Make the Best of Arizona Bike Week
By J. JOSHUA PLACA
Like a marching army, motorcyclists ride on their stomachs. It’s incredulous to us that event reviews seldom, if ever, offer restaurant or accommodation reviews. Considering the average event goer is 35 to 58, professional, and college educated, they tend to want more to munch than a hunk of roast beast and a patch of dirt to sleep on, not that there’s anything wrong with a quick bite and a dirty nap.
Where to Stay
Best Western Plus Sundial (Scottsdale)
7320 East Camelback Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
First off, the location can't be beat. Nightlife, restaurants and shopping, are short walks away. The swanky MINT Restaurant/Ultra Lounge is across the street, so you can tuck in the chopper in the hotel's well-lit parking area and hoof it over to view the sexy Scottsdale eye candy. If that's not your thing, numerous options are in close proximity.
It may be hard to tear yourself away from your room, though. We loved ours. It was tidy and sleek, and quickly became our comfortable home during Bike Week. How wonderful it is to check in and everything works. We so appreciated the easy to use high-speed Internet, and such delicious hotel amenities as the heated outdoor pool and hot tub.
At the end of the day, a soak in the whirlpool washes road dust and desert grit away, then catch some easy naptime in the sumptuous bed. Complimentary continental breakfast, including Starbuck's coffee, is self-served off the lobby each morning. Cyclefest tales sound even better with their poppy seed muffins.
Best Western partners with Harley in a Ride Rewards/Rider Friendly program. Reduced room rates, a loyalty plan, a free wipe-down motorcycle towel and access to a washing station upon check-in. Many Best Westerns offer additional benefits, such as complimentary bottled water and lip balm.
Registration is free and affords members an automatic upgrade to Gold Elite status and eligibility for discounted room rates upon signup. HOG members receive additional benefits, including an automatic upgrade to Platinum status and 15 percent bonus points, according to a spokeswoman.
Where to Dine
ANDREOLI ITALIAN GROCER
8880 E. Via Linda
(NW Corner of 90th St. & Via Linda)
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Up for a gastronomic bucket list? Here is a menu worth working your entire way thru. Giovanni and Linda Scorzo are at the helm of this authentic Italian eatery and market. Charming, rustic furnishings set the stage for a memorable dining experience along side al fresco options. If you close your eyes and take in the mellifluous Italian voices and the aromas of pastries, meat delicacies, and olives, you would swear your passport had been stamped.
Here, the food is where it's at. Giovanni is both butcher and baker, cheese maker, and more. All are made with the highest level of perfection. The ingredients are premium—a simple sandwich, such as the Porchetta (Roasted Pork Seasoned with Garlic and Fennel on Baguette) is dreamily delicious. The fries with fennel seem kissed in olive oil, and are the best I have ever had and now officially my new favorite crave!
Cannoli, chocolates, and pastry jewels beckon from the dessert case. Products of their motherland can be purchased, and carry-out menu items will be just the thing for a saddlebag picnic.
Consult their website for Mon.- Sat. hours, menu, and helpful map. This is great fare for the discriminating biker. Andreoli’s is not to be missed!
BOTTLED BLONDE PIZZERIA & BEER GARDEN
7340 E. Indian Plaza
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Near our featured hotel, this venue is a restaurant/nightlife concept with a Jekyll & Hyde transition from daytime to late nights. This warrants consideration since the scene fluctuates and one's mood should match what the environment is dishing out. See website for hours.
We went early evening and thoroughly enjoyed our Burrata Appetizer, the Forager Pizza, and Chicken Panini Sandwich. The menu gives a strong nod toward modern Italian fare, fresh and pleasing. Items such as Salads and Pastas are also represented. Open-air atmosphere is chic, yet comfortable with various seating areas.
Park your bike if staying at our suggested hotel and hoof it over to enjoy Full Bar offerings. Happy Hour and Bottle Service are options. Beautiful ladies are in plentitude, both as staff and patrons, and it seems Scottsdale is swiftly becoming the new O.C. Also notable, weekend brunch, and area golf carts are available to shuttle you about. We relished our time, and hope you do, too.
3622 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Occasionally, I am utterly blown away by an extraordinary establishment. Brat House did this for me. All boxes were ticked—attentive service, stellar food, fun atmosphere, and excellent libations.
I had a reluctant participant in tow, whose only sense of brats were of the grocery store variety. By the end of our visit, I was pulling him out by the side cincher of his leather jacket, and yes, we did have to let it out a couple notches after feasting on all manner of sausage-ified beasts.
