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Don & Charlie’s: American comfort food in Scottsdale

Posted on: August 8th, 2012 by Amy Martin No Comments

A Valley institution for 31 years, Don & Charlie’s is located in the heart of Scottsdale serving up American comfort food and keeps diners coming back for their tasty ribs and prime steaks. The restaurant combines Chicagoan Don Carson’s love of two things: good food and sports. If you’re a sports nut, you’ll feel at home in this space as the walls show off his favorite memorabilia. Photos, clips of memorable sports moments, autographed jerseys and baseball cards… you name it, it’s here.

Though Don & Charlie’s has a bit of a reputation for attracting a mature clientele, that’s mainly because their biggest fans have been returning to the restaurant since its opening for their favorite dishes. With comforting American classic dishes like Broasted Chicken, Aged Prime Rib, their famed BBQ Baby Back Ribs, and Prime Steaks and Chops, there is really something here for everyone.

I had a chance to visit the restaurant recently and felt the warmth and closeness of the staff; though there were several people manning the restaurant, it was apparent that they work together as if they are family. I immediately noticed that Don (yep, the ‘Don’ of Don & Charlie’s) was greeting guests and chatting with each table, making sure their bellies were full and happy – and it was even a particularly busy evening. He’s there five nights out of the week to sure he creates a personal connection with his guests. Don made his way to my table and offered suggestions for his favorite appetizers and entrees. Naturally, I followed his lead since he obviously knows best.

Don’t fill up on the complimentary Garlic Cheese Toast that appears on your table, even though you may be tempted – you’ll need your appetite for the restaurant’s well-known ribs and meat entrees. Soft pillows of toasted ciabatta bread were topped with melted garlic butter and salty parmesan and Romano cheese. I had to restrain myself from taking a second piece only because I knew what was to come.

Garlic Cheese Toast

Garlic Cheese Toast

Nap’s Coconut Fried Shrimp was one of my favorite ‘food memories’ from the evening. A generous pile of large, perfectly-golden, crispy fried, sweet coconut shrimp were neatly stacked on the plate, forming a tower of deliciousness that I couldn’t stop eating. Served on the side is their marmalade dipping sauce and horseradish cocktail sauce. Even after the plate was cleaned, I couldn’t decide which sauce was my favorite – they both were delicious. The sweet and citrusy marmalade perhaps better suited the coconut shrimp, but the restaurant’s house-made cocktail sauce was so out-of-this-world, I nearly wanted to bathe in it. Slightly chunky and slightly ridiculous(ly good!).

Nap’s Coconut Fried Shrimp

Nap’s Coconut Fried Shrimp

For entrees, I had to try the ribs. First off, you can order them two ways: Saucy, or Don’s Way. Don’s Way is simply served with no extra sauce (as opposed to the saucy version that is finished with a coat of sauce before hitting the grill one last time) but flaunts a gorgeous, deep char that I love. The staff is happy to bring a cup of sauce on the side for dipping so if you’re up for the char, I definitely suggest ordering them this way. You can always dip as you please.

Charred Baby Back Ribs, Don’s Way

Charred Baby Back Ribs, Don’s Way

Charred Baby Back Ribs, Don’s Way

Charred Baby Back Ribs, Don’s Way

These ribs aren’t your ordinary baby-back delicacy though and the staff is upfront about warning you if you’ve never had them, but don’t take that with a negative connotation. They don’t have that fall-off-the-bone tenderness that some people love so you’ll have to work at these a bit, but sometimes good things in life don’t come easy. Just order them. That’s all I can say!

My dining companion chose the 22oz. Prime Bone-in Ribeye per Don’s suggestion and when it arrived, it was cooked perfectly, something I’ve had trouble finding at many of the best-rated steak restaurants around here.

Be sure to save room for dessert since they’ll be bringing out a dessert tray to tempt your sweet tooth. I was too full to enjoy their selections, but have heard really good things about the timeless sweet-treat Gold Brick Sundae.

One of the greatest things about this meal was the service, namely our server Hershy. His warmth, humor, and witty charm kept smiles on our faces throughout the dinner that time flew by so quickly. Hershy helped us navigate the menu, taking time to explain each dish and offered invaluable suggestions when we were a bit undecided. I can’t say enough good things about him!

Learn more about Don & Charlie’s and take a peek at the menu at

Don & Charlie’s | 7501 East Camelback Road | Scottsdale, AZ | 85251 | 480-990-0900

*This meal was provided to us complimentary as a part of a media invitation. However, this has no effect on our opinions and comments regarding our experience. View our Disclosure Policy for further explanation.

About the Author - Amy Martin

Author of Her Plate, Amy's love of food, cooking and all things culinary keeps her endlessly plotting what her next meal will be. Her pastimes include creating in (i.e. demolishing) her own kitchen and baking far more sweets than her tiny family could ever eat.

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