While spring and summer have been challenging for everyone, the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard. But as the temperatures begin to drop, along with coronavirus numbers, there is a cautious sense of optimism as fall approaches.

Joining in that optimism, and with a huge dose of gratitude for continued patron support, is the Carefree Restaurant Association as it once again presents diners the opportunity to sample new and exciting menu offerings during its Fall Restaurant Week, Oct. 1–11.

Participating restaurants are fired up and ready to showcase the diverse culinary options to be found in Carefree — from hearty American fare, to English afternoon tea and Mediterranean influence; from cafés and bistros to steakhouses and everything in between. Some restaurants will offer a special lunch menu, while others will offer a three-course dinner for dine-in or take-out customers.

Prices for Fall Restaurant Week 2020:
Lunch Menu (2-courses) $18
Dinner Menu (3-courses) $35 or $45
(per person, excluding alcohol)

“We have all had a very tough year,” said Carefree Restaurant Association chairperson Jo Gemmill. “We are so grateful for the customers who have continued to support us during these hard times, whether by dining in or picking up take-out. Carefree Restaurant Week is our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to our community for continuing to support us.”

Gemmill added that, unlike many other towns, Carefree’s restaurant base is made up of independent, family-owned businesses, something that makes the town so irresistible to residents and visitors alike.

“No large corporate chains dictate menu, pricing or marketing campaign — rather, the individual business owner can determine the look, feel, style, concept and brand their own restaurant based on their own individual culinary expertise.”

During the event, participating restaurants will follow all CDC guidelines regarding safety measures and limited dine-in capacity.

For additional details on Carefree Restaurant Week, including a complete list of all Carefree restaurants and menus, visit carefreerestaurants.com.

A Peek Inside Carefree’s Eateries

We asked a few of the participating restaurants to share a little bit about what makes their eatery stand out. Here is what they had to say. |CST

Black Mountain Coffee Shop

Black Mountain Coffee Shop 7211 E. Ho Road, Suite 23; 480.488.9261; blackmountaincoffeeshop.com

“We are a unique breakfast and lunch restaurant located in the heart of Carefree,” said restaurant manager, Christina Holmes. “The majority of the locals enjoy having their morning coffee with friends or stopping by for lunch in the afternoon. Established in 1978, we have been serving the community and visitors from around the world. Our homemade cinnamon rolls and biscuits topped with our secret gravy recipe have been a hit for decades.”

Confluence

Confluence 36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive; 480.488.9796; restaurantconfluence.com

“At Confluence, we believe in serving up healthy options without sacrificing flavor. We have a cozy bistro interior as well as an open patio with mountain views,” said owner Victoria Gauthier. “Chef Brandon wants to make this restaurant unique to the area, where you can order a la carte; however, it is meant to have multiple courses and tastings. The wine list will be worldly with a heavy by the glass section — so you can enjoy all of your favorites. At Confluence we focus on seasonal offerings from as many local farmers as possible. We also enjoy sourcing some of the finest foods from around the world. We love introducing fun, unique ingredients to our guests in a comfortable environment.”

English Rose Tea Room

English Rose Tea Room 201 Easy St., Suite 103; 480.488.4812; carefreetea.com

Situated in the heart of Carefree, the English Rose Tea Room provides an exquisite “Afternoon Tea” experience. “Try a scone with Devon Cream, or the Duchess of Bedford’s Formal Afternoon Tea, or simply a delicious vegetarian quiche…there is something for every discerning tea lover’s palate,” said owner Jo Gemmill. “The interior of the Tea Room boasts sumptuous fabrics of velvet and silk, crystal chandeliers and beautiful bone china tea sets. An extensive lunch menu, a beautifully appointed outdoor patio and a gorgeous gift store, makes the English Rose Tea Room a ‘Must Do’ when coming to Carefree.” Open Tuesday thru Sunday, 11am–4pm.

Keeler's Neighborhood Steakhouse

Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse 7212 E. Ho Hum Road; 602.374.4784; keelerssteakhouse.com

“Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse is the latest concept by our family-run company, Keeler Hospitality Group, LLC,” said Michael Fischer, general manager. “Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse features only the finest certified Angus beef steaks, freshest available seafood, chicken and American specialties that redefine comfort food, served with professional yet unpretentious service. In addition to fine dining, Keeler’s features an inviting and upscale neighborhood social house atmosphere that encourages conversation and laughs among old friends and new. The restaurant boasts a centrally located island bar, large adjacent patio, beautiful courtyard and roof-top deck designed for stargazing and lounging after a good wholesome meal — made by our family for yours.”

Venues's Cafe

Venues Cafe 34 Easy St.; 480.595.9909; venuescafe.com

We have been a Carefree staple for 10 years offering comfort food with a Southwest flair,” said owner Catherine Marr. “Dining options include light bites such as deviled eggs with bacon jam, street tacos, loaded mac and cheese and lettuce wraps. Signature salads such as the Chicken Taco Salad, Roasted Beet Salad and customized Chopped Salad are popular, Marr says, as well as full comfort meals like a baked, stuffed pork chop, Chicken Schnitzel with lingonberry sauce or mixed grill kabobs.”

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