These labor of love brats are nothing short of divine. They are distinctly flavored, cooked to perfection, and can be dressed with their custom created condiments, such as mustards, chutneys, sauerkraut, pickled peppers, and root beer onions. We tried the Haus, Spicy, Lamb, and Veal brats...all winners. Their astute beer mongers can provide suggestions about their top shelf craft beer selections for appropriate pairings, if you are in question.
There are various areas for dining, including courtyard for soaking in Scottsdale's enviable weather. The atmosphere is festive and one can tell the knowledgeable staff truly cares about their guests and the items they purvey. The menu is dotted with Ribs, Pork Schnitzel, and Salads. Of the latter, I tried the Kale with Apple, Pomegranate Seeds, Pear Vinaigrette, and Shaved Pecorino, an amazing, vibrant version in a thoroughly ubiquitous genre. Save room for the novel Drunken Date Cake. I would be remiss not to revisit with every trip to Scottsdale. Their happening Baby Sister restaurant is Taco Haus at 7318 E. Shea Blvd. Scottsdale, AZ 85254 480/991.3437. We hear great things and if it’s anything like Brat Haus you will leave satisfied, satiated, and happy.
CUTTLEFISH OCEAN KITCHEN
At the Shops at Gainey Village
8777 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
This upscale, yet non-fussy eatery specializes in Coastal Italian Cuisine. The design aesthetic is crisp and clean in shades of Ocean Blue and White with touches of metal work, tiles, and stylish accoutrements. A scooter bar is just inside and displays a bounty of fresh seafood. I sampled several varieties of oysters, and all were fresh and sumptuous.
To be noted, burly bikers will not be comfortably accommodated in the slender booths in the primary dining area. There are other suitable options, both inside and on the sleek patio. The service is exemplary. Various menus are represented on their website.
Properly cooked scallops are like the Holy Grail for me. I must confess their Seared Scallops were the best I have ever come across. I am still pining away for them. Yes, you can have gorgeous seafood in the desert! They nestle the succulent jewels on a bed of baby zucchini blossoms, fava bean, Mascarpone risotto, which proves to be a springtime, delectable treatment.
Desserts such as Tiramisu and Cassata Cake make for an ambrosial finale, sidled up next to espresso.
GARAGE WINE & TAP
1534 E. Bethany Home Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85014
If, like us, you attend bike builder Paul Yaffe's annual party coinciding with Bike Week, you may opt for a nearby venue to chill your heels. A mere minutes away is Garage Wine & Tap. You may catch a spectral whiff of motor oil, as if the property’s old wrenchers aren't ready to give up the ghost. This once auto shop cum gastro-pub sports a relaxed patio, bar, and dining areas. It gives nod to its past incarnation with design touches of that ilk, mixed with cushy comforts, and chic glass and silverware.
I won't be surprised at all if they expand or franchise. The staff is sincerely amiable and attentive and the food has a mouth-watering appeal that will definitely bring me back. We had the Garage Burger with Onion Rings and the Herb Marinated Chicken Sandwich. The restaurant uses premium beef and pork, and it really makes for an exalted, flavorful burger. The food arrives, as if ready for a foodie's blog post photo, vibrantly plated.
Their website speaks of the menus, special events, live music, brunch, wine tastings, and much more. You are sure to enjoy!
LON'S AT THE HERMOSA INN
5532 N. Palo Cristi Rd.
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
As the weather is usually spectacular for ABW evenings, I wanted to include one amazing outdoor experience. Lon's has a hacienda, adobe and ironwork vibe. The spacious patio is a seductive expanse punctuated with fountain, fireplace, and the heady scent of desert flora.
I would categorize this venue as a "splurge" for most. I could tell some of the patrons were being wooed on expense accounts, others celebrating milestones or fresh romance. The ambience-rich environment is the stuff of memories, and hopefully you will be there with someone you love, even if it is just your tricked out Harley. Smile at the valet staff as you whiz on by.
We started with the Fritura Mixta, consisting of fried calamari, shrimp, red onion, zucchini, and smoked tomato aioli. We fork dueled over the last bite, that d'lish. Our entrees were Roasted Grouper and the Roasted Duck Breast. We ordered the Truffle Goat Cheese and Macaroni as a side. The protein aspects of the uncommon main dishes were well prepared. The dessert list is thought provoking.
Their specialty cocktails send you adrift towards one's Happy Place, and a Sommelier is at the ready for the oenophiles. The evening we went, silk voiced cowboy balladeer, Pioneer Pepper, was crooning a repertoire of the likes of Marty Robbins and Gene Autry standards. We left with two sing along CDs.
The menus are tweaked with consideration towards seasonal availability, but you can get a sense of Executive Chef James Ducas' creations on the website's dinner and brunch bill of fare. Be mindful of the directions to the property.
No portion may be used without our written permission.
106 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247