Last Updated on January 18, 2024

Scottsdale, AZ is known for its warm weather, sunny days, high-end shopping, and luxury resorts featuring spas and golf courses. The city was originally named Orangedale because of the large number of citrus groves once found in the area.

In 1894 however, the name was changed to Scottsdale for its founder, Winfield Scott. The farming and ranching community embraced its Western image, and the Chamber of Commerce proclaimed Scottsdale the “West’s Most Western Town” in 1947.

The western theme still prevails in Old Town where nine unique districts are found in just over one square mile. A local landmark, the Old Town Scottsdale cowboy sign, greets visitors at the corner of Scottsdale Road and Main Street. Old Town features historic sites, specialty shops, boutiques, over 100 restaurants, nightclubs, museums, over 60 galleries, Civic Center Park and a wine trail. 

Scottsdale Walking Food Tour

Dining options in Old Town Scottsdale range from casual eateries to upscale restaurants. Whether you crave southwestern, barbeque, ethnic, burgers, sweets, or gourmet cuisine, you’ll find it in Old Town. With over 100 restaurants, it may be a challenge to choose.

A walking food tour is a great way to sample dishes from several establishments and learn about the history of Scottsdale along the way.

Arizona Food Tours was founded in 2009 by Zach Egedy and Annie Hartley.

“We started the company to showcase Scottsdale’s culinary scene,” Egedy said. “We partner with chef-inspired, locally owned, and locally sourced restaurants, saloons, breweries, wineries and specialty shops.”

Participants visit four to five establishments over three hours. The tours highlight local history, top things to do and why Scottsdale is a premier foodie destination in the Phoenix area.

My husband and I went on the “A Taste of Old Town Scottsdale” Arizona Food Tour on our 2023 trip here. The walking tour included stops at four eateries: The Mission, Bootleggers Modern America Smokehouse, Malee’s Thai Bistro and Gelato Cimmino.

Egedy and the restaurants work together to create a thoughtful representation of their local cuisine for each tour.

The Mission

This delightful restaurant features modern Latin cuisine by Phoenix native and classically trained French chef Matt Carter.

We sampled grilled street corn, an irresistible melody of corn, butter, chile, rocoto pepper, cilantro and cotija cheese. Roasted pork shoulder tacos featured succulent pork topped with a delightful pineapple glaze, cilantro, cotija cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime juice in a hand-pressed corn tortilla.

Refreshing Mission Margaritas and fruity sangria were perfect accompaniments to our tasting.

Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse

Bootleggers Nacho Flat in Scottsdale.
Bootleggers Nacho Flat in Scottsdale. Photo by Angella Arndt

Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse offers a barbeque-driven menu with sustainably raised Arizona meats.

The menu focuses on comfort foods and craft cocktails, beers, and wines that complement their smoked meats. We thoroughly enjoyed the Nacho Flat, a flavorful combination of crisp tortilla chips smothered with melt-in-your-mouth brisket hash, cheddar cheese, chipotle cheddar sauce, avocado relish, jalapenos and cilantro. The fresh and flavorful kale salad showcased fresh kale, corn, avocado, dried apricot, cucumber, tomato, corn nuts and a sweet onion balsamic vinaigrette.

Our tasting ended with the House Apple Pie Moonshine, a velvety smooth sip of warm apple and cinnamon flavor—definitely not your typical moonshine.

Malee’s Thai Bistro

Malee's Thai Bistro in Scottsdale tasting offerings.
Malee’s Thai Bistro in Scottsdale tasting offerings. Photo by Angella Arndt

Malee’s Thai Bistro has been serving Phoenix area residents for 37 years.

Our tasting here began with fried tofu – crispy fried cubes drizzled with sweet miso and served with a creamy house-made peanut sauce. The Drunken Dragon Wrap contained a fresh, flavorsome combination of minced chicken with Thai basil, green curry, scallions, and bean sprouts wrapped in lettuce. The wrap was then topped with chopped tomatoes and served with crushed peanuts and cilantro.

The Siamese Kiss, a shumai-wrapped dumpling, contained a savory mixture of ground chicken, shrimp and Thai spices topped with crispy garlic and scallions. Crispy basil chicken had tasty, crisp, bite-sized chicken pieces in a sweet tamarind chili reduction sauce served over flash-fried basil and garnished with red bell pepper.  

