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Dine the Valley

Par Courses & Other Tasty Dine-bys

 Salmon Orzo Salad and Kale Salad at Starfire Golf Club’s Scottsdale Grille, now under the direction of Chef Payton Curry. Photo by Adam Moreno

Salmon Orzo Salad and Kale Salad at Starfire Golf Club’s Scottsdale Grille, now under the direction of Chef Payton Curry. Photo by Adam Moreno

Spring is here for us Valley folks, and with the “season” have come a smorgasbord of new dining options. For example, three of North Scottsdale’s golf courses have recently become destinations for food and drink, and we should all get there while patio temps are in their prime.

Grayhawk Golf Club, 8623 E. Thompson Peak Parkway, unveiled comfy casual Isabella’s Kitchen a few months ago, and the joint is already jumping every night of the week with well-heeled patrons. Just off Grayhawk’s Talon Course, the American Italian restaurant offers pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches and exquisite views of the golf course and city lights.

Service is superb. The patio, outfitted with firepits, couches and such, ranks as “to die for,” and serves as a venue for live music on weekends. Get over there now while the weather is swell. Then go back when the weather is hell, but stay inside.

If you’re in the Grayhawk ’hood and craving breakfast, lunch or just a latte, check out the adorable Morning Joint, adjacent to the Grayhawk clubhouse and also sporting a top-notch patio. The menu features such goodies as a pepperoni-studded “pizza frittata,” and scrambled eggs with Italian sausage, caramelized onions, roasted peppers and pickled-fennel balsamic salsa. For the adult-beverage inclined, MoJo serves up such treats as a fruit smoothie enhanced with vodka. That’s what I love about Grayhawk Golf Club—it’s as luxurious and drop-dead gorgeous as anyone could wish for but somehow never takes itself too seriously. Check it out.

Isabella’s Kitchen Executive Chef Logan Stephenson.

Isabella’s Kitchen Executive Chef Logan Stephenson.

Down south a bit at Starfire Golf Club, 11500 N. Hayden Road, well-known local chef Payton Curry has commandeered the kitchen at Scottsdale’s oldest golf course. The Scottsdale Grille debuted in early February, showcasing fresh, local, inspired American comfort food. The menu features a selection of locally sourced salads and house-made baked goods in addition to such fare as sandwiches and hot dogs. Items will change seasonally, supporting Arizona farmers and producers.

“You can still have a hamburger and fries, but now your burger meat is ground fresh every day from pasture-raised beef or pigs, and it’s on a brioche bun baked that morning,” says Curry.

The menu includes Salmon Orzo Salad ($13.75), seasoned with an addicting Kalamata olives and roasted tomato dressing, I went gaga for the purple Kale Salad ($7.25), featuring pear, grapes and house-made peanut brittle dressed in citrus vinaigrette. For breakfast (7 a.m-11 a.m.), try Ricotta Buttermilk Pancakes ($7.50) topped with mixed berry compote, bananas/Nutella, or maple syrup, or a bowl of slow-cooked oats ($5) with your choice of Arizona dates and pecans or sliced bananas.

The Scottsdale Grille is only open until 6 p.m., at least for now, so dine early and often.

Just a few weeks ago, McDowell Mountain Golf Club announced the opening of the Mesquite Grille, coinciding with the debut of its new clubhouse. The “upscale yet comfortable environment” serves up tasty American and Southwest favorites crafted by Chef Mark Hamilton. Cuisine features both Mediterranean and Chicago-Italian dishes. Originals include homemade sausage, pasta tossed with fresh vegetables, fresh seafood with reduced balsamic vinaigrette, fresh herbs and the like, plus a few surprises mixed in for good measure.

Sit back in the clubhouse and take in the McDowell Mountain views while enjoying such foodstuffs as the Albuquerque Turkey Skillet ($11) with homemade turkey sausage, hash browns, cheddar, black beans and roasted green chile topped with 2 eggs (breakfast menu); or the Thompson Peak Tuna Melt ($10) on a toasted English muffin with avocado, tomato, provolone and green onion (lunch); and Bourbon-glazed Pork Chops ($25) served with apple sage stuffing, roasted onion and jalapeno chile jelly (dinner).

In Other Food News…

Taco Tuesdays
Other than the watermelon margarita and the rich bean dip and salsa that come with the free chips, SOL Mexican Cocina hasn’t blown me away (OK, the calamari is a must-try). That said, the newest Scottsdale Quarter eatery has a killer patio and stellar vibe. You feel like you’re hanging out in baja territory, dude, and the restaurant has just made its digs that much more tempting with Taco Tequila Tuesdays. From 4 p.m. to midnight, enjoy major discounts on street tacos, guac, Mexican beers and maggies. Live acoustic tunes add to the scene, and it’s bouncing.
SOL Mexican Cocina is on the north end of The Scottsdale Quarter at 15323 N. Scottsdale Road.

Bink’s Coming to Midtown
Good news for Valley foodies who’ve resented trekking all the way to Cave Creek/Carefree to experience the culinary genius of Chef Kevin Binkley, owner of Binkley’s Restaurant and Café Bink. Many critics say Binkley’s French-influenced creative fare is the best eats in AZ. In the next month, look for him to open Bink’s Midtown on 24th Street and Osborne Road in Phoenix, in the old Sophie’s Bistro locale, which was basically a cozy old house. The new venue will be more casual than high-end Binkley’s—where diners typically spend up to three hours savoring their multicourse meals—but more upscale than the café. The revamp involves a zinc-topped bar and a restrained but inspired design that takes the cottage feel into modern territory.