Yes, inflation is high, and most of us are trying to find ways to save money, not spend it. But sometimes, the only sensible thing to do is bust out the credit card and make memories at a completely over-the-top restaurant. Phoenix may be known for its steaks, pizza, and Mexican food, but it has a respectable number of fabulous high-end restaurants as well — each offering some magical combination of breathtaking views, deferential service, broad and deep wine lists, and exceptional food made with extravagant ingredients. For an exciting, one-of-a-kind dinner — budget be damned — try one of these nine superlative fine-dining restaurants.Read More
9 Phoenix Restaurants Serving Splurge-Worthy Meals
Where to go when you want to go big
Within a year of moving Anhelo (“desire” in Spanish) from Heritage Square to the ground floor of the Orpheum Lofts, chef Ivan Jacobo remodeled the new space, creating a spare, elegant room replete with white tablecloths, comfortable upholstered chairs, and a small, dramatically lit bar. The restaurant is now downtown’s single best option for gracious fine dining, offering a frequently changing modern American menu with entree prices ranging from $35 to $80. Selections might include crudo, luxurious foie gras ice cream (more savory than sweet), plump Kumamoto oysters on the half shell, and steak tartare on crunchy toasted brioche. For an even bigger splurge, consider the chef’s tasting menu ($200 per person) and, if you’ve got the cheddar, wine pairings (four options ranging from $95 to $225) selected by wine director Ryan Ansell.
With help from general manager Christian Giles, husband-and-wife team Kevin and Amy Binkley do the heavy lifting themselves at their charming restaurant, housed in a bungalow fronted by Amy’s flower and vegetable garden. With its three-man crew and only 20 seats in the dining room, the experience is both intimate and reminiscent of theater as Binkley prepares and plates each dish in full view of his guests. More importantly, Binkley’s modern American food is stunning — a wildly creative mix of seasonal dishes, each as beautiful as it is delicious. Imagine a summer menu rendering tomatoes in every conceivable fashion, or a winter menu glorifying truffles in the form of whipped potatoes, black truffle gnocchi, and white and black truffle potato-leek soup. The $240 per person prix fixe menu generally runs to about 12 courses and the meal takes just under three hours to complete. Add-ons abound, including wagyu beef, Osetra caviar, and foie gras, while wine pairings cost an additional $200 per person.
Christopher’s at the Wrigley Mansion
For gorgeous views of the Valley lights by night and a fabulous meal with many small but clever surprises, it’s hard to beat Christopher’s. A knockout collaboration between revered Valley chef and James Beard award-winner Christopher Gross and his life and business partner Jamie Hormel, the glass-enclosed space attached to the 91-year-old Wrigley Mansion is perfect for impressing out-of-towners, as is the eight-course, French-inspired menu for $275 per person. The extravaganza begins with decadent gougeres and ends with four courses of sweets in the French style. Somewhere in between, there’s caviar topped with gold leaf and Miyazaki A5 wagyu set alongside a rich puddle of bearnaise sauce. No one leaves hungry. Optional wine pairings cost an additional $230 per person but rest assured, this gorgeous place has the biggest and best wine cellar in the state. Add it to your bucket list.
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Roka Akor - Scottsdale
Admittedly, Roka Akor is a corporate restaurant with multiple locations, but don’t dismiss this sleek, trendy Japanese spot as some middle-of-the-road chain because it’s anything but ordinary. The sushi bar, which overlooks the exhibition kitchen, offers the best seats in the house, allowing diners to take in all the action. Diners can watch the kitchen’s robatayaki (a Japanese charcoal grill) issuing forth all manner of beef cuts, including certified Tajima Kobe beef and A5 Miyazaki wagyu, the latter served with a trio of expensive sea salts. Here too, sushi chefs compose sashimi and sushi plates that resemble works of art. It’s a great way to figure out what to order. Executive chef Tyson Tellez sources local vegetables and chicken while shipping in premium fish from around the world. For customers who want to celebrate with some bubbly, there’s Dom Perignon brut Champagne priced for $480.
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Housed in a former designer showroom, chef Christian Lewkowicz’s elegant New American restaurant in Old Town is completely over-the-top, featuring crystal chandeliers, tufted chairs, and Roman-style pillars in a setting that oozes romance. The price of the four-course tasting menu depends on the entree selection, which might offer a $150 herb-crusted rack of lamb or a $275 A5 wagyu. Caviar service ranges from $125 for Siberian Osetra to $700 for a four-ounce elite Osetra tasting. Another option is simply going with the eight-course chef’s tasting menu at $270 per person. Wine pairings are an additional $175 per person, so either way, breathtaking amounts of money will be spent. For a different and perhaps more intimate experience, try Monarch’s sister restaurant Reserve, which sits across the street. Here, the edgier eight-course prix fixe menu costs $285 per person.
There are sushi bars, and then there’s Shin Bay, a narrow slip of a restaurant featuring a sushi bar with comfortable upholstered chairs and nothing else. It’s the command center for executive chef Shinji Kurita, famous for his impeccably sourced fish, his seamless blend of modernity with tradition, and his painstaking attention to detail. A multi-course omakase meal costs $225 per person, a bargain for such an otherworldly experience. The first two courses typically highlight traditional preparations and ingredients, including slippery mountain yam, burdock root, Okinawan seaweed, and Japanese eggplant gilded with miso — beautifully composed bites that transport customers to Japan. A slow, steady stream of brilliant nigiri sushi follows — one pad of rice topped with one exceptional piece of fish per course, usually 10 courses in all. The wine list features plenty of premium wines and sakes to pair with dinner. Bonus: The atmosphere is always serene, given that Kurita never books more than eight customers per seating, and there are two each night — 5:45 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Shimogamo Japanese Restaurant
At first blush, the recently expanded, remodeled, and retooled Shimogamo may seem too casual to be considered a splurge restaurant, and it’s true that diners don’t have to take out a second mortgage to eat well here. Still, spending a lot of money is tempting, given the recently installed omakase menu at $120 per person. The menu also offers some exciting new selections such as truffle amberjack, udon carbonara, and salmon-caviar canapes embellished with gold leaf. Executive chef Daisuke Itagaki, who spent years working in high-end steakhouses in Tokyo, brings his understanding of quality beef to the table as well, offering customers three different types of wagyu carpaccio, lightly seared with yuzu soy: American wagyu for $54, Miyzaki wagyu for $78, or Ozaki wagyu for $125. As the restaurant’s sommelier, Itagaki’s wife Mika Otomo (daughter of Shimogamo founders Sanae and Yoshio Otomo) has curated a wine and sake list to match the menu. And for dessert, there’s not-too-sweet cheesecake, spiked with Arizona-made sake.
Set like a jewel in the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, Kai (which means “seed’’ in the Pima language) is the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant in Arizona. It’s both elegant and off-the-beaten-path, providing sweeping desert views, polished service, and compelling modern interpretations of Native American cuisine. Chef de cuisine Drew Anderson uses local ingredients grown by the Gila River Indian Community to capture the culinary essence of the Pima and Maricopa tribes. The seasonally changing menu might include grilled tenderloin of tribal buffalo with smoked corn puree, cholla buds, chorizo, and scarlet runner bean chili, and saguaro blossom syrup. For those who can’t decide, there’s “The Journey,” a multi-course dinner with wine pairings curated by the restaurant’s sommelier. Time your reservation right and catch sunset over the Estrella Mountains.