Cafe Zuzu: Retro Poolside Dining at Hotel Valley Ho

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Hotel Scottsdale

Hotel Valley Ho was built in 1956 and quickly gained cachet as a desert retreat, hosting events like the wedding of Natalie Wood to Robert Wagner. Almost 50 years later, the hotel needed revitalization, and got it in 2002, when Westroc Hospitality purchased the property and injected $80 million. The Ho reopened in December 2005 with a retro appeal that charmed Scottsdale residents and tourists. The in-house restaurant, Cafe Zuzu, quickly gained a reputation for whimsical takes on comfort food classics.

Restaurant Scottsdale
Café Zuzu sports a cool cool retro interior, with globe lanterns and a bygone color scheme, but we chose to sit on the sun-soaked patio.

Pancakes Scottsdale
The egg dishes sounded conventional, so Allison and I both ordered “from the griddle.” Banana buttermilk pancakes ($8) were topped with sliced bananas and a central dune of banana pudding. That’s not where the fun ended. The pancakes, which were light and would have been satisfying on their own, sandwiched two more layers of pudding.

Pancakes Scottsdale
Vanilla poppy seed pancakes ($8) didn’t have the backing of buttermilk, so they were a little drier, but the flavor was still strong, and its crown of lemon blueberry compote added a sweet jolt.

Bacon Scottsdale
Thick cut Virginia bacon ($3.50) might not be a groundbreaking side item, but I’d never refuse a plate of salty, smoky hog.

Cinnamon Roll Scottsdale
This just-baked cinnamon roll ($3.75) was slathered with molten icing and served hot. The interior could have been gooier, but the cinnamon flavor was good.

The house specialty drink is the Frosty Orange “Ho-J” ($4.25) fresh squeezed orange juice blended with vanilla ice cream, described by our waitress as “kind of like an Orange Julius.”

The setting may have been retro, but the breakfast at Cafe Zuzu was contemporary. With portions so large, I had no shot at cleaning my plate, but I enjoyed the process. Next time I’m in Scottsdale, I could easily see returning for breakfast.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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