As you walk from one restaurant to the next during the Arizona Food Tours “Taste of Old Town Scottsdale” event, you will quickly get your bearings on how the downtown is oriented and learn some fun Scottsdale foodie facts along the way. This is why the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends that you take one of the tours early in your visit to the town
First of the foodie factoids is that Scottsdale boasts more restaurants (600+)per capita than Manhattan. Who knew?
If you get to the meeting place early by one of Scottsdale’s many public art sculptures—this one of Winfield Scott for which the town is named—do yourself a favor and pop into The Little Red Schoolhouse, home of the Scottsdale Historical Museum. It’s a quick 15 minute or so tour to take it in. You’ll see pictures of the first homesteads with tent flaps and that will help make a lot more sense of what you’ll see later at both Taliesen West and Cosanti.
Our congenial tour guide Zack began the tour with an account of Winfield Scott and family.
We learned also of the earlier settler, the Hohokum Tribe that in 300 B.C. built the canals you still see in the city and which still function for hydroelectricity and water supply today.
Past an Old Adobe Mission Catholic Church built in 1933 with volunteers from the whole town, we first sampled eclectic Latin fare at The Mission.
This is a comely restaurant with an unusual wall made of Himalayan Rock Salt.
Here we sampled a delicious taco with pineapple and pulled pork. This is one of three restaurants in Scottsdale from Chef Carter, another of which The Old House Brasserie, we sampled with great enthusiasm later in this trip.
As we made our way to the next stop our tour guide pointed out the original post office, an ice house of days gone by and the first bank—historic landmarks we no doubt would have missed on our own.
We made our way into Outrageous Olive Oils & Vinegars for a tasting of various oils and vinegars, learning more about what gives olive oil its free taste and indeed tasting one that had an unusual flavor of fresh cut grass.
A sneak preview of how the Artwalk unfolds was pointed out by our guide as we made our way to Grimaldi’s and learned the story of how this 100+ year-old pizzeria from Brooklyn failed many times at making pizza until it got the problem of wrong mineral water diagnosed and fixed.
Even the ice cubes in the drinks are clear at Grimaldi’s because they do succeed at making a great NY style pizza in Scottsdale by having their own water filtration system.
On to 5th and Wine, for a sample drink, fried pickles and more after looking at one of the landmark public art sculptures at this intersection near the fashion center of Scottsdale.
Cowboy Ciao was the next destination where we sampled their Stetson Chopped Salad.
This was a very tasty and refreshing salad with lots of healthy ingredients. It’s a good healthy match with the Vitamin D infusion a northerner is just getting as they arrive into town.
Our last stop was Kelly’s, where we toured the unusual décor and then were treated to a refreshing ginger beer, rum and lime cocktail accompanying two sumptuous desserts, including the homemade beignets shown below.
What this food tour does best is to convey the full gamut of food options from nouvelle cuisine to bar food staples and tried and true NY pizza like offerings that Scottsdale affords. It also does give you a good sense of the town layout and history highlight, as promised, making this tour different than time you might otherwise spend Googling to find restaurants of your liking.
For information visit the Arizona Food Tours website or call 480 – 293 – 4096.
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Photos: Peter Kachergis unless otherwise indicated