Well-Rehearsed: Top 10 Phoenix-Area Rehearsal Dinner Venues

You’ve planned the big day down to every rose and ribbon; now, host an unforgettable rehearsal dinner that sets the stage for the main event. Here, 10 Phoenix-area spots for every vibe and budget.
From: Spring/Summer 2013 edition

It sounds like just one more thing you have to plan (as if your to-do list weren’t long enough!), but your rehearsal dinner is more than just feeding a hungry bridal party. It’s a time for your nearest and dearest to get to know each other, to thank those who gave you wedding-planning support and to set the scene for the main event. Thankfully, the Valley’s best restaurants make the evening a cinch with private dining options that cater to groups big and small. From high-end steak dinners to farm-fresh feasts to boots-and-jeans Western cookouts, there’s a rehearsal event for every mood and budget.

Fabulously French: Coup Des Tartes
Scoring a Saturday-night table at this cozy French bistro is no easy task, but planning events in the charming Rendezvous dining room (just across the courtyard from the main dining space) couldn’t be easier. Breakfast, lunch and dinner events at several price points include use of the foyer space, choice of custom-made linens, a personalized printed menu, votive candles and nonalcoholic drinks—plus those famous delicate tarts. Extras range from flowers to photo booth rental. It’s BYOB (now’s a great time to pop that pinot you scored in Paris!), so true bon vivants should splurge on the optional wine steward.
Capacity: Up to 40. Pricing: From $22 per person; $1,200 minimum for evening events. Also try: Vincent on Camelback, Petite Maison

(Not-Too-Wild) West: Rustler’s Rooste
Show city-slicker guests the cowpoke life at this rustic city-view steakhouse in the foothills. When the dinner bell rings, cowboy-style steaks, barbecue chicken and ribs, and picnic-like sides are served family-style. (Brave palates should try the rattlesnake.) Each meal ends with fresh-baked apple, cherry or pecan pies, and events held in the barn space can conclude with line-dance and two-step lessons that’ll get even the shyest bridesmaid on her feet.
Capacity: 30 to 500. Pricing: From $23 per person. Also try: Pinnacle Peak Patio, Rawhide

Japanese Chic: Roka Akor
Japanese robata (an open mesquite-charcoal grill) is literally the center of this contemporary culinary hotspot that puts its flame-fired dishes on equal footing with sushi and sashimi—that means sharable family-style plates that everyone can enjoy. The private dining room, anchored by a gorgeous 200-year-old Irish elm slab table, suits smaller parties, while the patio and Sake & Shochu lounge (starring the house-infused shochu spirits) accommodate seated parties of up to 35 or 45, respectively.
Capacity: Up to 20 (private dining room); up to 45 (additional dining spaces). Pricing: $1,500 minimum for groups of 11 to 20. Also try: Nobuo at Teeter House, Japanese Friendship Garden

Foodie-Friendly: Arcadia Farms
Grandparents will “ooh” and “aah” over the quaint country cottage-style digs while gourmands wonder how organic, farm-fresh berries, greens and goat cheese are possible in the desert. Pure, local ingredients are the stars of the breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner event menus; consider forgoing a traditional dinner in favor of a rehearsal luncheon featuring bright dishes like strawberry chicken salad and seared salmon. On their way out, gift guests with the café’s own apricot tea or house-baked cookies.
Capacity: Up to 20 (Wine Room), up to 40 (Hacienda Room), up to 60 (Cottage space). Pricing: From $25 per person. Also try: Arcadia Room at LGO, Kai

Urban Outlook: The Arrogant Butcher (right)
The chow is as eclectic as the crowd at this industrial yet warm downtown space within three-pointer distance of US Airways Arena. Five event spaces each seat up to 66 guests, and menus range from edgy takes on comfort food (spicy short-rib stew and addictive pretzel-and-provolone fondue) to highbrow (chef-selected cheese and charcuterie, and New Zealand sea bass). After dinner, treat guests to a Suns game or a symphony, or just chill in the CityScape center courtyard
Capacity: 60 (News Room), 24 (Office and Boardroom spaces; 48 if combined), 20 (bar), 66 (patio). Pricing: Lunch from $20 per person, dinner from $40 per person. Also try: District American Kitchen & Wine Bar, Hotel Palomar Phoenix

