Dining Guide | 5 Best Small Restaurants in Scottsdale
You walk into a restaurant and hear the loud, steady hum of the diners and an occasional ting of flatware dropping and the kitchen staff calling out orders. There is a ballet of sorts with the servers; putting orders in, dropping by the bar for drink orders, checking in a delivering dishes. But what happens when you want a more intimate experience? It has been said that great things come in small packages and these Scottsdale locations are proof positive. These 5 small restaurants in Scottsdale, with no more than 50 or so tables, cater to a cozier and warm experience.
5 Small Restaurants in Scottsdale
2515 N. Scottsdale Road| Scottsdale| 480.990.2433
Atlas Bistro is located in a strip mall and is one of those places that if you didn’t know it was there you would never anticipate being there. Passing by on the road or even walking by, you would never be able to imagine the treasure that this little spot beholds. The dining room is tiny which makes for an incredibly intimate dining experience, and even though you will be in close proximity to the table next to you won’t feel as though you are a part of their conversation or vice versa. The joyful jazz music lilts through the air and despite the size, you will feel as though you are the only ones in the room. The service and food are impeccable and presented as works of art. The specialty wine store next door is the perfect partner for this BYOB restaurant. The menu changes frequently based on the best ingredients available and exquisite talent of the chef.
9330 E. Poinsettia Drive| Scottsdale| 480.661.3912
If you are looking for an authentic low-key authentic Italian dining experience, Basil & Garlic will make you feel like you are in your Nona’s dining room. You’re greeted with the intoxicating and lingering smells of garlic and roasted tomatoes that will have you immediately salivating in anticipation of the feat to come. The menu features Southern Italian specialties like sub sandwiches, a variety of pasta dishes, pizza, calzones, and stromboli. The décor and dishes are completely lacking pretension and this all lends to the authenticity of the restaurant. The calamari is a standout, with a light batter and great flavor. One of their most popular dishes, the Quattro Formaggi, is a delicate combination of gorgonzola, mozzarella, provolone and parmesan cheeses and is available as a pizza or pasta selection.
6934 E. 1st Ave.| Scottsdale| 480.970.7682
If you are looking for a swoon-worthy spot, a place to really impress your love or potential love, Café Monarch oozes romance. The patio is breathtaking with its vine covered walls, hanging candle holders and beautiful water feature it’s hard to not fall in love whether it is with your date or your dinner. A candlelit dinner on the patio, being doted on by the wait staff and the opportunity to indulge in some if the best contemporary American cuisine in the Valley is a special occasion on all on its own and can only serve to elevate whatever you might be celebrating. Café Monarch offers a four-course prix-fixe menu that changes every week, so there is also an element of surprise to the charming restaurant.
9393 N. 90th St.| Scottsdale| 480.314.4215
In a typical sushi joint, you’ll find a long sushi counter, upbeat music, bright colors and creative sushi roll creations. Hiro Sushi is anything but typical. You’ll find a small space with very little flash, but what they lack in space and flash they make up for (abundantly) with the pinnacle of fresh fish selections and authentic Japanese dishes. Their menu boasts all of the usual nigiri, sashimi and sushi options but if you are looking to be adventurous you will want to focus your attention on their handwritten menu board. The options here will feature off menu specials, created specifically based on seasonal ingredients. The skill of the sushi chefs is presented in each carefully crafted special paying great care and respect to the ingredients and flavor profiles. A true and rare treat presented in an unassuming package.
11219 E. Via Linda| Scottsdale| 480.767.1990
Some restaurants and the food served have the ability to wrap you up in their ambiance, service and fresh, clean flavors like a warm comforting hug; Tesoro is one of those places. Tucked away, almost out of sight, Tesoro is authentic as it gets. All pastas are made in-house daily and with a ton of love. The sauces are labored over and intensely flavorful, the pastas are perfectly prepared with just the right amount of bite and all of the seasonings are present as a supporting player; never overpowering the stars of the dish. Their gnocchi is a shining star on their menu, dressed in a tomato-cream sauce that presents as light and rich at the same time. The light and almost delicate gnocchi is the perfect partner for this sauce which relays a hint of sage resulting in the perfect comfort meal in their warm and inviting dining room.
This article was originally featured in the October 2015 issue of So Scottsdale Magazine.