AZ Hot Spot: The Porch

To state the obvious: Phoenix is a hot place.

(I’ll interject here to point out the irony that I am actually writing this blog on a rainy, cool October day. But I digress.)

Besides the weather, Phoenix is also a simmering spot for cuisine. It seriously seems like there’s a new restaurant popping up on every corner. We’re a city full of patios, bar games, and delicious, indulgent food.

The Porch in Arcadia brings together the best of all three.

Recently, I had the opportunity to head to The Porch and try out a few new menu items.

First off, let’s talk the space itself. If you’ve never been to The Porch and are looking for a great place for a Sunday Funday, I’d recommend it. There’s cornhole, a slew of big televisions, and pool tables and skee ball in the back. Safe to say, no matter what you’re into, you won’t be bored.

Also, it’s so Instagrammable. As a blogger, you know that I know the importance of that feature. 😉

However, I’d suggest a rideshare, or at the very least carpooling. There isn’t much parking, but I have a hunch that might be designed that way on purpose. When you sell such delicious libations, limiting parking for the sake of safety might be a wise choice.

Speaking of delicious libations, take your pick off their menu. You simply can’t go wrong.

img_1886-1

The fig mule? Refreshing, and not overly figgy, which, for me, was plus. The “My Ex-Wife’s Secret”? A hilarious name and a delicious drink.

img_1894

The “Big Trouble in Little Shanghai”? Well, it comes in a takeout carton, so that should tell you how fun it is. Also, it’s made with RedBull, which I’m not a fan of, but you can’t taste it. Or, more dangerously, the alcohol. It’s basically a grown up Capri Sun.

Whatever drink you get, you can pair it with a number of menu items. While I didn’t have them during my most recent video, I can confirm that the fries are top notch. However, I got to get a little taste of some potentially new menu items, which offers a strong promise of what’s to come:

img_1889

The black & white Ahi poke was divine. Granted, it does feel a little weird to be having poke at a place that you’re meant to be up and about at, playing bar games and lingering with pals, but the dish was good nonetheless. I’ve never had poke with beets in it, but I have to say – I’ll be having it with beets much more often.

The chicken stir fry, also not on the menu yet, was good. However, be prepared for a bit of a bang for your buck. It’s quite spicy.

img_1901

The salmon salad was, hands down, my absolute favorite. I’m keeping all of my fingers and toes crossed that it makes its way to the menu because, if it doesn’t, I’ll have to track down the chef and ask for the recipe.

Oh – and don’t forget the donut holes!

My only disclaimer – besides the parking and the spice – is that you shouldn’t be in a hurry when you come here. The service is leisurely… which gives you more time to enjoy all the takeout-carton drinks you desire, I suppose.

The Happiest Hours Around Phoenix

I’m a happy hour girl. I owe a lot to whoever invented the concept. Half priced appetizers and five dollar wine? What’s not to love?

Besides, I think there is a lot to be said for getting all of your socializing in and then being able to be home with a book (and a cat and a boyfriend) by eight.

In honor of my love of happy hours, and partially because it’s just fun, I’ve rounded up my favorite happy hour spots in metro Phoenix:

North

img_0456

This one’s a given, and will top the list every time. Ask me anywhere I ever want to go for happy hour, I will pick North without fail. In fact, my friend Makenzie and I are such regular visitors to this establishment that we have our own table. Granted, we deemed it as such, but it is nice that there’s enough regularity to my appearances here to have something like that.

North has a board and bottle offering that rivals Postino’s. Actually (and I mean no offense to Postino’s here, because they also have a large part of my wine-loving heart), I think North’s is better. You get to pick between a pizza, bruschetta, or a chef’s board, and I almost always pick the latter. I’d recommend getting some extra bread, though. Mainly because the bread is delicious.

The Montauk

img_1219

For a spot smack-dab in the middle of Scottsdale, the Montauk has the greatest New England island vibes. With clapboard walls adorned with fishing nets, the nautical vibe can transport anyone to the world of Blair Waldorf and Hampton lifeguards on… well, Montauk.

I had the opportunity to check out some of the Montauk’s new menu items earlier this summer, which is when I first experienced their happy hour items. Before that, I’ve only ever brunched here.

In addition to a great range of appetizers, the Montauk offers full meal options that are delicious and unique, like their new bowls! Plus, they’ve got a full bar and some delicious cocktails to keep you… wait for it… happy all hour.

(Okay, sorry. I know. That was bad.)

Gwin Wine and Beer

img_0514

This is another recent discovery. I’ve been saying ever since moving to Scottsdale that I want to become a regular somewhere, and not in the way I’m regularly at North. I want to be a regular here in the sense that Ted, Robin, Marshall, Lily, and Barney were regulars at MacLaren’s. Now, I’ve only been to Gwin once, but this seems like exactly the sort of place that could make that oddly specific dream of mine a reality.

Gwin’s bar takes up most of its dining area, but that’s what’s great about it. You feel like you’re really there to get to know the staff, to learn from them, and to look up at the really impressive chalk map of their wineries and specials. There is live music every weekend (and occasionally on Monday, which is when I saw Jaty Edwards perform). The food offered ranges from the best baked Brie I’ve had in a long time to Cornish Pasty Co.’s pasties, with a charcuterie board in the middle. While this might not be the sort of spot I’d go if I was ravenously hungry, I do plan on returning for plenty more Chardonnay and finger foods… and then walking across the parking lot for dessert at The Baked Bear.

Blanco Tacos & Tequila

img_9648

Yes, I do drink things that aren’t wine. I also like margaritas, and Blanco has some of the best. They also have a delectable queso dip that I could eat as an entire meal… and I have before, because it’s what tops their nachos. Blanco also has probably some of the best options for sharing plates out there, between their aforementioned dips and their gigantic cheese crisps. If you’re looking for a place to take a group, I’d definitely give Blanco a top-notch recommendation.

Phoenix Public Market

img_1639Oh, how I greatly miss living within walking distance of this gem. (Let’s start a petition to convince the boy to move back downtown so I can relive those happy hour glory days? Just kidding. Kind of.)

Phoenix Public Market is certainly one of the most recognizable spots downtown, partly because food trucks fill up its parking lot every Friday during lunch. But it’s quickly becoming one of the most recognizable happy hour haunts, too, and to that I say — of course it is! Their happy hour menu includes two of their best food offerings: Downtown Devil fries and a soft pretzel. Plus, they’ve got 5 dollar wine and beer and sangria, and a 5 dollar signature cocktail — the Lee Trevino, which is both gloriously refreshing and surprisingly spicy in the same sip.

Combine that with the fact that PPM is within walking distance of all the major sports and concert venues, just so long as it’s not five million degrees out, then you’ve got the perfect spot to get a quick bite and a drink before heading out to a game.

So, there you have it, my own little opinionated round up. And, granted, I part with the disclaimer that this is no way a comprehensive list, but rather the five spots that I frequent most often.

What are your favorite happy hours around the Valley? And for those of you checking in on this blog from out of town, I would love to hear your favorite local spots too… we can add it to the list of Things To Do for whenever I come visit. 😉 Until then… cheers! After all, it is 5 o’clock somewhere.