Decidedly Different: Lucky Strike
The best way to turn two sets of in-laws into fast friends? A little 10-pin competition. Lucky Strike’s modern, sleek lanes are upscale, and so is the food: Private event menus include salmon lollipops, short rib tacos, and brie and grilled-apple quesadillas, plus more traditional bowling alley fare like pizzas and grilled cheese sliders. A make-your-own sundae bar ensures everyone’s a winner.
Capacity: Eight to 1,000. Pricing: Choose among several food packages; bowling included, no minimum. Also try: Japanese Friendship Garden, TGI Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill at Chase Field

Killer Views: Elements at Sanctuary on Camelback MountainElements and Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (right)
There’s no better way to soak in an Arizona sunset than by indulging in celeb chef Beau MacMillan’s upscale American cuisine at the stunning mountainside Elements. Among a handful of private dining spaces, two accommodate seated dinners and celebrate the environs: The new Praying Monk space features skylights and sliding glass walls for an indoor/outdoor experience; the slate Paradise Views Patio is totally alfresco.
Capacity: 60 (Praying Monk), 80 (Paradise Views Patio). Pricing: From $85 per person Also try: El Chorro Lodge, Geordie’s at Wrigley Mansion, BLT Steak at JW Marriott Camelback Inn

Top-Shelf Luxury: Mastro’s City Hall (above) and Mastro’s Ocean Club
Mastro’s restaurants ooze sophistication at every turn. Steak lovers should opt for the luxe City Hall, where six combinable private spaces accommodate seated feasts of filets, ribeyes, sautéed veggies, truffle-crab gnocchi and the option to pair it all with lobster tails or king crab legs. Seafood aficionados will swoon at Ocean Club, where nine flexible rooms host private meals, and event menus mimic the main dining room’s; think crab legs and claws, oysters Rockefeller, Pacific swordfish and Chilean sea bass. (Lobster even makes an appearance in the mashed potatoes.) In addition to world-class wine lists and impeccable service, both spots allow guests to order the dishes of their choice at the event, rather than from a pre-set banquet menu.
Capacity: From 12 to 100 (Ocean Club), from 15 to 500 (City Hall). Pricing: from $75 per person and $1,000 minimum. Also try: Chart House, Durant’s, Sassi

Modern Mexican: Distrito
More than 100 tequilas, vibrant décor and Iron Chef Jose Garces’ modern spins on Mexican street food turn an average rehearsal dinner into a fiesta. Nestled inside Old Town Scottsdale’s trendy Saguaro Hotel, Distrito offers four vibrant private event spaces; book the patio for smaller dinners, or the entire restaurant for grande crowds. However large your party, a dedicated event planner will arrange the décor and A/V equipment, and help you select from the south-of-the-border menu, though the standouts are undoubtedly Garces’ barbacoa dishes—slow-smoked pork, lamb, brisket and more—cooked in the outdoor pit.
Capacity: Up to 100. Pricing: Varies by rental space. Also try: Old Town Tortilla Factory, El Encanto

Pizza Perfect: Grimaldi’s Pizzeria
Brooklyn’s finest resides right here in the desert. The famous New York pizza joint operates seven spots around the Valley, each with private rooms and patios. Coal-fired pizza and calzones can feed an army of wedding attendants and family members; salads, pastas and Italian classics round out the menu. Sinatra warbling in the background and sweet, chocolaty bites of cannoli set a romantic mood for the next day’s affair.
Capacity: From 15 to 100; varies by location. Pricing: No room fees, catering menu costs only. Also try: Oregano’s, The Parlor