Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Food Reviews Issue: July 2013
Group Free

A second-generation Valley restaurateur puts a scrumptious Southern spin on American standards at his Scottsdale neighborhood eatery.

Grassroots Kitchen & Tap’s story is, appropriately, that of a local boy made good. Owner Christopher Collins has deep roots in the Valley restaurant business: His father is Wally Collins of Wally’s American Pub N’ Grille, and he grew up slinging pies at Marie Callender’s. After stints with local chefs Beau McMillan and Lee Hillson, Christopher spent his food-formative years working for Houston’s restaurants in several cities, including New Orleans, where he discovered a love of Southern cuisine and developed a profound respect for locavorism. The product of that union, Grassroots, opened in 2011.

Grassroots’ down-home, community-driven ethos is reflected in the brick and sage-colored setting, communal table, central bar where guests banter with bartenders and servers, and seating that spills into an outdoor patio. The straightforward menu is packed with satisfying and skillfully prepared American staples with a Southern twist.  

Intrigued by the sharing plate, Dad’s Grocery Bag ($13), we asked the server about its unusual name. She explained that when Collins was a young boy, his father brought home a brown bag of ever-changing ingredients from his restaurant. At Grassroots, the brown bag is re-imagined as a charcuterie board topped with cured meats; goat, Swiss and parmesan cheeses; assorted nuts; olives; crusty French bread; and local honey.

Carolina baby back ribs

A seasonal vegetable chop salad comes in two generous sizes ($7/$11) and marries 14 ingredients, including beets, grilled butternut squash, cucumbers and feta, tossed in light champagne vinaigrette. Other greenery includes a club house salad with a melange of romaine, tomatoes, onions, applewood-smoked bacon and crumbled bleu cheese.

The Carolina baby back ribs ($24), slathered with smoky barbecue sauce, fell off the bone with little to no coaxing. The accompanying shoestring fries, while crisp and suitably salty, tasted of overspent fryer oil. (The heaping portion of fries had no oily aftertaste on a subsequent visit.) Another first-rate barbecue choice is the smoked brisket sandwich ($13). The sweet and spicy, hickory- and cherry wood-smoked beef is cradled by a soft baguette and crowned with a crunchy vinaigrette slaw and house-made pickles, plus unnecessary mayonnaise.

On the fish front, the Southern shrimp and grits ($17) – a simple dish of sautéed gulf white shrimp on a bed of jalapeño-cheddar grits studded with smoky Tasso ham, red and green peppers and celery – is an apt and delicious venue for Collins to show off his Southern cooking chops.

Grassroots dishes out great comfort food in a casual setting while keeping an eye on quality ingredients and good service, giving true Southern comfort to the Southwest.

Inside Grassroots

Grassroots Kitchen & Tap
Cuisine: American
Address: 8120 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
Phone: 480-699-0699
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday (bar 10 p.m.); 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday (bar 10:30 p.m.); 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Smoked brisket sandwich ($13); seasonal vegetable chop salad ($7/$11); Carolina baby back ribs ($24)