Did you ever go back to a restaurant that you thought you loved and remembered why you stopped going? That was the revelation when we went back to Carlsbad Tavern in Scottsdale after many years from our last visit.
Our friend, who used to live in Arizona, was visiting us and wanted to go there. He was the person that introduced Carlsbad Tavern to us many years ago. I had such good memories.
It looks cute as soon as you walk up to the entryway, which is nicely lit at night. Then you step into the pretty patio with a waterfall. I think the last time I went was with Jimmy and we sat on the patio at a 2-person table. And I think that was the time I ordered something and had a difficult time eating it because it was so spicy. But I forgot about that.
I don't know if it was when I was looking at the menu or after I got my order when I asked the waiter if there was anything that wasn't so spicy. He apologetically told me "no".
I could barely eat my food, and it wasn't just one item. It seemed like everything on that plate made my mouth burn except the lettuce, tomatoes, and tortillas. I usually eat half of a restaurant meal and take the other half home to eat for lunch the next day. I didn't get a doggie bag this time.
I was with my husband Jimmy, our friend, and my son. They all liked their food, so it was just me and my tastebuds. One of the many awards they have won is: "10 Favorite Spicy Dishes: Habanero Cheeseburger, Phoenix New Times, September 2011". I had a similar experience at a barbecue restaurant in Cave Creek. I'm not going to link it because I don't like giving a negative review, but I like to be honest and blame myself if I'm the only one that was unhappy.
The service was great and for some reason, we ate inside. It's kind of a dark interior, purposely made to look like a cave you might find at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. That's why you'll see bats hanging along with a big spider and other fun things on the interior stone wall.
If you look at the first picture I posted, you'll see the lighted sign in the back that states "New Mexican Grub". That is what the menu and the entire restaurant is based on. I guess they like it super hot in New Mexico. Good to know as that is on my bucket list. I'll have to be careful ordering food.
The funny thing is, I didn't put the two together and when I saw the photos with the bats and other decor I thought we must have gone in October and this was their Halloween decor. Nope, we went in July and it's year-round and their newspaper-type menu is called the Daily Guano.
I don't know why it doesn't appear anyone was dining on the patio, but we might have been late and it was closed or it was around that time that many restaurants were short-staffed, so maybe it wasn't open. It's really a nice experience dining outside. They call the water feature The Guano Canal.
So if you love spicy food and a Scottsdale restaurant with a rustic and unique ambiance, give Carlsbad Tavern a try. If you're a wimp like me, try a sandwich or a hamburger or something where just the sauce is spicy.
3313 N Hayden Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Happy Hour is 2-6PMJudy Orr on