March 18, 2016
Set in the heart of Scottsdale’s Old Town, Southbridge is a cosy enclave of streets where flecks of the old Wild West meet head-on with striking modernity. Small-town Arizona at its best, the neighbourhood offers eccentric food spots, eclectic boutiques and offbeat bars, and it’s just a half an hour’s drive from Phoenix.
Southwestern cuisine dominates the scene here, and neighbourhood favourite Cowboy Ciao manages to pull it off with a flourish. The well-established joint serves a quirky menu of dishes like jerk-seared ahi tuna; lamb chops with Black Mission fig; and ‘Nuts about Scallops’ over risotto. It’s all dished up in a fun, cowboy-inspired atmosphere that won’t let you forget where you are.
But for south-of-the-border food, head to Barrio Queen, a Mexican tequileria and restaurant where local chef Silvana Salcido prepares appetisers such as shrimp ceviche and Coca-Cola and orange marinated pork. Tacos, burritos, enchiladas and tortas are all staples on the menu, and the list of tequilas, mezcals and sotols is extensive (there are over 300). Go on a Tuesday for $2.50 tacos, and don’t miss happy hour, which takes place every afternoon from 9pm to close.
If you’re looking to branch out from the southwestern vibe, though, try Geisha a Go Go, which serves sushi, yakisoba, ramen and other dishes from across Japan in a unique, themed environment. Sweet lobster tempura with spicy crab mix is their signature mahi, and their blueberry infused sake washes it down perfectly. Head there on a Sunday for all-day happy hour on food and drinks, or visit at the weekend for DJs and karaoke (a private booth is available for hire).
Nearby, Tapas Papa Frita is the neighbourhood go-to for Spanish cuisine, with excellent seafood dishes and plates from across the country. Order the Chef’s Special, which includes a huge paella alongside five tapas dishes, and sip a sangria al fresco on the large patio area as you listen to a live band.
Further down Stetson Drive sits The Herb Box, a fusion of old and new with country-inspired, stylish interiors and innovative dishes and cocktails. Their weekend brunch is especially good, with everything from breakfast burritos to cinnamon buckwheat pancakes appearing on the menu. Breakfast Club, a few minutes’ walk away on N Scottsdale Road, is likewise famous for its brunches, offering almost every kind of benedict you can imagine alongside dishes inspired by the Southwest.
To satisfy sweet cravings try Classic Cakes and Confections, a small, family-run bakery where pastry chef Eleonora Levinson creates indulgent delicacies such as peanut butter sandwich cookies, cake truffles and pies – filled to bursting point with everything from S’mores to sweet cherry.
Although the emphasis in Southbridge is mainly on food and shopping, there are a few good drinking holes. Gastropub Kelly’s at Southbridge, located on 6th Avenue, is a popular upscale haunt for young locals with a large bar area, terrace and pool table. Just upstairs from The Herb Box you’ll find Casablanca Lounge, a small rooftop bar that prides itself on handcrafted cocktails, and plays host to frequent live bands.
For live jazz and Latino, head to Kazimierz, a dark, speakeasy-style contemporary wine bar sitting on East Stetson Drive. Its wine list is extensive and the cocktails, themed to match the region, have a character of their own – think ‘Dixie Chicks & Pixie Stix’, a blend of Appleton rum, orgeat syrup, Combier and juices.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a detox, call into Juice Core, where you’ll find raw, organic pressed juices with similarly quirky names (like, ‘Are you kidney’n me?’) alongside elixirs designed to cleanse. Mother Earth, a protein-rich, green blend of detoxifying goodness, is a local favourite.
For a caffeine fix, try Cartel Coffee Lab, where you’ll find an exotic range of warming drinks, brewed with beans freshly roasted at their flagship store.
Where to shop
Once you’ve exhausted the drinking and dining options, it’s time to explore Southbridge’s various boutiques. Among them is Kalibre, where you’ll find intricately designed, modern jewellery pieces, handmade on site by Harlene Korey. Head to Nestldown for luxury home décor, including furnishings, accessories and lingerie from a range of designers, or visit Garage Boutique for unique, on-trend kids’ clothes by the likes of Stella McCartney, Dior and Moschino.
For a proper taste of the Wild West, J Gilbert has it covered with handmade Luchesse cowboy boots – in just about every colour conceivable – stocked alongside a range of clothing and accessories.
Over at the Stetson Plaza Shopping Center you’ll find Roxanne’s Couture, a collection of formalwear, elegant ball dresses and lingerie, and if you’re prepared to venture eight minutes north of Southbridge, you’ll stumble upon Scottsdale Fashion Square. The renowned spot is a hub of high-end designers and high-street brands, housing everything from Burberry to Banana Republic and Gucci to Gap.
But our favourite shop in Southbridge might just be Oh My Dog, a boutique and spa dedicated to dogs, where deep conditioning massages, hair colouring and pawdicures are all part of the norm. The shop sells ‘couture’ products from designers, and there’s even a bakery where you can pick up pooch-friendly treats. It might sound a little bizarre, but after a day spent in this rather unusual neighbourhood, you’re unlikely to give it a second thought.
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Have you been to Southbridge? Where are your favourite neighbourhood haunts? Let us know in the comments section below.