This past weekend, we decided to visit two of Scottsdales latest and much anticipated restaurants; Pink Taco and Trader Vics. We wanted to just 'scope out' these places when they weren't too crowded and hope some chowhounds out there can comment on the food in more detail.
We parked underground for free at the new Waterfront project at Scottsdale and Camelback Roads. The Waterfront is built along the canal and has several shops and restaurants open; Borders Books, PF Changs, and Wildfish Seafood Grille, among others. There are also two 13-story high end condominiums under construction.
We surfaced from the parking garage and walked around to the Camelback side where Pink Taco is located. I dont think all the silly controversy over the name of the place had any effect on its opening, but something else did. When we arrived at 4:45pm, the front doors were locked, yet a door was open on the patio. Thinking theyd probably open at 5pm, we went next door to Wildfish Seafood Grille for a drink. We sat at the bar and were immediately approached by a bartender with menus and ice water. The interior is sleek and dark, similar to Houstons, but nicer, and not as dark. Wildfish is smart to offer reduced price martinis, several wines by the glass (both $5) at happy hour in a high end development such at this. Also, they offer happy hour on the weekends. There are reduced priced appetizers and 50 cent Gulf Shore oysters. We ordered a dozen oysters and two glasses of wine. Just after 5pm, the place started to fill up with early diners. Our oysters on ice arrived quickly and we were warned about the pure horseradish that accompanied them. Also on the platter were a vinegar-onion dipping sauce, cocktail sauce, and a half lemon in a little net for squirt free squeezing. I put on a dab of horseradish, some vinegar and cocktail sauce and popped one of the ugly little mollusks into my mouth. I acknowledged the servers warning about the horseradish, but ignored it. The people seated nearby noticed my reaction as my mouth, nose, and eyes burned. My dining accomplice, the sometimes irrepressible, but always adorable T., did the same thing and we both drained our ice waters and tried to come down from the four alarm fires in our mouths. I love pure horseradish, but never seem to learn that a little, and I mean little, dabll do ya. The rest of the oysters (which were reasonably fresh considering how far we are from Lousiana) were eaten more carefully. Since we still wanted to visit Pink taco, we decided to stop at the oysters. The Wildfish menu was moderate to moderately expensive seafood, market price lobster, and $25 to $30 steaks. A full review of Wildfish can be done another time, but I recommend it for the relatively cheap happy hour prices, quick service, and hip décor. Although the oysters were not the finest I've ever had, the presentation and price made them a good deal.
We checked back on Pink Taco at about 6pm, but they were not open. Id seen a brief write up in the AZ Republic food section, but perhaps theyre still fine tuning. Either that, or the Mayor of Scottsdale is still holding out for a name change. :-P
The old Trader Vics was on Scottsdales 5th Avenue. It had a sloped thatch Polynesian style roof and served up Navy Grogs, Volcanoes, and other tropical drinks as well as lackluster tropical food. People really went there for the drinks. They closed shop many moons ago and I only visited there once or twice as I had just barely reached legal drinking age. I remember it as a dark, tiki bar type lounge and known for huge bowl drinks. The new Vics is different. Located on Indian School Road, just east of 68th Street, it's larger and more airy. The entire parking lot was set up for valet. Upon entering we were greeted by a hostess who directed us to the bar, but informed us only high tables were available, meaning wed have to stand. The bar was fairly full of mostly wealthy retired type folks in Hawaiian shirts. The décor was Polynesian with a modern twist. More glass, less thatch. We ordered a big bowl drink and considered the Rangoon Crab Puffs. Our drink came in a big brown bowl with three tiki Gods and two straws. It was a sour concoction of rum and lime juice, but was refreshing. We decided to skip the crab puffs and return another time for dinner. Trader Vics is already a see and be seen place, so get there early, be prepared to valet or park on a side street, and expect to pay $15 for a drink for two.