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Dining Guide | Best Spots to Eat and Play in Scottsdale

Posted on: August 5th, 2016 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

When summer finally hits, it is usually a struggle to convince friends and family to leave the comfort of your air conditioned home or that refreshing backyard pool. So what do you do if you don’t want to be holed up in your house for the next four or five months? You need somewhere that you can eat and play, right? We’ve found some great spots that offer up big entertainment with a side of great cuisine, all perfectly chilled for the summer months to make sure that you don’t go stir crazy!

So, where are the best spots to eat and play in Scottsdale?

Desert Botanical Garden

1201 N. Galvan Pkwy., Phoenix| 480.941.1225

Expect The Unexpected_Scottsdale Multi-Tainment Spots_Gertrude's at Desert Botanical Garden_

Photo by Debby Wolvos

Desert Botanical Garden is home to a host of special trails, exhibits and special activities throughout the year and a perfect spot to entertain and wow out of town guests. You can take flashlight tours throughout the summer months and explore the beauty of the desert at night with a complete sensory experience. They also hold workshops where you can learn about planting and caring for your own desert landscapes, edible gardens and even photography classes. Gertrude’s, the Garden’s onsite restaurant, features menu items that read like a love letter to Arizona. This is the epitome of garden to table dining, as the majority of the ingredients in their dishes are plucked straight from the Garden, creating a uniquely local dining experience. Any salad on the menu is a perfect introduction to the vast variety of items that are being grown here in Arizona, ingredients that thrive in our desert environment and have unique flavor profiles based on our complicated soil. Their quinoa tabbouleh is another dish that embraces and celebrates the flavors of Arizona.

Musical Instrument Museum

4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix| 480.478.6000
The Musical Instrument Museum features more than 6,500 instruments that have been collected from all over the world. The displays throughout the museum allow for conversation about their origins as well as their place in our culture. You’ll have the opportunity to experience their sounds and see them played in performances that showcase their original context. The museum is also host to an Experience Gallery which invites guests to try their hand at the instruments, allowing for an immersive experience. There are several special exhibits throughout the year that feature musical instruments from some of your favorite artists along with classes for adults and children, including a special tribute exhibit to The King, Elvis Presley, next month that you are not going to want to miss. All of that culture and music will likely work up a bit of an appetite, and Café Allegro on property will quickly come to your rescue. Their menu is filled with fresh, local ingredients in a casual, self-serve environment with vegetarian, vegan, international and kid-friendly options. You’ll even find some exhibit focused menu options like their recent Johnny Cash and June Carter menu that featured “Man in Black” fried chicken, so there is some hope for a toasted banana and peanut butter sandwich very soon!


5410 E. High St., Phoenix| 480.636.8010

Expect The Unexpected_Scottsdale Multi-Tainment Spots_Pinspiration

Photo by Patricia Thornham

Feeling crafty? Are your Pinterest boards teeming with projects that you love, but you can’t seem to find the time or tools to make them happen? Pinspiration takes the trendiest Pinterest-inspired projects and makes them possible in their relaxed and inspiring setting. They have a catalog of sorts that boasts over 50 different projects that you can complete in house, no need to gather supplies and risk forgetting that one thing that you can’t move on without. They have everything that you could possibly need including tutorials and an extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff on hand in case you need a little extra instruction or assistance. All that creating is sure to make you hungry and thirsty, and thankfully Pinspiration has you covered there as well. While you can’t indulge on a full meal here, you can definitely keep your strength and spirits up with a combination of their cheese plates, hummus and pretzels and all the sweet treats that they always have on hand. You can also enjoy a variety of spirits while you are getting your art on from craft brews to a mix of white, red, rose and bubbles.

The Comedy Spot – Scottsdale

7117 E. 3rd Ave., Scottsdale; 480.945.4422
Expect The Unexpected_Scottsdale Multi-Tainment Spots_The Comedy Spot
There comes a point in the summertime when the weather is laughable. So, why not embrace it and get out of the heat and into The Comedy Spot in Scottsdale? You’ll immediately cool off and have your spirits lifted with the world-renowned comics that visit this comedy club throughout the year. You can choose from traditional stand-up acts, improve and sketch comedy when checking out their headliners. The intimate venue allows for a more authentic experience, similar to what you will find in LA, New York and Chicago clubs. And then there’s the food!  A unique aspect of the menu here is that the food featured is from The Gelato Spot., so you are guaranteed to enjoy your meal. You can sample items like a caprese salad, a trio of savory dips served alongside focaccia bread, an array of paninis to fit any palate and gourmet wood fired pizzas. The honey basil pizza is a nice departure from the traditional and invokes a sweet and savory flavor combination that is surprising and just delightful.

The Thumb

9393 E. Bell Road, Scottsdale| 480.513.8186
You’ve been running around all week long and you find yourself in need of a fill-up and your car needs a serious wash, but you’re also starving. When you need to get all of these things taken care of at the same time, you may think that you are out of luck in knocking them out all in one shot. You couldn’t be more wrong. Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market has you covered on all bases. In addition to being a gas station and car wash center they also feature a great BBQ restaurant, bakery and gourmet market with unique gift items. The in-house BBQ Smokehouse Bistro features everything from flavorful pulled pork sandwiches to the creamiest mac ‘n cheese. The food here is full of comfort and flavor, which is what the whole company is built on; making their customers feel welcomed and at home whether you show up for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a fill up and a car wash.


9500 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale| 480.240.2402
Expect The Unexpected_Scottsdale Multi-Tainment Spots_TopGolf
TopGolf is much more than just a driving range, it’s a massive entertainment complex where you can practice your swing or gather some friends or family together and compete in an exciting point-scoring game. The best part is that it doesn’t matter if you are on your way to the Masters or if you’re just wanting to play around. The balls are micro-chipped and you shoot for the targets in their 240-yard outfield and then start racking up points. All of that competition is going to make you a little hungry and thirsty and that is where your Bay Hosts come into play. They have a variety of refreshing signature drinks perfect to help cool you off. Their TopGolf tea is a play on a Long Island that has been updated with high quality liquors. They frequently have specials on their beer and wine offerings as well. Their food menu is top notch thanks to the hard work of their executive chef creating items like Maryland crab cakes, a variety of flatbreads and some seriously to-die-for chicken and waffle sliders.

Where are your go to spots to eat and play?

I originally wrote this article for So Scottsdale Magazine and it was featured in the June 2016 issue. I have received permission to publish this article here.*

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© Taryn Jeffries 2016

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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