative dishes that change with the season and incorporate interesting Asian accents: fresh sashimi, Korean-style short ribs and barbecue oysters with Chinese sausage and hijiki sea greens.
Kevin Binkley, who trained with Thomas Keller at French Laundry in Napa, brings an approachable, but no-less-delicious take on fine dining to his Cave Creek restaurant. Order the four-, five- or six-course tasting menu, an artfully prepared lineup of hot and cold, sweet and savory, creamy and crunchy dishes, occasionally flirt with the magic of molecular gastronomy.
Talavera at the Four Seasons
Now this is a table with view. The Four Seasons restaurant overlooks Pinnacle Peak, its desert foothills, and the city lights of Scottsdale and Phoenix, setting the scene for a Western-inspired menu: grilled steaks, antelope in mole sauce and buffalo tenderloin, along with light options. Ask the sommelier to select from the impressive cellar and enjoy the Arizona vista.
A long-time favorite for special occasions, T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort is better than ever following a recent makeover. The menu features new garden-to-table touches like fresh herbs, vegetables and citrus from the hotel’s grounds, and its Spanish colonial courtyard with a view of Camelback Mountain is the perfect spot for a post-dinner drink.