Fall is the time of harvest, and what a better way to kick off a celebration of food than with the fall Arizona Restaurant Week? From Sept. 19 to 28, more than 100 restaurants offer prix-fixe menu options for a discounted prices (between $33 to $44 for three courses) is by far one of the savviest ways to try some of the restaurants out there where the tabs have seemed intimidating. (There are also many participating restaurants in Tucson offering deals between $20 to $40.) Visit Arizona Restaurant Week’s website for more information.
Below, we give a sneak peek at three Scottsdale locations that should be considered in your restaurant week itinerary. (Emphasis on itinerary! Reservations for a lot of these places fill up fast!)
1. SumoMaya (6560 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale)
SumoMaya, one of the Valley’s newest restaurants, is already making a name for itself among Mexican-Asian fusion lovers (and those who didn’t know how much they loved it) and even the Ferarri Happy Hour club is known to stop in for a few.
First of all, SumoMaya is gorgeous from the inside out. Walking into SumoMaya, you’re greeted a window full of mixed-matched lanterns. The restaurant, featuring an open-sapce bar, a 24-foot tree, modern dining tables, booths, brightly colored mixed-matched chairs and a feng shui appeal of shurb-covered walls, exposed metal ducts and wooden high beams, the place is as zen as it is chic.
What to drink: Green Magic mojito (it’s a minty classic mixed with coconut rum and horchata ice cream). These are dangerously delicious. We still can’t believe they’re alcoholic. If you want something stronger (much stronger), try the Sumorita (a blended margarita that’ll knock your socks off with one sip).
The guacamole: SumoMaya couldn’t just let guacamole be, and we’re thankful for that. There are two noteworthy twists to try: one that contains thick cuts of bacon for a more savory experienec and a pomegranate and dried cherry guacamole that we may be a spoonful more partial to. We prefer the latter slathered all over the tahin-dusted tostada chips served with the avocado dip for the best of both salty and sweet worlds.
The hamachi: This is one of SumoMaya’s most popular dishes. The buttery yellow tuna is light and served over an apple puree with truffle oil drizzled over the raw fish. This is delicious, even if you’re not big on ceviches.
The bacon-wrapped dates: Chorizo and cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and dipped in a peanut sauce is by far the standout app to try at SumoMaya. The sentiment seems to be among the Scottsdale Living taste testers, “the best date” of our lives. Seriously, we could have made a meal of those alone.
The spicy shrimp tempura: This crunchy salad topped with spicy shrimp tempura was a little heavy on the cream-based sauce that had a tinge of mayo taste. However, the flavors, despite being a bit overshared, were delicious.
SumoMaya masterfully blends multiple cuisines into dishes with a balance that doesn’t always have to scream “fusion.”
2. Paul Martin’s American Grill (6186 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale)
Another new restaurant in Scottsdale, Paul Martin’s American Grill has built a buzz around its organically sourced meats, dairy and produce. It has a dark wood feel of a smoky bar that is appropriately leaking the croons of Frank Sinatra over the light clanks of heavy silverware on plates and dinner conversations. Just like the ambiance, the entrees tend to be pretty hearty. We suggest starting dinner off with something easy to share while waiting for the main course. Our favorite is a bit of a classic, the Butcher’s Block (a charcuterie board served with light, crusty bread).
What to drink: Paul Martin’s has a fair cocktail menu, though its wine selection seems to be a bit more of the restaurant’s focus, probably due to its California roots.
The entrees: Out of the chicken, beef and salmon options — our favorite dish is the moist short ribs with a side of creamy, slightly lumpy garlic mashed potatoes. We would go back for the mashed potatoes with a side of potatoes, they are so good. The ribs are made with “never ever beef,” which means the cow is never exposed to toxins or hormones, and is prepared in a four-day process by chefs at Paul Martin’s. The brick chicken is crispy and has a great taste but was a little dry. The river-caught salmon would have been underwhelming by itself. However, it was served on a bed of nutty, slightly citric quinoa salad we wouldn’t also mind ordering an extra side of itself.
3. Roka Akor (7299 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale)
Roka Akor’s name combines Japanese words for hearth and burning fire. This meaning is evident in the walkup to the restaurant, where two larger vases of fire warm the entrance of the London-based restaurant in Scottsdale. The restaurant prepares Robata Japanese cuisine and includes steaks, seafood and sushi in a sophisticated, yet relaxed, setting.
What to drink: Roka Akor’s “Wait List” cocktail will be a delight for all grapefruit fans. It’s sweet, tangy and perfectly balanced. Typically, we like to keep our expensive cocktails to one per a meal, but we could easily go back for seconds.
The dishes: The butterfish tataki is the restaurant’s most popular appetizer. It’s spicy, buttery and light enough for those who don’t usually go for raw fish.
Roka Akor is usually a happy hour and sushi stop for Scottsdalians. But you would be missing out if you don’t reach for the dessert menu. Roka Akor serves a toffee cake filled with fudge and topped with peanut butter ice cream. The dessert menu also includes a rotating list of sorbets in seasonal and creative flavors. These are a must-try for the lighter appetites.