I just wrote about a few tips for saving money when dining out. Now here’s another huge tip, but it’s only good for a week and only if you happen to be in Arizona:
Indulge in Arizona Restaurant 2009 Week, starting Saturday, September 19 through next Saturday, September 26.
Every participating restaurant is offering a three-course dinner menu for $29 — excluding beverages, tax & tip.
With 114 Phoenix area restaurants participating (plus 33 in Tucson), a little strategic planning is in order to make the most of the week.
Here are a few strategies to get your game on.
Click on the restaurant name to see the menu choices, and special ad-ons the restaurants are offering either as gratis or for additional fees.
You’re the type that loves to try new restaurants so naturally you’ll want to scope out the newest places in town. Try Acua, the restaurant that took over the Canal space at the Scottsdale Waterfront (so new the paint might still be wet) and Asian-flavored Nine-05 (from Zinc Bistro & The Mission folks) and the contemporary Avalon.
Woo is the name of the game for you. You want to treat your special someone to something intimate, charming and memorable. You’ll want to try Coup des Tartes (bonus points for BYOB), House of Tricks, and Sassi. Both Coup des Tartes (Phoenix) and House of Tricks (Tempe) are cozy restaurants in quaint cottage houses. Sassi (far North Scottsdale) is a palatial “Italian villa” with incredible views from the patio.
You like sticking to the tried and true. No need to gamble on the unknown, especially when it comes to hard earned dollars. Besides, your favorite restaurants will appreciate your support during restaurant week. I can’t tell you which ones are your favorites, but I’m pretty sure that with 114 restaurants on the list, several are your old standbys. I’d be surprised if Tarbell’s, or Cowboy Ciao or Aiello’s wasn’t on someone’s list.
The Old World Traveler:
Your palate hasn’t met a cuisine it didn’t like, but you’re smitten with the charms of the classic cuisines of the world. You’re going to put Los Sombreros (Scottsdale) on your list because they know how to plate up real, central Mexico, Mexican food. And for a taste of France, hit Metro Brasserie (OK, so they’re more modern French Bistro but their classic frisee au lardons is 2nd only to Christopher’s and unfortunately, Christopher’s isn’t on the AZRW list). Want Italian? Try the elegant Ristorante Tuscany (J.W. Marriott, Desert Ridge, Phoenix). Spanish? Prado is a must, at the Montelucia Intercontinental resort.
You like avant garde, cutting edge ingredients and techniques. You salivate just contemplating the thought of a freshly shaved truffle, a drop of 100 year-old balsamic, or a pool of demi-glace spiked with Belle de Brillet. Of course noca is on your list, probably at the top. When I compiled this list, noca’s menu hadn’t been posted, but you know and I know that it doesn’t matter. Whatever they do, they will do it well and with plenty of “wow” factor. Bourbon Steak ought to be high on your list, too. Even though it’s part of a super-star chef empire, the local man behind the stove is cooking up a storm with local ingredients.
No matter which approach you take, Arizona Restaurant Week offers something worth trying.
It’s especially a great opportunity to hit restaurants that sit on the high end of the dining dollar scale, like Roka Akor, Sushi Roku, and Deseo.
One last tip: regardless of which restaurants you ultimately choose, you might want to make reservations. I’m certain that many of these will sell out. Arizona Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to discover new favorites. And give some much-appreciated love to some old flames. Let the dining begin…