The Valley’s Tastiest Festival Returns to Desert Botanical Garden in 2023


This article was written by food critic Howard Seftel.

At last: The world feels like it’s finally beginning to awaken from a long Covid nightmare.

Our lives pretty much shut down in March 2020. Now, almost three years, two vaccines and three boosters later, we can go somewhere else besides our couch with confidence.

We’re getting together with family instead of Zooming with them. Enjoying in-restaurant dining instead of bringing home restaurant take-out. Going out to movies, concerts and theatre instead of wandering through Netflix.

We’re making plans for the future.

On your list of life-is-good plans, I’d suggest putting Devour Culinary Classic at the very top. The festival returns Feb. 25-26, 2023. Guest must be 21 and older attend.

Set in the stunning Desert Botanical Garden, the Valley’s premier food festival promises to show you why, as the New York Times recently wrote in its round-up of the country’s most exciting new restaurants: “The sleeper hit of our list is the state of Arizona.”

It seems the Times’ reporters have finally caught on to what in-the-know locals have known for years: Arizona’s vibrant, under-the-radar restaurant scene can go fork-to-fork with any restaurant scene in the country.

Of course, given the Valley’s history as a tourist destination, we’ve always had outstanding resort fine-dining, from long-gone Mary Elaine’s and the Chaparral to current standouts Kai and Elements.

We’ve also had more than our share of great independent-restaurant chefs. Remember pioneers like RoxSand and Robert McGrath? Today, legends like Christopher Gross, Vincent Guerithault and Kevin Binkley are still going strong.

Looking for beef? Why go to another city when we have Durant’s, Dominick’s, Steak 44, J&G Steakhouse and a dozen other worthy shrines to ribeye, filet and porterhouse right here in the Valley?

Mexican? From the humble burrito and taco to exotic seafood cocktails and chiles en nogada, we’ve long had south-of-the-border covered.

And our pizzerias are as good as any this side of Naples.

So, what’s changed? An emerging new generation of creative chefs is building on this foundation, adding a modern vibe, urban energy and a 21st century multicultural sensibility to the restaurant mix. Thai-Arab fusion, anyone? Venezuelan arepas? How about truffles and mille-feuille on an Indian menu?

This bold new generation is not afraid to experiment, to use the past to help usher in the future. It’s an exciting time to dine in Arizona.

Devour Culinary Classic promises to bring together the restaurants you already love with the restaurants you’re about to fall in love with, amid breathtaking surroundings, and, if history repeats itself, mild temperatures and bright blue skies.

Isn’t it nice to have something to look forward to again?

Tickets go on sale at on Nov. 5.

The two-day culinary festival takes places at the Garden from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Early access starts at 10 a.m. Guests will have two ticket options: General admission for $125 and Early Entry for $200.

General admission provides access to the Garden, sample food, enjoy live music and access to the Quench Beverage Garden and wine sales area. Guests will receive a commemorative wine glass and yoke.

Early Entry includes a 90-minute early entrance to the event, priority parking, access to the indoor Devour Lounge and two tickets to the Garden to use at a future time.

Heat Advisory: Please be prepared for extreme heat. Bring water, stay hydrated and seek shade when possible.