Good for a Group

By Katherine Adomaitis | Photo courtesy of Maynards Market & Kitchen

If you’re looking for a more specialized approach to your next event at a restaurant, consider taking your crew out for a meal at one of Arizona’s acclaimed, chef-driven indie restaurants. Here are some celebrated, foodie-friendly eateries that can accommodate groups of eight or more and are available for buyouts.

GREATER PHOENIX

FAT OX

Chef Matt Carter’s newest concept in Scottsdale is a sleek, airy indoor/ outdoor setting with a menu riffing on classic Italian cuisine. Start with made-to-order tableside Caesar salads, then progress to house-made pastas like squid ink pappardelle, or, for meat lovers, the 25-ounce dry-aged prime Porterhouse. The Italian-centric wine list is also sure to please. ilovefatox.com

OCOTILLO

Housed in an architecturally striking building with desert landscaping in midtown Phoenix, Ocotillo has become a popular neighborhood hangout with its comfy dining room and numerous patio spaces. Chef Walter Sterling and his team deliver an ever-changing menu that trots the globe with dishes like duck egg tagliatelle, a halal burger and wood-fired beef ribs made with an mole espresso BBQ sauce. ocotillophx.com

QUIESSENCE

Set in the midst of The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix, an agrarian compound of restaurants and gardens, Quiessence is located in a rambling ranch house with cozy patios. Chef Dustin Christofolo incorporates local produce and products into an evolving menu that might feature pistachio soup, salad plucked from the garden and Cornish hen served with fried herbs and edible flowers. Libations include craft cocktails and Arizona wines. qatthefarm.com

TUCSON

MAYNARDS MARKET & KITCHEN

Occupying part of a still-active, historic train depot, Maynards features a fast-casual marketplace and dinner restaurant, helmed by chef Brian Smith, all linked by a capacious patio. The dinner menu has an old-school, East Coast vibe, with steak tartare, oysters, celery bisque and pan-roasted duck. Manhattans and martinis seem appropriate here, but note that house wines are Arizona blends. maynardstucson.com

DOWNTOWN KITCHEN + COCKTAILS

James Beard Award-winning chef Janos Wilder literally wrote the book on new Southwest cuisine (Janos: Recipes and Tales from a Southwest Restaurant), and his latest, art-filled urban concept spans the globe with tastes like African yam and peanut soup, duck rillettes tartine and crayfish-flecked ma po tofu. His adjacent The Carriage House, a renovated historic brick building, is available for larger groups. downtownkitchen.com

FLAGSTAFF

THE COTTAGE FARMHOUSE FRENCH BISTRO

After several years of leading downtown Flagstaff’s food-centric rebirth, chef Scott Heinonen— whose career highlights include working as a private chef for Paul McCartney—has launched his intimate, French-accented eatery in a charming, 1909 Craftsman-style cottage. Look for items like pan-fried veal sweetbreads, paté, roasted half chicken, and lamb bourguignon on the seasonally changing menu. thecottageflagstaff.com

ROOT PUBLIC HOUSE

Chef Dave Smith set out to support local farmers, ranchers, vintners and brewers with this downtown restaurant, set in a historic storefront with a minimalist vibe. The Southerntinged menu features dishes like Hoppin’ John, shrimp and grits, and pecan-smoked spare ribs. Grab a craft cocktail and head to the rooftop patio (a great group spot) for views of Flagstaff’s landmark San Francisco Peaks. rootpublichouse.com

SEDONA

MARIPOSA LATIN INSPIRED GRILL

It’s easy to be dazzled by views of Sedona’s fabled red rocks from within this elegant, contemporary restaurant and its generously sized patios. But chef Lisa Dahl—who helms several other Sedona restaurants—reels you back in with dishes like grilled Spanish octopus, empanadas, Ecuadorian-style shrimp ceviche, plus steaks and chops. The Wine Spectator-lauded wine list includes selections from Argentina, Chile, Spain and Portugal. mariposasedona.com