Scottsdale Food Trends Making Their Mark In The Valley's Restaurants

Recently, food trends in Scottsdale have gone back to simpler times, where greens ruled the dinner tables and portion sizes were small enough for just one person. Food trendsetters in the "Beverly Hills of the Southwest" are transforming the market with healthy alternatives mixed with the city's cultural influences and flavors. Compared with national trends, Scottsdale is making their way among the ranks of other well-known foodie cities like New York, San Francisco and Portland.

The Jolly Green Giant is Back

Congratulations are in order for the long-time underdogs of our plates: veggies. No longer just a decorative addition to meals, vegetables are beginning to take center stage as more and more restaurants begin to experiment with vegetarian-centered dishes. Since 2009, Chef Devin Walsh at Calistro California Bistro has been showing Scottsdale residents that enjoying good food can be as tasty as it is healthy. One salad of note is his Jicama Chop Salad that tosses together spicy jicama, grapefruit, goat cheese, fennel, and walnuts with a citrus balsamic dressing.

As more consumers begin to crave their greens, vegetarian restaurants have begun to see a rise in popularity. At Nourish, guests can choose from a variety of delicious choices from vegan to gluten-free and lactose-free. Their raw veggie pasta that is loaded with wholesome produce such as beets, carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato, zucchini and dressed in a house-made Paleo pesto. Like their slogan points out, "At Nourish, we enjoy food differently than the average restaurant;" and that difference is a dining experience that is guilt-free.

Where Has All The Gluten Gone?

The gluten-free diet craze doesn't seem to be ending any time soon and with more people discovering their own gluten intolerances, it looks like it is here to stay. While studies are still being conducted on the individual benefits of a gluten free diet, there is no doubt that Arizona residents are opting for alternatives to some of their favorite bread dishes.

True Food Kitchen, located in both the Biltmore Fashion Park and the Scottsdale Quarter bases their menu off of Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory diet. It is meant to take popular trends in cuisine and pair them with healthy living, which means gluten-intolerant guests no longer need to stick to the salad side of the menu. Diners could start with the albacore escabeche before moving onto the grilled steelhead salmon with quinoa, beet & preserved lemon salad and finish with the Flourless Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel. You just may forget you ever wanted gluten in your meals.

In 2002, Rick Freedman opened up Picazzo's Organic Italian Kitchen and today owns and operates all four of his Arizona locations. Nearly every item on their menu can be created as a gluten-free option, making their food accessible to all. Freedman, however, goes one step further by assuring diners that all their pastas, breads, and croutons are also gluten-free. That's right, time to celebrate, my gluten-intolerant friends, pizza is back! "The downturn in the economy inspired me to go all-organic," says Freedman. "It was time to stand up for greater change and provide healthier dining choices for our guests. Going organic, natural, and gluten-free is the result."

Taking Lessons From the Spaniards

With the warm Arizona sun creating a city outfitted in fewer layers, locals are keeping a tighter watch on their portion sizes to keep those trim summertime figures year-round. An emphasis on tapas-style meals has started to take over the Valley and gives foodies an opportunity to try a variety of dishes.

Restaurants like Davanti Enoteca make it easy to create a whole meal involving only shared plates. Inside, the hip and funky decor makes this place a sure choice for any tapas-craving foodie. The menu offers a plethora of small bites like the Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Sicilian olive tapenade and marinated lemon jam. Or maybe the Scottadito style ribs with Saba, crushed hazelnuts and Roman gorgonzola dolce slaw is more your style. Either way, since it's all about sharing here, go ahead and order both.

Food Truck Nation

Typically when you think of gourmet food, you aren't picturing it being delivered to you out of a truck; and, well, you probably didn't even picture a truck at all. But Valley foodies are embracing the new food truck culture with open arms. The area's over 50 trucks have been growing over the past two years and are now an outlet for new chefs to showcase their talent prior to opening their own restaurant. The Phoenix Food Truck Festival is a prime example of this trend taking over the streets (literally), as thousands of guests showed up to be served epicurean delights by the city's finest chefs.

They say behind every great man there's a great woman, and for chef and Torched Goodness owner Eric Ireland, those words ring true. Traveling the country to sample dishes served on various food trucks and hoping to discover their own idea, Ireland notates his wife's desire for desserts which led to the couple's new venture — gourmet créme brulee.

Three years later, their 1974 vehicle — the oldest among the Valley's fleet — serves over 30 flavors of brulee from premium organic and locally grown ingredients. As a trained Le Cordon Bleu chef, Ireland takes his creations to another level with melt-in-your-mouth flavor combinations, including the popular sea-salt caramel créme brulee. But if his creations aren't exactly what you're craving, just call in a specialty order and they'll whip one up just for you.

From Their Farms to Your Tables

The people have spoken, and their plea? Sustainable, good-for-you foods that are locally raised and hormone- and antibiotic-free. Nationwide, diners are becoming more aware of the chemicals being added to foods and are asking restaurants to follow suit. After years of importing ingredients from around the world, more and more chefs are beginning to look to local farmers to stock their kitchens.

Award-winning restaurant FnB, an establishment with a farm-focused menu, has graced the pages of publications like Food + Wine and The New York Times as it continues to produce locally sourced items with an unpretentious feel. The constantly-evolving menu gives diners the chance to try foods specifically fitting for each season, at the peak of their freshness. The Winter 2012 offerings included a dish of Santa Barbara mussels, fennel, oil cured olives and orange gremolata. FnB also serves an all-Arizona wine list which further promotes the concept of support local farmers and harvesters, and keeping it in the family.

As part of the farm-fresh revolution, Iron Chef America winner, Food Network star, and Executive Chef, Beau MacMillan has created a diverse menu at Elements inside Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. The esteemed restaurant offers an upscale dining experience with a focus on the best local, organic produce, sustainable seafood, and hormone-free meats amongst the backdrop of the Camelback Mountains. MacMillan's guarantee that all foods fit those criteria makes it easier for guests to feel good about what they're choosing. His bold flavors have won over locals and travelers as he showcases dinner items like bacon wrapped filet of beef with horseradish mash, asparagus, blue cheese, and a zinfandel syrup. Who's hungry?

Who Likes My Meal?

As we move towards the second half of 2013, we can expect to see more menus filled with healthier options, controlled portion sizes and creative dishes that come directly from local farms. And don't worry, Scottsdale will continue to see food related Instagrams showing up on feeds; presenting the ever-important question, "Which menu item will get me the most likes?" Choose wisely, #foodies.

This post originally appeared on JustLuxe.