20 menus to try in metro Phoenix

Table of Contents Alexi’s GrillRito’s Mexican FoodGrassroots Kitchen & TapFuego, The ClarendonLos SombrerosMatch OcotilloThe Market by

After a year of uncertainty, fall Arizona Restaurant Week is back.

The biannual 10-day celebration is meant to entice diners to try a new spot they’ve been curious about or to make a casual mid-week trip to a restaurant usually seen as a celebration-only locale. 

While the spring event serves as a last push before the summer lull, the fall fete is an entre to the promising peak fall and winter season in the desert.

More than 120 Valley restaurants are participating, offering set price, multi-course meals that showcase the best of their menus. (A complete list of participating restaurants can be found at arizonarestaurantweek.com.) There’s only so many meals you can eat in 10 days, so we’ve narrowed it down to 20 menus that earned a double take thanks to their creative dishes, value for the money or both.

All menus are available Sept. 17-26. Menus that feature alcohol apply to dine-in orders only. Reservations are recommended.

Alexi's Grill is a Mediterranean restaurant in Phoenix.

Alexi’s Grill

  • $33 person 
  • 4 courses
  • Takeout and dine-in

Start your culinary tour of Italy with fried calamari, caprese salad or homemade meatballs over penne in marinara. Next, enjoy soup or salad followed by one of these mains: bone-in pork chop broiled in a brandy shallot demi with potatoes and vegetables; lobster ravioli and fresh spinach; shrimp scampi over angel hair pasta; poached salmon with a lemon-dill sauce with potatoes and vegetables; or chicken Milano with sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and basil with potatoes and vegetables. Limoncello mascarpone cake, spumoni or tiramisu are dessert options. If you dine-in you can pair your meal with a glass of select rose, white or red wine. 

Details: 3550 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. (602) 279-0982, alexisgrill.com.

Green chimichanga from  Rito's Mexican Food in Phoenix.

Rito’s Mexican Food

  • $33 person
  • 3 courses
  • Dine-in

Start with your choice of bean dip, guacamole, elote or cheese crisp. Next, select an entree, all of which come with rice and bean. Options include two beef, chicken or cheese enchiladas with red or green sauce; two tacos filled with chicken, shredded beef or carne asada; and a burrito or chimichanga – enchilada style or not – filled with red or green chili or both, chicken or carne asada. Finish off the meal with fried ice cream or a chocolate truffle engulfed in a deep fried churro ball.

Details: 5813 N. Seventh St.,Phoenix. 602-368-6726, ritosmexicanfood.com.

Summer Orzo Salad at Grassroots Kitchen & Tap in Scottsdale.

Grassroots Kitchen & Tap

  • $33
  • 3 courses
  • Takeout or dine-in

Start with braised pork belly with jalapeno cheddar grits and candied pancetta or sushi-grade ahi tuna poke with shrimp in agave ponzu with wontons. Entree options include: Topher’s braised short ribs dressed in a hoisin glaze and accompanied by jalapeno cheddar grits and asparagus, gulf white shrimp partnered with jalapeno cheddar grits and grilled focaccia, and slow smoked Carolina baby back ribs with tangy slaw. End with key lime pie or a chocolate toffee brownie with caramel, ice cream and toffee crumbles. 

Details: 8120 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. 480-699-0699, grassrootsaz.com.

These are the baked chicken chile relleno empanadas with guajillo chile sauce from Fuego Bistro.

Fuego, The Clarendon

  • $33, $44 person
  • 3 courses, beverage included
  • Take out and dine-in

Both $33 and $44 menus are available. For $33, choose a salad or spicy veggie tostada to start, then an entree from options including: paella with cornbread, chicken chile relleno, vegetable enchiladas or pernil asado—marinated and slow roasted pork served with rice and peas and corn tortillas. Dessert includes an ancho chile torte and horchata bread pudding. For $44, begin with your choice of salmon croquettes, beef empanadas, coconut shrimp or pernil nachos. For the main course, pair mahi mahi, seafood chile relleno, short rib enchiladas or surf and turf pasta with two sides of your choosing, like green chile cornbread, jalapeno cream corn, chipotle cheddar mashed potato or maple glazed carrots. Finish with ancho chile torte, horchata bread pudding or key lime pie. Both menus come with red, white or blackberry sangria. 

