Early anticipation for Spring Arizona Restaurant Week, May 15 through the 25, shows how much of a “foodie” town the Phoenix-Scottsdale area is becoming, said Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO Steve Chucri.
Spring Arizona Restaurant Week celebrates the Arizona food scene with more than 100 restaurants offering three-course prix fixe menus between $33 and $44.
There are currently 32 restaurants’ menus available to view at arizonarestaurantweek.com
“Arizona has always had Mexican food and another kind of Mexican food,” Chucri joked. “But it has evolved immensely over the years, especially in the past five.”
Scottsdale has been recognized as the second best “foodie town” by Livability.com, USA TODAY and publications like Forbes.
Arizona is about a decade behind other cities like Montreal, Chicago and Boston, Executive Chef Massimo De Francesca, of FireSky Resort & Spa, said.
Although in 2014, for the second consecutive year, the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast said Arizona will lead the nation in restaurant industry sales growth and projected to post the fastest growth in restaurant jobs in the next decade.
De Francesca said Arizona has all the tools to become better. The wonderful sunny weather allows for open rooftop restaurants and concepts that other cities can’t invest in all year-round.
By bordering California and Mexico, the quality of produce like vegetables and fresh fish also becomes higher.
“(Arizona) it’s diverse. There is strong southwest influence,” De Francesca said. That means chilies, dried peppers and smoked meats, he said.
California is a big window, which has an Asia meets Europe meets North America feel that also influences Arizona’s special cuisine, De Francesca said.
For example, one of De Francesca’s appetizers at the Taggia restaurant is a warm salad made of roasted corn with a spicy sauce, queso fresco, crumbled corn nuts and lime.
Apart from the obvious influences, Spring Arizona Restaurant Week’s restaurants offer Italian, Indian cuisine and even Fondue. Various restaurants will also vegetarian and gluten-free options.
If the Spring Arizona Restaurant Week has not got you excited, there is also an Arizona Breakfast Week in the works, Chucri said.
“This isn’t going to be a flash in the pan, no pun intended,” Chucri said. “This is going to be long-running and we are going to see more Arizonans embracing Arizona’s culinary fair.”