Scottsdale: the other desert

May 20th, 2013 | by Tamara Sone | Comments

It’s been a long time since Bill and I got away for a trip that didn’t center around visiting kids, attending graduations or getting together with family for a major holiday.

So when we were afforded a chance to take a small trip (thank you IRS refund) we really wanted to go someplace enjoyable, yet relaxing.

While Bill and I were excited about our weekend Scottsdale trip, someone was not so enthused.

While Bill and I were excited about our weekend trip, someone was not so enthused.

Las Vegas was too busy. Big Bear was too secluded. San Francisco was too far. San Diego was too close.

After days of surfing the internet for ideas, I stumbled upon Scottsdale, Ariz.

Scottsdale had everything Bill and I were looking for in a quick weekend getaway- small to medium sized city, lots of things to do and within a 4-hour drive.

With our hotel booked, we perused Scottsdale’s visitor site for something fun to do and settled on a walking food tour with Arizona Food Tours.

Never taking a food tour before, I was excited to do something different.

Bill  was a little more skeptical about the tour.  Bill isn’t a fan of “small bite” fare and thinks any type of itty bitty dessert or tiny food sampling should be illegal. Although in his defense, small bites in the hands of a 6’4″ man who can easily palm a basketball look really, really small.

But after showing him the website where it guaranteed that guests walk away from the tour fat and sassy, Bill was onboard.

Over three hours, Arizona Food Tours takes guests to six different restaurants located throughout the historic and art districts of downtown Scottsdale.

Donning a hat and shades, Zack, our tour guide introduced us to our first stop- The Mission.

Donning a hat and shades, Zack our tour guide introduced us to our first stop- The Mission.

Our guide, Zack, was fun, energetic and full of information about the history of the area.

Our first stop was The Mission where we were treated to a pulled pork taco encased in a hand pressed   corn tortilla. With its pickled jalapeno peppers, cilantro and spices, the flavor burst in your mouth. Plus, the homemade salsa and chips were to die for.

The next stop on the tour was at Outrageous Olive Oils and Vinegars where we learned about flavored olive oils, balsamic and dark balsamic vinegars.

I love EVOO and try to cook with it whenever possible. But to swig it down in shot form wasn’t something I had ever thought of trying.  My mind quickly changed after tasting a variety of shots like raspberry balsamic vinegar mixed with lemon olive oil.

Next we were off to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria for a couple of slices of traditional Brooklyn-style thin crust cheese and pepperoni pizza.

At 5th and Wine, Bill and I sampled red and white sangrias and munched on  fried pickles and prosciutto wrapped bread sticks.

Some of the artwork scattered around downtown Scottsdale, Ariz.

Some of the artwork scattered around downtown Scottsdale, Ariz.

Cowboy Ciao, our fifth stop, was hands down my favorite establishment on the tour.

The waitress served us their signature dish- The Chopped Stetson Salad.

The salad was a mixture of chopped arugula, dried pumpkin seeds, dried black currants, dried sweet corn, pearl couscous, Roma tomatoes, crumbled asiago cheese and chicken, all  tossed in a basil pesto, aioli and buttermilk dressing.

It was a unique mixture that overflowed with flavor and texture. Not being much of a veggie eater, I can honestly say this was a salad that I could eat over and over and not get tired of.

After licking our plates clean, Bill and I had just enough room for dessert.

Zack lead our little group over to a place called Kelly’s at Southbridge where we enjoyed warm donut holes rolled in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey and Kelly’s version of a Twinkie- angel food cake with whipped crème Ang and strawberry glaze.

Bill and I enjoyed the tour so much that we plan to take the progressive dinner tour on our next trip to Scottsdale.

For more information on what Scottsdale offers, visit

Arizona Food Tours can be found at

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