We’re continuing with our special occasion dining series with a spotlight now on Gilbert. This is the list of great places to go to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or even a date night. Gilbert’s restaurant scene has been significantly built up over the years, especially in its downtown Heritage District. Many of them are local chains that have locations in other parts of the Valley, while others are unique to the town. Here are five of our favorite places to check out for an exceptional night out.
If you enjoy seafood, you’ll love High Tide Seafood Bar & Grill. The restaurant specializes in steam kettle cooking, an indirect heating method that allows seafood to be prepared using high pressure steam, leaving the flavors robust without overcooking. High Tide uses local ingredients and suppliers as much as possible, and you can watch your meal being made in front of you at the counter. There’s also the Sunset Room, perfect for private dining or to host any kind of memorable event. To start, the High Tide Tower is great to share and comes with chilled lobster tail, crab legs, shrimp cocktail, oysters, clams and mussels. For an entrée, try the Tide Roast, a brandy lobster citrus broth with crab meat, clams, shrimp and crawfish simmered with tomato cream or the Fish and Chips with battered Alaskan cod and peach cashew slaw. There’s other items too like filet mignon, chicken and salads if you’re not so much of a seafood fan. High Tide Seafood Bar & Grill is located at 2540 S Val Vista Drive, Gilbert; 480.821.9950; www.hightideseafoodbar.com
Pescado Borracho is High Tide’s sister restaurant. PB, as it’s affectionately referred to, serves up delicious Mexican fare with big flavors in a fun atmosphere. It’s perfect for date night or a birthday dinner with friends. The tacos are a big hit and come wrapped in corn or flour tortillas or cabbage. Get the Californian Taco, carne asada with papas fritas, queso Chihuahua, crema, cilantro, onion and PB hot sauce or the Baja Fish Taco. If you’re more adventurous, try the restaurant’s namesake dish, the Pescado Borracho. It’s whole fried crispy fish with chipotle crema, salsa verde, rice, beans and pico de gallo with your choice of tortilla. There’s also the Pozole, hominy with green chile pork and toppings in a cup or bowl with lime and tortillas. Pescado Borracho is located at 2540 S Val Vista Drive, #104, Gilbert; 480.857.2793; www.pescadoborracho.com
Nico Heirloom Kitchen is an upscale West Coast-inspired Italian eatery in the Heritage District. It’s locally owned and operated, and there’s a focus on fresh produce mixed with heirloom family recipes plus hand-rolled pasta. The menu is dependent on seasonal ingredients and can vary, but some sample items include Octopus with arugula, fennel, chili butter, crispy chickpeas, orange citronette, and balsamic reduction and the marsala Braised Short Ribs with mascarpone polenta, pickled shallot and chèvre. For pasta, try the Pomodoro with bucatini, tomato, garlic, basil and parmesan. They even have a great weekend brunch if you’re having a girls’ day or daytime birthday celebration. We’ve heard good things about the Brown Butter French Toast. Nico Heirloom Kitchen is located at 366 N Gilbert Road, Gilbert; 480.584.4760; www.nicoaz.com
Photo Credit Born & Raised Hospitality
The original Clever Koi is in Phoenix, but the Gilbert location is just as good. Guests will appreciate getting a glimpse of the open kitchen at the Asian-fusion restaurant, and food influences come from countries like Thailand, China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan. It’s a fun, hip place for a special anniversary dinner or get-together with friends and family. Clever Koi is known for its steamed buns, and there’s something for everyone — Pork Belly, Soft Shell Crab, Korean Hot Chicken and Kimchi Cauliflower. Equally well known is Clever Koi’s ramen in variations like Pork, Cashew Vegan and Lemon Pepper Kitchen. Don’t miss the Kimchi Fried Rice and the House Pad Thai. The large drink menu with handcrafted cocktails is just as important as the food. We recommend the Bees Knees, Monopolowa gin with lavender honey and lemon or the Riding the Pine, Gun Club gin with Lillet Rouge, passionfruit and lime garnished with toasted rosemary ice cubes. Clever Koi is located at 60 W Vaughn Avenue, #101, Gilbert; 480.306.4237; www.thecleverkoi.com
Vegan or not, you will enjoy the Uprooted Kitchen. The plant-based restaurant is located on a certified organic farm (Agritopia) where it sources many of its fruit and vegetables, and it has nothing but five star reviews for its efforts. The family-run business started as a vegetarian food truck before putting down roots in a brick-and-mortar location. It’s a great destination for a birthday breakfast or lunch or family dinner. You will be beyond impressed with items like the Pumpkin Miso Soup topped with cashew cream, kale, pickled onion and pepitas and the Tempeh Breakfast Sandwich that has avocado, tomato, caramelized onion and farm greens. Save room for freshly-made pastries and desserts like the Mango Cashew Cheesecake and Chocolate Coconut Tart. Uprooted Kitchen is located at 3000 E Ray Road, Building 6, Suite 105; 480.459.9625; www.theuprootedkitchen.com