Details: 401 W Clarendon Ave, Phoenix. 602-469-1730, fuegobistro.com.

The huevos rancheros at Los Sombreros.

Los Sombreros

  • $33, $44, or $55
  • 3 courses, beverage included
  • Takeout and dine-in

When dining in, start with a choice of mezcal old fashioned, mezcal passion flower or Steve-a-Rita. Then, enjoy a huitlacoche quesadilla to start before moving on to an entree like spinach enchiladas with house made chipotle crema or chicken breast stuffed with huitlacoche, goat and jack cheeses and roasted corn and topped with a chipotle tomato sauce. For $44, you can order the slow roasted short ribs in a savory alcaparrado sauce, or for $55, get the surf and turf duo of ribeye in smoky cascabel sauce and sautéed scallops. Tres leches cake is a perfect, sweet ending.

Details: 1976 W. Southern Ave., Mesa. 480-534-6742. Also, 2534 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. 480-994-1799, lossombreros.com.

Match Restaurant and Lounge is located in Re:Found in Phoenix.

Match 

  • $44 person
  • 3 courses
  • Takeout and dine-in

A bevy of first and second course options vie for attention. The smoked salmon chopped salad features Chula Seafood fish, greens, cucumber and quinoa in a lemon herb dressing, while the sesame tofu salad is made with mixed greens and cashews tossed in an Asian sriracha dressing. For the main attractions, you can stick with the Chula theme by going with a skillet-seared Cajun salmon with sweet corn, forbidden rice and vegetables. Or, give the Mediterranean lemon chicken with baked feta, chickpeas and oregano butter rice a whirl. Vegan and gluten-free penne with walnut pesto is also available. Dessert is an easy choice, go for the strawberry shortcake composed of vanilla cake, sweet cream frosting and strawberry jam.

Details: 1100. N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-675-8080, matchphx.com.

Ocotillo

  • $44 person
  • 3 courses
  • Dine-in

Take a few minutes to ponder the cornucopia of starter and main dish choices. Debate between the eggplant “meatballs” with warm polenta, smoked chicken liver mousse with house pickles and Noble Bread or the burrata salad with broccoli, kale and champagne vinaigrette. For the entree, wood-fired beef ribs bathed in mole espresso barbecue sauce, seared halibut with royal corona beans and curried eggplant and roasted pork shank with sweet corn chowder and rosemary potatoes are all solid choices. Dark chocolate panna cotta with guava broth, caramelized pineapple and coconut sorbet make for an intriguing ending to an adventurous meal. 

Details: 3243 N. Third St., Phoenix. 602-687-9080, ocotillophx.com.

The Market by Jennifer's Restaurant + Bar includes locally grown food on its menu and was featured on a

The Market by Jennifer’s

  • $44 person
  • 3 courses
  • Takeout and dine-in

Choose from brussels sprout salad, cream of cauliflower soup or a dish of little neck clams with coriander, crushed tomato, white wine and pumpkin seed dust with Noble Bread for your starter course. Deciding on the entree from this lineup could be tough. Options include five-spice honey glazed duck breast with hydrated figs, hazelnuts and Hayden Mills creamy polenta; a house made butternut squash gnocchi with a classic brown butter and fried sage sauce; slow cooked lamb shank in wine reduction and Yukon Gold potato puree; and beef wellington layered with duck pate and mushroom duxelles wrapped in puff pastry and served with locally sourced southwestern mushrooms. For dessert, choose between Tracy Dempsey Originals’ warm cranberry cinnamon bread pudding with caramel or German chocolate tart with coconut pecan marmalade. 

Details: 3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix. 602-626-5050, themarketbyjennifers.com.

The cabernet-braised short ribs at Urban Margarita.

Urban Margarita

  • $44 person
  • 3 courses
  • Takeout and dine-in

First course options feature focaccia topped with guacamole, shrimp empanadas and crispy cauliflower. New Mexico-style lobster and crab enchiladas baked in a tomatillo cream sauce, pan roasted salmon served with fresh mango salsa and brown butter beurre blanc and 36-hour marinated prime New York strip carne asada are entree choices. Go with the margarita lime pie or raspberry churro bites for dessert.

Details: 6685 W. Beardsley Road, Glendale. 623-561-6674, urbanmargarita.com.