Gelato Cimmino

Our last foodie fix was a visit to Gelato Cimmino, an authentic Italian gelateria. The made-from-scratch gelato contains 100% natural products sourced from Italy. The gelato is made in-house in small batches using an old family recipe. I sampled creamy, delectable scoops of hazelnut with Nutella and Cimmino Rock, a sweet cream base with bits of heavenly chocolate, hazelnut and wafer cookies.

Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the Arizona Food Tour’s “Taste of Old Town Scottsdale.” Egedy’s knowledge of Scottsdale’s history and culinary scene provided an insider’s look into this fascinating town. Each restaurant’s warmth, hospitality and delectable dishes created a memorable tasting experience.

Scottsdale Wine Trail

Old Town Scottsdale may be known for its dining and shopping, but it has also become a wine-tasting destination with the Scottsdale Wine Trail. This trail features seven Arizona wine-tasting rooms with locally produced wines.

My husband and I managed to visit three of these during our visit: LDV Winery, Carlson Creek and The Wine Collective of Scottsdale.

LDV Winery

Peggy Fiandaca and her husband, Curt Lawrence Dunham, were professional community and strategic planners looking for their next adventure. Avid wine enthusiasts, they traveled the world tasting wine and visiting small wineries to learn about the winemaking process.

A friend had a vineyard in Arizona that piqued their interest, and Fiandaca and her husband purchased 40 acres of raw land in Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains. They planted their first two acres of Petit Sirah in 2008 on land that sits at an elevation of 5,000-feet with 13 acres under production.

LDV Winery specializes in single-varietal, vegan, low-sulfite wines. Their vineyards produce Rhone grape varietals, including Syrah, Petite Sirah, Viognier, and Grenache.

“We produce high-quality wine using the pinot noir winemaking style,” Fiandaca said. “This gentle processing of grapes results in a plush finish.”

We happily sampled the Taste of LDV Flight, which included a 2019 Sky Island Viognier, 2016 Grenache, 2017 Syrah, and 2016 Petite Sirah. We couldn’t resist having a few bottles of Petit Sirah shipped to our home for future enjoyment.

LDV Winery Wine Tasting Room in Scottsdale.
LDV Winery Wine Tasting Room in Scottsdale. Photo by Angella Arndt

Carlson Creek Vineyard

Carlson Creek Vineyard began with the vision of Robert Carlson III. At age 26, he was looking for a career change. He enjoyed wine and so pursued an education in enology and vineyard management. Carlson approached his family about returning to their farming history, and the family planted their first seven acres of vines in 2009.

The vineyard now encompasses 280 acres sitting at an elevation of 4,200-feet with approximately 80 acres under vine.

Carlson Creek grows Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Grenache, Malbec, Mourvèdre and Malvasia Bianca grape varietals. We were able to sample five reds that included a 2021 Rule of Three, a blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Grenache, a 2021 Syrah, 2021 Addendum, a co-ferment of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, a 2021 Petit Sirah and a 2021 Sangiovese.

The Wine Collective of Scottsdale

The Wine Collective of Scottsdale opened its doors in Old Town in 2022. With over 20 years of experience in the wine industry, Zoya Vora-Shah wanted to showcase Arizona Wines in a wine-centric venue and retail shop offering indoor and outdoor patio seating.

“We carry wines for every taste profile with over 30 varieties available for tasting,” Vora-Shah said.

The Arizona wines are produced in the state using 100% locally grown grapes. Her shop also carries a few domestic and international wines and locally brewed beers.

Vora-Shah offers personalized wine tastings where guests may choose from a variety of flights with four wine choices. For those who are unsure what to choose, a wine concierge is happy to create a tasting with a mix of rose, white, and reds based on individual preferences. We let our concierge choose the wines and sampled a Malvasia Bianca from Omphalos Winery, Rose of Grenache from Los Milics Winery, Graciano from Vino Stache and a Petit Sirah from Laramita.

The Arizona wine industry continues to emerge and grow, with over 30 wineries now located in the state. The Scottsdale Wine Trail provides a wonderful way to learn about and taste locally-produced wines in an intimate setting. We appreciated the hospitality, personal attention, and opportunity to taste, savor and enjoy a wide variety of Arizona wines during our visits.

Old Town Scottsdale’s unique combination of historic preservation, shops, restaurants, and entertainment options make it a destination well worth exploring.

Author

  • Angella Arndt

    Angella Arndt is a freelance writer and photographer. Her articles have appeared in several publications including Women's Edition magazine, Nebraska Sunrise News, TravelPostMonthly.com, and fyi50+. When she is not writing, Angella enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and embracing new experiences. She lives in Omaha, NE with her family.