Hanny’s Infuses Downtown Phoenix with Classic Fare in a Historic Building

Finally, something to cheer about.

In a city where preservationists have new reasons to gripe all the time — sharp mid-century homes getting razed to make way for McMansions, architecturally significant buildings being bulldozed so somebody can slap up another generic bank or strip mall — there's good news about at least one historic building. Better yet, it's right downtown.

And the icing on the cake? It's home to a new restaurant called Hanny's.

Phoenix rising: The historic Hanny's building is now home to a stylish eatery.
Jackie Mercandetti
Phoenix rising: The historic Hanny's building is now home to a stylish eatery.

Location Info

Map

Hanny's

40 N. 1st St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Central Phoenix

Details

Bruschetta: $7
Margherita pizza: $9
Beet salad: $8
Panino: $9.50
602-252-2285
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m.to 1 a.m.; bar open daily until 1:30 a.m.
Hanny's
40 North First Street

Like its stark International Style building façade, Hanny's all-day menu is streamlined, featuring just a handful of starters, pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. It's well-crafted, affordable fare that's perfect for a light lunch, an informal dinner, a happy hour snack, or a late-night nosh — not destination dining by any stretch, but considering the beautifully restored surroundings and the sheer character that this place brings to the area, it's still a Phoenix destination.

Hanny's has quite a story. It's named after businessman Vic Hanny's "Distinguished Store for Men and Women" originally located there, a place where generations of Phoenicians shopped for designer-label clothing. After the store was shuttered in the '80s, the circa 1947 Hanny's building sat vacant, occasionally getting torched by the fire department to train firefighters.

It was added to the Phoenix Historic Property Register in 2005, the same year the city negotiated with restaurateur Karl Kopp (owner of Scottsdale's AZ88, as well as spots in Milwaukee and Manhattan) to exchange it for a building he owned on Central Avenue. City officials wanted to acquire Kopp's property as part of the planned ASU Downtown Campus; Kopp was willing to bring the historic Hanny's building back to its vintage grandeur.

Three years and $5 million later, Hanny's is a well-polished modernist gem. Artist Janis Leonard — known for her cheeky, rotating installations at AZ88 — designed the spare, elegant interior, where charcoal-colored banquettes line the perimeter, chocolate leather chairs hug smooth granite-topped tables, and soft uplighting emphasizes dramatically high ceilings (high enough to have a curvy mezzanine overlooking the dining room). Everything gleams, from terrazzo floors to the bar in the middle of the space, where a bright red meat slicer sits like a candy apple behind glass.

Between the working elevator and the stairwell, Leonard has created a mini-funhouse in an empty elevator shaft, utilizing mirrors, lighting, and a see-through floor to give curious patrons something to talk about, whether they've had cocktails or not.

Upstairs, there's secluded seating along the mezzanine, and something else to kick-start conversation: the restrooms. (Not a surprise, since AZ88 has trippy toilets, too.) Usually, I don't care to comment on a restaurant's facilities, but so far, there hasn't been a single time when I've visited Hanny's and didn't hear at least one remark about them.

"Did you see the bathrooms? Oh, you have to go check out the bathrooms!"

It's that funhouse thing again — there's no signage leading you to them, you just find your way into a surreal white room with mirrors and pink lighting. At first, you'll think you're not supposed to be there, but you'll know you're in the right place when you notice the outlines of doors without handles. Just push.

Meanwhile, there's nothing confusing about the food here, a straightforward assortment of Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a few quirky flourishes. For example, instead of a side of French fries, sandwiches came with a pile of skinny, crispy fried onion strings dusted with Parmesan cheese. It was a nice twist, and just as easy to gobble up as fries.

And refreshingly, the bruschetta was not the predictable tomato-and-basil-topped version served by so many restaurants. Instead, it was geared toward olive-lovers, with chopped green and Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. Red pepper flakes gave it a spicy kick.

Somebody in the kitchen really likes those red pepper flakes, which is fine with me. One of my friends speculated that the slight heat makes you thirsty for more alcohol, and I think there's something to that. Anyway, the spiciness definitely enhanced the cauliflower Calabrese appetizer, which combined grilled cauliflower, diced red and green bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, and more fried onion strings on top. It also added a tasty dimension to the cheese-smothered Blanco pizza, dotted with tomatoes and basil.

Hanny's "Roman-style" pizzas, baked in a 500-degree stone oven, satisfied a different kind of craving than most pizzas I've had, and made a good sharable snack as much as an individual serving. Rather than sinking my teeth into doughy crust, I nibbled on a crispy, ultra-thin crust that had a cracker-like appeal. It seemed to emphasize the toppings more — the sweetness of the San Marzano tomato sauce on the Margherita, the gooeyness of the cheese on the Blanco. My favorite was laden with prosciutto, tomato sauce, mozzarella, shaved Parmesan, and fresh arugula.

Salads were also huge — entrée-sized, and then some. The chopped salad was presented with individual piles of red onion, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, 'shrooms, avocado, hearts of palm, and hardboiled egg next to a heap of greens with shaved Parmesan and Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette, while the beet salad featured a mountain of arugula speckled with goat cheese, pine nuts, and red onion, surrounded by overlapping slices of red and yellow beets.

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2 comments
daniel
daniel

i have to disagree completely with your review...classic?!? what? maybe stark...but not classic. entree size salads and then some?!?! are you kidding...and your favorite beet salad is a lot like the sonoma salad served a la grande orange. overall the food is bad, really, really bad. the fact that the bartenders handle the meat slicer is anti-sanitary and wrong and the so called pizzas are really poor re-heated bread with no flavor(check your source bc the tomatoes are not San Marzano)...btw, bruschetta is a slice of grilled bread with garlic, tomato or beans, basil and olive oil.later

FB
FB

Great write up.. this sounds much better than Ive already heard about the place.. sounds pretty cool! I wish they had a website though..

OMG, in that picture there is an antique restored Berkel slicer.. those are SO amazing! I wish I had one for my La Quercia cured pork bits but alas, I dont have an extra $11,000 just laying around! LOL!

 
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